delight at Cole bow
By James Carroll at Anfield - LFC Official Website
Roy Hodgson admitted he was thrilled with
Joe Cole's competitive Liverpool debut after the midfielder
played a starring role in
the 2-0 Europa League victory over FK Rabotnicki on Thursday
Hodgson admitted he was buoyed by the industrious
performance of the summer signing, who can consider himself
highly unfortunate not to have marked his home bow with a
"His energy and enthusiasm tonight meant he had a really
good home debut," the boss told reporters at a post-match
"Joe is desperate to play. He came here because he thought
he might get the opportunity to start more games than he did
"He is a very enthusiastic, effervescent footballer who the
more he plays, the happier he is. He is the type of player
who wants to play every minute of every game.
"Whether that is going to be possible is another matter, but
it's a good quality to have."
A crowd of 31,202 turned up at Anfield to watch the Reds
progress into the next round of the Europa League 4-0 on
aggregate thanks to first-half goals from David Ngog and
Hodgson admits he was taken aback by the turn out, but is
confident those inside the stadium will have been enamoured
by the performance of Cole.
"I must say I am surprised by the size of the crowd," he
said. "I think it is quite incredible that a tie, in which
we won 2-0 away from home against an unfancied opponent, can
still attract over 30,000 people.
"That is fantastic and it's great for me that Joe, on his
debut in front of such a big crowd, has shown them they are
going to get a lot of joy from him this season."
As he was in the pre-season friendly against Borussia
Moenchengladbach, Cole was deployed in an advanced role just
behind the main striker.
However, Hodgson believes the No.10 is versatile enough to
operate in a number of different positions on the pitch that
will benefit the team.
He added: "Joe can play a lot of positions but it is going
to be a question of where we need him most and how he will
fit in best with us and the rest of the players.
"When you have got a player of his quality, you work hard to
get him on the field and you put him on the field in a
position where he is going to best serve the team."
Liverpool's margin of victory could have been much greater -
although a flurry of missed chances meant the Reds were
forced to settle for just two goals on the night.
Hodgson said: "It's enough. One more (goal) than the
opposition is always enough.
"I am perfectly satisfied. I thought we were good in both
games and today in particular we played some very attractive
football and created lots of chances - probably more than
the score line would suggest.
"The important thing is we kept our discipline and way of
playing throughout, even though the game was at times
relatively easy for us. That was important because it is so
easy in these games to lose your way and start doing things
you don't really want people doing.
"The players impressed me enormously with their discipline
and continuing to play in the right way and creating
The boss also had words of praise for Ngog, who played a key
role in both goals.
After heading home an early opener from Cole's cross, the
French striker won the penalty which was converted by
Gerrard just before the break.
"Like the rest of the players, he was involved in a lot of
goalscoring opportunities," said Hodgson.
"The important thing is he is up there to be involved in
these opportunities. He was unlucky not to add to his tally
on at least one or two occasions.
"Once again his work rate was very good and he provided the
focal point for our attacks that players like Joe Cole,
Steven Gerrard and Alberto Aquilani playing behind him
Liverpool will now wait 10 days before playing their next
fixture - the Barclays Premier League opener against Arsenal
in front of the Kop on August 15 - due to the international
Hodgson said: "It is frustrating, not just for me but for 90
per cent of my colleagues. In the Premier League there are
very few teams who don't have a lot of international players
on their books going away.
"Unfortunately FIFA set this date a long time back and we
have known August 11 is a FIFA date. It is a bit unfortunate
they have decided to start the league three days after that.
"In my opinion, it would have been nice if that could have
been pushed back and we had same sort of time the teams in
Italy, Spain and Germany have to prepare because their
leagues don't start until after ours."
with Liverpool debut
Joe Cole was pleased to get 90 minutes in
for his new club as Liverpool cruised to a Europa League
qualifying win over Rabotnicki.
