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Cole, Ashley

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Ashley Cole

Written by Loz and last updated October 2010

p1_cole_gallas_0901.jpg Ashley Cole’s career started at Arsenal, at that time a team that won things other than the ‘most passes without scoring’ trophy. He made his first team debut in November 1999 as an 18 year old in a league cup tie and his Premiership debut in May of the following year against Newcastle United. He spent a spell out on loan at Crystal Palace in the 1999/2000 season before establishing himself as Arsenal’s first choice left back in the 2000/01 season.

During his time at Arsenal he won two league titles (including being part of Arsenal’s ‘invincibles’ team in the 2003/04 campaign) and three FA Cup winners medals. He also picked up a Champions League runner up medal when they lost to Barcelona in the 2006 final.

In the 2004/05 season Chelsea made their interest in signing Cole known for the first time and we managed that about as well as Arsene Wenger managed his squad building from then on. A meeting in a London hotel in January 2005 was attended by Cole, his agent (Jonathan Barnett), Jose Mourinho and Peter Kenyon. One little oversight was letting Arsenal know about it! The Premier League said ‘ooohhh that was naughty’ and fined Cole £100k (later reduced to £75k), fined Chelsea £300k, Mourinho £200k (later reduced to £75k) with Barnett fined £100k and having his license suspended for 18 months.

After all that Cole went and extended his Arsenal contract by a year and it all appeared that was well in Wenger’s private circle of tippy tappy football. That lasted less than a year. In the Summer of 2006 Ashley Cole published his autobiography which had what is technically called ‘a right f**king go’ at Arsenal claiming they had "fed him to the sharks" over the tapping-up affair and claiming that the club had broken a number of promises regarding his salary. He was left out of the team photo for the 2006/07 season and in July 2006 Arsenal and Chelsea confirmed that they were in discussions over a possible transfer.

ACole1.gif There was much bickering over valuation but eventually a deal was done whereby Chelsea paid £5 million plus William Gallas (Arsenal valued Cole at £25 million). There can be very few Chelsea fans who thought we had struck a good deal. Gallas was in dispute with Chelsea at the time over his own future but was considered by most to be the best defender in the club and the idea of swapping him and cash for a player largely despised by Chelsea fans was as welcome as Vanessa Feltz in a threesome.

He made his Chelsea debut in September 2006 when he replaced Wayne Bridge in a 2-1 win over Charlton Athletic. I think it would be fair to say that the 2006/07 season, whilst reasonably from a performance point of view didn’t do too much to persuade the Chelsea fans that Cole had been worth the hassle. There were many who felt Wayne Bridge was the better player and Cole’s quest to win them over wasn’t helped by an injury he picked up in January which kept him out until the very end of the season when he played the final 12 minutes of out 2007 FA Cup win over Manchester United.

Another factor worth considering was that Jose Mourinho was a manager with a habit of having a hairy canary if full backs crossed the half way line. This was not ideal when you consider that Cole has made his name out of being an attacking full back who hugged the line the way Steven Gerrard hugs known GBH offenders. Given this fact it was somewhat surprising when he was one of the players reported to be particularly upset at Jose’s sacking in September 2007.

13-ashley-cole415.jpg The 2007/08 season saw Cole score his first goal for Chelsea in a 4-0 thumping of the Pikeys but also involved in more bad publicity when he was accused of showing contempt by turning his back on referee Mike Riley whilst Riley was booking him for a pretty poor tackle on Alan Hutton at White Hart Lane.

By the 2008/09 season any idea that Cole wasn’t the dog’s bollocks were well and truly assigned to history. His consistency over that season and our double winning 2009/10 season (which he missed three months of due to an ankle fracture picked up in February 2010) secured a new four year contract which was signed in September 2009 and firmly established him as the best left back in the Premiership and arguably the world.

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