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Lost in Lille where Cole has found a home

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Dan Walker | 12:57 UK time, Thursday, 24 November 2011

Hello good people. There was a distinct lack of bloggage last week, which I know caused havoc in some parts of the country (well, one person asked me where it was). I'll let you know what's happening this week on Football Focus in a bit but I wanted to tell you about last week's trip to Lille to see Joe Cole.

It was a while in the planning but eventually we settled on a date and booked our tickets on the Eurostar. Three of us made the trip across the Channel - I was asking the questions, Graham was producer-in-chief and West Ham fan Stu was our cameraman.

Stu was the only one clever enough to check the weather in France before we left.

Graham and I weren't quite in Bermuda shorts but I think we both expected it to be a little warmer than the freeze-your-face-off conditions that met us upon arrival. Graham and I had 20 minutes at Lille station waiting for Stu to arrive. We spent that time cuddling a hot beverage and standing half a centimetre away from the only heater on the platform.

Joe Cole playing for Lille

No more Eurostar for Joe Cole, who's now based permanently in France. Photo: Getty

Stu arrived - laden with equipment - and we headed for the taxi rank. It was in the queue that we discovered that none of us paid enough attention during GCSE French. My grasp doesn't really extend beyond, "Avez-vous une pamplemousse?" but asking, "Do you have a grapefruit?" will only get you so far.

We delegated language detail to Graham because he wanted to play with the translator on his phone. It may have seemed like a brilliant plan but there is something strangely soul-destroying about watching an Englishman telling an exclusively French-speaking taxi driver to, "Hold on a minute guv" while he looks for the word stadium on his new toy.

The highlight of the dialogue was the moment that Graham, struggling to explain to the driver that we wanted to go to the current Lille stadium rather than the one being built, asked him to, "Bear with it". Despite speaking no English, the driver seemed aware that a bear was a large furry animal that occasionally attacked humans and a mild fear crossed his face.

To show you the extent of our linguistic limitations, when I ordered a chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) later in the day at a cafe, I was pilloried for hiding my fluent French and leaving Graham to struggle through "Beargate" alone.

Despite our issues - which I do confess to slightly exaggerating - we arrived at the correct stadium, picked up a few shots of the picturesque town centre and eventually made our way to the training ground in good time.

Whenever you go to a foreign country to interview a player, you tend to get a lot more freedom than you would here. The press officer asked us what we wanted to do and then positioned us in the middle of a bright red corridor to wait for Mr Cole. There was a red leather sofa next to a trophy cabinet which was filled with paraphernalia from the Intertoto Cup.

The former Chelsea and West Ham midfielder - on loan in France from Liverpool - turned up after about 25 minutes and suggested we relocate to the players' canteen because he was "Hank" (Marvin = starvin'). We might have struggled to get to grips with the local lingo but we all knew the reference to the former Shadows lead guitarist meant it was time for lunch.

When Cole went out on loan from Anfield there were easier options available but he chose the European route. Initially he was commuting across the Channel but he is now facing the experience alongside his wife and young daughter. The football is going well and the club, fellow players and fans seem to have genuinely embraced the lad from Camden Town.

Everyone we bumped into on our way to the canteen, and the staff inside, seemed happy to have him around the place and went out of their way to help him master the nuances of working in a foreign land.

If you missed the interview at the time you can watch the full thing here...

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There seems to be two ways of looking at Joe Cole. Is he the Glenn Hoddle- esque genius who will never fit perfectly into English football? Or the outrageously talented lad who failed to fulfil his potential? There are some things we can say for sure: Liverpool was a big mistake for him, he is still desperate to play again in the Premier League and he feels unfairly shut out on a national level.

Capello doesn't think Cole answers any of the questions he currently has about England. If Harry Redknapp takes over after Euro 2012 then maybe the midfielder's fortunes will change but even Cole would admit that, with a fully fit Wilshere, Downing, Gerrard, Lampard, Young, Parker, Walcott and Milner, he would need to return to the peak of his powers to get back in favour.

We've got another big name interview for you this week. Manchester United defender Phil Jones will talk exclusively about life in the spotlight, being so highly rated, his favourite position, his future and his bizarre pre-match ritual. We have also brought Alan Shearer and Michael Owen together, Charlton manager Chris Powell talks to Mark Bright and world 5,000m champion Mo Farah is the latest man to take on Mark Lawrenson in Premier League predictions.

On top of that, we will be joined in the studio by two men at the heart of a title-winning side in the early 1990s... Gary McAllister and current Wales boss Gary Speed. If you have any questions for those two, comments about Joe Cole or the show in general then let me know below. You can also find me on Twitter at


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  • Comment number 1.

    Good Blog Dan. Pity that the Reds weren't the club for him as he is a special talent. France was a good place for him to go rather than the Premiership though as he would still be in the spotlight, In France he can re-focus and make a new start. I would love to see him come back to Liverpool in a year or so's time, Fit, sharp and ready to show what he is made of. YNWA

  • Comment number 2.

    Great blog as ever Dan. I'm always interested to see how British players get on abroad. For more please check out my blog below...

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Good work Dan, I hope you enjoyed Lille! I have lived in Lille for a year and half now and watched the team win the double last season. The people here love football and really know their football - when they signed Joe Cole they were really pleased after losing some of their best players in the summer, and I can tell you they love him here!

  • Comment number 5.

    Yeh i think cole has probably been a victim of the kick and rush football associated with england. Obviously injuries haven't helped but he is the one english footballer of the modern generation (excluding wilshere) that has exceptional technical ability and as is being shown he can go and perform in a foreign league. I really think that cappello should consider putting him in the engand team leading up to the euros. Just to see how he does and i think that he will do very well. Especially if england are going to go with a 5 in midfield i would have him wilshere and parker in the middle and i guarentee that england would keep the ball better which is extremely important especially against the top teams. I can see similarities between wilshere and cole the more i look at it and just as glenn hoddle and chris woddle were somewhat ahead of their generation cole was most certainly ahead of his especially in his younger days when he used to beat players for fun. But yeh if i was cappello i would definately give cole a shot because especially in the friendlies coming up he really has nothing to lose.

