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Monday, 26 March, 2001, 10:03 GMT
Is Andy Cole the man for England?
Andy Cole has recieved the backing of his manager and players
Man Utd striker Andy Cole has been given a public vote of confidence by coach Sven Goran Eriksson ahead of England's crucial World Cup qualifier against Albania on Wednesday.

But is Cole good enough to lead the England line?

HAVE YOUR SAY Andy Cole once again failed to find the net for England against Finland and was lambasted in the press for his below-par performance.

Cole drew a blank for the twelfth time in an England shirt and missed a gilt edged chance to bury Finland in the second-half.

But England coach Sven Goran Eriksson has risked criticism himself by publicly backing Cole and he seems a likely starter for the game against Albania.

Pressure is mounting on England's boss to look at alternative strike options, and with a number of likely candidates waiting patiently for their chance, Albania could be Cole's last chance to shine.

Is Andy Cole the best man to fire England into the World Cup finals?

Or is the Old Trafford hero simply not destined to perform on the big stage?

Tell us what you think. HAVE YOUR SAY

I feel that Andy Cole is the best all round striker England has, and the sooner the better everybody realises that the country will be better off.

If he was to score the goal that qualified England for the World Cup everybody would be on his side, so why don't the people just back him now.
Martyn Widdowson, England

Andy is not good enough to be part of the England squad. He is a good player though but it appears the stage is too big for him.
Brian Samanga, Zimbabwe

Cole will never produce goals until he is given an intelligent, creative strike partner to play with. Looking at his record and his past, he has performed best with the right partner. I think Teddy is the man that will turn the England front two into a world class partnership. Remember, Shearer struggled like Cole without Teddy to provide that all important link-up play.
Jim, England

I think it is a disgrace that people are still doubting his ability as a striker
  Anthony A., England
Andy Cole has proved himself time and time again, and I think it is a disgrace that people are still doubting his ability as a striker. If anything, he missed the chance against Finland through over-confidence.

But the least we can do is give him credit for getting himself into goal-scoring opportunities, and personally I don't think there are too many poachers as good as Andrew Cole!!
Anthony A., England

Andy Cole is one of the worst players ever to have worn the England shirt. He has no skill and he is not international quality I think you could play him a hundred times and he would still not score.

England can not afford to miss chances like the chance against Finland we need someone who can score, not a player who tries and blame his international downfall on everyone else.

Ian, England

Andy Cole should be dropped, in fact it should have happened along time ago. I dont think he has the skill to play at this level. A strikers job is to put the ball in the net, but at international level they have to help in other areas as well, he cant do either. Against Finland the only time he crossed the halfway line was when they changed ends. Even if Cole does score against Albania, it wont be a regular thing, hes out of his depth at this level.
Spence, England

Fans in Africa can't believe some of the comments that are coming from English fans. For the past few years England was crying out for a striker with the ball moving ability of Andy Cole.
Sualiman Mansaray, Sierra Leone

Andy Cole gets himself into scoring positions more than any of the other strikers in the squad. He'll score when it matters.
Ras, Tokyo

His job is to score goals, pure and simple. As for the number of chances, the best strikers don't need to be given chances, they score goals out of nothing. Owen's goal against Finland could hardly be called a 'chance' given the number of people between him and goal but he scored it.
Bob, England

Surely, in light of the fact that Andy Cole has never performed well in an England shirt and never, since his brief purple patch at Newcastle, played consistently well at club level, another striker should be given the chance to fill the role.
Toby Kendall, England

I am not a firm believer in Andy Cole's ability and I would prefer to see a more natural scorer such as Fowler in centre spot. However, its about time this country learnt to take the decisions of the management and let them do their job.
Darren, UK

Lean back and imagine this scenario, 89th minute, England 1-0 down and attacking desperately, Scholes plays through the striker who's made a good run and is now one-on-one with the opposition goalie. Do you see Owen scampering onto it and rolling it low past the keeper, Heskey muscling past a defender before thumping the ball emphatically into the net (and I'm not a Liverpool fan, quite the opposite) or Cole moving onto the past and snatching at it, sending it past the post or bobbling pathetically into the keepers arms, Cole turns away, hands clasped behind his sweating head. I'll grant you, Cole is a much improved player and has obviously tried to improve his all round game at United with a lot of success.
Dave, England

