Take yourself back to the start of the year – the euphoria, the excitement and, more importantly, the sense of pride.
One of the club’s greatest ever graduates returned to the academy of football after ten long years away.
Three Premier League winners’ medals, three FA Cups and two League Cups, 56 England caps plus European football for four separate clubs – our boy didn’t do bad did he?
However, they do say never go back, and for good reason.
The 31-year-old may still have the technical ability but he isn’t the same lad we sold to Chelsea for £6.6million back in 2003. He hasn’t got the same burst of pace. The confidence has taken a knock or two. But most importantly, his body just isn’t up to it.
I love the fairytale story as much as the next man but, in modern day football and with West Ham in the position they find themselves in, what is next for Cole?
Is there a reason he was released by Chelsea? A reason that Liverpool were happy to loan him out? A reason that Lille wouldn’t cough up the miserly transfer fee to sign him permanently?
Every man in the Hammers side has to give 100%, which is how Sam Allardyce runs things. West Ham no longer have luxury players who may do a bit on the ball but can go missing for 30-40 minutes of a game.
Cole’s body seems to have taken a battering over the years and to get two 90 minutes’ out of him in a week would be tough.
I have a strong suspicion that Allardyce will desperately want to sign another winger this summer.
I am not for one minute suggesting that Cole will not play a lot for us this season, quite the opposite. However, you need natural width and a bit of pace to be effected with how West Ham’s five man midfield works.
Matt Jarvis shows exactly how to be effective in our team. Taking his player on, getting the ball in the box as soon as possible but just as important is his work rate getting back to cover his full-back. I don’t believe Cole is anywhere near as effective as Jarvis is right now for West Ham.
The majority of Premier League clubs wouldn’t mind having Cole to bring off the bench with 20 minutes to go with the hope he could change the game – so we are lucky. But that is about as much of an impact as I see him having.
Joe Cole was my hero growing up for West Ham. I was as excited as anyone when the news broke that he was returning. But I am also realistic.
This time next year I fear the Hammers hero may be looking for a new club all over again.