Joe Cole: 'I need to feel loved. The manager has to want me'

There is something not quite right about Joe Cole in a Liverpool shirt; like seeing Phil Mitchell in the bar of the Rovers Return. Cole, born in Paddington, brought up in Camden and educated at the West Ham academy, seemed like Jimmy Greaves, one of those footballers who was wedded to the capital. Even when Greaves made his brief, lucrative journey to play in Milan, spiritually he never really left the Mile End Road.

Liverpool can be a strange experience; frighteningly insular but also, because of its links across the Atlantic, open and innovative: the first British city to embrace rock music and black immigration. Scousers, they say, are northern Cockneys and even without football the young Harry Redknapp, whose entire career in the English game has taken him no further north than the Seven Sisters Road, would not have starved in the Liverpool of the Beatles. His son, Jamie, did all right at Anfield.

"I got a good piece of advice, years ago," said Cole, settling himself into his seat at his first press conference. "If you are going to sign for a club, you have to immerse yourself in it. I am living in a hotel in the centre of Liverpool and I'm making sure I go out and meet people. It is a very vibrant city. I love it.

"Moving away from London was going to be tough because I have lived there all my life but I'll make this work," he added. And just as Alex Ferguson bought himself various histories of Manchester United when coming to Old Trafford, so Cole has done his homework.

When he joined Roy Hodgson's training camp in Switzerland after signing a four-year contract, he said Liverpool was "the biggest club in the world". It sounded like telling your date she was the most beautiful woman you had ever set eyes on; not really true but the sort of phrase you are expected to come out with.

"But look at the numbers," said Cole. "Five European Cups, 18 titles, seven FA Cups, seven League Cups. I have had two or three days of people talking to me about Kenny Dalglish, Kevin Keegan, John Barnes and Ian Rush. These players have names that roll off the tongue. There is a lot of pressure but a lot to be proud of.

"When I signed for Chelsea, the question I was asked was why I'd chosen the No 10 shirt because Pierluigi Casiraghi (whose career was ended by injury) had it and those that had worn it before him had all been flops. But I took it anyway." He will wear it at Anfield. "I didn't ask for it. I told them I didn't care about the shirt as long as it was red."

When he left West Ham in the aftermath of an improbable relegation, he did not have to immerse himself in the culture of Stamford Bridge. He had supported Chelsea ever since he could remember. "I thrived and played the best football of my career," he said. "When I went out there I could remember being at Stamford Bridge as a boy. I want to have that connection and that energy from Liverpool."

Chelsea were his boyhood passion but it was a love that soured. In January 2009 he was injured in an FA Cup tie against Southend. Nine months later, when he played again, Chelsea had changed manager twice and Cole felt less a part of the dressing-room.

"The fans at Chelsea loved me and I can't thank them enough for that," he said. "But I need to feel loved when I'm on the pitch. The manager has to want me there and I don't want to be looking over my shoulder for the board.

"It's not so much that I need a manager to put his arm round my shoulder as for him to remember that in the positions where I play you are going to lose the ball sometimes. You only need to do one thing right – a clever pass, a little bit of skill that can change the game – but to do that you need to feel relaxed and calm.

"I had a year out through injury and last season I was trying too hard because I always felt that if I didn't do something in the first 20 minutes then I would be off. You can't play in my position with that kind of pressure. I played a part in Chelsea winning the Double but I felt more of a part of things in previous seasons, even though people said to me that your goal won the title at Old Trafford.

"I went to Chelsea at the right time; Roman Abramovich had just come in. Hopefully, I have come to Liverpool at the right time. Expectations are low. The previous management, however successful it had been, had come to an end and become stale. Roy has come in with fresh ideas and shaken the place up. I have seen him coach in three different languages. He knows his football and I can talk football to people for ages."

He certainly talked to Steven Gerrard, who since Rafael Benitez's departure has assumed a much more significant role at Anfield, akin to Alan Shearer's in his last seasons at Newcastle. Gerrard did not commit himself to Liverpool when Hodgson replaced Benitez but waited until after Cole's arrival, a move in which he had played a significant role.

"I hope I did play a part in making him stay," said Cole of Gerrard. "Every year the big clubs have come calling for him because he is a fantastic player but at Liverpool this season is about consolidating and moving on. Stevie knows what I can do; we have played together for England for 10 years and my relationship with him is going to be important."

Cole insists he will "give everything" to Liverpool provided that the Kop realise that it is five months since he last played a full 90 minutes and that they give him time to settle. Time may be what Liverpool do not possess. Financially and for every other reason, they have to return to the Champions' League and their opening two fixtures pitch them against Arsenal and Manchester City.

"It will take how long it takes," said Cole. "If you look at the Premier League, the key is the games you should win. There are games like Arsenal and Manchester City that you want to win but the most important are against the bottom 10 teams – beat them home and away and that's 60 points. That was the attitude we had at Chelsea."

Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence