Yesterday, Joe Cole returned to action after a month-long layoff with a well taken goal against Fulham in the U21 Premier League*. Today, as was the case in preseason, the club's official website has rolled out with the red carpet, spotlight, and megaphone to talk up his return, proving once again that LiverpoolFC.com is either run by Joe Cole's mum or that their writers enjoy trolling supporters who had mostly hoped rumoured interest in the player from West Ham and QPR over the summer had turned out to be more than rumours.
"It was nice to get out there and play and I felt okay fitness-wise," Cole told LiverpoolFC.com. "I think the most important thing was just getting the minutes under my belt. It's always nice to score but I think the main thing for me was really to just get through the game and test myself to see how my fitness is and how my sharpness is.
"I was happy and it's a case of onwards and upwards now and hopefully I can be available for the first team. Whether it's here or at Anfield, a game of football is a game of football and I really enjoyed it."
As always, Cole manages to come across as a thoroughly nice guy even if he shouldn't be allowed anywhere near Liverpool's first team and remains among the club's worst ever signings when it comes to matchday contributions vs. total financial outlay. In the end, though, the inescapable reality is that as well as Cole might come across in interviews, he's making more in a week than most of the club's fans do in a year and about all he brings to the table in a footballing sense is a ten-year-old reputation of never quite fulfilling his potential.
More to the point, if the club's official online mouthpiece wasn't set on seizing the slightest chance to talk about Cole as though he were the player he's paid to be rather than the player he actually is, it would be easy enough to let him go about his business kicking the ball around the training pitch and picking up his paycheque at this point. Unfortunately—both for fans and for Cole, who must be starting to feel little more than the butt of jokes at this point—the constant trumpeting of his regular returns to fitness or interviews where he hopes to make an impact make ignoring his presence almost impossible.
"I think the manager will probably assess my fitness on Tuesday and Wednesday and we'll go from there," continued Cole. "I'm keen to get going as soon as possible because reserve-team football is great but I just need to get back in the first team.
Thursday and Udinese in the Europa League likely comes too soon for Cole to be in contention, but if Brendan Rodgers remains as high on the ex-Chelsea man as the official website does he could find himself on the bench when Liverpool host Stoke on Sunday. And whatever happens, you can be sure the club's official website will have four more stories about him to run between now and then.
* The U21 Premier League: Almost as good as Ligue 1.