Coach Carlton Cole spreads the West Ham way in China

Carlton Cole in China

Academy of Football coaches Carlton Cole and Gerard Prenderville spread the West Ham way far and wide at The Chinese Super League Cup.

Cole and Prenderville, who will team up to guide the U16s this season, were invited to support and mentor Shandong Luneng and Shanghai Shenhua in an U15s tournament held in the build-up to this week’s Premier League Asia Trophy.

Cole’s Luneng, who were without a number of regular starters away on international duty with China, were defeated 5-3 in the semi-finals by eventual winners Jiangsu Suning, but Prenderville’s Shenhua went one better, defeating Shanghai SIPG 3-0 to reach the final. Suning and SIPG were mentored by coaches from Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers respectively.

The Hammers pair, assisted by West Ham United Foundation employability and coach education manager Rashid Abba, teamed up to coach Shenhua in the final, where they were edged out 2-1 by Suning. Alongside the CSL Cup trophy, the winners’ reward is a trip to England, where they will face their West Ham counterparts in a special international challenge match later this year.

The tournament, which was held at the Jiangsu Football Association Complex, an hour east of the city of Nanjing, also enabled Cole and Prenderville to pick the brains of their Chinese counterparts on subjects as wide-ranging as tactics, fitness and discipline.

Carlton Cole with youngsters in China

“It’s been a great experience,” Cole smiled. “I had a few bits to say and the coaches took a lot of what I had to say on board, while I’ve also learned a lot of things to take back to London with us and implement into our own teams.

“Coaching is what I needed, personally, and I think I’ve got a lot to give and offer to the youth. I’ve been through a lot and I’ve got the blueprint of both how to make it and what not to do when you have. That experience is priceless.

“We’ve got a lot of talent coming through at West Ham and the coaches in place that mean we have a bright future and a lot to look forward to.”

Prenderville, who has coached at the Academy of Football for five years, echoed Cole’s sentiments, emphasising the benefits of swapping knowledge and cultural habits with the Chinese coaches and players.

“It’s been an amazing day,” he said. “We were both really impressed with the standard of the play out here, but what we were really out here for was to mentor the coaches and they really bought in to what we wanted to tell them and we have learnt a few things from them as well.

“The discipline of the boys and the way they conduct themselves, cooling down and making sure the gear is all cleared away, is a cultural thing we can take back to London. We talked to them about technical aspects of the game, attacking play and combination play around the opposition box which we hope will really help them.

“All over, their culture is respectful to us and we’ve been respectful to them, so it’s been a really good experience. An opportunity to travel the world with West Ham like this has been absolutely fantastic.”

The duo will be back in action on Wednesday at a Premier League Youth Development Conference in Nanjing, where they will work with 150-plus Chinese coaches from local junior clubs and schools.