  • Comment number 6.

    Good blog Dan.

    What on earth did you mean by the reference to the cold weather, Moyseyside @4 will tell, it's always bitter at this time of the year, in Lille.

    I watched the interview with Joe, he was his usual self but he has never looked totally at ease in front of the cameras and thats not a bad thing.

    Like Scholes for part of his England career, I have always thought Joe was a wasted talent at international level. Forever played out of their natural positions. Both were wasted and their prime years lost.

    A very gifted youngster unlike Lampard when they were at West Ham, for Joe he always looked comfortable on the ball and everything looked easy for him and he could go past players with skill, he also had very quick feet. Lampard on the other hand was the opposite. Strange how he ended up making way at club and international level for Lampard. Still that is the mentality of the English game, great engine and running up and down like a rabbit is what is most admired by England managers.

    You got it right when you compared him to Glenn Hoddle, both were not thought of as work horses, although I'd argue Joe always put in a shift, in that dept. I lived just outside Monaco for 20 years [watched Hoddle many times] and Hoddle excelled in France. Both were well suited to French football.

    It's a bit too late for Joe to be in the England team again, especially as Capello would never dare let him loose in midfield.

  • Comment number 7.

    Gooner 8

    Definately, when Cole was Wilshire's age, he had very similar qualities when it came to technical ability. Both have that rare commodity very quick feet.

    I pray that England treat Wilshire better than they did Cole, by playing to Wilshires strengths. Although like Cole said in his interview, I do believe Wishire would accept playing anywhere, to play for England. An admiral quality but England managers take it to the extreme.

    Why do we waste these talents?

  • Comment number 8.

    'bRought Alan Shearer and Michael Owen'

    Its pretty early to say much about Cole. Like a lot of GB players, they often end up back within a season. I hope he doesn't. Other cultures are nothing to be afraid of.

  • Comment number 9.

    For me Joe Cole has varied between cardboard cut out and really good player. Always skillful but too often didn't turn his skill into anything tangible for the team. He left Chelsea because they wouldn't pay him enough. If I recall correctly it was reported Chelsea were paying him 80k per week and that he thought he should be getting more than 100k per week. So he went to Liverpool. And disappeared. Good luck to him at Lille. If he could back to his best I'd like to see him the 2012 squad. Although I mentioned money, compared to the Tevez's of this world he's a saint and when he was in London he did a lot of good work in the community and for charity.

  • Comment number 10.

    Joe Cole will always be a talented player who never really fulfilled his full potential in English football. When he left West Ham for Chelsea was the right time for him to kick off his promise to a higher level. Unfortunately, due to the over purchase of players at Chelsea and there style of football we never really got to see the best of Cole.

    If Joe Cole was any other nationality he would have gained more caps. Why, because his ability would be nurtured at club level to allow him to flourish at international level. England managers never really believed in Cole and to have a man of his talent wasted on the left flank is a crying shame.

    I am glad he has found his feet in France. More talented English players should go abroad earlier in their career to developed their all round game. Staying in the England is too easy for some of our talented players. They get the praise from the press and the money but where it counts is on the pitch.

    Oh and as for Wilshire he is way above the level of the current crop of English players. If England don't have players capable of playing TOUCH football around Wilshire then another great talent will be great a club level and suffer at the International stage

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.


    Great blog???...

    Must have a been a slow news day...

    I've seen more output on wikepedia...

  • Comment number 13.

    Good Blog!

  • Comment number 14.

    Did you really have a beverage at the station? I always thought Lille was in Europe, not the USA.

  • Comment number 15.

    The problem with Cole at Liverpool, was that he is a) sadly past it, b) doesn't have a suitable best position that fits in with the system and c) couldn't find form. At Lille, there is a little more freedom with position, and although he is outshone by Hazard, the league is one where you don't need to be top drawer to be good. While in the Champions League group stage, there still isn't the quality that would worry someone like Cole. I think he'll do a season at Lille, and come back to a London club, possibly West Ham if they are promoted. Unfortunately, he can forget about getting into the England squad. There are better, younger players coming through and the only room for old players is at a push: Gerrard, Lampard and Barry, and even then I can't see both Gerrard and Lampard making the plane next summer.

  • Comment number 16.

    Interesting that virtually every comment and the article refer to Cole's failure to fulfil his talent... has he really?

    56 England caps, 10 goals, a World Cup where he was one of two players for England (with Hargreaves) to actually play well.

    Two titles with Chelsea, a European Champions League final, 100 plus CL games... 3 FA Cups, and winner of both Chelsea and West Ham player of the year.

    Yeah, what a failure.

  • Comment number 17.

    Spaced invader @16

    Not one of us who recognised that joe Cole failed to fulfill his talent, has really blamed Joe Cole for that. Successive management has never used him in his correct position or allowed him freedom.

    Yes like, Scholes and Hoddle he won caps but we never saw the potential of a young Joe Cole really flourish.

    Here is an example of what a bad manager can do.

    Prior to 2001 Scholes had a strike rate of 1 goal in 3 matches for England. After 2001, his record was I in 26 matches. No he wasn't over the hill he was 26/27 at the time. That is a top notch strike rate at international level for any midfielder. The difference was Erickson was appointed half way through Scholes career. Who in a state of madness deemed Scholes not able to play central midfield. He chose Lampard and Gerrard for the central role and that never ever worked.

    Joe Cole was the same, a naturally creative player who was shunted onto the left side of midfield, because of Gerrard and Lampard, what a waste. Something we do consistently in England with talent that is out of the ordinary.

