I bet Joe Cole's head feels all prickly like a newly shorn hedgehog. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
With the World Cup being gone for nearly ten days now, league news and rumors are flying thick and fast. Here's a quick take on the biggest stories:
Joe Cole Is Now a Red: Although there was much speculation that many of Liverpool's best players would be fleeing Anfield during the transfer window, it appears that the appointment of Roy Hodgson has soothed a few ruffled souls. Cole, the former Chelsea midfielder, entertained an offer from his former club, West Ham, but now has put his faith in Hodgson reviving the squad. And with the signing of Cole, captain Steven Gerrard has said he would now like to stay a Red.
Ashley Cole Remains a Blue: In other color-related Cole news, A. Cole can't seem to get a rest from the paparazzi hounding him all the time--and he believes he can make a fresh start, away from the camera lens, by joining Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid. Last time I checked, there were plenty of photos of footballers showing off their abs while on vacation, so I don't see how him following the most press-hounded manager in the world is going to keep him out of the tabloids. Here's a hint, Ash: keep it in your pants and you won't be intruded upon. Anyway, Chelsea chair Bruce Buck has warned Cole that going to Spain won't make his life any easier, and he has warned other clubs that his star left-back is not for sale.
Martin Jol Is Still Not a White: Goodness, but this saga is starting to feel as long as the Fabregas-to-Barcelona nonsense. Fulham wants Martin Jol, currently at Ajax, to replace Roy Hodgson. These stories are starting to feel almost incestuous, aren't they? The Dutch club, however, refuses to negotiate with Fulham. Jol has expressed his interest in going to London, but with Ajax finishing second last year in the Eredivisie, they're keen not to lose their manager. Considering Ajax is a selling club and it's almost certain they'll be selling both Gregory van der Wiel and Luis Suárez, but probably not giving Jol much to play with in return, Jol must be salivating at the idea of Mohamed Al Fayed's open pocketbook.
No One Knows Nothing About James Milner: Every day we see something in the gossip pages assuring us that YES Milner is going to Manchester City or NO Milner will not be signed by City. Let's give it a rest, shall we? Along with that, let's just let the reports of Robbie Keane to Villa die a nice, quiet death. Just because a man is Irish doesn't mean that Richard Dunne will be convincing Martin O'Neill that this thirty-year-old striker who has commitment issues should be coming to Villa Park. Speak of Aiden McGeady if you must, but I hope that MON is broadening his horizons a bit more.
Manchester City Are Still Dropping the Cash: Young Moneybags have spent £52 million on just two players, Yaya Touré and David Silva. Add another £11 million for Jerome Boateng and it's almost enough to make one ill. No, it really is enough. Why don't they just buy the entire starting XI for every EPL team so they can assure themselves of winning the title?
West Ham Are Bringing the Smarts: They might not be flashing gold but the Hammers seem to have an eye for smart pickups. Villa fans are already aware of former Villan Thomas Hitzlsperger donning claret and blue again. West Ham also picked up striker Frédéric Piquionne, loaned out to Portsmouth from Lyon last year, and Pablo Barrera. Barrera's a young winger they picked up from Pumas, who played in three World Cup matches for Mexico.
Wolves Love Steve: Wolverhampton have picked up Steven Fletcher from Burnley and Stephen Hunt and Steven Mouyokolo from Hull City. It's clear that the strategy for Wolves this transfer season is to poach people named Steve from clubs that have been relegated. Well, at least it's a strategy.
And that's it, boys and girls. Yes, there are rumors aplenty, but these are more or less official. Remember that in the case of Villa, MON keeps things close to his chest. It might be fun to speculate, but we probably don't have a clue what's going on in that crazy Irish head.