After a mid week away Champions League win for French side Lille on Tuesday night, some sections of the media questioned as to whether or not Joe Cole warranted consideration for Capello’s squad to go to Poland and Ukraine for next summers European Championships.
Firstly before i dive to deep in this issue I have to say I don’t watch much French football. OK I admit I don’t watch any. There hasn’t been same lure of the Italian football of the 90’s nor the Galacticos of Real Madrid nor the elegant Barcelona of recent years. I am aware that Paris St German have money to burn at the moment and a ridiculous offer around £11.6m for David Beckham for only 18 months certainly surprised me. It doesn’t appear that Lyon have it all their own way now and in that respect there seems to be more teams capable of winning the French league, a similarity to our own Premier League. In short I’m saying that French football isn’t up to the English standard.
Another reason that Cole has been able to shine at Lille has been down to the form of Eden Hazard. The youngster is making the French league look to easy for him and the queue of potential clubs is growing on a weekly basis. Now there was a rumour that an unwritten agreement that was part of Cole’s loan move was that Liverpool would be kept in the loop with regards to Hazard and have first option on him. Dalgleish wanted an option on Hazard but didn’t seem interested in Cole.
When it became clear he would be available on a free transfer I thought Fergie may swoop given the success he has had with Michael Owen and Henrik Larsson both deemed past their best. It didn’t happen and I felt Liverpool had potentially the signing of the summer. It never quite worked out for him and despite the occasional glimpse of genius, his lack of pace was becoming highlighted on a regular basis. At international level pace is paramount these days. Especially in Joe Cole’s position.
That is why Gareth Barry, admittedly on the come back to full fitness looked so out of place at the world cup. Another not blessed with speed but with a good engine as they say and with carrying an injury it became highlighted significantly against the Germans. Matthew Upsom and John Terry, two defenders that should not be paired together because they don’t possess any between them.
Another question that springs to mind is who do you leave out to accomodate Cole in the England squad. In the wide positions there are Theo Walcott, Ashley Young, Daniel Sturridge and Aaron Lennon who provided they are all fit should all make the final squad. In central midfield Scott Parker, Phil Jones and James Milner look to be fighting for the defensive midfield poitions while Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard look to be in direct competition just for a place in the squad. Then there is the possible returns to fitness of Jack Wilshire and Tom Cleverley before you consider Gabby Agbonlahor, Stewart Downing or Adam Johnson. There are many who would even place Jack Rodwell into the mix now as well.
Now if Wayne Rooney’s suspension is not reduced (we find out on December 9th) then as mentioned above there is a possibility for Agbonlahor and Sturridge to be selected for the wide roles. That will leave an extra option up front. Provided he is scoring goals we all assume Darren Bent is another certainty but contenders besides him are a little thin on the ground. Danny Welbeck isn’t an automatic choice at Man United yet and although Bobby Zamora is an option I wonder if he will get a goal when it’s really needed. Maybe if Cole’s form is still good come the friendly matches in the spring then Capello could try him as either the supporting midfielder or experiment with him as a striker.