    No one has really said that Cole was a failure in fact it is the opposite, England failed Joe Cole. It was a case of what might have been with Joe Cole but the fact is while England laboured Joe Cole was never given the opportunity.

  • Comment number 18.

    When Jose came to Chelsea, he turned Joe Cole from a "flashy player with sometimes not enough end product" to the most improved player in the league.

    Joe always had natural ability, and his technique was always good enough to shine in other footballing continents, thankfully as a nation we have realised recently just how important technique is why is excatly why we should build our entire national team around Jack Wilshere.

    Give him speedy wingers, a holding player (Parker) to take care of the back 4 and forwards intelligent enough to make the runs when needed (Sturridge) and then maybe England can actually perform at an international tournament. And when I say perform, I mean just play well.

  • Comment number 19.


    Its funny you mentioned 2001 and Paul Scholes. I saw Joe Cole at the PFA After Party that year and had a chat with him about why Erickson wasn't played in the central role. He said he just has to knuckle down and hope to somehow get his chance. Now you will LAUGH but I told him that IMHO Erickson didn't have a clue and he is why:-

    I told Joe Cole that England won't win the World Cup with Scholes in that role. I played EIDOS Championship Manager and took Scholes out and put Cole in his position. We all know the game is played won on ability and players in the best position within a system. England won the World Cup and he scored so many goals for me in that position. Joe Cole was in hysterics after I told him what I did in the game. I said to have a word with Erickson and tell him to play Championship Manager as it will help him play players in the right system for England.

    If only Erickson listed to Cole like he did to me that night. We would be singing his name right now as a world cup winner LOL.

    I stand by my theory that Joe Cole was the closest player England have had to Roberto Baggio type player. And we know the divine ponytail was the pride of Italy.

  • Comment number 20.

    Interesting blog Dan. It's still quite rare in this day and age to find english players ply their trade outside of the prem league. Why do you think that is?
    Open question to everyone.....who else do you think would be quite suited to play outside of the prem?

  • Comment number 21.

    Hi Dan - love this blog - I firmly believe, as a 'Pool fan Joe still could have a big future for us. If he can regain that match fitness and sharpness in France I really think he can do it.

    On another note - I saw another young writer advertising his football blog below, I was kindly wandering if I could give you all a gentle nudge in the direction of my blog?
    It's at and I've really attempted to fill it with as many 'out-there' articles as possible that keep it entertaining!

    Any feedback would be really greatly appreciate guys! Cheers!

    Keep it up Dan :)

  • Comment number 22.

    I remember Joe Cole coming to Old Trafford in the early 2000's with West Ham. I think he was already captain at around 20. They were awful and from memory United battered them with 6 or 7 goals. Despite this he was the stand out player on the pitch, never stopped for 90 minutes and was a cut-above the rest of the WH team. I was gutted when he went to Chelsea. If the Scholesy or Giggsy had not lasted as long as they did he would have been a natural for the United midfield. Cant understand why he didnt get more games at Liverpool, I guess he was a victim of the politics at the club as a Roy Hodgson signing. Too late at 30 for the England Squad but he could still run the midfield for a top 6 aspiring club like Villa or Newcastle. Hope to see him back in the prem soon...

  • Comment number 23.

    Good job the BBC doesn't look like getting privatised.

    "It was a while in the planning but eventually we settled on a date and booked our tickets on the Eurostar. Three of us made the trip across the Channel - I was asking the questions, Graham was producer-in-chief and West Ham fan Stu was our cameraman."

    Did the BBC need all three to travel to France? Surely the BBC could have found or got Lille OSC to supply a local bilingual cameraman.

  • Comment number 24.


    Good shout...there is suited and needed to improve their game. I'll go with suited for now:-

    Ashley Cole - Spain/Italy
    Jack Wilshere - No brainer - Spain
    Gareth Bale - Italy
    Theo Walcott - Spain/Germany
    Aaron Lennon - France

    I feel the key is to see the players strengths and to see which league will allow them to use their strengths and improve in areas lacking in their game. Food for thought with room for discussion?

  • Comment number 25.


    I did the same in the late 90s but I used Steve McManaman in the central role. I then had Paul Ince and David Batty mopping up as the holding players. As a midfield three - I can't think of better in the history of the game!

  • Comment number 26.

    I think my arm is broken. Wait, whats that? It's meant to bend that way?

    Dan, I'm shortly due to go collect two infant beasts which her ladyship will care for and I will train. You may be safe now but your time will come.

    I wanna go Lille.

    And remember children, the hand your not watching is your other hand.

    Why do I never get asked to join in? I guess my face doesn't fit.

    Paul dodecahedron face smythe

  • Comment number 27.

    good blog - awful camera work!

  • Comment number 28.

    Footballers should all be really interested in playing in other countries, it gives them an insight into new training methods, shows them a different way of life and different culture. Having said that, I know that I would much rather be in Marseille in winter than Lille. Playing on a half frozen pitch in December can't be much fun. It's not as if he can even go skiing in The Vosges as I'm sure his manager wouldn't allow it.

    As someone has said previously, Cole should embrace France and not think of it as a temporary destination. He is still in the eye of many people and Lille are the sort of side who can impress and ensure that he remains in the news.

    Good luck to you Joe, I have spent the majority of my working years outside of the UK and have enjoyed every one of them.

  • Comment number 29.

    @ 24

    Yeah I see what you mean.

    I could see players like Rio, Cole, Terry who to an extent rely on their legs (terry not quick to begin with) could well be better suited to Italy and the slow build up play that tends to be linked with the game.
    Gareth Bale to Italy is an interesting one? I would have thought spain is better suited?
    What about gary cahill and phil jones to spain? Danny Wellbeck to Germany? Owen in France (fox in the box)?

  • Comment number 30.

    Great, great blog Dan.

