Hindsight is a wonderful thing in the world of sport. I am going to use it here to show just how lucky Tottenham were earlier this season. When Joe Cole became available for a free transfer, Harry Redknapp must have been licking his lips. He loves a bargain player and he also loves, former West Ham player, Joe Cole, but when he signed for Liverpool, Tottenham fans must have felt like they missed out on a bargain. A good player for nothing. However, eight months down the line, it seems Liverpool’s signing of Joe Cole is the best thing that could have happened for Tottenham.
Joe Cole made a career decision when he joined Liverpool. I imagine he thought he was joining a new era of Liverpool football. He chose not to play in the Champions League at Tottenham and went to Liverpool who have a bigger history. I thought he was just chasing the more lucrative contract initially, but in fairness I imagine he thought he would get more first team action at Liverpool. The bigger squad at Tottenham would have meant he featured less regularly, or so he would have thought.
The truth is, Tottenham got lucky. Joe Cole has been poor at Liverpool this season. He has been unlucky with injuries and he has been suspended, but he has not made an impact. He has certainly not contributed to the extent that Roy Hodgson would have dreamt he would.
If he had come to Tottenham in September, he could have had a major effect on Tottenham’s season, in a negative sense. Redknapp, who is a fan of Cole might have given him plenty of games. While this could have potenitally got the best out of Joe Cole, but it could also he could have inhibited Tottenham’s style of football. A style that has been central to their success this year.
Cole would have seen Tottenham’s midfield, in particular their wide men, play a less direct and fast pace style of football. Cole’s strengths are his skill and his flair, but not his ability to run past players at pace, unlike Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon.
Furthermore, if he had played all season, this could have led to Bale playing at left back. This would have seriously effected Bale’s influence in the side, particularly against Inter and his development as a footballer. If Cole had played on the right, this would have led to Aaron Lennon getting less pitch time. Lennon has been in good form this year and has continued his development into more than a one-dimensional player, his break away against Milan was vital. So Cole’s absence has led to two young players improving at Tottenham.
Most importantly, the signing of Cole would have meant that Tottenham did not buy Van Der Vaart. The jury is still out amongst Spurs fans over the influence of Van Der Vaart. Some feel that his presence has led to the downfall of Jermain Defoe. Contrary to this, I think Defoe is not effective enough against the bigger sides to warrant a place in the side anymore, I wrote about this earlier in the week. Van Der Vaart’s involvement in the team has revealed that Tottenham need a new striker.
Earlier this month Cole confessed his future at Liverpool was uncertain. Harry Redknapp is also reported to be interested in him. Personally, I would not want to see Cole come to White Hart Lane. This is nothing personal, and nothing to do with the fact that he chose Liverpool over Tottenham earlier in the year. It is because Cole is an aging player and will only add congestion to a squad where classy players like Kranjcar are struggling to play.
Hopefully Joe Cole will get a run of games and return to his best. He could still have a few good years left in him. But I think he should stay at Anfield where he can compete with Maxi Rodriguez, rather than at White Hart Lane where he will have to compete with Gareth Bale.
In the case of Joe Cole, Redknapp got lucky.
You can follow Joe on twitter @joeaustin8 where he is currently trying to convince people that Tottenham should invest in a new striker and no more midfielders.