Cole King of the New Year
By Jamie Hunt
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Joe Cole was chosen as the Premiership player of January by you, the fans.
Joe Cole has made massive progress since becoming a regular in coach Jose Mourinho's side, and his increasing contribution to the Chelsea cause has certainly not gone unnoticed by the supporters who have voted him Fans' Player of the Month for January.
After a series of match-winning performances around the turn of the year, Mourinho said Cole was 'untouchable' and added: "I think Cole is playing magnificently in every game and he is perhaps our best attacking player at this time. When I came here nobody knew Joe Coles best position - not even him! We only knew that he was a creative player."
But Cole has come to learn that whilst you can be the special one's favourite one week, you can expect a verbal volley the next - and a place on the bench. These days though, the former West Ham midfielder starts more games than he misses and is an integral part of the Chelsea midfield alongside his England pal Frank Lampard.
Cole has certainly added consistency to the undoubted class which also makes him an England starter, and he says: "I have been a regular in the Chelsea side for the last 12 months or so and shown my worth to the team. Yet football is a fickle game and I know things can change quickly. People want to see you do the business every week.
"The whole team needs to keep on top of things and we want to keep a nice cushion at the top of the table. You can never rest on your laurels because the standards are so high at Chelsea and you need to be at your best every game you play in.
"One of the areas I would like to improve is my goalscoring. I scored between five and seven goals a season when I was at West Ham. Okay, I'm not like Frank Lampard who can shoot from 30 yards. I need to get the ball a bit closer to goal. Even so, I'll be working my hardest to get that goal ratio up."
Whether he gets the chance to do it in tomorrow's FA Cup replay against Everton remains to be seen - but he'd love to be leading the revenge mission from the front. He added: "Everton pushed us all way up there and because they have also taken points off us in the league, we feel as though we owe them one."
Looking at the bigger picture and the Chelsea ambitions for the remainder of the campaign, Cole said: "Last season was a cracking one for Chelsea football club, but we want this one to be even better. It's great for me to be part of such a success story and to be playing for a fantastic club like Chelsea."
Whilst the likes of Leroy Lita and leading scorer Dave Kitson have been grabbing most of the headlines, and the goals, for Reading during their record-breaking 30-match unbeaten run, the Royals have also been indebted to the consistency of Kevin Doyle who has chipped in with ten goals of his own as Steve Coppell's men continue their relentless march to the Premiership. Hence, Doyle being named player of the month in the Championship.
In League One, the form of Swindon keeper Rhys Evans has brought him praise, and now accolades, and whilst the Robins are still entrenched in the relegation zone, recent results suggest manager Iffy Onuora is beginning to turn things around at the west country club - and if Town do avoid the drop, a lot of credit will go to January player of the month Evans.
The Player of the Month award in League Two also goes to a goalkeeper, Shrewsbury teenager Joe Hart. The 18-year-old has been an ever-present for the Shrews this season and has done well to concede little more than a goal a game in the 31 matches he has played in so far. His efforts are helping to keep Shrewsbury heads above relegation waters... just!