    I have read bbc blogs for a while but never signed up to comment. I found this blog funny enough for me to take the 2mins to sign up! Keep up the good work.

    by the way i am a Liverpool fan so im obviously a bit gutted about how Joe's time panned out at Anfield.

  • Comment number 31.

    I have always admired Joe Cole, definitely ahead of his time for the English game, a true technically gifted player. I dont think its because we have a lack of Talent that alot of our players do not go abroad, i think English player doesn't travel well, so i was happy to see Joe settling in well in France and enjoying his football again, and even more happy that the French fans have taken to him, he deserves nothing less.

    Hopefully Joe will be considered for the England team in the Euros, and he will add some creativity. Still remember his goal in the WC, what a player he is our equivalent to players like Mata, Silva, Moderic small versatile and creative.

    England needs more players like this, lets hope Jack Wilshire gets back up and running soon, i thought that this season would be a pivitol one for him leading up the Euros.

  • Comment number 32.

    Joe Cole's failings were not in the ability department.
    To me he never seemed fit enough to play a full match..anywhere ! Maybe his training was not up to standard or he smokes 40 a day, I don't know. But whenever I saw him play he was huffing and puffing after 20 mins.

  • Comment number 33.

    Whilst this will sound quite damning, Cole is more circus act that professional footballer.

    Mourinho got him right but the rest of us let affection for the tricky Englishman blind us to his limitations in a team game.

    Very nice lad though, for all that.

    François Mitterrand

  • Comment number 34.

    Nice to see an England footballer embrace another culture.More should join
    He and his family will have a good experience of living in a foreign land.
    One never stops learning a new language.
    More stories like this.

  • Comment number 35.

    #34 Loy

    Why don't YOU move abroad then, so that you and your family will have a good experience of living in a foreign land?

  • Comment number 36.

    Dan- Joe Cole has become something of the 'forgotten man' in recent times and I think your visit to see him in Lille will probably remind one or two managers in the PL that Joe may be able to 'do a job for them'? IMO Joe's problems started when he left West Ham, he had it all there, including I think the captaincy? Its argueable that his all round game improved under Mourhino at Chelsea, but he went from 'centre stage' at West Ham, to 'waiting in the wings' at Chelsea, to 'bit parts' at Liverpool! He has probably once again got the chance to be a 'big fish' at Lille, good luck to him, he was always entertaining, if not very productive and he joins a long list of former 'technically gifted' players, who maybe feel hard done by and who never quite 'fitted in' the PL, or with England!

  • Comment number 37.

    If Cole is getting back to form, he should be a shoe in for the England squad. He is a hugely talented, exciting and interesting player, who can offer that behind-the-striker role or creative bit just like Wilshere

    He is far more capable than Downing (who only performs against the weak sides), and offers something different.

    Here's hoping against hope that Capello takes a look and realises what he's missing, rather than persists with the pros he knows. For this is the reason he has only just noticed the youngsters - he never bothered to look outside the big name failures.

  • Comment number 38.

    The reason why English players usually come back after about a year playing abroad is because English players just aren't good enough - technically or mentally - to cut it in competitive foreign leagues which actually require skill, as opposed to English football, where the only two attributes that are required appear to be ''strength'' and ''pace''.

    I remember watching Jermaine Pennant playing for Zaragoza last season. To say that his performances were pub standard would be doing a great disservice to all the pub players up and down the country. Yet he's a ''hero'' at the EPL club who he now plays for.

    I applaud Joe Cole for broadening his horizons and expanding his skills in a competitive continental league, rather than just accepting mediocrity in the EPL.

    Pablo Picasso

  • Comment number 39.

    @22 phil.....
    "Cant understand why he didnt get more games at Liverpool................................ Too late at 30 for the England Squad but he could still run the midfield for a top 6 aspiring club"

    Liverpool are an aspiring top 6 club

  • Comment number 40.

    #37 GenesisRed

    If Cole is in form, take him as some sort of '5th striker'?

    Of course, if Richards can't get in, how will Cole?

    (And why aren't journalists taking Capello to task over the Richards issue rather than trying to stir the pot at Chelsea?)

  • Comment number 41.

    As a liverpool fan i was very excited when we signed Joe, he always had the ability and skill to unlock defences, something Liverpool had lacked at times under Rafa and Houllier.

    Unfortunately for him his time at Liverpool started under the reign of woy whose tactics would never allow JC to really flourish. He isn't overly quick over the ground and needs the ball at his feet as he has quick feet and a quick mind on the pitch.

    I always thought his best position was behind the a lone striker but I do wonder what he would be like in the "quarter back" position ala Pirlo.

    I can't see him coming back to Liverpool who at their best are a fast a fluid, interchangable front 4 (obviously with AC on the bench) and this would not suit Joe's game.

    A sad loss to the English game, a player who just never really found a team who would give him the chance to play in an integral role.

  • Comment number 42.

    Looks to be doing well in France. Can he return to be Liverpool's 'missing link' to the title a second time afterwards?

  • Comment number 43.

    #38 The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    Whilst you have tried to weave a narrative based around your usual agenda, I think the situation is much simpler than that.

    As with many things, the English are relatively lazy and self centred and get paid more here for the same thing. This means that when considering a move abroad, the question is 'why bother?'

    Auguste Rodin

  • Comment number 44.

    @ 29 My reason for Gareth Bale going to Italy would be defensively his game will improve. Technically his came will also raise and Wales will see the full benefit of this. Too often these players just like to run with the ball without putting in the work for the team. This is what makes them great players above highly talented players.

    I agree with your choices for Wellbeck and Owen. Wellbeck is going to be one quality striker and his game is well suited for Germany. Owen should follow Cole to France as the EPL is now too fast for him. He didn't really develop his game before moving to Real Madrid and it showed.

    Another player who will be great abroad is Aaron Ramsey. A very intelligent player on the ball.

