04 February 2013

Alan Hansen raves: 'Perfect' Cole is the 'best in the world'. Gross exaggeration...?

Liverpool legend Alan Hansen has delivered a glowing eulogy for Chelsea star Ashley Cole, claiming the 32-year old is the 'best left-back in the world'.

Cole is set to win his 100th England cap this week, and in his column for the Daily Telegraph, Hansen hailed the Londoner as 'the definition of the perfect full-back, and suggested he could go on and beat Peter Shilton's record of 125. He gushed:

"In many ways he [Cole] is something of a footballing freak – a complete player.

"He has mastered the art of attack and defence to the point where there is no visible weakness in his game".


Perfect; complete; no visible weakness in his game? Jeez, don't exaggerate or anything! Hansen is entitled to his opinion but surely no player is perfect and without weakness? To me, he's gone way overboard with the fawning praise here. The former Liverpool captain added:

"He [Cole] would have been perfect for the all-conquering Barcelona side of recent seasons, his natural athleticism and ease on the ball arguably making him the best left back in the world".

Cole is inarguably a good player but there's no getting away from the fact that he is also part of the laughably labelled 'goden generation' of England players who repeatedly failed miserably on the international stage. Hansen, however, refutes the suggestion that Cole may not be 'as good as suggested':

"It is often suggested perhaps those players [the Golden Generation] were never as good as was suggested, But this is not the case. When you look at Cole, Gerrard, Lampard, Terry and Rooney...in all their cases they could have signed for Real Madrid, Barcelona or any of the world’s major overseas clubs".

The likes of Rooney, Gerrard et al could possibly have signed for big European clubs, but there's no guarantee that they would've performed to the same level as they do in the Premier League, and their repeated failure for England (arguably) provides persuasive evidence of that.

Why haven't Cole and his pals gone to test themselves in La Liga, the Bundesliga or Serie A? Only Michael Owen and David Beckham had the guts to go abroad and try their luck, but the others stayed in the comfort zone of the Premier League. Could it be that Rooney and his cronies privately fear being exposed in a different league? Is it possible that they're not actually as good as everyone seems to think?

With few exceptions, the world's best players always test themselves in different leagues, and there are so many examples of this that I don't need to make a list. Conversely, British players rarely venture abroad, and there has to be a reason for that (aside from pure greed)

As such, without that experience - and combined with regular failure at international level - there's no way (IMO) that Cole can be considered a 'perfect player.



NOTE: Please stick to the Comment Policy (Click to read)

34 comments:

  1. Hm, as much as I don't like Cole he is a very, very good player.
    Why didn't those players mentioned in the article move abroad to test themselves in a different environment? One reason may be the wages they already earn at their respective clubs in England. Difficult to significantly better them abroad, probably no chance to do so in the Bundesliga. English players don't travel too well. They tend to have difficulties learning another language. My opinion is that they are brought up thinking the entire world has to speak English, but it won't work that way. Add to that that Cole, Rooney, Lampard already play at clubs who conquer for titles, there is no need to move abroad to do that.

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  2. Maybe they're too satisfied with the premier league? I'd rather play in the premier league than say La Liga or Serie A, I reckon the premier league title is more prestigious.

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  3. Hansen is overreacting here but I do think Cole is one of the finest players we have had over the last 10 years especially in terms of consistency. I look back to the semi final against Barca when Chelsea were falling apart, to me Cole kick started that come back with some terrific play and passion. Still don't think much of him as a man though.

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  4. who,s the former england captain jaimie lol

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  5. Wouldn't you have slated them as mercenaries if they did leave?

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  6. No. I've never said anything along those lines, ever.

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  7. Why would you want to leave the best league in world football to test yourself in a lesser environment. The Prem has been the best for a long long time, ask yourself why so many players want to come an play here. Messi has spent all his time basically at Barca (brief spell at Newells Old Boys as a kid) yet he is still best player on the planet

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  8. At his peak, he was definitely the best left back in the world, imo. Secondly, out of that so-called golden generation, he was the only one, imo, that consistently played well internationally. But football is a team game and definitely need more than a left back to do well. I don't think there is such a thing as a perfect player in any position, now or in the past but Cole was the best in his position and even now, he isn't that far off the best. I think his consistency has been brilliant over the years. 



    They get paid big money, play in one of the top 3 leagues in the world, play for the top clubs, play CL football regularly and they are home. That is a pretty comfortable. No surprise that they stay here. I don't think its fear, I think its they are comfortable here, the top English players and rightly so. 


    Italian players haven't been that great a success in foreign leagues and generally are much more better playing in Serie A, yet they have had some good international results in their history (reaching semis/finals inc.). Look at the German squad currently, most of them play in Germany and yet most people would say that they have a very good and competitive national side. No, neither have been as formidable as the Spaniards or the Brazilians in recent history but beyond them, these two have always been a big threat, regardless. Most of the Spain XI is Barca or Real. 

