The Joe Cole will he sign won’t he saga drags on and on. As we all understand Joe is contracted till the end of this season and after that he is free to pack his bag, say his goodbyes and take off to ply his trade elsewhere.
At the turn of the year the situation was not as urgent as it is now. Joe was a bit of a forgotten man, having been out injured for well nigh on a year. And in February, with its cold dank days and freezing nights the end of the season always seems like a million miles away.
It is now mid April, there are just four league games plus a Cup Final to go, the weather has taken a definite turn for the better and panic, at least amongst us fans, is starting to creep in.
As usual in this type of situation it is difficult to understand or who to believe as to what is actually going on behind the scenes. Carlo Ancelotti has stated at least on two separate occasions that Joe Cole will sign a new contract. I also distinctly remember one interview on Sky where Joe also stated that he wanted to stay but that was some time back. But still the stalemate has dragged on.
If the papers are to believed the main sticking point is money. Joe reckons he is worth more than what he is on at the moment and wants a significant pay rise. Which then begs the question of is Joe Cole worth what he and his agent think he is?
Joe has had a bit of an up and down career since he joined us in the first wave of Abramovich signings in July 2003. In his first year under Claudio Ranieri he was very much a bit part player. Stats show that Joe played in 35 of the 38 league games in season 2003/4 but many were as a substitute and when he started he was often taken off.
The following season, the first under Jose’ Mourinho, Joe once again started the season very much as a reserve. He flitted in and out of the team as the Duff/Robben wide tandem firmly established itself as the basis for our attacking platform. We all remember the dressing down poor Coley got from Jose’ after scoring the winning goal at Anfield when The Special One basically accused Joe of being a show pony and not working for the team.
Sure as night follows day Joe was sidelined and weeks if not months of obscurity beckoned. Then came that infamous night at Blackburn. Five years later it is still regarded as the night when Chelsea finally grew up and showed their rivals that there was more to the team than a bunch of highly paid wannabes. Within ten minutes Makoena took out Robben, practically ended his season, and opened a window for Joe Cole.
The Barcelona game five weeks later gave Joe the opportunity to parade his wares on the big stage and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands, and feet for that matter. He followed up his stellar performance against Barca with a wonder goal against Norwich three days later. I still believe that that Norwich goal changed Jose’s perception of Joe. He rode a nasty looking tackle from a Norwich defender, tackled another one to get the ball back and then struck a fantastic shot into the top corner. I think that was the moment that Jose’ thought to himself “this guy’s got ball”, which was what he was looking for from his players. By that end of that month Joe was Premier League Player of the Month.
Joe’s form and his overall contribution to the team from then on was probably a factor in Jose’s patience finally running out with Robben and moving him on to Real Madrid in 2007. Jose’ saw Joe had the capability to replace our most creative player, offered a greater work rate, always a big thing with Jose’, and greater consistency.
In 2006, by which time he was a regular starter at Chelsea, Joe was in the PFA Team of the Year. The following season was blighted by injuries but in 2008 was Chelsea’s Player of the Year, not bad in a team that got to the Champions League Final.
Also in 2006 Joe was England’s best player by a mile in the 2006 World Cup removing any doubt anyone might have had about him being a world class player. For all the hype surrounding David Beckham, Joe managed to do in one World Cup what Beckham failed to do in three – shine at the very highest level.
All of which points to one thing. Whenever Joe gets a decent run of games and his coach’s belief he is amongst the best, not only at Chelsea, not only in England but right at the very top of the game in competitions such as the Champions League and World Cup.
So back to my original question as to how much is Joe Cole worth. I will not quantify it in pounds, shillings and pence, given my moral problem with players’ wages nowadays but rather comparatively with other Chelsea players. Joe Cole is right up there with the Lampards, Terrys, Drogbas and Cechs of our team. He has proven it over his seven years at the club when circumstances have permitted him.
So all I have left to say is – Over to you Roman.