    @ 33 you think Mourinho got it right? I think he got it wrong. He may have played a good few seasons at Chelsea but they didn't develop his game enough with the promise shown at West Ham. Should have gone to Man U or Arsenal at the time. Better footballing teams.

    We should remember that for all the managers who have won trophies very few really develop and nurture players abilities for the national team. For all the praise Mourinho gets he has some very talented English players who he didn't take many to the next level.

  • Comment number 45.

    #44 KeepItReal_NotTwisted

    But, Mourinho instills a team ethic. I don't think Cole does enough for the team and he gives the ball away too much due to a lack of looking up. He had a chance to learn that at Chelsea, as others (English and otherwise) did at Chelsea, but he didn't take it.

  • Comment number 46.

    Morning everybody. Thanks for your comments thus far - it's always nice to read your opinions.

    Couple of things...

    #23 We try our very best to keep costs down at all times chief. This is actually a cheaper way of doing things and hiring a local crew can easily cost far more than the train ticket to France. There is always a balance to be struck between making TV as cheaply as possible & making the best possible TV. Like the rest of the BBC we are having to make cuts and Focus is a very frugal ship.

    Interesting to see so many Liverpool fans who wish he'd been given more of a chance at Anfield. I can't see him going back there now but I'm sure he could still do a job in the PL & Mr Redknapp always seems interested.

    A couple of people made the point about his England caps too which is a salient one. You don't play that many times for your country without being a top footballer.

    Well done everyone. Keep those comments coming and I'll pop back later.

    All the best

    Gerard Depardieu

  • Comment number 47.

    @24 KeepItReal_NotTwisted : that is a very good idea. If only...

    Especially Walcott to Germany, where he could learn to be colder in front of goal. Lennon would look like Messi in France!

  • Comment number 48.

    @ 47

    Makes you wonder about hazard at lille!! LOL

    Kyle walker to Spain I think. Cleverly and Mcreachan would be good bets for spain / germany
    Rodwell for italy? Milner to spain to develop his game, or france to look good! Barry to italy to improve his positioning, think he gets caught out too much. Lamps in his twilight could be good in germany. Carrick would be a definite for italy!!

  • Comment number 49.

    #46 Dan Walker

    Damn right Dan. The question should be what to all the sports journalists who only seem to work once or twice a week do with the rest of their time? That's what we should be looking at!


  • Comment number 50.

    @43 well said

    Taking as an example a player who didn't cut it in the PL (for whatever off the park reasons) and using that as a benchmark, but ignoring McManaman (a hero at Real), Beckham, Owen (who though not loved, actually did well in the chances he had), not to mention those that went before (Lineka, Hoddle, Lee Sharpe even...).

    Players have done it, and been successes most of the time when they have. Why have they been liked? Because they have combined strong technical skills with exactly the two things you highlight as bad - without them, McManaman would have been driven out of the club, but he held on, refused to be cowed and earned the praise of fans, managers and fellow players for his attitude and performances.

    As Mr BB says, however, the reason for the relative few doing the move is clear. They earn more money staying in the EPL, it is an easier life and people (here in England) are very resistant to changes. For them there is no apparent need to (as there isn't for me, for that matter). But would the change do them good?

    Absolutely it would - Beckham for one learned more sides to his game than he would have learned being exposed to just one kind of team and one kind of manager.

  • Comment number 51.

    Is he:

    A) the Glenn Hoddle-esque genius who will never fit perfectly into English football
    B) the outrageously talented lad who failed to fulfil his potential
    C) None of the above

  • Comment number 52.

    nice to see an english player doing well abroad - too few do. but he probably doesn't do much to dispel the sterotype of english players being a bit dim though. hopefully he can learn the lingo a bit although given that he can hardly speak in english im not hopeful. most french players over here, are more fluent and articulate in english than joe cole's english never mind the french lingo!

  • Comment number 53.

    Joe Cole is a very gifted player who has been wasted as others have said either by playing in the wrong position or by the style of play.

    I believe he would have fitted in well at my club MUFC, maybe not all would agree but I think he could have filled a gap that we still have.

    As for England, I doubt he will get a chance, does anybody think Capello is watching him? From the few games I have seen he seems to be doing OK at Lille, depending on how they do in the league and L he might well be better off staying there.

    As for the usual "patches" diatribe!! Why bother going abroad when you are paid a fortune in your own country? no brainer really.

  • Comment number 54.


    the injuries did for him, as did the likes of Mourinho who refused to let him play to his strengths. Shame he didn't get the treatment that Ronaldo did at United, to make him the player he could have been.

  • Comment number 55.

    Joe Cole is a good player but went to the wrong club(s) at the wrong time.

    At West Ham he was developed and had an incredible and rare talent with the ball, then he went to the career destroying Chelsea and then Liverpool at a time of turmoil.

    Had he either stayed at West Ham or gone to a club which values palyers better (Man Utd, Arsenal) then i have no doubt he would have notched up way more England caps and be much more highly rated.

    Some teams develop and look after players (Man Utd, Arsenal, West Ham) others simply use them as commodity (Man City, Chelsea, Tottenham & Liverpool).

  • Comment number 56.

    #50 GenesisRed wrote:

    Absolutely it would - Beckham for one learned more sides to his game than he would have learned being exposed to just one kind of team and one kind of manager.
    Yes, he learned how to say 'son of a whore' n Spanish, which I doubt he would have learned by staying in Manchester.

    Inspector Clouseau

  • Comment number 57.

    Good blog Dan ( except i dont think you 'bought' Alan Shearer and Michael Owen couldnt afford both haha !).

    Im lucky to live most of the year in Northern Spain and regularly watch teams at Zaragoza. I agree with 38. European football is more about skill and mentality than the Prem its the fear of failure that stops too many good English players from being world class. Nowhere is this better illustrated than the national team.So we turn to foreign players to show us the way....very sad.
    Joe Cole is typical of the journeyman mentality induced in English players by unimaginative, win-at-all-costs English-style football....just DONT make a mistake lads..pathetic really. you can count truly creative English players on 1 hand.
    Good move Joe... you seem to have something between the ears and the French will let you find it, as do the Spanish. Im sure your family will love living in Europe (a foreign land ??!!.. what insular rubbish ). Biliguality is a major advantage for your kids and will stop them being as narrow minded as their forebears.

