Shaka Hislop has claimed Harry Redknapp's handling of Joe Cole during their time together at West Ham has 'held back' the Liverpool midfielder.
Redknapp gave Cole his first-team debut at in 1999 and the age of 17, before the current Tottenham manager was relieved of his duties at Upton Park two years later.
However, Hislop - who was a Hammer between 1998 and 2001 - believes Redknapp contributed to the lack of discipline that has prevented Cole from realising his full potential.
"Harry kind of liked Joe just to express himself, and we’d play around him, or around Joe’s unpredictability," said Hislop. "But encouraging him to be himself didn’t help him.
"Talented though he is, when you don’t have the ball he’s got to give you something else.
"Everything about his game on that side, when your team don’t have possession, he simply wasn’t good enough. Harry did not help him in that respect; I don’t think he was coached in that way."
He added: "It worked – you can’t take that away from Harry. But in Joe’s case, in terms of stepping up that extra level, it held him back."
Cole, 29, is currently on a season-long loan from Liverpool with French champions Lille, having been allowed to leave Anfield on transfer deadline day.
With the summer arrivals of Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam, Cole finds himself way down Kenny Dalglish's pecking order, but is currently thriving in Ligue 1.