For a player who had more promise than most others, the decline in Joe Cole’s career over the last couple of years has been both alarming and sad. As a youngster, to have Fergie chasing after you and then to be the stand out player in an otherwise awful season for West Ham, Joe Cole seemed to have it all.
Not only does the boy have a god given gift, he has a genuine want to play football and a love of the game. It was this that firstly took the player from Chelsea to Liverpool, being the first signing during the doomed tenure of Roy Hodgson, as Cole wanted to play football week in week out, and did not feel that he could achieve this at a Chelsea. On arriving in Merseyside, Captain Steven Gerrard hailed Cole as being ‘better than Messi’. Either Gerrard had been on the magic mushrooms or he has an IQ of roughly the same amount as his shirt number. Whilst a good player, Cole is not on the same stratosphere as Messi.
However, he will still have expected to make more of an impact at Liverpool, yet after what looked like a promising start, Kenny Dalglish never seemed to fully take to the player and Cole was subsequently shipped off on loan to defending French Champions Lille for the season.
It was this move to France that has really rejuvenated Cole, who after a couple of seasons blighted by both niggling injuries, lack of sleep due to a new baby and loss of form finally looks to be playing his way back into form. Cole has a smile on his face once again under a coach who he says is exactly what he needs and wants the team to play football ‘on the wavelength I feel it should be played.’
There can be a case made for Dalglish having given up on Cole too soon, especially given his recent performances in both the French league – the 3-1 victory over Lyon being a standout point for the player – and in the Champions League, yet King Kenny is an astute manager and let’s not forget sent Cole out on a season long loan, he did not sell him.
This seems to be paying dividends, with Cole planning on returning to England where his family are settled once the season is over, with his confidence built up from a successful spell abroad. Sometimes it is often a fact of life that players need a spell away to clear their head and fall in love with the game all over again.
The form not to mention confidence Cole was displaying at Liverpool would never have seen him play his way into the starting eleven, and rather than let the player warm the bench and deteriorate further, it was a mutual decision from both parties for Cole to have a season long loan and then review the situation.
At Lille, Cole is by no means in a poor side who lack ambition – they are playing in the Champions League, parent club Liverpool are not even trudging out on Thursday night football in the Channel 5 favourite – the Europa League. There is also competition for places at Lille, the highly rated Eden Hazard and Payet keeping the Englishman on his toes. Cole is by no means having an easy ride at Lille, and the feisty competitive streak has not faded from the player’s armoury.
Should Cole rediscover his form on a permanent basis, he will have not only Lille wishing to keep him but also Liverpool and a host of English clubs interested. When Cole is at his best, although not a Ballon d’or candidate, he can offer a great deal and is a versatile player who can add to any squad and displays his ‘good side’ as Mourinho put it, he is more than worth a place in Liverpool’s starting team – luckily for King Kenny he still has that option to consider.
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