After 7 years with his boyhood team, Chelsea refused to meet Cole’s wage demands of £90,000 a week after a couple of dodgy seasons with injury and failure to find form. With contract negotiations failing to get off the ground all season, Cole repeatedly insisted he wanted to stay put.
“I want nothing more than to stay at Chelsea, I love it here,” he said.
It turns out Cole did want something more though. Money.
The club wanted Cole stay but just three days after Ray Wilkins announced Chelsea were desperate to keep their player, it was confirmed no new contract was going to be signed.
“The problem was economic,” said Ancelotti. “It was a problem between the club and Joe Cole, not me. We spoke about this but when the problem is with money, it is not my problem.”
Chelsea didn’t meet his wage demands, United pulled out of the race for the same reason, before Spurs also agreed £90k a week for four years was too much for a player who couldn’t get in Chelsea’s starting team and who hasn’t been the same player since the injury in January 2009.
So, what did the player who parades around in a Chelsea sweatband and claimed he wanted nothing more than to play for Chelsea do? He signed for whichever club would offer him the £90k he was seeking. It didn’t matter what the Chelsea fans thought, it didn’t matter where that club finished last season, it didn’t matter whether he got to play Champions League football or not, because all that mattered was the salary.
“I know I have made the right decision and I am looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “This is a challenge for me. I have played in London all my life. I could have stayed at Chelsea because the fans loved me and I won things, but I wanted to challenge myself and when I knew Liverpool were interested it was a no-brainer because they are the biggest club in the country. This is a massive club.”
What a knife in the heart for every Chelsea fan who has supported this lad over the past seven years. Not only signing for a club who Chelsea fans have developed an increased rivalry and hatred for following their so many European clashes, but to then go on to belittle Chelsea by lauding a team who finished 7th in the league last season and who will seriously struggle to reclaim a Champions League spot any time soon as ‘massive’, something Chelsea sadly know they’re not, is painful. Do remember though, that since Cole became a professional footballer, Liverpool haven’t won a single league title, whilst Chelsea have won three!
Not only that, it is now the Chelsea fans who loved him, not him loving them, something he repeatedly claimed when the Stamford Bridge club were paying his wages. And he didn’t stop there.
“I thought about the semi-final of the Champions League in 2005 when I ran onto the field and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up,” he continued. “I was thinking about playing in that atmosphere every week and that swung it for me.”
Another dig at his boyhood club, hailing the Liverpool atmosphere as so impressive.
Now, Cole may be forgiven for not knowing this, given that he didn’t play during the last European night between Chelsea and Liverpool at Anfield, but Chelsea fans took the piss good and proper. All you could hear were Chelsea songs (all two of them!) that evening, with the commentators noting how quiet Anfield was. The rent boys aren’t famed for their great support, even on away days, which is a good indication of just how shit the Liverpool fans were during that “special European night at Anfield” to be totally outsung by Chelsea!
“Where’s your famous atmosphere?” the Chelsea fans repeatedly mocked with no response from the dippers. Even the Liverpool fans acknowledge that the atmosphere in their stadium is poor these days (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) yet Cole is harping back to an event that happened five years ago as justification for signing for a midtable club.
When it looked as though Cole wasn’t going to agree terms with Chelsea a few months ago, I wanted him to come to United. The chance for him to play under Sir Alex Ferguson, in front of 76,000 fans, alongside the likes of Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, in the Champions League, competing for all trophies, for Manchester United, should have been enough to make him accept any offer. But as soon as United got wind of his overinflated wage demands, it became clear it wasn’t going to happen. Cole, who has done nothing for almost two years now, would be earning more than the likes of Patrice Evra, Darren Fletcher, Nani, Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick etc. In fact, after Rooney and Ferdinand, he would probably be our highest paid player. It didn’t make sense and if he wasn’t going to budge on the salary, then we were right to show no interest.
There is the potential for him to be great at Liverpool though, with him finding a new lease of life for a different club. Unlike at Chelsea, he will be an important part of the team, used with Gerrard and Torres (if he remains) to build the team around.
But the whole transfer has left me feeling two things really: 1. For a player to earn £90k a week, they have to be central to the team, and quite frankly, we have players who are at least equal to, if not better, than him. He certainly wouldn’t be a starting player every week. Particularly given United’s financial situation (and Liverpool’s!) I’d expect to see a better quality player for that amount of money, particularly given the contract doesn’t expire until he’s 32. 2. Thank goodness Sir Alex Ferguson instils some loyalty and pride in our players. Fancy having one of our players claim to be a United fan, claim to love our fans and club, claim to want to see how their entire career there, only to go on and sign for a club we hated because they offered more money and then bang on about how amazing that new club is. How that club is massive, how the atmosphere there is the best, how it was a ‘no-brainer’ to leave United for that club. It just wouldn’t happen.
For all the frustrations United fans feel at the moment, given the situation the Glazers have put us in, it is nice to know we can take some great things for granted. When looking at our loyal players, the ones who love our club, they want to play for our club because it’s United, they don’t have “sleepless nights” over more money playing for shit clubs, they don’t flirt with other clubs so they can improve their salaries, and they don’t leave us for hated rivals and proceed to bang on about what a great decision that is. It’s all downhill after United Foster said just before leaving and you can’t get your time at United back confessed Ruud. Our club inspires these feelings in the players.
It’s not all rosy at United right now but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take time to reflect on what great things we do have at our club. Sir Alex Ferguson strives to create a brilliant ethos at our club, so that whenever a player joins or leaves, money isn’t the single motivating factor. For that, we really should be grateful.