Jobs for the boys: Joe Cole role continues Chelsea's cultural shift
Chelsea's latest coaching appointment is a real crowd pleaser. But it is just the latest in a long line of jobs for the boys, writes Dan Levene.
Career-wise, it wasn't the greatest decision: though he would go on to receive greater recompense for his efforts at Anfield, during his two-and-a-half seasons there he would start only nine Premier League games. And that really didn't suit Cole, who always loved his football, and was never happier than when playing it with freedom.
He will now be able to pass that infectious adoration for the game on to Chelsea's new breed of talent, having this week been appointed to a coaching role with the club's academy. It completes the circle for a man who, despite being known for starting his career further east, always had west London in the blood.
A friend who went to school with Cole, in Camden, recalls the posters of Chelsea players that adorned his bedroom walls as a boy. Joe Cole: Chelsea, man and boy, and now helping develop the next generation at the club.
Cole's appointment may be one of the most popular in recent years among a fanbase that loves a home-grown personality. But it is far from the only one. There has been a conscious policy, over the last decade, of reaching back into the club's playing history to draw out coaching talent.
Best known would be Jody Morris: hugely successful as youth team boss, the Hammersmith-born former Blue is now assisting Frank Lampard fight for promotion from the Championship with Derby County. His former role has now passed on to Andy Myers: a Chelsea youth product, who went on to play for nine seasons with the club – bridging the time during which it entered its present berth within the upper echelons of English football.
The men who made the club's history are continuing to make its future: no less so than in the form of Eddie Newton.
Born, like Morris, within the borough in which Chelsea play, Newton was assistant manager on the night of Chelsea's greatest triumph. His role in turning an under-performing Chelsea side into Champions of Europe can never be over-played.
Chelsea goalscorers Roberto Di Matteo (left) and Eddie Newton are hugged by captain Dennis Wise as they celebrate with the trophy after the match..Getty Images
While Roberto Di Matteo picks up most plaudits for the miracle of Munich, Newton's influence was arguably far greater: being centre-stage in dissolving the mood of resentment and petty-squabbling that had prevailed during much of the preceding season.
He has since fulfilled several roles within the club and is now loan technical coach – overseeing the army of (mostly) young talent sent out to develop their careers away from Chelsea.
In addition to all of these men who grew up, in one way or another, with the club, there are the blow-ins – those who came to be closely identified with Chelsea and now earn their crust coaching there. People like assistant manager Gianfranco Zola, Carlo Cudicini and youth coach Tore Andre Flo – who all call the pitches at Cobham their workplace these days.
The theory is simple: promote from within to help feed a culture of Chelsea-ness; so that the stars of tomorrow can be sure they know what this club stands for, and what achievement looks like for those who call it home.
For Cole, the second part of that journey is just beginning. And, who knows, one day in the distant future, maybe one of those he will take up coaching in 2019 will swap that Chelsea training kit for a tracksuit, and carry the cycle on into another generation.