Category: Liverpool

Forgotten winger Joe Cole began the New Year with a return to former club West Ham United, and immediately donned claret and blue for the Hammers’ third round tie against Manchester United at the weekend, writes Emma Webb.

Hope and floory | Joe Cole may have been turfed out on loan, but it's Hammer time as the midfielder bids to kickstart his career. (Image | The Mirror)

Hope and floory | Joe Cole may have been turfed out on loan, but it’s Hammer time as the midfielder bids to kick-start his career. (Image | The Mirror)

One of the many great success stories to emerge from the West Ham academy, Cole made his name early on as a schoolboy for England Under-16s.

He formed part of the FA Youth Cup-winning side of 1999, and made his first team debut in the same year at 17-years-old.

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Are there lessons other clubs can learn from the now clearly premature dismissal of Roberto di Matteo by Chelsea last month? (Image | Getty)

Are there lessons other clubs can learn from the now clearly premature dismissal of Roberto Di Matteo by Chelsea last month? (Image | Getty)

One question in football has never been answered by the owners of the world’s elite football clubs: When is the right time to change your manager?

I’ll start with the obvious ones – probably not, say, within five months of winning you the Champions’ League title you have craved for almost a decade, not the day after claiming your club a league crown but doing so “in the wrong style” (a la Bernt Schuster), and probably not simply because you’ve just bought the club and you’d quite like a more high-profile manager.

The thing is, there doesn’t really seem to be a right time for change.

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Hopefully Sky Sports will appreciate how long this took and won’t try to sue us. Please. (Image | Sky Sports, very graciously)

Deadline day once again produced its usual mix of excitement, hyperbole and confusion yesterday, with a standard assortment of a couple of ‘blockbuster’ moves and many, many loan deals done between Premier League teams and lower-league clubs.

As is our duty, though, we’ve dredged through the rumours, the hopes and the hogwash to bring you the ten most intriguing deals of yesterday’s shopping frenzy…

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Frustrated | Once again Arsenal failed to break down inferior opposition in a pattern drearily reminiscent of previous seasons. (Image | The Guardian)

With one Premier League match played, and football having returned from its slightly shorter than usual summer break, if the season were to abruptly end before tomorrow’s action begins, Fulham would have narrowly lost out on their first ever Premier League title to neighbours Chelsea, while Norwich City and Queens Park Rangers would be heading back to the Championship having failed to find the net in the top flight.

Although, while Cottagers supporters struggle to contain their nosebleeds and Swansea City fans organise an open top bus parade for legendary manager Michael Laudrup, we must remember that there are 37 games remaining (for most sides), and plenty of time for the table to take on a more predictable appearance. However, although it is impossible to assess a side’s ability and probable fortune this early on, it is worth taking a look at what is likely to transpire over the next nine months.

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Bright talent | Joe Cole was a footballing prodigy, but his career of late has been mired with disappointment and a lack of first team opportunities at Liverpool. (Image | Daily Mail)

At the age of 16, Joe Cole was the hottest property in English football, drawing comparisons with the majestic Paul Gascoigne. Now, at 30-years-old, Cole is entering the twilight of his career. It seems as though the coming season could prove to be his most important yet.

Having joined Liverpool on a free transfer in July 2010, Cole failed to produce the form that made him an England regular at Chelsea and West Ham United. Then, upon the advent of Kenny Dalglish at the Liverpool helm, the winger fell out of favour. However, after a successful loan spell at French club Lille OSC, new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has given Cole a final chance to prove himself in the Premier League.

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Shrewd signing | Brendan Rodgers‘ head-hunting by Liverpool puts paid to the impression that hungry, young British managers have no future in the upper echelons of the Premier League. (Image | Flickr)

Brendan Rodgers yesterday signed a three-year contract to become the new manager of Liverpool Football Club. Replacing folk hero Kenny Dalglish, the 39-year-old has performed excellently to bring Swansea City into the Premier League and lead them to survival in their first year back in the top flight.

The Merseyside club have had to pay around £4-5m in compensation to the Swans for the Northern Irish boss, who guided his former club to a 1-0 victory over Liverpool on the final day of the season.

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Dave Whelan should be lauded for his achievements in transforming the fortunes of Wigan Athletic, but his meddling in the negotiations between Liverpool and Roberto Martinez is unseemly and unprofessional.

It’s all too common in the 21st century for perceived ‘small’ clubs to complain of having their best talent or their manager tapped up by a divisional or continental giant who simply walks in and steals their target for a paltry compensation fee. Manchester United are one of the clubs to surface most frequently in these conversations, a recent example being their pursuit of Paul Pogba from French minnows Le Havre a couple of years ago.

The way with which Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan has dealt with the approach made to his manager, Roberto Martinez, by Liverpool, is therefore reprehensible. Despite – and disregarding – the efforts of Liverpool’s American owners to follow the ‘correct’ procedure, Whelan has broadcast the Anfield club’s every moment as if he were a Sky Sports commentator giving the Soccer Saturday bunch regular updates on a weekend fixture.

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Kenny Dalglish’s win ratio of 47.3% was hardly the worst of any Premier League manager, but finishing behind city rivals Everton may have brought about his sacking. (Image | The Tactician Blog)

It was hard not to feel a tremendous sense of schadenfreude when the news came through that Liverpool Football Club had sacked manager Kenny Dalglish. After a year and a half at the helm, owner John Henry clearly decided that winning the Carling Cup wasn’t enough to make up for an eighth place finish in the Premier League. For weeks now, Liverpool-friendly pundits have been talking up the value of success in this competition, widely derided by most observers. The purpose of this aggrandisement is clear: Dalglish stands as one of the Merseyside club’s great heroes, and it is always difficult to acknowledge faults in an individual you hold in high esteem.

Acknowledge they must though. The Reds have spent big in an attempt to assert themselves as genuine top four and possibly title contenders, and they have fallen far short. In modern football it is the manager who perennially takes the blame for failure, and there can be no denying the fact that Liverpool have failed this season.

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QPR striker Jamie Mackie wheels away in celebration having netted an extraordinary 90th minute winner against the hapless Reds on Wednesday.

What’s the biggest joke in football right now? I’ll give you a clue. It plays in red and is based on Merseyside. Congratulations lucky guessers, it is indeed Liverpool Football Club. The Andy Carroll debate has been, at local, national and international level, covered to the point where no new ground could possibly emerge, so next in the firing line is the team’s massive underachieving this year. Liverpool supporters appear to reside in a state of semi-trance, barely batting an eyelid as their once great club slides further and further down the table, and revels in glories so minor and insignificant you’d imagine the city’s mayor might organise a parade for yet another unplanned teenage pregnancy.

So why does the complacency of those on the Kop annoy so much? Because, quite simply, Roy Hodgson was unfairly hounded out of Liverpool in favour of the incumbent, the returning hero, Kenny Dalglish. Widely revered as a saviour, nay, some sort of god, Dalglish is supposedly the answer to years of underachievement and the “new big four” of Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.

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Andre Villas-Boas was sacked as Chelsea manager Sunday after a 1-0 away loss to West Brom

Well, the inevitable happened again. Chelsea fired a manager. Big deal.

Andre Villas-Boas has looked ready for the chop since Christmas. The youngest manager in the Premier League, in his third season as a manager, sitting in the hottest seat in world football? Working for the most trigger-happy owner in top-class sport with a record of three wins in 12 games? Fighting a losing battle in seemingly trying coerce a group of veteran superstars into his new-age training and tactical methods? It could never last.

And yet, after casting aside numerous more successful managers without a second blink, that trigger-happy owner didn’t want to fire this one.

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