Joe Cole has disappeared from sight. To some this has come as a surprise but the signs were there all along that Liverpool was being flogged a dead horse.
The willingness with which Chelsea were prepared to part with him should have been a massive tell-tale sign. Carlo Ancelotti was quoted saying:
“Joe Cole is quicker than Benayoun but Yossi is better tactically. He understands what I tell him. Yossi is a very intelligent player.”
“He knows everything about the game. Cole and Benayoun are different players and everyone has their own opinion, but we are happy to have Yossi here at Chelsea.”
These words have proved to be all too true. In the earlier part of the season Roy Hodgson deployed Joe Cole wide on the left. This is not his preferred role but one that he should have had an aptitude for having played wide right at Chelsea. He was in a similar predicament to Dirk Kuyt in having to play in an unfamiliar role. The basic requirement of playing out wide is that you have to create the width for the team by staying wide during the build-up. In possession you must try to stretch the defence and then deliver into the space you’ve created on the inside. Without the ball you drift out to in to add to targets for the opposite wide player.
Though not as easy to do as it is to write it wouldn’t seem past a player of Joe Cole’s obvious technical talent. His ability to create space for a cross with his skill cannot be questioned. He doesn’t have the space to his the by-line but I certainly would expect him to still be able to fashion enough space for a cross. The only problem with our man Cole is that he can never be found out wide. His infuriating instinct to drift infield was at times the most frustrating part of watching Liverpool’s laboured performances under RH. To make it worse we also got healthy doses of Raul Meireles on the opposite wing – just doesn’t make any sense!
That lack of tactical knowhow is what is making it difficult for Cole to find a role in this Liverpool team. He cannot be deployed out wide without the support of an overlapping wing back. Fortunately for him (and us) King Kenny seems intent on playing a possession game which will suit him well. Now all that’s left is to claim a spot in the field. As of now I would be willing to give him a look at right midfield where Kuyt is struggling and continues to be a liability because of his loose footwork.
It may be interesting to see an advanced midfield three of Maxi, Gerrard and Cole with a defensive minded player behind them. That midfield would certainly give us an ability to hold possession though it would be very lightweight in the event of a scrap.
Time will tell. Let’s hope we will soon get our money’s worth!