"It was only last month everyone one saying Owen had past it, no he is scoring again everyone has conveniently forgotten. Why not give Cole the same leeway"
  Jason, UK
He is an opportunistic goalscorer who gets fantastic service from Giggs and Beckham on the wings. He is not a true predator as both Owen and Fowler are. His shots to goal ratio is poor. You cannot afford to give a starting place to a player who cannot hit the target from six yards
Dave Smith, England

Alright, as a United fan I'm just a little biased, but Cole is going to destroy the Albanians this Wednesday, it's going to be a lucky 13th cap for him. As someone has already mentioned, Shearer took a while to get going, but look at the impact he had when he did. Personally, I think Eriksson should look to partner Cole with Sheringham, Fowler or Heskey on Wednesday, for Owen and Cole are too similar: both are out and out strikers that play with strikers who drop deeper. As regards Rob Bonnet's comments elsewhere on this site, he should learn a little more about football before spouting off like that. Holding the ball up and laying on assists are a major quality for a striker in a successful partnership. Just ask Gary Lineker - England's top scorer thanks to a man who didn't hit the back of the onion bag too often: Peter Beardsley. Stick to cricket, Rob.
Roy, Manchester, UK

Cole is in the same class as Phillips, neither of them are good enough to score at international level. The first step to being a successful striker at any level is hitting the target, with the number of chances he gets at club level even he does that occasionally but at international level he does not get that many. England deserve better!
Ben, England

"Richie from Tottenham - very poor rhyme, but you have the right idea. Andy Cole is a first division standard striker at best"
  Mark Dickson, England
I was at Anfield on Saturday and was as disappointed as everyone else that Andy Cole missed his chance. What hasn't been mentioned is the hand he had in both goals and how good his touch was compared to Michael Owen. Let us not forget that Shearer in the Euro Championship made England stale and predictable.
Andrew Denton, UK

Your printing an article called "Cole's dirty dozen" is hardly likely to help him now is it? Stop behaving like a tabloid and give the bloke some support.
Richard Bottomley, England

Cole is one of the best players I have ever seen. He is what I call all-rounded. If he is not scoring he is creating. If he is not creating he is defending. Why do people not realise that many countries would kill for a player of his calibre. For years England with Shearer who never crossed the half way line and Owen who is one dimensionally quick have failed to win. Now Cole is in the team and victory is definite. Cole has my support.
Farai Dhliwayo, Zimbabwe

I've heard people say that he will score goals for england but he should be on the bench. One question: How can he score from the bench?
  NSteven Knibbs, UK
Cole has been an integral part of United's success over the last few years. Cole is simply the best all round striker in the country. He can hold the ball up; bring others into play; has fantastic movement and pace and does score goals at the highest level (Champions League). So he missed a sitter in a game we won anyway. Persist with Cole and he will come good.
Mark Faulkner, England

Be patient with Cole, we all know that he's up to playing at international level. Of the active English players available at the moment he's scored as many as anyone in the Premiership and his record in the Champions League is outstanding.
Linden, England

Just to set the record right, I was one of the people who stood when Cole was substituted and it certainly wasn't for Fowler. It was for Andy. Once more one of the hardest working and best positional forwards in the game. It's only a matter of time before he finds the back of the net - and when he does...
Richard Doone, UK

Oh Andy Cole. You really couldn't score a goal. You couldn't finish a bread roll. Andy Andy Andy Cole. Oh Andy Cole. I wish you'd fall down a big hole. More chance of that than you scoring a goal. Andy Andy Andy Cole
Richie Prestidge, Tottenham

