The news that we have signed Joe Cole is very encouraging. It is also a pleasant surprise and, dare I say it, a boost to everyone who probably thought the best we could hope to get this season was someone from Barrow reserves!
Although Cole is out of contract the news that Spurs and Arsenal were in the running for his signature and that he is based in the South, and would therefore have to uproot to the cold, harsh, barbarous, north, surely made us “third favourites” to sign him! However he is ours and this, together with the probable move of Emiliano Insua to Italy for £5m, represents what many will see as a good few days work, and a good start, for Roy Hodgson?
Many will see Cole’s signing as a straight swap between us and Chelsea – Yossi Benayoun for Joe Cole. Who has got the better of the exchange? Well after three years service we’ve trousered around £6m for Benayoun and have got Cole on a “free” although it will cost us around £18m over four years. Cole is also 28 Benayoun is 30 and has more European and International experience so, that’s a good start! I’m sure Cole will also show some class and won’t be as self centred and spiteful about Chelsea as Benayoun was about his time here after he had moved to Stamford Bridge? In short it’s a good deal on all accounts!
Hopefully Cole will bring something different and exciting to our midfield. Many will look at him in the light of his recent long lay off with a knee injury and wonder if we’ve made a good purchase. The clamour during the World Cup for him to start for England suggests he is still highly thought of by players and press alike? However, there are those who feel that at Chelsea he hasn’t lived up to the class and promise he showed as a kid at West Ham, even though he has the trophies to suggest otherwise. Perhaps the likes of Jose Mourinho tempered this in favour of getting his team to play as part of a disciplined unit? It would be great feat if Roy Hodgson could establish this whilst also giving Cole enough rope/freedom to put in the performances we know he can produce?
Where will Cole fit in? Most of his time has been spent on the wing (he’s been given Kenny’s old number) even though his preferred position is in the middle of midfield, sound familiar Steven Gerrard? However, because of this he brings some versatility. Presumably Cole could also play behind Torres allowing Gerrard to go back into the centre of midfield? Add to that Milan Jovanovic who can also play up front or on the wing as too (and lets not forget him) can Ryan Babel and we appear to be assembling a squad that gives us plenty of attacking options? Cynics might say fitness will be an issue but as I write a midfield consisting of Gerrard, Aquilani, Cole and a n other looks like a very interesting prospect although the fourth position needs to be a “holder” – what price that person being Lucas or Mascharano?.
Above all the signing, to small degree, reminds people that despite our situation off the field we still have some clout and can still attract the right sort of player. Besides uplifting the fans, and giving Hodgson some deserved early credibility, maybe it will send a message to those players who are still dithering about their Liverpool futures because of doubts about our ambition?
Elsewhere it is also looking like we’ll be seeing an Argentine exodus from Anfield this summer. Mascherano’s situation appears to be “parked” for a while. He is on holiday and not returning Roy’s calls. If he doesn’t go then we can almost certainly say goodbye to Emiliano Insua who looks to be heading for Fiorentina. Roy Hodgson commented yesterday.
“A deal has been struck with Fiorentina. We wish him well for the rest of his career and thank him for his time spent at Liverpool”
Because of this surely, after Joe Cole, Hodgson’s priority is signing a left back. It seems to be our doomed position and it makes the decision not to extend Fabio Aurelio’s contract slightly strange?
And Insua? No doubt “obituaries” of his time at Anfield will probably suggest that he made too many mistakes and as such wasn’t good enough for Liverpool. There is no doubt that he was found wanting on more than one occasion however, it’s not as if he was only player, young, experienced or otherwise, that fell into this category? Many of the squad underperformed last season which is why we ended up where we did – gosh, big revelation!
There is also the issue of when to blood youngsters and assessing whether they are ready to play in big matches. With Insua this didn’t enter onto the equation injuries to others meant that he had play more games last season than perhaps his experience would have other wise merited. As a result it was a very harsh, very steep and very public learning curve at times and although in the long term this might be good thing, possibly making the player stronger, it didn’t help in regard to some of fans perception of him? Normally he would be shown patience and given a chance to establish himself but as the season unravelled that was in short supply all around? Because of this perhaps a move, and a fresh start, is the best for all concerned? Good luck to him.
So all in all a hectic few days and barely time to discuss the pre season friendlies. I had my Saturday evening planned out. The misses was out with her mates, the kids would be put to bed and time for a nice late night beer (or two) stretched out on the sofa watching a recording of the Al- Hilal match. As I get older I’m getting increasingly bored with pre match build ups so wind forward to try and find the start of the game keep winding, forward and forward and forward and forward until I saw what looked like a close up of a rain sodden pitch! Dam or should it be damp? Hopefully we will get to play on Wednesday night when we are scheduled to play Grasshoppers?