WHAT happens to a wunderkind when he reaches the age of 30? We’ll find out this season as Joe Cole is back from a lovely season on loan with Lille where, by all accounts, he played quite well, enjoying his football and the quiet life of rural France. Liverpool were in dire need of some creative thinking in the final third last season but, while there will be plenty of column inches written about the future of £35 million-striker Andy Carroll, his fellow Englishman Cole has the most to prove at Anfield. Did anybody else notice how Cole’s career hit the skids after Steven Gerrard said: “Messi can do some amazing things, but anything he can do Joe can do as well, if not better.”
Abou Diaby, Jack Wilshere
“Hopefully, we will get Wilshere back playing for October. With Abou Diaby returning, it will be like signing two new playersers,” Arsene Wenger said, without a hint of irony, ahead of the new season. Revealing his reasons for not getting out the chequebook, Wenger said he was pinning his hopes on two players with questionable injury records over the last few seasons.
Wilshere, the great hope of English football, perhaps warrants a bit of faith given his obvious talent, but Diaby — the first name on the French teamsheet, according to AW — is not someone Arsenal fans look to with confidence. He has made just over 100 appearances for the club in six years.
Mr Chelsea, the leader of the old guard at Stamford Bridge and the man who has made headlines for all the wrong reasons over the past few years, has got to keep his nose clean this season as he leads Chelsea Mark II in their quest for the Premier League title. With Didier Drogba gone, Terry’s role as team captain will be under even more scrutiny, both on the pitch and in the dressing room. Alongside Frank Lampard, the defender is also likely to be the subject of a sub-plot over their futures with the England national team.
The 2011-12 season was rather a nice one for Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez. Last seen refusing to warm up in Munich in October, he arrived back at Eastlands towards the end of the campaign to pick up a Premier League winners’ medal and enjoy the plaudits with the rest of his hard-working side.
Now Tevez is “happy” (as happy as a man can be on £250 000 a week) and doesn’t seem to be pushing for a move anywhere: he will be keen to prove that he is worthy of a first-team place. With Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli and Eden Dzeko all of the mindset that they should be striker numero uno as well, Tevez might find himself marginalised. And that could be interesting.
Vidic damaged his cruciate ligaments during his side’s exit from the Champions League group stage against FC Basel in December 2011. Not having played in 2012, it will take time for the Serbian defender to gain his full fitness but Manchester United will hope that he quickly recovers his form when he does return. One of the best in the world when fit, his organisation was missed in the United backline last season.