Two months after re-joining his boyhood club, Joe Cole has allowed insight into his unhappy time at Liverpool in an interview that could hardly be said to reflect well on any of the parties involved with his move north.
Having settled back at his boyhood club following a January move that saw Liverpool buy out the remainder of his contract so he could head to West Ham without losing a dime, Joe Cole seems to have finally found the home he spent three and a half years looking for while on the books at Anfield.
And for Cole, it was clear from day one that Liverpool wasn't ever going to be a place he could really call home when, in his first interview for the club's official site, he was faced with questions about how he felt having joined the "biggest club in the country," leaving him uneasily facing up to a level of expectation he hadn't expected.
"When I joined, the guy interviewing me said 'you've joined the biggest club in the country' and reeled off the trophies they'd won," said Cole. "I just said 'yeah, if you put it like that, I suppose you're right' and Liverpool used that as the headline to the interview.
"I didn't want to upset anyone so I just went along with it. But obviously they're not the biggest club in the country any more. How do you judge how big a club are? Nottingham Forest won the European Cup twice but they're not a bigger club than Chelsea."
It may be a difficult subject for some Liverpool fans, but most would accept that while Liverpool are historically the biggest club in England, they haven't done nearly enough compared to the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal to hold on to that title during the Premier League era.
There are even now players in the league, whose images are transmitted to millions around the globe every weekend, who weren't born when it came into existence. It's a list that includes Liverpool's latest signing, Philippe Coutinho—born four months after the Premier League was founded.
Liverpool, one could argue, are still very much a big club. Or at the very least a club with expectations of being a big club. Yet the hyperbole encouraged by those in their public relations department is clearly that, and it's easy to imagine those who led Cole towards such a headline coaxing players now to wax poetic about their dreams of a top four finish.
"I can only play for teams that I'm passionate about and I think that's what went wrong for me at Liverpool," he explained. "I didn't feel a connection with the club or the place that I had at Chelsea and West Ham. I had seven great years at Chelsea but the club wanted to go in a certain direction and I wasn't involved. So I was left with two real options—Liverpool or Spurs.
"Spurs was probably the best option because they were offering me a five-year deal and it meant I could stay in familiar surroundings. But I just couldn't do it, I just couldn't see myself pulling that Spurs shirt over my head. With the rivalry between Spurs and West Ham and Chelsea, it felt a bit mercenary."
Many would argue that being paid close to a six-figure weekly salary to move to a club he didn't feel entirely passionate about right from the beginning when his heart was busy telling him Spurs were the better option is the very definition of mercenary.
Most Liverpool fans, in any case, would undoubtedly agree he should have moved to the North London club instead of to Anfield. And at least he's back in London now, and finally off Liverpool's books after happily taking the club's money to sit around at a club and in a city he didn't feel a connection to for most of three long years.
"I was missing London," he added, "and my family and I had a personal tragedy in December when my brother-in-law died. I got an opportunity to go back to West Ham and I don’t want to move anymore,"
Cole always came across well in interviews as his career wound down at Anfield, and in the end it was Christian Purslow who offered him the deal and who deserves the blame for his signing. In the end, too, the window into the way the club's official website operates confirms that the club's fans are right to feel a touch embarrassed by them at times.
But Cole hardly endears himself in revealing some of the machinations behind his decision to head north, and he doesn't seem interested in explaining why, if he was so discomforted by his Liverpool stay, he stuck around for quite so long. Though in the end of course the reasons for that are blatantly obvious. And purely mercenary.