Cole, who arrived on a free transfer having been released by
Chelsea, was at the heart of his new side's best moves and
set up the opening goal for David Ngog. Captain Steven
Gerrard slotted home a penalty just before the interval.
"It was good, I was nervous before the game but it's always
like that when you go to a new club," Cole told ITV4.
"It was good to get 90 minutes in and get the win in the
end. The main difference (at Anfield as a Liverpool player)
is that I wasn't getting too much stick! That's different.
"I enjoyed it, I needed the 90 minutes. I ran out of petrol
a bit with 20 minutes to go but it was needed. It would have
been nice to have scored but I'm sure that will come soon."
Team-mate Jamie Carragher said: "I thought Joe was
brilliant, it was a great performance.
"We've probably been written off a bit over the summer and I
think everyone believes we can improve on last season.
"With the addition of Joe, the news about Steve (Gerrard)
and Fernando (Torres) staying and hopefully one or two
coming in, there's a bit more of a feel-good factor.
Cole stars as
Liverpool ease through
Joe Cole impressed as Liverpool beat
Rabotnicki 2-0 in the second leg of their Europa League
third qualifying round tie at Anfield.
Cole was at the heart of his new side's best moves and set
up the opening goal for David Ngog.
Captain Steven Gerrard slotted home a penalty just before
the interval and after that it was more of an exhibition
game as Liverpool eased into the play-off draw.
The Macedonians put up little in the way of opposition and
the visit of Arsenal in little over a week's time for the
opening fixture of the domestic season will be a completely
different proposition for the Reds and their new boss Roy
However, he can take heart from the performance of Cole on
The 28-year-old was handed the central attacking role he so
craves and did plenty to justify his claims for taking that
position off Gerrard, who has been so effective playing
behind the striker in recent seasons.
Hodgson adopted the 4-2-3-1 formation used by his
predecessor Rafa Benitez rather than the 4-4-2 he used at
Fulham but the system looked more fluid than it had last
Ngog had the ball in the net early only to be flagged
offside but he fluffed his first genuine chance in the 14th
A backheel by Cole released Gerrard who put last week's
two-goal hero clean through and although Martin Bogatinov
dropped to his knees far too early the French striker took
the ball too close to the goalkeeper who cleared.
The precision of Cole's lofted pass was not matched by the
first touch of Spain Under-19 international Dani Pacheco,
making his first start, but the opening goal was not long in
A low 25-yard shot by Gerrard was tipped around the post by
Bogatinov and Liverpool took the lead from the resulting
The captain played the ball short to Cole who curled a cross
towards the penalty spot where Ngog headed in off the
underside of the crossbar.
Five minutes before half-time Fernando Lopes fouled Ngog as
he turned Lucas Leiva's looping header past the defender and
Gerrard slotted home from the penalty spot.
Less than 40 seconds after the restart Cole's cross-shot
rebounded off the angle of crossbar and post while another
new signing Milan Jovanovic's low shot was palmed around his
left-hand upright by Bogatinov.
Cole then forced the goalkeeper into a low save to his left,
Pacheco fired in a shot from the left wide of the far post
and Ngog headed tamely at Bogatinov as the one-way traffic
Gerrard, who last week committed his future to the club
despite speculation to the contrary, soon departed to a
standing ovation to be replaced by Alberto Aquilani while
Jovanovic, who had also flashes of some much-needed
creativity, made way for Maxi Rodriguez.
But the focal point continued to be Cole, whose display
deserved a goal, as he was denied at the near post again.
Yet another Cole pass played Rodriguez in on the right of
the penalty area and he cut the ball back on to his left
foot but his shot was blocked by Egzon Belica.
Cole was destined not to get on the scoresheet as Martin
Kelly's left-wing cross was too hard and high for the
unmarked diminutive midfielder to get a proper header on.
However, Liverpool, who go into tomorrow's draw in Nyon for
the play-off round, will be more than happy if Cole saves
his strikes for more auspicious occasions.