Joe: Criticism Doesn't Hurt Me

Joe Cole says he is his own biggest critic - and he is unconcerned by what the press say about him.

A number of articles have appeared since the England defeat by Italy recently debating whether Joe should go to the World Cup or not, and some have expressed the opinion that he shouldn't.

But Joe is philosophical about the somewhat hysterical criticism he received after his dispossession led to Italy equalising a goal he himself had created on his own for Robbie Fowler, and he shrugs:

"It wasn't a bad experience, for me it was a good one; I have has 45 minutes and created a goal.

"I did lose the ball in in midfield as well but that's all I did, lose the ball once, and you look at how many times the other players in midfield did.

"That's all it is; I have lost the ball and the guy has put it in from 30 yards, and there's nothing you can do."

But was he surprised by the comments?

"Not really," he admits, "because it is an England game and the the press pick the bones out of everything because they have got to fill the papers with stories for the next week.

"I have said all along that anybody can criticise me and it will be water off a duck's back, because I am my biggest critic and that is where I get my inspiration from, not from what this journalist or that fan says about me.

"I try to identify the improvements I can make and make them myself, and I listen to people like Glenn Roeder and Sven, and all the staff at West Ham and England because they are the experts.

"Robbie Fowler has been there and done it, and people like Beckham and Scholes have got the experience so you learn from that - as you do at West Ham from people like Paolo."

As for the domestic campaign, and the effect that can have on international ambitions, he says:

"I am really enjoying it at the moment and I think you need European football to progress, and we are on the right way to get there.

"It would be very hard to get sixth but if we can hang on to seventh place it might boil down to that if certain things happen, and that is the main objective.

"It's part of the learning curve and it helps you with European competition if you are playing in Europe.

"But we haven't finished yet; we could still finish in the bottom half of the table; after last year we have just got to make sure we finish top half and hopefully we can push on from there next season.

"It has been nice to string some wins together; we are looking solid, as if we can beat anyone at the moment.

"The tricks are one thing but it is about impressing with work rate, getting up and down, and it has definitely improved.

"I feel fitter in myself and it easier now because I have got a role to do, and I can't just be everywhere.

"I thought I played well in the first half but in the second I broke a finger, possibly two, and that makes it difficult to play because you are not confident about falling over or someone pulling you back."

The win on Saturday put the Hammers above this weekend's opponents Tottenham - a fact which raised a huge cheer when announced over the tannoy after the match - but Joe says:

"It doesn't mean anything if we are not above them next week, that is the main thing.

"Our away form hasn't been good although we have been on fire at home so we are looking, with three tricky away games to go, to pick up as many away points as we can.

"We are seventh, we are not concerned about who exactly is below us, but it was a great day's work and to get above any team is great; we are looking up rather than over our shoulders, and we are trying for that sixth spot, although we know it will be difficult."

Joe is delighted for Glenn Roeder that the side are now in the top half of the table, and he says:

"Glenn is a good manager and the table doesn't lie; we have a small squad, we have had injuries all through the season such as me, Michael, and Fredi.

"I think he has done a great job - a lot of people were knocking him who didn't know him or what he can do, but he is proving at the moment that he can organise the team well.

"I couldn't put my finger on it but I think we are defending well as a team, catching teams on the break maybe, and when Fredi plays well we seem to do the business.

"I am not at all surprised where we are, though; we have got Trevor, Michael, Lomy, and me in midfield, who have all played international football - so we should be where we are.

"And a lot of people forget that in the early part of the season we were carrying injuries."