Wednesday, August 30, 2006

One Cole at Chelsea, there's only one Cole at Chelsea

While I consider Ashley Cole to be the best left-back in British football, and perhaps the world, he exemplifies the ridiculous state of professional football, and the fact that he will still see first team football with Arsenal is infuriating..

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take Ashley Cole at left-back any day, especially after Justin Hoyte’s performances in the first two games of the season. And I believe Arsene Wenger is pragmatic enough to know a less-than-happy Cole starting for his side at Emirates Stadium is better than one in Chelsea blue.

The track record of this kid off the field is ridiculous, especially his wavering on how he feels about the one and only club (besides a loan spell at Crystal Palace in 2000) he’s ever played for. Angry at not having his wage demands met, he met with Chelsea, got fined in the process for it, and then signed a one-year extension for $119,000 per week, claiming to be “100% committed to Arsenal”.

Next, he writes an autobiography, where he claims to be a scapegoat in the whole Chelsea-tapping-up affair, marries his pop star girlfriend in a typically ridiculous gaudy wedding, and publicly airs his desire to play for the champions repeatedly.

With Arsenal setting the minimum bid of $25.5M (written into Cole’s contract extension of last year), Chelsea and the North London club went back and forth between $27.2M and $51M, and now it looks like he’ll be starting for Arsenal on Saturday.

So now, the 25-year-old England international is back with the Gunners, at least until the January transfer window. Arsenal need him desperately, not just because of their injury-riddled back line, but because he is a scoring threat from the left side, and given Arsenal’s reluctance to bulge the back of the net, they need all the attacking options they need.

The infuriating part for me is that Cole is good enough to get away with all of his infantile behavior. Chelsea is the only team capable of allowing a player to languish on the bench, as is evidenced by Jose Mourinho’s attitude towards William Gallas.

Arsenal, and the rest of the league, cannot afford to do so. At the end of the day, you have an ungrateful, sniveling, emotionally-stunted player whose only punishment will probably result in retracting his hostility towards Arsenal in his forthcoming autobiography.

In a world where huge sums of money are swapped about in transfer fees, wage packages, and agent kickbacks, the above-average player has become king. Just as the Bosman rule gave players rights and shaped the makeup and nature of the game now, we’ve allowed players to express their fickleness much too easily.

Ashley Cole is an immense talent, for both club and country. Unfortunately it’s wasted on someone who amounts to nothing more than a child who believes all the plaudits attributed to him. While his game has evolved to one that is at times, beautiful to watch, he has done little maturing since his 1999 beginning with the club.

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