Cole: Carroll’s best years away

Jens Keller will coach Schalke at least until the end of the

season after replacing the sacked Huub Stevens on Saturday.

Keller, whose only previous Bundesliga coaching experience came

in an ill-fated two-month spell in charge of Stuttgart early in the

2010/11 season, was at work today preparing the side for their

DFB-Pokal tie with Mainz on Tuesday night after being called in to

replace Stevens.

The Dutch coach was fired after a run of six games without a win

left the Royal Blues seventh in the table going into the second

half of the season.

Keller, who moves up from the position of under-17 coach,

inherits a side who, despite their recent league woes, have reached

the last 16 of the Champions League in style, beating Arsenal to

top spot in their group, and who are nonetheless only five points

adrift of the top three.

“We are definitely planning with Jens Keller until the end of

the season,” club chairman Clemens Tonnies told Sport1

television.

Tonnies explained how the decision to dismiss Stevens, voted by

the club’s fans as their coach of the century recently, had to be

taken due to a recent dip in form.

“We had to react,” he said. “Huub Stevens is a great guy and he

sacrificed his personal interests for the good of the team.

“He has admitted that he was no longer getting through to the

team.

“I don’t know exactly what has happened, but after the

Leverkusen game, some kind of change took place.”

The final straw was yesterday’s 3-1 defeat to Freiburg which saw

the club drop to their lowest position of the season, and out of

the qualifying berths for European football next season.

Had Schalke won that game, Stevens would still be in his job

now, revealed Tonnies.

“Of course you don’t like to sack a coach just before

Christmas,” he said. “Had we won the Freiburg game, then we would

probably have waited.”

Stevens led the club to their last major trophy – the UEFA Cup

in 1997.

He also won the DFB-Pokal in 2001 and 2002, returning to the

club for a second spell in charge in September 2011 and leading

them to a third-place finish behind Borussia Dortmund and Bayern

Munich last season.

With 20 points from the first nine games of the season, Schalke

were leading the challenge to Bayern for the title this season.

However, a slump which saw them pick up just five points in the

last eight games has seen them fall out of the hunt for the title

and out of the top six, which has cost Stevens his job for the

second time in Gelsenkirchen.

Carroll is currently on a season-long loan at Upton Park from

Liverpool, who paid ?35million for his services in January last

year.

The former Newcastle forward struggled for form at Anfield and

has scored only once since moving to West Ham.

The 23-year-old was keeping Cole on the bench when fit but is

now sidelined with a knee ligament injury.

Cole has replaced Carroll in the side and performed well since

with the ex-Chelsea striker believing he has developed into a

well-educated front man.

Carroll has nine England caps but Cole reckons he is still

learning and will continue to improve in the coming years.

“With Andy he’s a brilliant player, I knew he was a brilliant

player before he came here,” he said.

“He just needs the right break and once he gets going – I know

he’s only 23 at the moment – but the funny thing about the striker

role, or the one we play, is that it takes a long time to

learn.

“For Andy to have that skill so young is a real blessing for him

because I had to mould myself into that player.

“But he has it naturally, so he just needs to get a few more

games. You’ll see the best of Andy Carroll when he’s 29 or 30, but

right now he’s still learning his trade.”

Cole himself is now 29 and does not think he has finished his

footballing education, despite making his first-team debut for

Chelsea over 11 years ago.

“You start to learn the game a little bit more, situate yourself

in parts of the pitch where you need to be, and impose yourself on

certain players that you need to impose yourself on,” he said.

“That’s what I’ve learned. I’m still learning. It doesn’t happen

overnight.

“Andy’s going to learn how to impose himself in the proper

way.

“I’m not saying I’m better than him or he’s better than me but

you’ve still got to learn your trade. He’s got great assets. I’ve

got good assets but you’ve got to know how to use it as well.”

Cole could have left West Ham when they were relegated at the

end of the 2010/11 season but took a pay-cut to stay at Upton Park

and helped the club secure an immediate return to the top

flight.

Carroll came into the club with a massive reputation to

accompany the high price tag at the start of the current season but

Cole believes in his own ability.

He said: “You need someone to push you and obviously Andy

Carroll is a fantastic player and I need to show what I could do as

well and he’s doing the same thing showing what he can do and now

I’m pushing him.

“People just think it’s one-sided, it’s not just one-sided; in

training I’m doing what I have to do, he’s doing what he has to do

and although he might get the first pick, it doesn’t matter – in

training we’re trying to improve ourselves and it does pay

off.”