Joe Cole left the field to a standing ovation on Saturday and to be honest, that appreciation has been a long time coming.
It’s something I’ve never really understood (and raised on TheChelseaBlog in the past), how time and again Joe Cole’s worth not just to his club but also his country, is overlooked. That’s not to say he’s not rated at Chelsea, I just don’t think he’s ever been rated enough – certainly not where managers are concerned anyway because ever since he arrived at Stamford Bridge six years ago, Cole seems to have fought a constant battle to prove himself.
Not that any player should have an automatic place in the side obviously – although some seem to, irrespective of poor performances – it’s just that in Joe Cole’s case, it never seems to matter how hard he fights, how hard he pushes himself, how committed he is, he’s just never seemed to get the credit he’s due.
Whilst Cole continues to respond positively to every question asked of him, not just with his football, but also with the sort of loyalty that repeatedly hears him come out with statements like “I always dreamt of playing for Chelsea and my other dream was to play for the best team in the world. I think I am doing both things at the moment so I am very happy” and “Being an injured Chelsea player is probably the second best job in the world behind being a Chelsea player”, managers just never seem to see or hear it.
So, I probably enjoyed his ovation as much as he did when he left the pitch Saturday – although not nearly as much as I loved seeing him finally start a game after a nine month spell out. And what a comeback – as I said in the match report, no player has the right to look that good after such a long time out of the game and yet Cole, working his arse off as always, showed us the creativity we’ve missed.
TheChelseaBlog had noted Ballack’s importance to our midfield’s solidity last week, a fact only highlighted with a sterling performance his presence allowed Frank Lampard to put in against Atletico. And in turn, against Blackburn, Joe Cole’s presence at the tip of the diamond gave Lampard and Ballack the freedom to create the sort of chances they just haven’t done in his absence. Whilst Deco has been inconsistent up there and Lampard has looked like he’s stuck in treacle, Joe Cole looked like he was born to play there. Even his lack of match sharpness – evidenced with the sitter her missed in the opening minute of the game – didn’t detract from the energy and creativity of his passing and movement for the 75 minutes he spent on the pitch. And if that’s what a match-rusty Joe Cole can add to our midfield this season, it bodes well for Chelsea, it really does.
Equally impressive, was the credit given by the Chelsea manager (at last!), with Carlo Ancelotti stating “I was very impressed. He is a genius. He has fantastic quality in midfield. After nine months out it is not easy to play like Joe Played. I`m happy for him and for us, he`s an important player.”
Whilst Joe Cole himself, stated “I know all the games won’t be like Blackburn but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It was a great win for us. Over the years I have learned to be patient with myself and the chances come, especially at a club like this. We have to rotate players, which we haven’t done as well over the last three years, and which we could have done. Everyone looks fresh and everyone is happy they are all playing games. We look sharp. I just try and do my best and enjoy my football. I genuinely love playing the game. It was brilliant just to be out there again. But I enjoyed playing in a more central role – it was the first time in my career. I started off playing youth-team football in that position and then moved out to the wing. I just enjoy playing. I am very lucky to play for Chelsea and very lucky to play for England and there is so much to look forward to over the next few months. It is a great time. I am so excited about playing football again. Sometimes it takes something like that, when you are out for so long, to make you realise. Every day I go into training is a blessing. I just love it and I am enjoying being back.”
And we’ll enjoy having you back Joe!