There are ways to do things, and there are ways not to do things. For instance: you don’t show up at someone’s house uninvited, kick off your shoes, plop down on the couch, and demand that someone brings you a beer. You don’t go to someone’s house for dinner, take two bites of your food, then throw it on the floor and demand that the hosts order a pizza because you don’t like what you were given.
And, when you leave somewhere, you should really leave with some grace and dignity, or at the very least, you should leave quietly. This is a lesson that, even a decade on, is lost on Ashley Cole, of the Carson Galaxy Of Los Angeles of The Major League Soccer League. As you may recall, Cole’s leaving Arsenal was ugly; he and his representatives were charged with making an approach to Chelsea prior to his Arsenal contract ending, which resulted in Cole being fined £75,000 and Chelsea being fined £300,000 (and Mourinho £200,000).
After that, Cole got stroppy; Arsenal offered to double his wages, from £27,000/week to £54,000, but he wanted £60K, and the reason he wanted that extra 6K was as recompense for, in his opinion, being made a scapegoat in the whole Chelsea transfer thing. Cole spent the remainder of 2005-06 being injured and not playing, then Chelsea came calling in the summer with an offer of £16.5 million, which was far below Arsenal’s £25 million valuation.
The summer of 2006 dragged on until August 31, when the two clubs finally reached a deal - Cole to Chelsea for £5 million, with unsettled Chelsea defender William Gallas coming to Arsenal in order to make Cole’s exit worthwhile.
It’s fair to say that Arsenal fans don’t have a lot of positive memories of the guy they call “Cashley”; the whole thing was a mess, handled badly, and while Cole got what he wanted - money, Champions League success, money - it came at the cost of his relationship with the club he loved as a kid.
And that doesn’t seem to bother him much, if a recent interview on an English TV show is to be believed. Cole went on Play To The Whistle and said
"I had a great time [at Arsenal], I missed the old players that were there but I moved on and won every trophy I could," the defender said. “I wouldn't look back and say I regretted it, no."
Which, y’know, fair enough. He had success. That’s fine. Then, though, when asked about the course of Arsenal’s history since he left, and how they’ve struggled to maintain the heights of the Invincibles era, he said
Asked by comedian and Arsenal fan Romesh Ranganathan whether he took any pleasure from that, Cole said: "If I'm honest, yeah -- I still think to this day, I laugh to myself. I had a lot of history there and I think the way I left was maybe a bit dodgy, but the lack of respect they showed me as well."
I’m so glad that Arsenal not being great has made him laugh. I’m glad he’s so petty and small that even now, his overarching thought about Arsenal is “fuck those guys” or some such variant. I am normally not one to hold grudges, or to get emotionally attached to/overly emotional about players, but I’ll make an exception for Ashley Cole, because he deserves as much class shown to him as he’s shown to his former club.