It would have been very childish of me to have posted that title with simply ‘No’ written underneath, but I was sorely tempted.
And yet. . . .
When Cole signed for Liverpool on a free transfer, I was confident he could do a good job. With Yossi Benayoun having gone the other way for £5m, Cole’s wages were effectively paid for the first year, so it seemed like a virtual no-lose situation, with two similar players effectively exchanged.
A red card on his league debut was a massive disadvantage to Cole. Due to various international breaks combined with his three match suspension, he wasn’t available for selection for a month, until Liverpool’s trip to Old Trafford. Rarely a happy hunting ground for the Reds, a defeat followed as was expected by most.
Liverpool were now 16th and struggling. Was this an ideal situation to bring out the best in Joe Cole? Of course not, and especially not in the wooden, antiquated tactics employed by Roy Hodgson.
Once Kenny Dalglish returned and instigated a far more positive brand of football, again I thought Cole may be in with a chance of a resurgence.
However, Dalglish’s lack of use of Joe Cole tells it’s own tale for me:
Premier League starts: 1 out of a possible 18 (5.56%)
Premier League squads selected for: 14 out of a possible 18 (77.78%)
Premier League minutes played: 137 out of a possible 1620 (9.01%)
Cole’s one start was in the final match at Aston Villa, which was as close to a dead-rubber as Liverpool came in the league all season (with Europa League qualification still possible, but out of their hands, and unlikely to happen).
If you take the 68 minutes Cole played at Villa Park off the figures, then he only played 67 minutes across a possible 13 appearances (or a mere 4.38% of the game time).
It strikes me that Kenny had Cole amongst his substitutes because there were few other options. He was obviously ‘fit’ enough to play most of the time, as he made the bench for virtually every game, though I believe he wasn’t 100% match fit for most of the season in truth.
Was that down to a succession of small, niggly injuries, or down to laziness and/or disinterest on his part? I suspect a little of both, though we’ll never know the truth of course.
If Dalglish didn’t pick him when Liverpool had a poor squad last year, it’s difficult to see him getting many opportunities next season now that Henderson has come in, and with others (Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, whomever) to follow.
Never mind the fact that FSG would surely love his (widely reported) £90,000 a week off the wage bill; as the era of Financial Fair Play approaches, it won’t be lost on the club’s American owner’s that Cole’s salary could probably cover two up-and-coming stars, rather than one has-been.
With Carroll in the team, Liverpool will need quality crossing from midfield. Cole managed to find a team-mate with just two of the 29 crosses he attempted in the league last season, a truly woeful return.
Sorry Joe, thanks but no thanks. London’s in that direction….