    Keep it coming Dan

    Tienes que aprender mas Dan... no man is an island ...cest seul un attitude des insulaires !

  • Comment number 58.

    Good Blog Dan
    I hope that Joe finds his form again, he's an outstanding talent! However whilst I agree that he is technically superior to some currently in the England set up, I also worry about his fitness. In the few appearances he made for Liverpool he looked sharp initially, but after about 15-20mins he looked shattered! I hope that this was due to lack of regular match play. However I do feel that a combination of such technical talent and great work rate/fitness would elevate him top form, perhaps even to another few starts for England!

  • Comment number 59.

    He is better on the ball than the average English player but he never lived up to the hype. If he was as good as everyone says then Chelsea would not have let him go for free and he would have been more than a bit part player for Liverpool.

    Yet another over hyped English player.

  • Comment number 60.

    A couple of people made the point about his England caps too which is a salient one. You don't play that many times for your country without being a top footballer.


    Hasn't Gareth Barry got over 50 caps? He's awful.

  • Comment number 61.

    @47.At 10:21 25th Nov 2011, GenesisRed wrote:

    "Lennon would look like Messi in France!"

    Ah, come on. Neil Lennon's playing days are long gone now :-)

  • Comment number 62.

    I liked him

    could do a lot of things with the ball that many other English players couldnt

    But it was between the ears that let him down.

    I fear the ame may be happening to Johnson at city, all the talent in the world but no understanding of the game and tactical discipline

  • Comment number 63.

    38. At 09:57 25th Nov 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:

    "The reason why English players usually come back after about a year playing abroad is because English players just aren't good enough - technically or mentally - to cut it in competitive foreign leagues which actually require skill, as opposed to English football, where the only two attributes that are required appear to be ''strength'' and ''pace''."

    Another reason other than pure ability is that here they have it easy from press and fans. Their agents know the advantages of 'stardom' and their careers could soon be all but over.

    For instance at United alone Phil Jones after less than a half-decent season is sure to become world class CB and England's captain (same as Wilshere), the twins 3 years ago were supposed to be the best fullbacks in the world by now, and Ben Foster United's and England's no.1 for years to come.

    Press and fans are much more unforgiving towards their players abroad for same level of performance. It can even resort to verbal and physical abuse to players and jouralists if they're not up to the job, here they are all in the same PR cushy bubble hyping each other up. See the treatment Mourinho got here and then in Italy. Ferguson on attitude alone would have been ousted ages ago.


  • Comment number 64.

    60. At 10:43 25th Nov 2011, We all follow United wrote:

    Hasn't Gareth Barry got over 50 caps? He's awful.

    Gareth Barry is one of England's few world-class players. The Sky Sports Basset Hounds will continue to lap up the propaganda milk, because they don't think any player is any good unless he possesses the two essential attributes required in a footballer: ''pace'' and ''strength''.

    True aficionados of the beautiful game appreciate just what an excellent player Barry is.

    Joan of Arc

  • Comment number 65.

    let's not even talk about Heskey

    Its not just about how good you are, but whether you are favoured. Heskey was shocking, as was Crouch. At the same time Andrew Cole was one of the most prolific strikers but couldn't get a game.

    But this is England. Where the national managers recently have been Italian (doesn't speak the language, doesn't know the players) English (but too busy trying to be one of the boys to pick the right players, loves his favourites), and Swedish (doesn't know the players, and loves his favourites)

  • Comment number 66.

    "True aficionados of the beautiful game appreciate just what an excellent player Barry is."

    And yet these same "true aficionados" don't rate Scholes. Hey ho, you don't have a clue.

  • Comment number 67.

    @ 64

    True aficionados of the beautiful game appreciate just what an excellent player Barry is.

    True aficionados of the game know what a positionally poor player he is and how he gets found out v classy continental competition.

    A la v germany, champions league, dynamo kiev

    Julius Caesar

  • Comment number 68.

    65. At 10:51 25th Nov 2011, GenesisRed wrote:

    Andy Cole did well at Forest and Newcastle, but just about any striker would be ''prolific'' playing regularly for Manchester United. Darren Bent would score about 40 a season if he played for United. In fact, ''Old Mike'' from ''The Druid Tavern'' would probably hit double figures for United, considering the quality they have to play against every season.

    Andy Cole was never really international quality, and was correctly overlooked by three managers who you didn't mention: Venables, Hoddle and Keagan.

    Rene Descartes

  • Comment number 69.

    Cole is a huge talent. Nice to read that Joe is doing fine at Lille. Wishing the energetic England footballer an injury-free season for club and a quick return to the national squad. Good luck.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 70.

    @ 44

    A manager can still instil a team ethic whilst developing players along the way so they fulfill their true potential. There is no point buying a player gifted in a particular position then to play him out of position for an extended period of time. It not only knocks his confidence but you in reality don't get the player you purchased.

    Chelsea have been guilty of not developing the careers of SWP, Cole, Johnson, Parker to name a few. These were all promising English players playing in a system that didn't suit their game. No excuse for this IMHO and it just shows that the biggest loser in this is the national team.

    A golden generation we may of had but did managers develop that "golden generation" with the systems they played. Lessons should be learnt from German football over the last few years.

  • Comment number 71.

    66. At 10:55 25th Nov 2011, GenesisRed wrote:

    Paul ''Trafford Trundler'' Scholes was a consistent, League One standard plodder.

    Barry > Scholes

    Jean-Paul Sartre

  • Comment number 72.

    as explained above, your status based on your view of players started at a baseline low with your rating of Scholes, and has only gone further down since.

