One picture from last weekend's Premier League programme should be framed and kept for reference by those quick to assault the integrity and motivation of modern players - as a reminder that theirs remains the most fragile of callings.
It was of Joe Cole, hobbling off at West Brom, clutching the back of his thigh. He had only come on as substitute for the visitors Liverpool 10 minutes earlier, and here he was himself being replaced after barely kicking a ball.
The look on his face was of a man devastated by his ill fortune. And you can understand why: his luck is so wretched he must have run over a whole cattery on his way to training.
Here he was, back after a successful loan period in France, hoping to impress the new management at Anfield that he is the perfect accessory to their philosophy of pass and move. He wanted to show Brendan Rodgers that he would fit right into the plans for ball retention and adroit passing. He was desperate to prove that he was still capable of being the player he once threatened to be.
But more than that, he just wanted to play football. In a world of super remuneration, Cole really is someone who would happily pay to play. He just loves the game, is desperate to be out there kicking a ball around.
And now he faces another lengthy period of recuperation, out for at least a month until his hamstring recovers. Precisely what he didn't need when there are impressions to be made and reputations to be restored. At 31, after all, time is no longer on his side.
Cole, though, was not the only one looking unhappy. Liverpool's financial management team must have looked on at his misfortune and despaired. Here is a player who is paid more in a week than the average worker earns in four years, yet again failing to deliver anything approaching value for money.
This is the start of his third year at Anfield, and his sole contribution to the cause has been to keep the physiotherapy team occupied. As a drain in resources goes, Cole is far more effective than the London sewage system.
Indeed, Cole's whole association with Liverpool is a perfect exemplar of the hapless management which bedevilled the club under its previous ownership. Even as Tom Hicks and George Gillett were bickering in the boardroom, Christian Purslow, the director of football, had decided that he wanted to sign Cole from Chelsea.
Never mind that the then manager Rafa Benitez reportedly exploded with fury at the very idea of signing the injury-prone Chelsea man, Purslow pursued his target with such vigour he flung more cash than anyone could resist in his direction. Cole was offered upwards of £100,000 a week to come on a free transfer.
By the time he arrived, weighed down by the scale of his new contract, Benitez had gone. But the new manager Roy Hodgson was not convinced by the player, particularly not when he was sent off in his first outing for the Reds. Hodgson's suspicions were not helped when Cole once more succumbed to injury.
When Kenny Dalglish took over from Hodgson, Cole was informed, along with all the other members of the dressing room, that a clean slate was in place: everyone would have the chance to impress the new man. Bushy-tailed with enthusiasm as always, Cole promptly got injured and was soon forgotten.
A year-long loan in Lille allowed him to accrue some playing time, but reasonable success in the French league was not enough to remind anyone back home of his strengths. He was ignored by Fabio Capello. Hodgson, when he became England boss, remained unimpressed. Even Stuart Pearce overlooked him for the Olympic squad.
But new management at Liverpool gave him a chance. Particularly as Rodgers's preferred style of play seemed ideally suited to the player who has a rightful claim to be the most naturally talented Englishman of his generation, as well as one of the most enthusiastic.
Even if Rodgers didn't want him to play, a fit and firing Cole, as last-minute additions are being made, might appeal to someone else trying to build for the new season. QPR perhaps, or even his old club West Ham, now back in the top division. Sure, there would have to be negotiation on his wages. But, so anxious is he to play every week, that could be worked on.
Instead he pulled up with a hamstring problem. Now he will be out until the transfer window shuts. As nobody would want to sign an expensive crock, he will remain on Liverpool's books, his very presence on the payroll blocking any new additions to the squad.
The most highly rewarded occupant of the physio's room in the country, the immediate future for Cole looks bleak indeed. Now nothing more than a liability, a financial anchor, the once bright star of English football is now proof positive that money cannot buy you love.
To think, 10 years ago we all believed that our footballing future lay at the feet of Joe Cole. Him and Michael Owen.