It is an old adage that when one door closes another opens, and this has certainly been the case for Tottenham Hotspur. In the club’s failure to secure the signature of one playmaker, in the shape of current Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole, Spurs managed to snap up disgruntled Real Madrid Dutch international Rafael van der Vaart. But are the north London outfit regretting their missed opportunity to sign the 28 year-old England international? Not a chance. A more pertinent question, however, might be; is Cole regretting the same missed opportunity?
The fortunes of Cole and van der Vaart’s new clubs couldn’t have been more disparate since their respective transfers, with Liverpool languishing in the relegation zone of the Premier League, and Spurs looking not only to challenge once again for the much coveted fourth Champions League spot, but also to extend their stay in this season’s competition into the new year.
On an individual level Cole and van der Vaart have also led very different lives following their transfers. Having been sent off on the opening day of the season against Arsenal at Anfield, Cole has since flattered to deceive with his performances for the Merseysiders, and has issued a statement in The Sun today stating;
“I’m not playing well. I’m not going to say otherwise…Whenever you have periods like we’ve had you have to deal with it…You have got to stand up and be counted, be a man. I haven’t started as well as I would have liked but I will turn it around…With every breath I take, I’m thinking of how I can change it.”
Obvious reference to The Police aside, these are not the words of a man who fits his new club like a glove. On the other hand, van der Vaart, although having also received his marching orders in front of his new home faithful, has scored every time he has donned the Spurs shirt at White Hart Lane and is rapidly gaining a cult following in the white half of north London.
So Tottenham have clearly moved on from their brief summer flirtation with Cole, but what of the player himself? Does his mind still linger on what could have been? With interest reportedly coming from both sides of north London over the summer months, Cole certainly had choices to make, but did he make the right one?
At the moment he clearly thinks not. But in his own words he is going to “be a man” and stick it out with Liverpool, hoping to improve both his, and the team’s performances. However, within the defensively minded set-up Roy Hodgson is playing at Anfield, their more offensive players are suffering; namely Joe Cole and Fernando Torres. In a more attack-minded Spurs side I believe Cole would have flourished, and under the guidance of former mentor Harry Redknapp, Cole may have experienced a renaissance in his play. I am not suggesting that Tottenham would have played better or worse with Cole, rather than van der Vaart in their side, although similar, they are in no way the same player, but I do believe Cole would certainly have succeeded far more on a personal level at Spurs than he has done so far at Liverpool.
So while Spurs have proven there is life after a summer love gone wrong, Cole may well still be dwelling over a love lost, gazing up at erstwhile and prospective employers from the foot of the table, lamenting over decisions made, kicking an imaginary football into an imaginary goal, pretending to be Rafael van der Vaart.