Today it was announced that Ashley Cole had signed a new one year contract extension, which will keep him at the club until the end of the 2013/14 season. There’s been much talk this season about Chelsea not willing to offer Cole a new contract due to the fact he was over 30, and with Abramovich looking to mould a young side, with little place for Chelsea’s veterans. The same issue has come around with Frank Lampard, with the club seemingly unwilling to offer Lampard a new deal despite his experience and quality that he still provides the team.
At Chelsea, I think in the past month there must have been some sort of reality check from the board that Ashley Cole is still arguably the best left back in the world. The fact that Cole would be allowed to leave for free was a stupid decision by the board, for a player who has been so consistent since he arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2006. Cole brings valuable experience of the big stage that will be useful in teaching all of the young players who have recently been signed by the club.
A man who isn’t liked off the pitch by anyone it seems apart from Chelsea fans, Cole always endears himself to Chelsea fans with the tweets he writes which make the supporters love him even more. Cole was heavily criticised for leaving Arsenal, with many saying it was purely for the money. But with 4 FA Cups, a league title & a Champions League title, even the most deluded of Arsenal fans can’t still believe it was for the money.
At a time where Chelsea fans haven’t had much to cheer about, with the sacking of Di Matteo, the appointment of Benitez & the almost inevitable exit of Lampard at the end of the season, this is one piece of good news for Chelsea fans, even though they want more from the board. I wrote in the article a few months ago that the club would have been stupid to let Cole & Lampard go, and this was echoed by the whole of the football community. If Chelsea fail to give Lampard a new deal, one side is going to get a great deal in the form of a vastly experienced player who still has a lot of quality and class on and off the pitch.
With just over 4 months left of the season, Chelsea fans will be hoping and praying that a deal for Lampard is thrashed out, whatever it may be, in order to keep the club legend for another season. With the record goalscorer for the club still in reach for Lampard, many will want to see Lampard gain this honour, if this is to be his last season. With Cole Chelsea have re-signed possibly the best left-back in the world, and it seems the board have finally used their head for once this season. Cole was a hero last season, making a number of goal line clearances in the lead up to the Champions League final, and of course scoring a penalty in the shootout.
On Sunday Arsenal fans got to see what they were missing, when Cole put in a professional and solid display, against a side who’s fans still taunt him over his departure. The irony is that if Cole was offered to Arsenal fans tomorrow, they’d take him back in a heartbeat. The fact is that he left, he won, and nobody can question his decision. As the famous song goes, ‘Ashley Cole’s won the european cup, european cup, the european cup’, and nobody can take that away from him.
After Arsenal won the title with their ‘invincibles’, a lot of those players left in quick succession to pastures new and it left a relatively young side exposed to the harsh reality of the Premier League where they didn’t know what to do in big game situations. This has led to almost 8 years without a trophy, and Wenger has said that he let too many of that side leave too early.
Arsenal are a big warning to Chelsea that you can let your experienced players leave too quickly. Just because a player is a certain age, doesn’t mean they should be automatically sold. With Drogba already gone, and Lampard seemingly on his way, the leaders in the dressing room and the players who have been around for years are so valuable for this young and exciting Chelsea side. Whilst they may be great to watch, at times they’ve needed a leader among men to push them on and take control. This type of responsibility comes from players who have done it at the highest stage, and that’s exactly what Cole’s done. If Lampard was to follow Cole and be offered a new deal, then Chelsea fans would be delighted, but as it stands that seems unlikely. Age is just a number, and experience is worth more than money sometimes. Roman Abramovich may have had second thoughts over Cole, but Chelsea fans await to see whether that’s the case with Lampard.