Former England star Joe Cole has joined League One Coventry City on loan after being deemed surplus to requirements at Aston Villa.
Cole, who counts Liverpool, West Ham, Chelsea and Lille among his former clubs, has joined the Sky Blues to get much-needed game time during the autumn of his career.
Now 33, the technically gifted player with 56 caps and ten goals for his country, and more than 300 top-flight appearances in a glittering career that includes three Premier League titles with Chelsea, wants to come to play for Tony Mowbray at the Ricoh Arena.
The former West Ham and Liverpool star admires the way City have been playing this season and sees himself fitting in to the fluid forward line where he could play in a host of positions.
“It’s come out of the blue but Joe wants to come and play for us,” Mowbray told the Coventry Telegraph.
“He just wants to play football. He’s watched a few of our games and he thinks he can help us. I don’t think he’s been to watch us live but watched us on the TV and DVDs.”
Cole is understood to share the same agent as a player currently on City’s books, which is how the interest has been sparked.
“His agent has been here a few times and likes the way we play,” revealed the City boss of the player who made only 15 appearances and scored one goal in his first year at Villa Park but has been limited to just one start in the Capital One Cup so far this season – a 5-3 victory over Notts County in August – seemingly surplus to requirement.
“I think he’s at the age where he just wants to enjoy playing football and look to the future. He’s 33 now and he probably thinks he’s got another few years in front of him to help younger players and show them how to make better decisions to impact on a team.”
Cole wage cut
Cole’s wages, which are likely to be around the £20,000 a week mark, would have been a stumbling block but it seems where there’s a will there’s a way, the likelihood being that the player has agreed to forego some of his pay packet.
“A loan suits everyone,” said Mowbray. “He might come and not get in the team for different reasons. But undoubtedly, for talent, technique and quality it’s a no-brainer.
“The possibility for us is interesting, exciting if you like. The reality might be different and we’d have to see how the team functioned but I would have to say in this league, I can see him getting the ball and spinning away from someone and hitting a pass with the right weight – not over hitting it and missing the player – and Armstrong, Kent or Murphy just running through. Just picking passes and playing.”
Asked where he sees him fitting in to City’s exciting forward line, he said: “He can play, where Maddison plays. We could play with no centre-forward and play Armstrong and Cole or Maddison and Cole with Armstrong wide.
“Sometimes we don’t play centre-forwards; it’s only Fortune who has come in and played centre-forward.
“Sometimes we like to play four across the front with nobody getting marked by the centre-halves.”
He added: “He likes to get on the ball and he can play deeper if we’re in control of the game and have lots of touches, hit the right passes to the strikers.
“I’m not interested in the name, just the impact such quality can make. We have to totally respect he’s played for England, played for Mourinho and won the league, been to France and earned amazing amounts of money. He played for West Ham all those years growing up, played with Eden Hazard at Lille, won the league at Chelsea.
“He’s never played at this level, only ever played at the top level so I spoke to him about whether he’s aware of the intensity of the game and how the change of possession is so fast because he has to be ready to know what he’s coming into.”
Asked why City rather than what must be a plethora of Championship clubs who’d snap his hand off for the opportunity to take him, Mowbray explained: “He probably has had interest but I think he likes the way we play, how we play through the lines and build up from the back.
“He said he’s had managers where he knew within five minutes he’s not going to work for him because he’d try to bring the ball down and the manager would stop the training and say ‘put it down the side, down the channel, get it over the top. Stop, don’t control it there son.’
“So I think he just wants to enjoy his football for the last few years.”
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