Right. Enough is enough. I’ve had it and can hold my tongue no longer.
First we have commentators and pundits calling England fans “out of order” and “thoughtless” whilst also accusing them of not being “true supporters”.
Then we get Rio Ferdinand sticking his oar in, stating that the fans in question “can’t be that bright”. Yes folks, you heard it right – Rio Ferdinand questioning the IQ and mental capacity of others…
In case you haven’t guessed, Yes, I am talking about Ashley Cole, and the booing thereof.
Let’s start with the commentators. Instead of telling us about the game with Kazakhstan, what happened, what went well and what didn’t, these so called professionals chose to largely ignore the game and focus on the booing of Ashley Cole. Telling us in the process that those involved in such activity couldn’t possibly be true football supporters. As with many of their ill advised observations, this statement couldn’t be further from the truth.
Now, I don’t boo. However, I completely understand why those who chose to express themselves in that way did so. It’s precisely because they ARE true football fans, who care deeply about the game, and their National team. Football fans are very passionate, very knowledgeable and have long memories. Not that they would need long memories to be able to come up with a valid reason for disliking Ashley Cole.
Let’s take a look at some of his career highlights.
1) He falls publicly out of love with Arsenal and their fans, after fans didn’t sing his name on the last day of the season. “…I was sat in the centre circle after the final whistle waiting to hear my name – but they only wanted to sing about Thierry Henry…” Bless. Fancy craving adulation and not getting it. If that isn’t grounds for a transfer, I don’t know what is.
2) Wages. He went on record in his book, explaining his disbelief that Arsenal weren’t prepared to match his pay demands. He wanted an extra 5k per week, which Arsenal refused. Poor old Ashley couldn’t believe it. He explained; “I couldn’t believe Arsenal were quibbling about it – it was only 5k a week”. Yes, that’s right, just £5k a week. The small matter of an additional £20k a month. Extra. You can really feel his pain can’t you. Poor old impoverished Ashley couldn’t understand why Arsenal wouldn’t pay him an extra £240 grand a year. And who was he explaining this tale of woe to? Who was his target audience? The same people who he expected to chant his name. The same people who contribute to his wages by turning up tow watch him play. The same people that he expected to buy his book and the very same people who on average, don’t earn his weekly wage in a year.
3) Fast forward a bit, and having been forced out of Arsenal by fans who refused to idolise him, and by a management team who for some reason wouldn’t be held to ransom over his salary, he is now a Chelsea player. Last season, away at Tottenham and our Ashley launches into a two footed challenge on Anthony Hutton. It’s a shocker, two footed, studs up and is the sort of challenge that could feasibly result in arrest and not just the obligatory red card. However on this occasion, Ashley is lucky. For some reason, the referee thinks that a yellow card will suffice. There is no doubt about it – Cole was lucky not to get a red card. He should have been off.
So, what does Ashley do? Accept his lenient punishment and skulk off, embarrassed, making a mental note to make amends for his horrific challenge? Does he heck. He launches into an astonishing tirade against the referee, face twisted and contorted with rage as he berated the hapless official. Here is a player who has been spared a red card after almost breaking an opposition player’s leg, and he is still attacking the ref. This alone warranted a red card, yet still he persisted, walking away while the ref tried to book him, seemingly refusing to give details of his name and number. Such was the appalling nature of this display, the very next day the “respect agenda” was born.
So, to sum up.
He threw a very public tantrum when fans didn’t sing his name.
He threw a very public tantrum when he didn’t get the money he felt he was worth. (“Just an extra 5k a week” remember – just 5k)
He threw a very public tantrum when he was yellow carded (instead of being sent off) for a potentially career ending challenge on a fellow pro.
This man is the epitome of what is wrong with modern football. Here is a man as far removed from the average football fan as it is possible to get. He expects to have his name sung. He expects us to care that he wasn’t awarded a pay rise. And even worse that these obvious displays of arrogance, he tramples all over the game with his viscous challenges and tirades against officials when he was very clearly in the wrong.
He has no humility, no grace, no charm, and is viewed by many real football fans as a symbol, an all too visible illustration of what is wrong with football today.
The fans weren’t booing him on Saturday just because he made a mistake. They were booing him because he made a mistake, and more importantly because he is one of the most odious characters in football today. Real football fans understand that people like Cole are slowly but surely taking the game away from us, and if they chose to let him know that they are onto him by booing, then so be it. It’s the very least he deserves. I think he is lucky that he isn’t booed when walking down the street, such is the widespread dislike for this oik. If he messes up when representing our nation, then he is certainly going to know about it.
These commentators who are paid to commentate on games should concentrate on doing just that – commentate on the game. Don’t try to tell us who are real fans and who aren’t. When you start paying to go to games you can pass judgement. Until then, stick to what you are paid to do.
Oh, and as for Rio Ferdinand suggesting that anyone that booed Ashley Cole is missing a brain cell or two, well, isn’t irony delicious sometimes?