TWO blasts from Liverpool Football Club’s past have been trying to re-write history this week.
Joe Cole’s lame attempt to explain why he failed so miserably on Merseyside simply defied belief.
“I can only play for teams that I’m passionate about and I think that’s what went wrong for me at Liverpool,” he said.
“I didn’t feel a connection with the club or the place that I had at Chelsea and West Ham.”
Yes, forget the fact that Cole was injury-prone, unfit and out of his depth, it was simply ‘a lack of passion’ for the shirt which led to him pocketing so much for contributing so little and three successive Liverpool bosses overlooking him. Of course that explanation doesn’t quite tally with his outpouring for love for all things Liverpool to the club’s website after gleefully penning a four-year contract worth £100,000 a week in July 2010.
“When I joined, the guy interviewing me said ‘you’ve joined the biggest club in the country’ and reeled off the trophies they’d won,” Cole claimed this week. “I just said ‘yeah, if you put it like that, I suppose you’re right’ and Liverpool used that as the headline to the interview. I didn’t want to upset anyone so I just went along with it. But obviously they’re not the biggest club in the country any more.”
However, a brief trawl through the archives unearthed that first interview and Cole, who walked away with a £3million pay-off when he joined West Ham on a free transfer in January, has got a selective memory.
In answer to the question ‘what have the past 48 hours been like?’, which was hardly putting words in his mouth, Cole waxed lyrical about why he had opted to head north.
“I could have stayed at Chelsea because the fans love me. But I wanted to challenge myself and when I knew Liverpool were interested – it’s the biggest club in the country – so it was a no-brainer in the end,” he said.
Cole wasn’t the only one this week getting muddled up. Former Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow told the BBC that Rafa Benitez was doomed to failure at Chelsea because he didn’t have the kind of “total control” he craved and enjoyed at Anfield.
Purslow said that Benitez had been given a new contract by Liverpool back in 2009 which “gave him disproportionate power, perhaps the most powerful contract in professional football for a manager, a contract that gave him much greater power than the normal manager”.
Yet four years ago Purslow was proudly claiming he had been responsible for giving Benitez that “disproportionate power”.
“The most important aspect of the football club I was involved in in my first week in the job was securing Rafa for another five years,” he said in October 2009. “You only have to look at the Premiership era and our two major competitors in the last 10 to 12 years to see the benefits of longevity.”
Of course it was Purslow who negotiated Cole’s transfer prior to the appointment of boss Roy Hodgson and this week’s accounts provided a painful reminder of the club’s past failings in the transfer market.
The figures, which laid bare a £40million loss before tax, told a story of a club paying Champions League salaries in a season when they weren’t even in Europe.
It was a period when Liverpool had to pay off flops like Nabil El Zhar, Christian Poulsen, Philipp Degen and Milan Jovanovic, while also shelling out huge sums of money for Cole and fellow under-achiever Alberto Aquilani to subsidise their loan deals.
For too long Liverpool were a soft touch, rewarding failure with bucket loads of cash. It’s why the change in policy to handing out contract with performance-related payments, likes the one penned by Daniel Sturridge in January, is to be welcomed. The link between earnings and contribution on the pitch is well established in American sports and now it’s in place at Anfield. Hit your targets and big money will follow – everyone is a winner.
Cole should thank his luck stars about the riches he enjoyed because no longer can someone pocket that kind of cash at Anfield without delivering.