      

    I don't see it as a big problem, not playing in a foriegn league and in fact, I don't see it as a problem at all. That is not the problem with British players. The problem is at grass root level, with the football education. The Spanish & Germans have far more qualified youth coaches, the likes of the French have had national football centres for decades, the British, until recently, were obsessed with normal full size games at youth levels even though their foreign counterparts haven't been doing that for decades. The British grass root system are now trying to do what their European colleagues have been doing for decades. The English FA have been a farce in relation to how neglectful they have been over the grass root system over the last 50 years. That has been my biggest criticism of the so-called gatekeepers of the English game. 

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  9. Best league in the world? In what sense? That is just another myth created by the media. Best for excitement, passion etc, perhaps, but for technique, skill etc, no way.

    Players with real burning ambition leave their home environment to test themselves. They want to mix it with different players in a different tactical/technical environment. England players don't - their competitive edge is dulled by the adulation and money they get in England, and they don't want to risk that by moving abroad.

    Mess may have spent his whole career so far at Barca, but that is not his home environment, is it? He's come halfway round the world to play football, and excels despite the unfamiliar environment.

    The likes of Zidane, Figo et all all played in different leagues. Gerrard, Rooney and the rest of England's overpaid players don't have the ambition to take the risk.

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  10. Hey, not related to this post but I couldn't reply to you on the last article for some reason. I agree with your last comment, appreciate the discussion. 

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  11. But Messi hasn't been tested n any other league.. Are you trying to say he shouldn't be the World's best player!

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  12. IMO, Cole is clearly a World class player. Obviously as you say no player is perfect but there are only few English players over the last decade that are World class. I used to enjoy watching his battles with Ronaldo and he always got the better of him. I think Hansen is right in that he would be easily able to do it at likes of Barca. You look at their left backs over the 10 last years has been Van Bronckhorst, Sylvinho, Abidal and Adriano. Cole for me is the best left back in that group (Abidal running close too) and displaced the likes of Van Bronckhorst and Sylvinho at Arsenal.

    With regard going abroad....yeah I would like to see more going to see if they can be a success. Maccer and Becks did very well winning everything abroad with Real and Owen to a lesser extent. But there are only 2 clubs in Spain worth going too so option are limited imo. Italian league gone to sh8t and German league not as good as Prem.

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  13. Hi Pete. Why couldn't you reply? It may be that you reached the reply limit for that particular discussion thread. I'll see if I can  increase it so you can reply.

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  14. You should be able to reply now (limit was set at 5 replies; I've changed it to 10)

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  15. Hansen's been hitting the cough bottle a bit too hard.

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  16. The point is Messi is playing in a league far away from his home. Gerrard et al, are not. Messi may stay at Barca for his entire career, but he's one of the exceptions. Over the years, dozens of the world's best players have played in different leagues. Examples: Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo, Kaka, Ronaldinho, Shevchenko, Torres, Ronaldo, Cannavaro, Ballack etc

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  17. It's no problem as the discussion pretty much wrapped up (and OC was winning :P) 

    I've noticed it a few times but didn't know what it was. Thanks for figuring it out though. 

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  18. You make a valid point by stating the adulation and money the best English players get in the Prem. It might even help the English national team if at least some would ply their trade abroad.

    Messi didn't have to learn a different language to play in Spain. I'm no expert on culture, but would like to think that living in Argentina or Spain has more in common than, say, living in England or Poland.

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  19. Good point about the language thing. I think you're right, it's probably easier for Messi to settle in Spain.

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  20. Was about time to do that. Thanks!

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  21. Jamie, your perception and opinion are yours and that is fine, tell me why so many players from abroad want to come and play in the prem and why so many players say it is the best league in the world. Also you say technique skill etc, please tell me what the etc bit is as you only raise 2 positives for your argument. Football is about much more than technique, from a fans point of view it is about the Whole experience, and in my opinion the Prem cannot be beaten for the whole experience it provides. Passion, excitement, drama, banter, commitment, tackling, fantastic grounds, fast and furious play, the list goes on an on. Skill has always been present in the prem, so the only thing that was lacking was technique, which didn't do LFC any harm in 2005 or on many other occasions during our winning forays into European football
    So only technique has been missing.  So tell me what is the best league then, La Liga or other league where players roll around on the floor for minutes an minutes on end, where time wasting is more prevalent than rain is in the UK. 

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  22.  Messi movd to Barca as a kid, that is also different to say Gerrard or Rooney moving in their mid 20's when they are married with families

    One could also pose the querstion why players like Zidane, messi, Ronaldinho and many other great players that have performed ont he continent don't try playing in the premier league

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  23. The Prem is also a pretty balanced league. Many teams have good players. In Spain on the other hand two teams dominate for decades (with a few exceptions). The Italian league is a great league in it's own right, though you have a point concerning the play-acting going on there, and the, at times, slow build-up play. The German league might be the one to watch, imho. It's second only to the Prem when it comes to tackling, passion, excitement, drama, banter, commitment, tick all those boxes, too. Play is not as fast and furious as in the Prem, but not far behind and concerning fantastic grounds, well, many clubs have a brand new huge stadium, vociferous support, huge crowds, great atmosphere (they surely sing when they are not winning, too).

