Paul Parker

Cole swoop a big gamble

Paul Parker

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Liverpool are taking a big risk in signing Joe Cole.

Surely there is a good reason why Chelsea deemed him unworthy of £90,000-a-week wages. Why would he be available on a free transfer if he is the player Liverpool are hoping he is?

There must be a reason why a succession of managers, including Carlo Ancelotti and Fabio Capello, have refused to regularly pick him in their teams.

It might be his injuries. Or it might be his erratic form. Chelsea have said it was his wage demands, but I can't imagine how they cannot afford to pay him while Liverpool can.

Whatever the basis for his exit, Chelsea did not allow him to leave for no reason.

Certainly injuries hampered him last season, but even when he was playing at the back end of the campaign, he didn't look hungry enough.

Moving to Liverpool, he now has to show far more determination than he has if he is to succeed.

But it's not going to be easy: without doubt, he is moving to a bigger club in terms of stature - and such is the status of the Anfield club the pressure on his shoulders will be huge.

The weight of history is enormous on Merseyside but he will have to shrug that off if he is to thrive there.

He also needs to show a little bit more than the fancy tricks and flicks on the half-way line that have become his trademark - Liverpool have never really been a team that does that and unless there is a final product, the Kop will not be impressed.

He's won Premier League trophies with Chelsea, but that means nothing now. And it will be different at Liverpool - Chelsea have been used to winning titles whereas Liverpool are looking to end their barren patch. There will be an expectation that Cole will help the club achieve that end, but that expectation will only load him up with even more pressure.

I'm not sure how he'll fit into Hodgson's team. It all depends on what the new manager thinks of the squad he has inherited from Rafa Benitez and who will still be there once the new season starts.

On the face of it, it appears to be a straight swap for Yossi Benayoun, yet the Israeli wasn't first choice under Benitez. Can Cole expect to be under Hodgson? That depends on how quickly he settles into the squad.

Off the pitch too, it's a big move for Cole, who apparently was initially reluctant to move away from London.

But I think it will do him good to get out of the capital, where he has been all his life. It may make him or break him but at the very least he will be exposed to a different football culture for the first time.

Up there it's do or die - families live for football and football comes first. Liverpool in particular have a close-knit community surrounding the club and Cole must recognise where he's moving to, and quickly understand the club, if he is to avoid getting swallowed up.

He will of course be helped along the way by the likes of his England team-mates in the national set-up, although he's old enough to be expected to make the transition himself.

But the real question has to be whether he can deliver on the pitch and justify those big wages.

He hasn't been the most consistent of performers over the years but fortunately for him he now finds himself in a position where he has the perfect chance to prove the doubters like me wrong. Good luck to him.

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