    We will never know whether he was international class, since he never got the chance, while Heskey who couldn't hit a barn door but would probably still score a hatrick for Barca every game, due to the stern nature of La Liga, did.

    Consider this one the last time i bite to your nonsense. Neither of us will be sorry about that.

  • Comment number 73.

    @65 GenesisRed
    I feel Heskey is criticised far to often! It's easy to belittle his achievements because he was not an out and out scorer, however do you think that his strike partners would have been as successful without Heskey creating space and chances for them?

    I have to agree with the 'whether you are favoured' statement though, it would certainly seem that in recent years the England set-up has had its favourites, Capello's 'only taking players on form' to the WC last year was laughable!!

  • Comment number 74.

    @ 68

    I thought "Old Mike" was the manager? Wasn't he in the running for 2012 once Capello leaves? Or is he doing a player / manager role?
    It's ok about cole, he will always be in the record books as 2nd highest ever prem goalscorer ahead of alumnis henry and fernando "1 trick burro" torres.

    ALexander Pushkin

  • Comment number 75.


    Torres is regarded as a top La Liga player and even heskey has scored more goals in the prem playing for the likes of leicester and wigan!!!
    I think heskey would be labelled "clinical finisher, goal machine, heroic, hyperbolic heskey" if he was to play for madrid or barca. Most likely close to bettering ronaldo and messi's scoring exploits!!

    Leo Tolstoy

  • Comment number 76.

    73, i hear what you're saying, but there were and always will be other players who can run like forrest gump, and head the ball, but who can actually do the rest of the game too - Bent is an example.

    Thing is, i don't doubt that Heskey had some potential - he could hit the ball clean and incredibly hard, but i think he was just lacking upstairs to make good use of it.

    But do other players need that kind of foil? I don't think so. In fact, i can't think of another country that even tries!

  • Comment number 77.

    I'm going to be controversial . . .

    Mourinho in my opinion ruined Joe Cole! Everyone said he made him a better player as he made him trackback and fulfil his defensive duties but teh way I see it is we had a hugely skillful playmaker taht could unlock defences and should of been playing in the hole . . . . instead he was shoved on the left (purely as he was the only English player with the ability to use his left foot) and asked to track back and forward.

    I'm not saying the defensive side of the game is not important but he had all the skill in the world and England being as rigid and defensive minded as they are could not incorporate him into an attacking role behind the forwards.

    Shame on us

  • Comment number 78.

    70.At 11:00 25th Nov 2011, KeepItReal_NotTwisted wrote:

    "Chelsea have been guilty of not developing the careers of SWP, Cole, Johnson, Parker to name a few"

    It is not Chelsea's job to develop the careers of these players. It is the job of these players to play for the team. Joe Cole and SWP were just not good enough to get into the team on a regular basis.

    If these players want to develop their own careers then it is up to them. Moving abroad is a good option in this respect as they will learn much more than sitting on the bench.


  • Comment number 79.

    #70 KeepItReal_NotTwisted

    @ 44

    A manager can still instil a team ethic whilst developing players along the way so they fulfill their true potential. There is no point buying a player gifted in a particular position then to play him out of position for an extended period of time. It not only knocks his confidence but you in reality don't get the player you purchased.

    Chelsea have been guilty of not developing the careers of SWP, Cole, Johnson, Parker to name a few. These were all promising English players playing in a system that didn't suit their game. No excuse for this IMHO and it just shows that the biggest loser in this is the national team.
    You could discuss Chelsea's transfer policy for a long time, but, since Mourinho didn't sign Cole, Parker and Johnson, it is something of a moot point on those examples. (Also factor in that Parker was against Makelele etc....)

    SWP has played under a number of managers and not set the world alight so perhaps the right conclusion is that SWP ain't that good when all is said and done.

    Likewise, Johnson and Cole are good but by no means great players.

    I'm inclined to think that ultimately, the problem is with the players rather than the clubs/managers who have worked with them.

  • Comment number 80.

    I see that Ireland’s group for the Euro 2012 has been announced.


    …it is the group of debt

  • Comment number 81.

    @77 Savva, i 100% agree with everything you wrote!

    You don't waste Ronaldo or Messi on defence... you let them do their thing and unlock the defence. But Mourinho was never fond of the flair player who doesn't track. Look at Robben...

    if only he'd come to us (along with Gazza before him).

  • Comment number 82.

    @ 79

    I just think some of these english players were overhyped and people probably expected more than what was realistically possible. SWP was ok, but not a top 4 player. Cole always had problems with fitness I noticed. Parker wrong place wrong time, makelele was in team, then signed essien. JOhnson was diabolical defensively for chelsea, they did right to sell him.

  • Comment number 83.

    I like Joe Cole as a footballer, I really do. However, I look at the managers who have decided that he either isn't good enough, or doesn't fit into their style of play. Capello, Eriksson, Mourinho, Hiddink, Dalglish, Ferguson. Looking at the successful teams they have built, and the experience they have, can they REALLY all be wrong?

  • Comment number 84.

    group of debt, very nice.

    "It is not Chelsea's job to develop the careers of these players"
    I disagree, sort of. Ok, it's not their job per se, but why buy a player and then not try to make them better?

    I guess, when they had the attitude that they could buy any player in the world, they only wanted the finished article. Shame for everyone involved in hindsight.

  • Comment number 85.

    74. At 11:03 25th Nov 2011, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:

    It's ok about cole, he will always be in the record books as 2nd highest ever prem goalscorer ahead of alumnis henry and fernando "1 trick burro" torres.

    Just as Gareth Barry will always be in the record books as having a higher international goal tally than Andy Cole.

    King Louis XIV

  • Comment number 86.

    Genesis - spot on

    Problem is all teh people on here saying that players like Cole does not fit in to a formation . . . shame on England as we need to be adaptable.