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  24. I do rem Zidane being linked with Blackburn though but the owner preferring someone else, great choice there

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  25. Cole is a very good player, one of the best LBs in the world, but just like many other English players, he is being over-rated by his countrymen/media (I know Hansen in Scottish).  No way Cole can be at per with Phillipe Lham, might not be better than Jordy Alba. 

    Historically English (read British, when the Scots, Welsh & NIrish used to be decent football power) players don't travel much & don't travel well.  Yet, players like John Charles, Kigan, Platt, Beckham, Hoddle has played in Continental Europe with success, but don't think that many British players had played earlier or will play in future outside England . 

    I believe, Financial consideration is the main reason.  I put it other way - the amount of crazy money English players are paid in England, only top Italian & Spanish clubs can afford that & to be honest, better players are available to them from mainland Europe, Latin America or even from Africa even for less money.  To be honest, if you can get Moussa Sissoko for 2mn, Cabaya for 4mn, Holtby for 2mn or Michu for 2mn, it's a bit stupidity for non British clubs to waste like 35mn or 20mn (you know for whom).

    Language might be another reason - unlike Cricket top Football playing countries are mostly former Spanish, French, Portuguese or Dutch colony, therefore mainland European clubs are more interested for players from Latin America or Africa.  Almost entire Latin America is very comfortable in Spanish or Portuguese & Africa in French, but the English players hardly know anything but English (& that's not required either actually for the dominance of English as a global language). 

    Last but not the least is the skill & quality of the players.  English players are more suited to hit & run, long ball English game.  Physical attributes are the most important per-requisite in England, than skill or technique.  Don't believe that Emil Heskey would have played in Top Division in Spain or Italy, & any club outside England would have paid 35mn for Carroll (Ok, it was a panicked purchase, but Spurs did offer 25mn & I believe AC would have been sold for close to 30mn, until being exposed). 

    With their better physical capacity; against average sides, or in Friendlies (when to be honest, players play safety first football) England as a National team dominates, but in WC or Euro, shallowness of English Football is exposed time & again.  John Terry is a mega star in BPL, but he got the hiding of his lifetime from the young German forwards, who probably earn less than JT combined. 

    No offense, but apart from very few, the English players are just not good enough to justify their price or salary tag & Non English clubs are not forced to take at least 8 home grown players like BPL clubs.  English players should thank to Mitchel Platini, otherwise I doubt how many of them would have played in UEFA CL or for that matter BPL.                      

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  26. For being the best in the world Sissoko didn't have much trouble going past him on Saturday...

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  27. a consistent performer, as hansen said "he has perfected the art of attack and defence". are we talking about his nightclub technique or footy ability. cheryl could give us the best insight into how he defends! still an odious b*stard, either way.

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  28. Well, he might be the best LB in the world but how many great left backs are there? Its interesting because it’s the one position that teams find it very difficult to find an actually good player to fill. (I'm considering Lahm as a RB when I say this) I think even Jordi Alba's a little overrated. He plays in the barca set up and they are so good I think he just looks a whole lot better. David Santon was touted as the next big thing when inter were winning the champs league etc, but now he's not in a dominant side its clear to see that he's just a good to average player. If you really think about it, almost every LB you consider great has a part of their game that's so flawed that you second guess how great they really are. Having said that,the two who would come close to being actually great LBs imo are, ironically, evra and baines. Evra is playing out of his mind regardless of what you think of the man and Baines has always been great in my mind but embarrasingly underrated because he plays for a team that doesnt consistently challenge for the title. Imo, they are the only two true LBs that can cross well, score goals, AND defend very well in the game right now. Most LBs today really struggle with the defending and that's why I put them two ahead of the pack

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  29. Of course Zidane and Figo played in different leagues, you hardly expected zidane to stay in france did you? FIgo in portugal? It's not the same.

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  30. It was Tim Sherwood.

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  31. I think you're letting your generally dim view of footballers (particularly English ones) dominate here, Jaimie.

    I think it is a lot easier for people from South America to come and settle in Portugal, Italy or Spain, which is where the majority of them are. You're moving from one Latin culture to another. I'm not stupid enough to think they're identical, but there is greater similarity in language (or the same language) and similar climate etc.

    Plenty of great players don't test themselves elsewhere all the way back to Pele, through Beckenbauer and Muller, Maldini and now with Xavi and Iniesta.

    It is disappointing that more British players don't play abroad, for whatever reason (and I think there are a variety, of varying merit), and when they do, like Beckham and Owen, they go up vastly in my estimation, but I don't think you can tar all English (or British) players with brush of cowardice.

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  32. I think Ashley Cole deserves all the praise he gets (as a footballer). The best left-back in the world since Roberto Carlos retired. He is one of the more complete footballers that you'll have the privilege of watching, even if he isn't 'perfect'.

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  33. As a player, Cole is a top3 player in his LB position. As a person, he`s just another pro-player, whose only loyalty is to his pay-packet.

    As for `Why hasn`t Cole and his pals gone to test themselves in La Liga, the Bundesliga or Serie A?
     Possibly because they couldn`t earn as much money, if they left the EPL?  No, probably.

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