Not many people would associate the Lancashire town of Fleetwood with football, but Fleetwood Town FC, known as the Trawlermen, have been slowly building a name for themselves ever since they received the investment of local businessman Andy Pilley.
When he arrived at the club in 2004, it was on its knees and the stadium was in a poor state of repair. Fast forward 13 years and the club are one of the sides in League One that have a legitimate claim to be challenging for promotion to the Championship, the second tier of English football. They finished last season in fourth place, just four points back on the automatic promotion places, and ended up narrowly losing out to Bradford City in the play-off semi-finals.
This season, however, has been hugely inconsistent, and the bookies odds of 50/1 for them to win the League One title are reflective of this. One huge plus point, however, has been the scintillating form of their former Manchester City centre forward Devante Cole.
Son of former Manchester United legend Andy, he has clearly inherited some of his father’s goalscoring prowess. His move from Bradford in January 2016 may have taken many by surprise, but Devante clearly saw the move as a chance to get more game time and play for a club that better suited his style of play. This is a notion backed by football statistics site WhoScored.
His decision to move to a smaller club has been paying dividends so far. Last season Devante only managed five goals for the Cod Army but he has got eight in the first 13 so far and some of his play, such as off the ball awareness and positioning, have clearly improved. Indeed, he nearly moved to Championship giants Sheffield United on deadline day, but the move broke down after the parties couldn’t agree a price.
Fleetwood won’t be complaining as they now have their star hitman until January at the very least, and if he stays beyond the mid-season transfer window he may well be amongst the League One top scorers. Cole trails Portsmouth’s Brett Pitman, Rotherham’s Keiffer Moore and Peterborough’s Jack Marriott in the goalscoring stakes, and odds comparison site Freebet shows him among the bookies’ favourites to claim the golden boot.
Although a different kind of player to his father, his goals this season prove that he has a lot of that instinctive ability that just cannot be taught. Many of the goals have been those of a natural striker, calm and clinical.
If he does manage to finish as top scorer this season then it will be his first such accolade and one that will, no doubt, help Fleetwood reach the playoffs for a second successive season. Many fans of the Lancashire club will be expecting him to go in January but if there is a chance of a promotion and a top goalscoring award then he might be persuaded to stay until the end of the season; either way, the second generation of Cole to grace English Football is making waves, so watch this space.