When watching Joe Cole’s interview on Football Focus last weekend I have to admit to feeling delighted and disappointed in equal measure afterwards.
I was delighted by the fact that, not only has Joe Cole settled in immediately on the pitch, the Englishman seemed genuinely settled with his family following his move to France. My reason to be disappointed I will get onto later.
Let’s not forget, less than 18 months ago Cole was at the centre of a seemingly nationwide campaign for him to play at the World Cup. Wayne Rooney, John Terry and half the country felt Joe Cole could be the player to inject a spark into a lacklustre England side.
John Terry went as far as stating to the world’s press that, ‘He (Cole) and Wayne are the only two who can open up defences,’ said Terry. ‘Joe is one of the best players in our country.’
Yet Cole was limited to two substitute appearances, indeed within minutes of entering the field of play against Germany England slumped from 2-1 down to 4-1, England’s tournament was over.
Less than a month later Cole signed for Liverpool, following his release by Chelsea due to a disagreement over the player’s wage demands.
At Liverpool, it just did not happen for the talented playmaker, it would be hard to say Cole had a poor season, it would also be difficult to say he played consistently well. Largely consigned to the substitutes bench last season, and following Liverpool’s summer of investment, Cole was in need of another move if he was to find first team football.
Come transfer deadline day numerous deals were mooted, QPR, Aston Villa, it looked like Cole was set to ink another chapter at another English club. Then the news broke, ‘Joe Cole signs for Lille on a season long loan’. ‘Lille? In France? Joe Cole, the born and bred Londoner?’ was the cry.
Thus far, the move has been a resounding success. 3 goals and 3 assists in his 13 games only tell half the story. His first assist for the club came on his debut following a mesmerising solo run against Saint-Etienne. His first goal was a 25 yard thunderbolt against FC Lorient. Watch both, and decide for yourself whether the player is over the hill as many have recently suggested.
At 30, Joe Cole might be coming into the stage of his career where he loses that half yard that is crucial to so many players, he will not be worried, his game was not based on pace as a 17 year with West Ham, it is not now.
Now to my disappointment from watching the interview, bear in mind that my disappointment is not at the interviewer, but at the reality.
BBC interviewer, Dan Walker stated ‘We know that Euro 2012 is not going to work for you, but once Capello goes, let’s say Redknapp comes in, Joe, would you like to come back?’
Walker was right, Joe Cole has no chance of going to Euro 2012. That’s what disappoints me. I’m not saying he should definitely go, however if he continues to play in his current manner he should at least be considered.
Capello has always stated that he will pick players on form and fitness. Yet, if Lille won the French league this season and Joe Cole was voted player of the year, would he get in the England squad? I doubt it. For me there is something wrong in that.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of work to do yet, Cole has to keep working hard and show a level of consistency that has sometimes betrayed him. Though from listening to the player speak, the drive to resurrect his career is clearly there.
Lille president Michel Seydoux today, referring to Cole, stated that ‘It is not a certainty that he will leave us at the end his contract.’ With Lille in a position to challenge for the title and make the Champions League knockout stages, Cole clearly has a bright future at Lille even if his England prospects look bleak.
Joe Cole has played 56 times for his country. There is no guarantee that he will, but if Joe Cole builds on his impressive start at Lille, I hope he doesn’t retire stuck on 56 caps.
What are your thoughts on Joe Cole’s future international prospects? Comment and follow me on Twitter @CamHumphries