Ever since a certain Mr Wells moved across West Yorkshire to Huddersfield Town, City have been hunting for a new striker. One of the same mould, with the same ability to find the back of the net and the same key attribute- pace.
Earlier this season, it appeared we might have found one. Of course, young Devante Cole was far from the finished article, he was far from perfect.
However, he scored goals. He terrified defenders with his pace and he had the same strut of self- belief that used to lead City’s forward line when Wells was terrifying any defender who had the joy of facing him.
Four goals in as many games was a superb start to his Bantams career, including a last minute winner on debut to finally give City their long awaited first home win of the season.
The form then tailed off for Cole, but his lack of opportunities since, in my opinion, have been a joke.
The 20 year old soon found himself on the bench for City, with accusations of laziness being thrown at him from a large section of City’s support. The return of last season’s top scorer Billy Clarke from injury was a reasonable reason for Cole to drop out, as Clarke had earned the right to go back into the City side.
However, since the pairing of Clarke and Hanson has returned for City, they haven’t looked threatening.
It is undeniable that City have been on great form, mostly helped by a superb defensive record which saw The Bantams keep an incredible eight clean sheets in nine games. Wins followed, with City picking up vital points at Chesterfield, Scunthorpe, as well as in home games against Coventry, Crewe and Blackpool.
However, most of these games were tight and won by goals from set pieces, with the odd goal being added from players all around the pitch, such as Greg Leigh at Glanford Park and Gary Liddle against Crewe.
In fairness to Clarke and Hanson, they too contributed with goals over this period but there was always a valid argument, that City would not have enough up top against the better teams in the division. The results backed this argument up. No goals at home to high flying Coventry, one goal scored against Walsall in an unfortunate defeat and just the one consolation goal against Sheffield United, scored when The Blades were already 3-0 up.
22 games into the season and City are yet to beat a team above us in the league, a damning statistic which quickly throws any play-off hopes into serious doubt.
The defensive record is superb but we are the fourth lowest goal scorers in the entire division, despite lying 12th with games in hand.
City need an answer and it is staring them in the face- Devante Cole.
The 20 year old striker possesses a natural ability to put the ball in the net, as well as pace- something which Wells proved could be so devastating at this level. Accusations of laziness are often thrown at the young striker, son of ex United star Andy, although this is something which I would massively dispute.
Cole may not be as obviously hard working as some of City’s other players, but to call him lazy would be unfair on a player who has consistently chased balls which were not played to his strengths in his time in the side. He was often forced to run long for hopeful punts up field, rather than being given the chance to receive the ball into his feet.
The main issue for Cole is an image problem. He doesn’t yet have the same affinity with fans as other players, often not applauding them after games City have lost or tweeting positively after games.
However, the young striker deserves a run in City’s first team.
In his time on the bench, he seems to only appear in the dying minutes of games which City have a slight lead in or when we are losing comfortably, as was the case at Sheffield United.
This means his efforts can’t be compared to other players, who get a 90 minute run out or start the game at 0-0.
City’s tactics also impact Cole. Although they worked for Wells who is undoubtedly a similar player in terms of attributes, the long ball to Cole isn’t very effective due to his strength.
Hanson’s knockdowns are also harder for him to read, due to having not played with City’s big man for a prolonged period of time.
Despite this, Cole is still one of City’s top scorers and has a decent record at League One level, with goals in loan spells at Barnsley and MK Dons. Parkinson has also praised his all round play and improvement since he signed for City.
Now, it’s time to give him his chance.
City have lacked goals all season and don’t look like winning games when they go behind.
Devante Cole is far from the finished article, as shown by his misses against Gillingham. But he offers something else, something new.
He can give City a different outlook and option, which is something we desperately need to try and surprise opposition defences. Cole has the attributes to become a top player at this level, proven by his reputation and skills.
However, he not only needs the backing of Phil Parkinson, but also the City fans who must take the good with the bad, accept he isn’t perfect but trust that this young man can be the one to finally replace Nahki Wells and solve an issue which has haunted City ever since the Bermudans departure two seasons ago.
Ironic how this comes after yesterday’s the best manager we never had article ;).
It’s not as simple as put Cole in the team. Outside of the box hes not willing to do the ugly stuff Wells did. Wells was always alert and on his toes to react to any Hanson winner or defensive mistake (which happens plenty at this level). Cole by contrast seems to be on his heels – something happens and then he reacts rather than anticipating it.
I think to be partnered with Hanson this is the area he needs to improve. How many of Wells goals came from something out of nothing on the halfway line. On the other hand he looked a far better player with Davies perhaps PP is waiting to pair them again. Same way Stead brought out the best in Clarke (and vice versa) and Hanson brought out the best in Wells (and vice versa).
Football is about picking the most balanced team not picking the best 11 players and hoping it works.
Ironic that the article has a critical element. Given the fact that WOAP recently criticised Twitter and Claret and Banter posters for doing just so. The return from our strikers, in terms of goals, frankly is not good enough. We have several forwards who, for whatever reason are not playing or are making late cameo appearances. Something needs to change, or this season will simply ‘peter out’.
Sorry, but earnings come from hard work. Something is missing from Coles game …..Parkinson can see this. I for one was excited to see him play – yet now see him as the dreaded player to come off the bench. Plaudits are not given – they are earned. Cole ‘may’ have been born born with a Bronze spoon in his mouth – he can not live off his fathers’ success – Young Cole must work, within a team ethic … and crucially, must deliver. There is time for this young man, however – he must prove his value to the cause, and team
Seriously, to publish this after the excellent Greatest Manager Bradford City Never Had article has to be some sort of joke?
Couldn’t agree more with the other replies. Love WOAP interviews & match reports but less of this please.
A case of Salt and pepper, or Fish and chips – Generally served together, but can be taken individually.
I don’t see any problem with the article.
Above all Parky wants his teams to be solid and difficult to beat and I don’t have any issue with this either, it is the type of approach that has led to the likes of McCarthy and Jacket to have a considerable amount of success at a higher level.
I am a Parky fan and he continues to do a good job; although I think we are handily placed, you can’t deny there has been a shortage of goals,ĺ0 and this article offers a potential solution.
Maybe he isn’t the answer, but to me Cole is the only natural goalscorer we have on our books.
I also refute the accusaĺtion that he is lazy, these days all it takes is the odd negative comment and most seem to jump on the bandwagon.
Although I was only a young lad the greatest striker I have seen for us was Bobby C. Now did I see him ever closing down the opposition full back; no, he was too busy staying in that penalty area tucking the ball away.
Wells to me is like the football league version of Jamie Vardy in that he is a pest and will chase every last ball. Are the rest of the strikers in the premiership therefore lazy because they don’t employ that same approach; no, because they play to their own strengths.
I am also a fan of Clarke who I think is a clever footballer, but because he ĺ
operates a bit deeper he offers a bit more security, as he can easily drop back as an extra midfielder when we don’t have possession.
I think McMahon has done pretty well right midfield, but he doesn’t have the same attacking threat as a natural wide man.
If we continue to playcMahon out wide then I would play two up top and give Cole a run of games. Alternately if we play Clarke just behind Hanson, then I think we can afford to have a more attacking option on the right, with the option of McMahon playing central midfield.
We have some very good football players at City now. Perhaps they would flourish more and produce more if they weren’t inhibited by having to play one dimensional due to the ever presence of James Hanson. Why does every strike partnership have be Hanson plus a n other.