West Ham Transfer Focus – Experience not needed as Cole and O’Neil move on

It remains to be seen who West Ham manager Sam Allardyce will buy in the transfer market in terms of big money spending.

A deal for Andy Carroll looks closer to completion. The striker has returned from holiday, and with Newcastle confessing that they have no interest in their former No. 9, Carroll should put the final seal on his move from Liverpool for around £15m.

Meanwhile, two men who have been made surplus to requirements are the experienced duo of Carlton Cole and Gary O’Neil. The Premier League’s released list came out late last week, and had some familiar names on it, including the likes of William Gallas, Yossi Benayoun and Mark Schwarzer.

However, West Ham’s list of released players was fairly small in comparison to some other teams, as revealed on the official Premier League website. Along with four youngsters, the names of Cole and O’Neil stood out from the list.

Cole’s departure came as no great surprise. The tall centre-forward even admitted his departure on his own personal Twitter account 24 hours before the official announcement came through on the club website.

Some have had their criticisms about what Cole brings to a top football team. However, he has been capped by England on a number of occasions, and either that was Fabio Capello showing a total lack of knowledge of the national game, or that Cole was at the time (2008-2010) in great form.

In this argument, the latter stands out more. He is a frustrating individual, who came to prominence as a youngster a decade ago at Chelsea, and latterly in loan spells at Charlton Athletic and Aston Villa, without ever making it fully into the big time.

West Ham fans will miss him. He was a loyal individual to the club, and a supporters’ favourite, but after a frustrating 2012/13 campaign with a lack of form and loss of first choice selection, it is a decision that probably is the right one for both parties.

Cole’s preference is to stay in the Premier League, although several Championship clubs and even sides in the MLS have shown a vague interest. Southampton and Hull City seem to be the two Premier League sides who have been mentioned more in the gossip columns, but he could be the perfect foil for Stoke City too, especially when you think of their long=ball approach to the game.

The departure of O’Neil is a bit more of a surprise. He has had miserable fortunes with injuries ever since leaving Portsmouth, but had his best and most consistent campaign for several seasons last term.

Metro believes Crystal Palace and Brighton are in a head-to-head battle for him. The east Londoners could have done with his experience, although when he reportedly refuses to take a pay cut, perhaps this is another shrewd decision. Experience has got West Ham so far, but it seems Allardyce is already showing he wants the club to make a step up in terms of quality for next season.

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