None other than Joe Cole, so often the scapegoat of Liverpool’s troubles both on the field and on the financial books, provided the equalizing goal against West Ham at Upton Park on Sunday.
As the dust settles from that pulsating, dramatic away win for Brendan Rodgers’ charges, however, the fact remains that Joe Cole has been a hugely disappointing signing for Liverpool. His declining years and massive wages mean that he should leave Anfield sooner rather than later.
It’s not only Cole that has underperformed this season, though. From a threadbare squad that has seen players having to play in different positions to cover for injuries and a lack of squad depth, it’s hard to pick five out-and-out flops from the Liverpool squad this year.
But let’s pick five all the same—and here they are, up for discussion and your say in the comments below.
Perhaps Oussama Assaidi, having put in several dazzling performances in the Europa League but not seen any action in the Premier League since signing in the summer, is a good candidate.
But our first on the list has to be Daniel Pacheco, who was supposed to have been given a new lease of life following Brendan Rodgers’ appointment as Liverpool manager in the summer.
See, just like Joe Cole, Pacheco was involved heavily in the Reds’ preseason matches and showed the ability to run at defenses, dribble past players and score goals.
So where has he been all season?
His ominous Twitter message a few days ago made public what we all thought was going to come true even a few years ago: that he will be on his way out of Anfield. We just thought he’d grab his chance to impress with both hands.
Stewart Downing started the season as a left winger, and he has since come across considerable competition from Raheem Sterling.
Then he switched to the right, where he encountered a formidable opponent in…Raheem Sterling.
So what does Rodgers do?
Move Glen Johnson back to right-back after Andre Wisdom got injured, move Jose Enrique forward to reinvent him as an ersatz left-winger, and put Downing in as left-back.
Has it worked? Perhaps. It’s given Liverpool more options (if you can call it that) down the left-hand side, and Downing’s seeming versatility has played to his advantage here. He’s also scored a couple of goals.
Cynically speaking, though, that he’s found a position in the squad where he can at times contribute to the team just means that he won’t be placed as Liverpool’s No. 1 flop so far this season.
What a decent couple of games can do for your reputation.
After a goal against Young Boys in the Europa League and another against West Ham just this past weekend, Joe Cole has notched two important goals in the past few weeks, which puts him slightly lower on this list as he would’ve found himself if this were compiled earlier.
His ill-fated substitute appearance against West Bromwich Albion on the opening day of the season saw him sustain an injury, and the substitute had to be substituted.
Unfortunately, his physical fitness, aging status and fleeting performances do not justify the astronomical financial outlay on his wages, and perhaps never did.
Heralded as a top young striking prospect with whom Rodgers had worked at Chelsea and Swansea City, Fabio Borini arrived with a hefty price tag for a 21-year-old who had only ever had 28 appearances in top-level professional football—£10.5 million.
In 11 appearances for Liverpool, he has scored just one goal—against FC Gomel in the Europa League qualifying rounds. In his defence, he has been used in a left-forward role, not his strongest or natural position.
He also sustained a foot injury in mid-October, which has not helped his case. But with Luis Suarez relishing the center-forward role—Borini’s natural position—and with the team gelling in his absence, Borini faces a challenging return to the starting XI when he comes back from surgery.
A few months ago, when Arsenal and Liverpool were doing battle to sign Turkish international and Bundesliga winner Nuri Sahin on loan from Real Madrid, all the hype went to Anfield as Brendan Rodgers secured the signature of a midfielder highly rated throughout Europe.
A few months on, no one talks about Sahin anymore, so dramatic has his fall from grace been in his opening few months in England.
The blame can’t fall solely on his shoulders: Thrust into action perhaps before he had completely acclimatized to the Premier League due to a serious injury to Lucas Leiva, Sahin put in a few quiet displays before exploding to life in the Europa League and subsequently against Norwich City at Carrow Road.
But it’s all been downhill again since, as he has failed to assert himself in the Liverpool midfield.
Now that Lucas has returned from injury and has reestablished himself as an integral part of the Reds setup, Sahin finds himself further than ever from the starting XI.
The silver lining is, of course, that Sahin, as well as the rest of the players on this list, has the best part of six months to rescue his season.
For extensive coverage on the Premier League, please check out my Bleacher Report writer’s profile. Also stay tuned for my weekly roundup on English football on SoccerWithoutLimits.com. Follow me @theredarmchair.