So Joe Cole leaves Chelsea and joins Liverpool for a no doubt whopping signing-on fee plus a comparable weekly wage and probably the promise of greater playing time.
Since bursting onto the scene with West Ham nearly 10 years ago as the next big thing, Cole has flattered to deceive. Whilst obviously talented, Chelsea never really found a regular place for a player who really needs a team built around him rather than trying to fit him into an irregular position or pattern of play. The ironic thing is that Cole has probably suffered through being English as much as anything. If he was from more exotic climes then Cole would have been indulged more but as the peripheral Englishman at the Bridge after the mainstays of Lampard and Terry, Cole has suffered.
He also hasn’t really taken the opportunities as they have arisen for him either domestically or internationally. His great strike for England against Sweden remains his international high point and the fact that he couldn’t get into one of the worst England teams for generations is hardly likely to massage an already fragile ego. The deal has effectively become a swap for Yossi Benayoun, another equally gifted, utility midfielder who has achieved more and enhanced his reputation since leaving West Ham.
The problem for Cole at Anfield is that while he has a new manager who obviously trusts him, his ideal position, behind the striker or front two, is already taken by the man who really runs Liverpool FC – Steven Gerrard MBE. Hodgson needs a big season to avoid being seen as a scapegoat or caretaker so needs Cole and Gerrard to build a relationship from the off but its hard to see either making the changes to their game required to fully unleash the potential and ability of the other. With previous incumbent Benitez casting envious eyes at the likes of Mascherano and others from Anfield, it might be a very unfamiliar squad that Cole takes to the field with against Arsenal on August 15. To be blunt—a manager’s faith in a lad can go great lengths in establishing a foundation for success. That said, a man out of position with a dogged history of underachieving against the best competition goes an equal distance in laying the foundation for failure. As such, a desperate Liverpool have taken a flier that will likely skip the good and bad narrative of the reasonable and head straight for the failure or glory tales that embody the boom or bust world of the club transfer window.
Guy Bailey is a senior writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at Guy@yanksarecoming.com. He also generally kicks ass.