Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish says he is prepared wait for Joe Cole’s best to shine through because he knows it’s in there somewhere.
That makes one.
Cole was signed by the Reds last summer on a free transfer from Chelsea, and his first outing saw him sent off in the first half against Arsenal in the season opener. His performances have improved slightly since then.
He has been hampered by injury, and because the first half-season of his Reds career was under Roy Hodgson, it would be fair to overlook that and just focus on his performances under Dalglish.
Cole got his first run out under King Kenny Thursday against Sparta Prague in the first leg of the Round of 32 Europa League tie in Prague. He came on for Fabio Aurelio (injured again) in the first half and put on a decent performance but nothing was spectacular about either side in the 0-0 draw.
Dalglish says he will be patient with the England international (former international?). Well, someone is going to need to patient, that’s for sure. It just may end up being the Liverpool fans.
Cole is very similar to another Premier League player who had so many people fawning over him in his early years but since has struggled with injuries and form: Michael Owen.
Owen left Liverpool, where he was an awe-inspiring striker, in 2004 and has not found his form since. He had an ill-fated season at Real Madrid, in which he missed being part of the amazing comeback in Istanbul in the Champions League final in 2005. He then spent four years at Newcastle United making only 71 appearances.
As Newcastle went down in 2009, Owen jumped ship and Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United nabbed him in what was the shocking move of the summer.
In the past season and a half, Owen has made a handful of appearances for the Red Devils, mostly off the bench and in domestic cups and has shown several glimpses of the player who was crowned Ballon d’Or winner in 2001 and scored over 100 goals for the Reds in just 216 appearances.
His most memorable moment in a Red Devils shirt came in the Manchester Derby in September 2009 at Old Trafford, where he came off the bench to score a very late (too late if you ask Manchester City fans) winner.
Other than that, Owen’s either struggled with injuries or Fergie just doesn’t want to use him. So, what’s the difference between Sir Alex and King Kenny in this case?
Manchester United can actually afford to be patient.
Manchester United has plenty of depth and a misfiring, injury-riddled Michael Owen doesn’t hurt anyone, except perhaps Owen himself.
Liverpool, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same luxury. True, if the whole squad is healthy, Joe Cole is not anywhere near the top of the team sheet with the form Raul Meireles is in, but Meireles does need a break now and again.
Ferguson may or may not offer Owen a new contract at the end of this season, but if he doesn’t, it’s not likely Owen will be playing in the Premier League next season (unless of course Liverpool brings him back. Just think what Kenny could get out of him).
Cole fortunately came to Merseyside on a free transfer, but he’s still getting paid well by the Reds and needs to start showing some glimmer of what he used to do for Chelsea or else.
What are the odds Michael Owen and Joe Cole are teammates next season…in the Championship?