Hodgson’s first coup as Joe Cole signs for Liverpool
Liverpool’s signing of Joe Cole is a positive sign, both on and off the pitch, and some welcome good news for the team’s supporters after a horrible season and the uncertainties over the club’s ownership and finances. Cole should bring some much-needed creativity to the side, particularly since the departure of Yossi Benayoun to, of all clubs, Chelsea. Cole is a rare breed of English player, in that he is not afraid to try something different, or to beat a man, or to improvise above and beyond the norm. Here is one of the few examples of an English player who hasn’t had all the skill and imagination beaten out of him by the English system, who has made his way because of his talent and ingenuity, rather than his size.1
Liverpool now have a player capable of the unpredictable, and of unlocking defences. If his legs can hold up, he should be quite a coup. This is also a player who wants to prove a point after frustrating campaigns for both Chelsea and England. Tired of being a bit-part player, Cole now has his chance to shine week-in, week-out. Liverpool have not only signed a quality player, but a motivated one.
This deal has to reflect well on new manager Roy Hodgson. He clearly did an excellent job to get Cole on board, considering West Ham were offering more money, while Arsenal and Spurs could offer Champions League football. To get a player like Cole on a free transfer is quite the bargain. Much has been made of the £18.7 million to be paid to him in wages over the next four years, but you would normally expect to pay at least that for a player of Cole’s quality, before wages.
This is a statement of intent not only to the wider world, but also to those (potentially) unhappy campers Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres. They wanted better players brought in, but this signing still might not be enough to convince them to stay. While Cole is a fine addition to the team, he won’t win the Premier League on his own. Hodgson will have to use all his negotiating skills to get a little more patience from Torres and Gerrard.
However, reports than Gerrard played an integral role in selling the Liverpool deal to Cole are encouraging.
I think one of the two still might go, which while it would be a blow, would certainly fill the coffers to help Hodgson build a squad with greater depth. Mascherano, amongst others, seems almost certain to go, which will help too, in terms of funds. What seemed like a poisoned chalice may yet not be for Hodgson.
I’m loath to proclaim a new dawn for Liverpool just yet, but this is a step in the right direction. Cole is a great signing, but it may be the next two or three players brought in, along with the next two or three to leave, who decide the club’s fate for the upcoming season.
1 There is an argument to be made than Lionel Messi would never have made it in football if he had been born in England. A player of his size would probably have been overlooked (excuse the pun). Plus, the English culture of “Get it forward” would have been no environment for cultivating his talent.