Just to set the record right, I was one of the people who stood when Cole was substituted and it certainly wasn't for Fowle
  Richard Doone, UK
It appears to me that the rivalry at club level, especially between Man Utd and Liverpool, has more to do with Andy Cole's criticism than anything else. I mean, why on earth is it that Fowler and Heskey are mostly being mentioned as the best replacements for Cole to partner Owen? Ngenda Nyambe, Lusaka, Zambia

In response to an earlier mailing, to set the record straight, Cole did score against Juve away (the winning third goal), against Barcelona away, and a stunning effort at home to Fiorentina. He also scored a hat-trick away to Feyenoord in the 97/98 Champions League.
Phil Daniels, UK

Theo from Canada - you obviously have absolutely no idea what you are talking about, and yours is the only racist comment printed. What makes you think that Andy Cole could play for Jamaica? He's English.
Tom, England

It appears to me that the rivalry at club level, especially between Man Utd and Liverpool, has more to do with Andy Cole's criticism than anything else
  Ngenda Nyambe, Lusaka, Zambia
Andy Cole doesn't score enough goals for his club, let alone his country. The best strikers in the world (Batistuta, Raul, etc) are consistent, Cole has only proved he is inconsistent, and lacks the finish to make it at international level.
Matthew, UK

I think the English press are being unnecessarily critical of Andy Cole's goal draught at the international level. People should look at his general contributions to the team and how positively it impacts its success. For Sven to stick to him shows that the coach knows his worth and that his time will come. Keep it cool and hot, Andy and your detractors will be proved wrong at the end. Bravo to the English Team. You all did great. From the USA with love.
Debo, USA

England needs strikers who can finish when only one or two chances are presented in a game. Shearer and previously Lineker were both masters in clinical finishing, sometimes needing only one chance. I feel that Andy Cole is not this type of player, although there is no question that he is a good team player.
Sohal Khan, England

"I think Cole is class, but can we put our faith in him to get the goals we need?"
  Michael Yates, England
It is typical media pressure been put on Cole. As someone has already stated he contributes in other ways, such as his runs and holding the ball up. To the best of my knowledge, in all his games for England he has played in a "supporting" role just as he did last Saturday. This is an example of media jumping on the bandwagon.
Aidan Gill, Ireland

Andy Cole is a genius and on the domestic field he has proved this time and time again. International football is a different league and Cole needs to play more international games to get used to the pace.
Nasser Aziz, Michigan, USA

I think people have missed the point here. It is a team effort, and England played well against Finland as a team. Why can't the people of England get behind them and stop making examples of players they don't like. Bring on Albania! Come on England!
Richard Avery, England

"Everybody seems to think they know more about strikers than two of the most respected coaches in the world...Sven and Sir Alex!!"
  Martin, Sweden

When I saw the player ratings in the Sunday papers, I wondered whether I was watching the same game. The question should not be over Cole but Owen - despite his (deflected) goal. His first touch was dreadful and the sooner the club pairing of Cole and Sheringham are brought together for England the better.
Paul, UK

Just for the record, Cole didn't score against Juve! Or Barca, Inter or Bayern. Get the message. He just can't score against good teams.
David Mason, USA

Well thank the Lord, we finally have a coach who refuses to let the PRESS pick his side for him. England need a stike partnership. Two players from diferent clubs who have to learn to play together. Mr Ericson thinks Owen & Cole are it. Get behind the TEAM Pete, Switzerland
Pete Heath, Switzerland

Well thank the Lord, we finally have a coach who refuses to let the PRESS pick his side for him
  Pete Heath, Switzerland
Iain from Scotland. Sutton? I'd rather give Dublin another chance.
Paul, England

Can Eriksson and Alex Ferguson both be wrong, or are we to listen to so-called "expert" journalists on the matter? Cole scores consistently for Man U, against the likes of Barcelona and Juventus.
The Monk Brothers, UK

I think there is racisim involved here. Remember John Barnes, who went from media darling to goat. If I were Andy Cole with all that flack I would play for Jamaica.
Theo, Canada

Andy cole is bound to miss more chances than the others, this is because he creates twice as many because he is a world class footballer.
Robbie Deacon, England

