Cole: My best is yet to come
West Ham United striker Carlton Cole believes he produced the best form of his career last season, and has warned the rest of the Premier League there is even more to come this year. The former Chelsea player scored a career-high 12 goals to help the Hammers finish ninth, and was rewarded with a full England debut.
Cole put that form down to the tutelage of Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke, and the 25-year-old is now eager to repay their faith with an even better return this term. "It was a good season for the whole team and it is a good foundation to work with," he said.
"We need to build on that as the work is not finished so we just need to carry on with our good progress. Personally I think I had one of the best seasons of my career to date. I got important goals last year which propelled me into the manager's thoughts and I am going to build on that this year.
"For the last three years it has been about improving each season and that is what I am working on. I have the backing of Steve Clarke and Gianfranco Zola and obviously it has caught the eye of (England coach) Fabio Capello, and hopefully I can push my way into his thoughts as well.
"Last season we were unlucky to miss out on Europe due to injury, but if we can keep everyone fit and on their toes then I think we have a great chance."
Following a two-week training camp in Austria, West Ham are now in China PR to compete in the Asia Trophy. The Hammers will tackle London rivals Tottenham Hotspur today at Beijing Workers' Stadium, with the winner of that game facing either Hull City or local side Beijing Guoan in Friday's final.
Cole is looking forward to locking horns with Harry Redknapp's Spurs. "The London derby is always a special thing between Tottenham and West Ham. The rivalry is always going to be there," he said.
"They did the double over us last year which obviously we are not happy about, so it is a good time to start beating them. It will be a competitive game and we have brought some fans here, so the atmosphere will be good. We will play fairly and positively to give the Chinese fans a good spectacle."