Early Doors

England ‘star’ joins Premier League ‘giants’

Early Doors

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Liverpool brought in Roy Hodgson in order to take them up a level. Just as Chelsea hired Jose Mourinho to bring his European Cup expertise to Stamford Bridge, Liverpool hope Hodgson is the man to spearhead their Europa League campaign for the coming season.

He took a big step towards that yesterday by signing Joe Cole, an injury-plagued free agent with a big point to prove. So gleefully was the announcement made by the club that the official website couldn't help but label the news an 'EXCLUSIVE!'. Well, you'd hope that they were the first to know, otherwise things are worse at Anfield than we already thought.

Hodgson employs the sort of shrewdness that has seen him squeeze every last drop out of the abilities of Danny Murphy, Bobby Zamora et al by hiring a talented player in need of a fresh start, and Cole is certainly that.

A pair of winner's medals and 26 league appearances last season may suggest otherwise, but injuries in recent years have stalled Cole's career to the point where Chelsea were happy to let his contract run down.

Despite scoring 10 times in 56 appearances for England, Cole has been in and out of the team throughout his international career, suffering from the same condition as Glenn Hoddle and Matt le Tissier in that he is 'too talented' for the England team, leaving a succession of managers unsure of how best to utilise him.

Unfortunately, for all the clamouring for him to start for England in South Africa, his biggest contribution was shielding the ball in the corner to run down the clock against Slovenia. Which, to be fair, says more about England than it does about Cole.

There were offers from Arsenal and from Spurs, but Liverpool were the only club who agreed that he was worth £90,000 a week. For a club that is over £300m in debt and up for sale, that is a hefty burden to take on, but Liverpool are the club most desparately in need of such a boost.

The former West Ham man's best position is in at number 10, behind the main striker, but that is Steven Gerrard's patch at Anfield. If Hodgson's main use for Cole proves to be out wide, then he runs the risk of ending up with a slight improvement on Yossi Benayoun (now at Chelsea) for a lot more money.

Still, the move is the kind of recruitment that can convince Gerrard and Fernando Torres to stay at the club. With Milan Jovanovic also arriving at Anfield on a free, and Benayoun leaving, Liverpool now have doubled the creative element within the squad that they had under Rafael Benitez.   

Cole's star may not have burned quite as brightly as some had hoped when he emerged as an impossibly skilful prodigy at West Ham over a decade ago, but he remains the Englishman (a real commodity with the introduction of the home grown rule looming) with the most natural talent in the league.

The fact that he has come to a club not competing in the Champions League next season is another reason to motivate him into kickstarting a post-Rafa revival at Anfield. When he lines up against either Rabotnicki or Mike in the third qualifying round a week on Thursday, let's hope for Liverpool's sake that the magnitude of that step down doesn't hit him like a ton of bricks.

Of course, there's every chance he'll be more concerned about his house being burgled, as has become customary during the Reds' European away trips these days.

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If there is one thing that the latest development in the Capello Index debacle teaches us, it's that the tabloids always get their way in the end.

Back in those heady pre-World Cup days, when Fabio Capello was best manager in the world, the outcry over the England boss lending his name to the rather amateurish player ratings website was dismissed by most right-thinking fans as a big fuss over nothing. Capello may have been a touch naive to endorse a list that spelt Jermaine Defoe's name wrong or had Ledley King down as representing Antigua but, in the end, what harm could it do to the squad?

However, now that players, coach and FA are all back home under a familiar cloud of failure, the publishing of the England player ratings has finally caused the storm the hacks had hoped for first time around.

Both the FA and Capello had demanded for the scores to be taken offline, but they were still up over the weekend before disappearing and reappearing throughout much of Monday.

Eventually, a disclaimer has materialised on the landing page, stating that: "Fabio Capello contributed, with his indisputable knowledge and experience, in the laying down of the foundations of this project: from then on, a team of professors and experts in mathematical and statistical calculations, then went on to create the system used in order to generate the ratings.

"The Capello Index cannot, and must not, be summarised as 'the vote given by Capello' to the players, but is the result of a system which is capable of analysing and evaluating the actual performance adding various scientific variables."

Capello's son was adamant that his father had not got involved for any financial gain in the first place.

Pierfilippo Capello said: "There is no commercial value in this to Fabio - he was just interested to see and compare how the statistics would compare with his own evaluations."

This makes even less sense - were the respected number-crunchers of Opta, Infostrada and the official Castrol World Cup Index not good enough for Capello?

Mind you, considering that Matthew Upson's rating from the England's 4-1 humbling at the hands of Germany was higher than Philipp Lahm's, it would be interesting to see how that compared with the Italian's own evaluation.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We are concerned that the presence of the instruments within the stadium pose unnecessary risks to public safety and could impact on the ability of all supporters to hear any emergency safety announcements." - Tottenham announce they are the first Premier League club to ban vuvuzelas in their ground.

FOREIGN VIEW: "I should really quit Bayern now because now is the time when national team coaches are being appointed. Therefore, maybe I will extend my contract here by one year until 2012 and then take over a country (after Euro 2012). I am going to be at the next World Cup. I think so. I hope so." - Louis van Gaal plays a dangerous game by revealing he already has one eye on a way out of Bayern Munich.

COMING UP: Paul Parker's take on Cole's move to Anfield is already up, while Armchair Pundit Alex Chick will also be adding his two cents on the day's events later on. Plus the Transfer Ticker is already up and running.

There's live scoring of the Champions League second qualifying round second leg matches from 17:00. Will you be rooting for Wales' The New Saints or Ireland's Bohemians? Anderlecht await the winners, so it's kind of a big deal.

Things have got very tasty in the Tour de France after Alberto Contador snatched the yellow jersey by attacking after Andy Schleck's chain had come off. Follow the next chapter of their duel today as Stage 16 goes over the Pyrenees from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Pau, either via our live commentary and peloton tracker or by watching live on British Eurosport or on your PC with the Eurosport Player.  

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