I think there is racisim involved here. Remember John Barnes, who went from media darling to goat. If I were Andy Cole with all that flack I would play for Jamaica.
  Theo, Canada
Cole can PLAY football. He should have someone like Beardsley/Barmby as attacking partner. Someone who can also PLAY football.
Matti, Scotland

Cole is an international liability. Leave him out for a couple of years - it'll take him that long to learn the National Anthem - unlike the rest of the team! (Anyone else notice that?)
Toby Satch, New Zealand

Andy Cole is barely able to hold a place in the Utd team, and he has an attitude problem. Alan Smith of Leeds must be given a chance. Of course it does not matter how good a striker you are if the midfield do not create the chances, which has been the perpetual problem.
David Smart, USA

Alan Smith of Leeds must be given a chance
  David Smart, USA
Why not play Scholes behind Owen which would free up a midfield spot for Lampard or Joe Cole, Redknapp, Mcmanaman etc. Like Hoddle said, Cole needs 5-10 chances before he finds the net whereas the likes of Shearer, Lineker and Owen need only one.
Matthew Malone, UK

He's never been good enough for the same reason Steve Bull wasn't - he needs four or five chances per goal. Top notch strikers need two or three. Trouble is, Owen aside, are any of the others in the squad more likely to hit that ratio?
Paul, Bahamas

What does Alex Fergusson do to make him tick? Cutting down rather than building up a player's confidence or support isn't going to win England any silverware. There has been talk about John Barnes, Ian Wright and Andy Cole not being to cut it in an England shirt. We should find out what is common to these players and ask whether we aren't the problem. Glory comes with nurturing.
Lami, USA

What does Alex Fergusson do to make him tick? We should find out whether we aren't the problem
  Lami, USA
Andy Cole is the man for England's attack and come Wednesday night, he will silence his critics. When Shearer went dry for England, why didn't you raise the same questions? Don't put unnecessary pressure on the star. It hurts him and the team. MARK MY WORDS, HE IS GOING TO SCORE TWICE ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT. Wence, Ohio, USA
Wence, USA

Andy Cole is class
Hans Ziebeck, France

He should drop Cole and call up Chris Sutton. He is the best Striker England have!
Iain, Scotland

It is daft to suggest Andy Cole doesn't have the ability score at international level. Who do you think has the best defence, Juventus or Albania? He is Man U's record goalscorer in Europe - where the standard of football is higher than in almost any international side. All he needs is a manager who believes in him and shows the sort of faith Tel put in Shearer when he went even longer without scoring. Sven, thankfully, seems to be doing just that.
D Richards, UK

With strikers of the calibre of Heskey, Fowler and Sheringham on the bench, with Smith and Phillips not even in the squad, Cole shouldn't even get a sniff of a starting spot. He's had his chance but he's scored less international goals than Ugo Ehiogu
Rich, England

He should drop Cole and call up Chris Sutton. He is the best Striker England have!
  Iain, Scotland
Please give him a chance to perform. The goals he scores for Man Utd are just fantastic.
Goh Eng Hock, Singapore

Unfortunately, England still don't have a balanced strike force... Owen is all about pace, Cole is all about luck. England need to use a formation in the style of Beardsley and Lineker. The only valid players are Barmby and Fowler (aka God)
Tony Doyle, England

Consider the fact that if Andy Cole scores twice against Albania on Wednesday, his international record will be better than Emile Heskey's.
Seyi, UK

England need to use a formation in the style of Beardsley and Lineker
  Tony Doyle, England
Somebody give this guy an A-Z and show him the way to goal. At the moment you simply just cant justify having him in the side. Everyone says there is more to his game than just goalscoring, but if there is, it was sadly lacking on Saturday. Any 2 from Heskey, Owen and Fowler and lets not have 3 strikers and no attacking midfielders sitting on the bench next time.
Andrew, London, England

Andy Cole is a fine striker with the strength of a grizzly and the balance of a dancer. All players find it hard to make the transition between club and international football, people should get behind the team, it's a discrace when there is an ovation for a player being substituted.
Maggoo, England

