Contracts are made to be broken. I cannot remember who said it but they were not far wrong, especially if that Contract is about anything relating to footballers or managers. Since the Bosman Ruling, there appears to have been a marked willingness of players to do anything within their powers to break a contract, fair means or foul are perfectly acceptable. Not that the clubs are entirely blameless in this. They must on the one hand be cursing the Belgians for their stupidity in forcing the issue in the Bosman case but also be grateful, certainly in the upper echelons, for they have been perhaps the biggest recipients, able to afford players who may otherwise have broken their transfer budgets.
Ashley Cole seems to be falling into the category of contract rebel at the moment. The Sun has run with the story today that he has in what is being portrayed as a massive sulk, not invited Arsene Wenger to his nuptials this weekend. Now the power of the press is such that a negative story such as this will quickly gather pace but in this instance, it conveniently ignores the fact that there is a first team friendly at Barnet the same day. Where Cole is rapidly losing friends is his perpetuation of the myth that he is the injured party in the “Chelseagate” affair. This shows the same relationship with the truth that the Dailies have. Absolutely none. I have said it before and I will say it again. Ashley Cole is the only one to blame for the tapping up and the fines dished out. If he had any loyalty to his employers or contract, he would have instructed Jonathan Barnett not to speak with Chelsea unless Arsenal gave their approval, much less have turned up for a meeting in person. His new book, which will no doubt be a riveting read – born, went to school, signed for Arsenal, won the League, won the FA Cup, played for England, got fined for being a prat – is building publicity to generate sales. It is fairly obvious that the lad has a grudge against Arsenal (“They fed to me to the sharks to get back at Chelsea”) and contempt for the supporters otherwise he may have chosen to knuckle down and get on with his job, i.e. being fit, playing for the first team and helping them to win trophies. His agenda though is to be determined to have his move to Chelsea. To be honest, the club should say “Enough is Enough – They pay £20m or you are not going anywhere. Let your Agent do his job.” Will his signing for Chelsea make them invincible? No. He is not that important a player. He has the potential to be one of the great left-backs in the Game but he is not that much of an influence. Do not forget that the team made it to Paris with a minimal imput from him. Would he be missed? I am not completely convinced of this.
The problem that Cole has it that whilst he is the best left-back at the club at the moment, this may not necessarily be the case in a years time. Flamini is an able deputy whilst Clichy has impressed when called upon. Should Cole remain, he has a large number of bridges to build. He is not a fans favourite any longer, most are indifferent about him – if he were to lose form, I do not think it would be long before the majority got on his back. In much the same way that O’Leary has created a rod for his own back with habitual sniping, Cole is getting into the same boat. If he were to leave, would the grass be greener elsewhere. I doubt it for the damage done to his reputation will follow him for a damn sight longer than anything else.