West Ham boss compares Joe Cole to ex-Bolton star Jay-Jay Okocha
08:30 05 January 2013
Sam Allardyce is confident he can get the best out of new West Ham signing Joe Cole, as he did with Jay-Jay Okocha during his time at Bolton Wanderers.
Cole put pen to paper on an 18-month contract at his boyhood club West Ham yesterday, and is expected to make his second debut for the club against Manchester United this afternoon.
The 31-year-old’s career stagnated following his 2010 switch to Liverpool but Allardyce believes his track record for reviving veteran stars at Bolton can do the trick once again with Cole.
Quizzed on the subject, Allardyce joked: “Did you see Jay Jay Okocha?
“Well there you go then,” he added. “He was that good they named him twice.”
Skilful Nigerian midfielder Okocha, once the most expensive African footballer of all time, became a hero at Bolton during a four-year stint under Allardyce starting in 2002.
And Allardyce believes there are similarities between him and Cole.
“Yes, there are [similarities],” he said. “They’re creative players and I think that creative players like him [bring] entertainment [with] them.
“You’ve got to use them to their major strengths,” he added.
“It’s about us giving him as much of the ball, particularly in the opposition’s half, as we can.”
Explaining how he goes about turning things around for underachieving players, Allardyce said: “The first thing is, do they want to [improve]?
“When you speak to a player and you look them in the eye when you talk to them, then you find out whether they want to.
“And if they don’t then you don’t sign them.
He continued: “Feeling wanted and feeling important as a footballer is a key part to how you’re going to perform.
“The way you approach each game mentally is going to determine whether you can reproduce your motor skills and the skills that you’ve got.
“If you’re not psychologically right you cant produce the skills that you have.
“If you feel comfortable, you feel confident and you like the environment that you’re working in, then those skills will come out in abundance.
“So that’s what we’ve got to try and do.”