Andy Cole is pants. If he was wearing a Manchester United shirt he would have scored four. He is a born bottler and should not be given another chance. Bring back Shearer.
Mark Stevenson, England

Andy Cole is a fine striker with the strength of a grizzly and the balance of a dancer
  Maggoo, England
You ungrateful lot!!...Scotland would love to have a player of Cole's quality pulling on the blue shirt, I wonder if he's got a Scottish granny?
Steven, Scotland

With regard to him needing more chances than other strikers to score a goal, this was disproved in the Times pre-season. In this report they published a number of statistics including the goals to chances ratio of top strikers in the 99/2000 season. This showed Andy Cole as having the second highest ratio (after Campbell of Everton) - 1 in 3... and well above Shearer - 1 in 4.
D Frame, UK

Andy Cole is a liability. At international level you may only get 1 or 2 clear cut opportunities and these MUST be taken. He has proved time and again that he is not able to take these chances and should be dropped. Alan Shearer was hounded out for not scoring goals..why on earth is Cole still in the squad ?
Lindsay, UK

It's the usual media witch hunt. If he plays well and scores a couple of goals against Albania, he'll be the answer to all our prayers. The usual about turn! Give him the chance to show what he can do.
Gaz, Japan

It's the usual media witch hunt. If he plays well and scores a couple of goals against Albania, he'll be the answer to all our prayers
  Gaz, Japan
Andy Cole just can't do it in an England shirt. The position needs to be given to Robbie Fowler who, together with Owen, would complete an otherwise sound team.
Tony Cohen, UK

Cole is pants. He is just too calamitous on the pitch, no balance and no finesse. Nigel Winterburn could have put the ball away against Finland, and so could my dog. He's barked in agreement. England FC isn't a home for wayward footballers and it is certainly not a charity, so Big Sven, please choose someone different on Wednesday night, and if you are not sure who to pick, then phone a friend.
Jeff Scholey, UK

With so many top-quality strikers in England, I really don't understand how Cole gets in the team. His chance-to-goal ratio is nothing compared to the likes of Fowler, Owen, Phillips et al. At International level, chances are few and far between, and when we get those chances we need to be clinical.
Ian, England

Andy Cole has the 'John Barnes syndrome' - every time he pulls on an England shirt he can't perform in the way he does for his club
  Mark Harper, USA
Andy Cole has the 'John Barnes syndrome' - every time he pulls on an England shirt he can't perform in the way he does for his club side.
Mark Harper, USA

Andy Cole could make it for england yet but he must stop complaining and start doing the business. But time is running out Andy.
mark, england

Glen Hoddle was right, he needs a handful of chances before he'll score. Too many at international level.
Chris Furmston, England

Andy Cole is not a top line striker. He has flourished at both Newcastle and Man Utd because of the players around him and the number of chances they created. At Newcastle, he scored about once in every 4 chances, at Man Utd it is something similar. But, at international level, England are not as dominant and you may only get one chance which you have to take. Michael Owen showed how to finish with his goal, Andy Cole does not have that kind of prowess.
Declan, England

how long did it take Fowler and Heskey to break their ducks?
  Alan Glaister, England
Andy Cole took his time to get into his rich vein of scoring at Man Utd, but now look at his record: a goal every 2 games. I think Sven is right he should stick with Andy, he is the most complete forward we have next to Teddy Sheringham. And how long did it take Fowler and Heskey to break their ducks?
Alan Glaister, England

England won 2-1 and Andy was involved in the first goal. So what if he missed a chance, he created a chance for Owen to score. You guys just want to pull the man down to your pub level. Leave him alone.
Brian, France

Cole deserves his chance and his all round play on Saturday was good. The link up play with Owen has been very encouraging in the two games so far. Having said that, I think Fowler and Heskey deserve a fair crack of the whip too. Still Sven has done well so far, given youth the chance - England look a new team and so i'm sure he knows what he is doing and how refreshing it is to be able to say that about an England manager.
Paul Owen, UK