    I saw Cole at 20 years of age play in teh hole and he was unplayable - then every manager in this country decided to play him out wide.

    The same will probably happen to Wilshere . . . we seem to like plodders like Barry, Milner and Lampard in teh middle and then the skillful players out wide or on teh bench.

    Then we wonder why we do not succeed.

  • Comment number 87.

    @76 GenesisRed
    It's a fair point that you make, better players were perhaps sacrificed for Heskey to play. By no means do I think he was a world beater!!

    However football is a team game and if Heskey was making the team stronger than say Bent, then Heskey was the correct man to play. Other countries may not employ such tactics but this doesn't make them wrong tactics.

    It's interesting, I gather by your comments that you don't believe 'modern football' has a place for Heskey 'esk players, would you agree with this statement?

  • Comment number 88.

    Loved reading the outing and escapade to Lille. Its a fab city and if you can manage a littlep french then its great fun in france. My wife is from not too far away and my friends and family from the North love the footie and so do the ladies. Abientot

  • Comment number 89.

    Imagine England were brave enough to do this . . . .

    Wilshere Cole
    Sturridge Rooney Young

  • Comment number 90.

    #86 Savva123

    The same will probably happen to Wilshere . . . we seem to like plodders like Barry, Milner and Lampard in teh middle and then the skillful players out wide or on teh bench.
    That is such a broad thing to say that it is frankly ridiculous.

    Do you think there is some parallel world where Cole could have done for Chelsea what Lampard has consistently done for the last 10 years? I certainly don't!

    Also, Lampard's contribution to England over the years is much greater than he's given credit for and certainly when Cole was at his best, Lampard was always better for club and country.

  • Comment number 91.

    @23 and 46. I currently have a freedom of information request in to the BBC to find out how much the trip cost. I cannot see the purpose of sending 3 staff to France to interview someone who is now so low profile. A quick video call would have done as he didn't say much of any interest!

  • Comment number 92.

    Savva, i guess because they obsess with everyone having a defensive role to do. I don't buy into that, you have dedicated people to do dedicated roles (albeit with some flexibility).

    Problem is that English footballers don't learn to hone their skills in close quarter games (the old Ajax training thing). So the ones with the flair to unlock defenses get caught on the ball exposing the team and suddenly they get shipped to the side or the bench.

    It doesn't always happen, but I remember when Ginola was dropped by France for giving the ball away in an attacking position, only for the opposition to get past the entire rest of the and score the goal that stopped them qualifying.

    Flair and skill are relatively rare. Nurture it, protect it, don't grind it out of them!

  • Comment number 93.

    Mr BlueBuerns

    Typical Chelsea response. I dont mind Lampard and has been very good for club in the last 7/8 years. However he is a different player to Cole. There was room for both of them . . . lampard is a busy midfielder who burst in the box and scores goals, Cole was a creative playmaker who should of been pulling strings rather than playing out wide.

    Lampard & gerrard are talked about as though they have had amazing England Careers - I'm struggling to remember when either of them has done anything of real note in an England shirt!

  • Comment number 94.

    #89 Savva123

    I think's that what most people would advocate anyway. Gerrard might be instead of Cole, but what you have suggested is broadly what we'll have, with Wellbeck for Rooney perhaps depending on availability. (And Walcott/Sturridge is quite close at the moment.)

  • Comment number 95.

    If speaking of English players in foreign leagues, how is Michael Mancienne doing ?

  • Comment number 96.

    "Do you think there is some parallel world where Cole could have done for Chelsea what Lampard has consistently done for the last 10 years? I certainly don't!

    Also, Lampard's contribution to England over the years is much greater than he's given credit for and certainly when Cole was at his best, Lampard was always better for club and country."

    I think you have your blue tints on...

    Lampard does a job, and at the job he is one of the best in the world. But never has he been the kind of player to knit a midfield together, nor have the awareness to consistently find the pass that unlocks a defence.

    International managers not recognising how to use his skills is the reason him and Gerrard were paired far too deep for England, and the reason Scholes was shoved uncermoniously to the left (then subsequently Gerrard) simply because they were more flexible.

    There is no reason they couldn't have played together, but not in the roles they did - as a result, none of them were able to realise their potential on the international stage.

  • Comment number 97.

    Genesis - I agree with all of that.

    What I do not understand is that when the skillful player gives the ball away every commentator harps on about it and they highlight it unbelievably, when often the skillful player lost the abll trying to create.

    When the other players give the ball away (either through lack of ability or trying outrageous 50 yard passes) then this is always over looked. Down the years Rooney, lampard and Gerrard have given the ball away so many times for England and yet its applauded by fans as the pass "nearly came off" . . . . . I do not get it

  • Comment number 98.

    @84.At 11:23 25th Nov 2011, GenesisRed wrote:

    "I disagree, sort of. Ok, it's not their job per se, but why buy a player and then not try to make them better?"

    These players had access to the same coaching and training facilities as all the other players at the club as well as all the other facilities that a club like Chelsea can provide. It is up to these players to prove themselves capable in training and make sure the manager feels he has to play them.

    If it is simply the case that their style of play does not suit the team or the team has one of those exceptionally talented players in their position, then they should look to move on.

  • Comment number 99.

    #93 Savva123

    Typical Chelsea response...... in that by playing for the same club and country for a number of years, a club I follow closely, means that it is easier to make such comparisons. And without question, whoever has been the manager at Chelsea has picked Lampard over Cole, likewise for England. Are they wrong and you right?

    No one is saying about 'amazing England careers' but to almost completely dismiss them as you have done is to take the contrary view and simply exaggerate it for effect.

  • Comment number 100.

    I'm sorry but for Lampard and Gerrard to of played over 90 games each or whatever it is absiolutely baffles me. I'm not saying they are not good players but how many games/tournaments do we need to play them in before we realise it does not work?


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