Like all good things, even the golden generation of Chelsea FC must come to an end. I guess it’s quite hard for most of us to accept the ground reality when it comes to our favourite club or favourite players. There’s always this mad optimism that can blind our objectivity. Look at what’s happening to the golden generation of Chelsea FC. Drogba is gone. Essien all but gone. Ballack left long back. Lampard on his last chance. Terry hanging on. Even Cech’s got question marks. The story of Ashley Cole is no different.
In my personal opinion, Ashley Cole’s effectiveness has been coming down. Especially since that historic night at Munich. The man has won every major trophy in club football and is one of the premier league greats. The one thing that was missing in his bucket list was a champions league medal something that he came to close to winning with Arsenal only to lose in the dying minutes of the final because of a goal from his current team mate Eto’o. With the champions league win with Chelsea, probably he felt more complete and fulfilled.
Over the last season and a half, he’s been lacklustre. He always gives his best on the field. He works very hard. He has great attitude and work rate. All these things probably have masked one thing – his effectiveness as a left back. There’s hardly an attacking threat in him these days and even in defence he gets a bit too easily beaten even by the not-so-special right wingers. The one thing we have always noted is the lack of competition in the Chelsea squad for Ashley Cole. Ryan Bertrand is no where near being the first choice left back that I’d start against top teams in key games. Yes, he made his champions league debut in the finals but not as a left back. Winning the champions league and not having any one breathing down his neck could have made Cole a bit complacent.
Jose being Jose, has still managed to create an unnatural competition for Ashley Cole in Azpilicueta and not making any promises for Cole whatsoever. Despite being fit and ready to play, if a right back Azpilicueta chosen over Cole for the left back role, it does say something about the state of affairs. The fact that Azpi is doing really well says two things: (a) how good he is as a versatile full back and (b) how dispensible Cole has been due to his mediocre performances.
As we get closer to the winter transfer window, rumours are already making rounds that Ashley Cole might want to move to the MLS as do the rumours on a loan deal for Coentrao with an eye on Luke Shaw. Clearly, his ego must be hurt. He is one player that never had to fight for his place in his career. He was almost always the first choice at Arsenal, at Chelsea and at England. This ‘being on the bench while watching a right back take his position’ is very new and hurting for Cole.
Cole’s contract with Chelsea ends in June 2014 by which time he would have completed 8 amazing years with Chelsea. There’s no talk of a contract renewal yet. He’s approaching the period where he can move to any club on a free by his will. This January will be very crucial to understand the club’s stance on Cole and the situation we should expect.
What we do with Cole’s contract can be detached from how we use him on the pitch. Drogba was always going but he was a key Chelsea player until the last day. There are two essential questions here: (a) Should Cole’s contract be extended or should we let him leave? (b) Should we start Cole or bench him and use him as a second choice? Please take the opinion poll and also feel free to explain your rationale in the comments section below. Cheers!