You guys just want to pull the man down to your pub level. Leave him alone
  Brian, France
Andy Cole's real contribution is his one-touch play and how he sets up the players around him -it's not all about who sticks it into the net. And do you notice that when he plays his team tends to win - who cares who scores the goals? Andy Cole is the perfect partner for Michael Owen up front - Owen has that goalscorer's touch that Cole lacks but Cole is far superior in his support play and just the player to feed Owen and create space and chances.
Zafar Sobhan, England

Andy Cole will be another Ian Wright who can score day in, day out for his club but will always struggle to make an impact at international level.
Dan Hulbert, England

I think cole has to play against Albania because he is a great player. Everybody expects him to score but I don't think that's the only thing to do when playing. Leave him alone.
Chester Dekyi, Belgium

You could see it in his face at the anthem line up; he appeared totally stressed. Each appearance without a goal adds to the pressure.I really believe that once he scores he will relax and play to his potential. How long do we wait? Sheringham and Fowler are burning to get on and will deliver...
Simon, England

You could see it in his face at the anthem line up; he appeared totally stressed
  Simon, England
I think people should focus on Andy Cole's contribution to the team and not whether he scores or misses. He is a great team player and moved and held the ball up well on Saturday. There were times where others were losing the ball but no one mentioned that. The press love to focus on the negative and this leads to a public debate. I think Cole is first choice for England and should be given a long run. He will prove his worth. Keep it up Andy!
Steve Speroni, England

It annoys me how everyone keeps mentioning that he has not scored in 12 games. How many of those games has he started as a sub? Andy Cole is class and deserves to be in the team. Let us all not forget that the 'hero' himself Shearer went 13 games without scoring before Euro 96. Cole will come good I have no doubts about that.
Marvin Deans, England

He will never turn a game on its head, the way the likes of Michael Owen can
  Colin Mackay, UK
Give the guy a break. Fair enough, some people wouldn't pick Cole, but it's clear Sven is going to, so let's give him our backing. Sven is the man in charge because he knows more about football than any of us mere mortals.
Tom, England

Terry Venables never picked Cole for England in his time as England coach. Cole was scoring 50 goals a season for Newcastle and was never picked by Tel. Cole should never play for England ever again, he is not technically up to the job, it is time to forget Cole and bring Phillips back into the squad.
Duncan Kirk, England

Andrew Cole is most definitely the man for England. Despite his miss on Saturday his link up play was excellent. His partnership with Owen is potentially a world beater and most importantly, and what the English media don't seem to understand, he scares teams. His movement and pace are top drawer, one goal can make him.
Anto, Ireland

Whilst I appreciate that Andy Cole must be a good striker, or else he would not be playing for Man U, to me he never seems able to score from those half chances that top strikers do. I feel he will never turn a game on its head, the way the likes of Michael Owen can.
Colin Mackay, UK

His movement and general play was as good if not better than Owen's
  Steve, England
I really wanted Andy Cole to score on Saturday but I fear that miss may be the end of him. He simply can't seem to handle the pressure of international football and every game he doesn't score it gets harder and harder. Heskey or Sheringham should take his place.
Oscar, UK

I believe it's time to give Alan Smith of Leeds the chance to demonstrate to the nation how to score goals in big matches against strong opposition with minimal opportunity. Andy Cole needs time to overcome his nerves before you will see the best in him, probably better suited as a substitute until he breaks his duck.
Chris Hookey, england

In International football a striker is fortunate to get one or two chances in a game. Glenn Hoddle was right. Andy Cole has shown time and again that he needs more than that. Sorry Andy but I think its time to shut up and sit yourself on the bench.
Rich, England

Yes! I think Sven should stick with the Man Utd front man, at least for the game against Albania. Even though he missed that chance against the Finns (which any of the strikers could have on their weak side) his movement and general play was as good if not better than Owen's. Instead of knocking him let's get behind him and the team. C'mon England.
Steve, England

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26 Mar 01 |  World Cup 2002
Albania unmoved by England win
26 Mar 01 |  World Cup 2002
Eriksson backs Cole
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