SO, KOLO. No player conflicts me quite like Kolo. His enthusiasm, experience and mentality are great assets. The footballer Kolo Toure would have been an unbelievable asset around 2008 as he was genuinely fantastic; strong, and fast and an all-round excellent defender. It really isn’t surprising that Manchester City forked out £14m for him and it isn’t surprising he was in their title winning set-up.
I was delighted when he signed him, a leader, a talker, and someone who appeared to be a great personality around the club. The other thing that isn’t surprising while he was at Manchester City is the player and leader Vincent Kompany became at the same time.
When he hit the bar on his debut against Stoke, if that had gone in I think I’d quite probably still be out now. His sprint forward, spin and spin back got his name sung. He applauded on the pitch. Kolo.
The year he came, the year we nearly won the league, we lost against his old club Arsenal in November, it was our second defeat of the season. Do you know what Kolo said the next day?
WE CAN WIN THE LEAGUE. Yeah, that’s right; he said that a side who weren’t in European competition because they’d finished ELEVEN points from the European places the previous season could win the League. He’d had a look at these lads, remembered he’d won some leagues and knew that they could.
That’s my kind of man. A great mentality. ‘We can win the league.’ 3000 fans got laughed at at Old Trafford over five months later as we sang ‘We’re gonna win the League’ when we were 3-0 up against United and were fully in the title race. How mad did it sound in November? Absolutely crazy. And if you aren’t on board with crazy, with madness, with thinking the unthinkable and believing, then you really should probably consider whether football is for you.
So that’s what Kolo brings. A mentality of a winner, a leader, bags of experience.
But then, then there’s the football. The actual football. He’s gone at the football thing. Absolutely done. You know when you turn your nose up at someone who orders Steak ‘Well done’ because they’ve just paid money to make a good piece of meat effectively redundant? Yeah. That’s how done he is.
The one thing we have found out about him this pre-season is that when he’s on the pitch he’s got the armband on. It happened again at Swindon on Sunday in what was for all intents and purposes a shadow side, albeit a strong one. He clearly has a role for the manager this season.
But what is it? Well, I think he’s going to be very prominent in the League Cup and the Europa League. He’ll be a calm head among a sea of youngsters, maybe guiding Ilori through 90 minutes in Azerbaijan or Russia while the main lads sit at home and watch it on the telly preparing for a game that we are actually massively bothered about.
He’s going to be one of the main beneficiaries of the Europa League this season. And the hope is that the players who play with him are the ones who benefit from having him around, him with his experience, his optimism and his madness. If Liverpool are doing this shadow team thing discussed by Rodgers in pre-season then Kolo Toure is exactly the sort of man to coalesce these players into wanting to make it happen, into giving their all and into committing to victory. He’s perfect for that – he must know this is his job. As long as he doesn’t have too many of his moments then he can really help some young footballers through in Europe.
The joy of the Europa League is that if you win your three home games you’re almost certainly going to go through and given the relative strength of at least two of the sides we’ll play, you probably only need to get 7 as you’ll struggle to not win at least 1 away game. He’s getting that passport out and getting some stamps in it and doing some babysitting. I can just see him now, telling Jordan Rossiter it’s his bed time. Telling Tiago Ilori it goes. Telling Lazar Markovic he’s well better than these and that he’s going to reach his second Europa League.
And if all else fails, he’ll sell them and you a used car.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo