Liverpool: 5 Reasons Reds and Joe Cole Need to Part Ways
Last time around, when Liverpool hosted Stoke City, Cole made it off the bench in the 67th minute to replace Suso and make his first appearance at Anfield in over a year.
This Saturday, he reverted to type—sitting in the stands, that is—against Reading. He is seemingly in direct competition with Stewart Downing every week to be the midfielder who avoids being left out of the matchday squad.
A sad fall from grace from one of England’s erstwhile most exciting talents.
Here are five reasons Liverpool and Joe Cole must part ways as soon as possible—and, as usual, feel free to have your say in the comments below.
He’s Too Expensive
First and foremost: Joe Cole is way too expensive to justify his non-inclusion.
In fact, he is way too expensive to fit into the value-first policy that John Henry and Fenway Sports Group have implemented at Anfield.
At a reported £90,000 a week, simple arithmetic gives Cole a basic yearly salary between £4.5 million and £5 million.
And that’s not counting the appearance bonuses that are written into player contracts these days. (Though, judging from his non-involvement, he isn’t very likely to command too much of those!)
To think that Liverpool are paying the equivalent of two Oussama Assaidi’s (whose transfer fee was a reported £2.3 million) just to keep Cole in the squad is hard to fathom.
It’s not pretty, and if this kind of budget-balancing act affected Brendan Rodgers’ transfer activity this past summer, it is all the more frustrating.
He’s Too Old
At the time of writing, Joe Cole is turning 31 in just over three weeks’ time.
Which makes him, after Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard, the third-oldest player to have taken the field for Liverpool this season.
And that’s discounting the fact that Carragher’s role for the Reds has evolved into more of a support role and emergency center-back option.
Considering that Liverpool’s first-team squad have been named as the youngest side in the Premier League this season (as of a few weeks ago), and that Brendan Rodgers has put Liverpool’s youngsters at the forefront of his agenda, this makes the situation for Joe Cole ever gloomier.
While 17-year-old Raheem Sterling became Liverpool’s second-youngest goal scorer ever against Reading and 18-year-old Suso continued to start in the front three, 30-year-old Cole was left toiling in the stands.
He’s Too Injury Prone
A few minutes into his substitute appearance against West Bromwich Albion in the opening game of the 2012-2013 season, Cole was forced off with a hamstring injury.
He made his return against Reading on Saturday, but he has never been a player with a consistent injury-free record, which makes him a liability in the squad: There is no way Brendan Rodgers can feasibly plan for a sustained period of first-team action from Joe Cole.
To be fair, he has never been an injury-free player, and he has worked well around his injuries throughout his career to earn a move to Liverpool in the first place.
But with a club ethos and playing philosophy that relies on physical fitness to harry opponents for the entire 90 minutes, Cole will find it hard to force himself into his manager’s first-team plans.
He’s Still Capable of First-Team Football
In light of these arguments for Joe Cole’s departure from Liverpool, one thing must be said in his defence: He is still good enough for first-team football.
Cole happens to be caught in a season of transition (see: revolution) for Liverpool under Rodgers, and so his massive wages, relative age and injury-proneness do not fit into the first team.
But make no mistake: Joe Cole is still a talented player and still has plenty to offer as a Premier League player.
His cameo against Stoke City, while ultimately unable to deliver a win for Liverpool, showed promising signs, not least the hunger that he still has to make it.
Which is precisely why he must part ways with Liverpool.
We all saw from Harry Kewell’s example what a change of scenery might just be able to do for a player with a well-known injury record at a club.
Any midtable side would and should be delighted to secure his services—provided that his wages do not represent a stumbling block still.
He’s Just Not Good Enough for Liverpool
Because, ultimately, he is just not good enough for Liverpool.
Perhaps, from his performance levels at Chelsea, he was good enough to make it into Roy Hodgson’s starting XI.
Perhaps, at the peak of his injury-free powers, he might still be good enough to start for Liverpool.
But, as always, timing is everything: His injury against West Brom in August paved the way for Raheem Sterling to establish himself in the first team, just as Downing’s non-form has led to the inclusion of Suso.
Say what you will about Liverpool’s summer transfer policy and record, but Rodgers’ risk to include these adventurous and talented youngsters has paid off so far, and all the signs point to it continuing to pay off.
Where does that leave Joe Cole?
Frankly, in no-man’s land: Jostling with Downing to be fourth-choice winger (behind Sterling, Suso, Assaidi and Downing) and with Jordan Henderson to be seventh-choice midfielder (behind Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen, Lucas, Nuri Sahin, Jonjo Shelvey and Henderson).
It's too bad, because Joe Cole has seemed passionate about Liverpool Football Club and has come across as a genuinely nice guy.
He would leave with Liverpool’s best wishes, but unfortunately for Joe Cole, it didn’t work out the way everyone wanted it to. It is time to put an amicable end to his time at Anfield.
Let us know your thoughts on the Joe Cole situation in the comments below.
Also check out: Comparing Brendan Rodgers’ Team to Dalglish’s Men Last Season
For extensive coverage on the Premier League, please check out my Bleacher Report writer’s profile. For all things Liverpool—match reactions, opinions et al—please subscribe to The Red Armchair.