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Ashley Cole

Started by Madmax,

1,653 posts in this topic

Ashley Cole's message after winning start to Chelsea coaching career

The former player is a coach of the club's U15 side



Former Chelsea full-back Ashley Cole has made a winning start to his career as a coach, with a debut win as the Blues' U15 coach.

The young Chelsea players came out as Champions of the U15 international tournament, and the Ex-England international, who announced his retirement from playing football after leaving Derby County in the summer, has taken to social media to show his delight at the success of his players and fellow coaches.

"Great start to my coaching career," he tweeted.

"Buzzing for the boys they we’re brilliant throughout, and also thanks to the other coaches who have helped me, frank O’Brien Ian Howell and Harvey great job guys."


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Welcome back A.Cole, its great to see club legends returning to the club on a coaching capacity, now Terry and Drogba left hihihi. KTBFFH always 💪🙏🔥

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Switching Ronaldo to the left was one of the smartest things SAF has ever done to fully utilise Ronaldo. He had a field day against Essien during the CL final. 

Thing with Cole was that he found it naturally easy to contain skilled wingers, it was raw pace like Valencia and Walcott he struggled with. 

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Van Aanholt: Cole was a ‘mentor’, Big Sam’s ‘one of the best’, why I nearly quit



On Friday this week, Patrick van Aanholt marks the 10th anniversary of his first appearance as a Premier League player and in August, the Crystal Palace full-back turns 30.

Yet even amid experience and maturity, the simple things still bring pleasure. The computer game Football Manager, for example. “Oh yeah, straight up,” he grins. “Whichever club I’m managing, I admit it: I am always the first signing I make. Pretty cool, right?”

He reclines in his chair. The Dutchman has had a pretty cool career. Now a fixture in Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace team, he arrived at Chelsea as one of a wave of young international prospects picked up by the club in the early stages of Roman Abramovich’s ownership. Van Aanholt made only two league appearances for Chelsea, both under Carlo Ancelotti, in his seven years on their books while his many loan spells (Coventry City, Newcastle United, Wigan Athletic, Vitesse Arnhem and Leicester City) yielded peaks and troughs.

Van Aanholt is engaging company and brings swagger, arriving in his customised van with a personalised nameplate. The exterior is black and muted but inside there is a PlayStation, Apple TV, a surround sound system and a mini-fridge.

Yet it appears to be his only vice. Van Aanholt does not drink alcohol during the season. He has hired a personal nutritionist and a personal chef. He speaks about the charm of whizzing around to do the “big ASDA shop” with one of his children sat in the trolley. His idea of a day out these days is going to the soft-play centre.

Yet a decade at the top has presented challenges and Van Aanholt, in typically Dutch style, is forthright in his views. Many players have spoken about the aches and strains of the Chelsea loan carousel but Van Aanholt’s story is a sobering one and it is not an exaggeration to say it nearly locked him out of the sport forever. Now he is ready to speak clearly about how he was left “feeling hopeless, ready to finish and stop his career”.

The problems started at Wigan after signing on loan in summer 2011. He tells The Athletic the move “was the worst of my life. Literally. Everything that could possibly go wrong, went wrong. I went from a big club to Wigan and I expected to play. I played three (Premier League) games and nothing was wrong. Then, I went away on an international break and I came back and did not play a minute afterwards. I was not on the bench, in the squad or even travelling. That was a killer. It is a mental thing.”

When cut adrift, away from home, what do you do with your day? “It was my girlfriend and I. It was just nothing. I just watched series after series, Netflixing. It was long. You’re not playing, your head is gone, you don’t know what to do. You argue with your girlfriend because you are not playing a game or training well. It is all mental. I wanted to play every game. I was young and I did not know what to do.

Patrick van Aanholt, Chelsea, John Terry

“Thinking back on it now, really, it is my fault as well as the gaffer (then-Wigan manager Roberto Martinez’s) fault. He didn’t play me but I did not show enough in training. In my mind, I was coming from Chelsea to play. It was meant to be a season but I cut it short after six months. I just left. I did not say goodbye or anything. In January, I packed my stuff and I was ready to go. I called Chelsea and they said, ‘OK, come back.'”

If Van Aanholt takes his share of the responsibility for the toil at Wigan, he felt differently about what happened next. Chelsea developed a close relationship with Dutch side Vitesse, dispatching numerous young talents there on loan, and Van Aanholt was one of them.

He continues: “I did enjoy most of the loans but it felt like just as you were about to adapt and had made your friends, it was time to move again. That’s the hard part. It’s time to leave and you’re like, ‘What’s the point?’ That is football. In football, you do not really make real friends. Only team-mates, basically. It is just like that. Even when you see players hugging in the tunnel, that is just because they know each other because they played for the club. It doesn’t mean that, off the pitch, they are friends.

“Anyway, I went to Holland with Vitesse and that was not a success for the first six months, either. That then made it a year of pretty much not playing football.”

Could he reach out for support to Chelsea? When contacted by The Athletic, Chelsea confirmed there was no informal agreement or contract with Vitesse that required them to loan players to the Dutch side.

“Michael Emenalo was the technical director,” says Van Aanholt. “I spoke to him a couple of times. I shouted at him! When my loan at Wigan was ended, I had an agreement to go to FC Twente, who were top of the Dutch league. Steve McClaren was manager and I wanted to play for him. He wanted me so badly, so I thought ‘Cool!’ But Michael called me and told me I had to go to Vitesse. I said, ‘No, I don’t want to go to Vitesse; I want to go to FC Twente.’ He said, ‘No, you have to go to Vitesse.’ I accepted it but then I got there and I didn’t play.

“I called Michael up and said, ‘Listen, I had to come to Vitesse because of you and now you are going to make me play.’ He said he would call the manager but it did not work in the end. After that, my head was gone. I had problems on and off the pitch. There were loads of family problems at the time. It was all getting too much for me. But if I feel down, I am not a person who likes to talk. I keep it all inside me until it blows up and then… big problems. I have become more open but there are not straight lines in football and some people cannot handle it.

“I just thought, ‘What is wrong with me?’ It was a year without playing and I thought, ‘What club is going to want me after this?’ I was ready to finish my career and stop. I told my wife (Linsey), ‘I don’t want to play any more. I’ll stop.’ She was like, ‘No! You are good enough. Another team will come. But it is your decision, so if you want to stop, OK.’ Then my agent called me and the two of them together said to me, ‘Don’t stop. Carry on.’ After that, Vitesse said they wanted me back because they had a new manager. I was thinking, ‘I don’t want to come here ever again.’ I hadn’t played for six months, so what am I going to do there? I was on holiday, feeling hopeless and ready to finish. Stop my career.”

And yet, it transpired, the new Vitesse manager Fred Rutten really did want Van Aanholt. He became a staple of the first-team over two seasons and, slowly, but surely, fell back in love with his sport. His renaissance earned him a permanent move from Chelsea to Sunderland under Gus Poyet. He admits to relief at finally cutting the cord with the west London club at age 23. Yet there are happy memories too and a friendship that endures with former team-mate Ashley Cole.

“I arrived at 16 from PSV and it was, ‘Wow, is this really happening?’ You see those guys on the TV and now you are having lunch with them and they say hi every morning. In my first few weeks and months, I was still adapting: new country, new language, new system of football. When you are young, you want to learn quickly. It was crazy, sitting down for lunch with Ashley and John Terry. It is not scary, it is nice.

“Ashley was a real mentor. He was amazing off the field. He gets criticism because of his relationship with Cheryl (Tweedy). He is not that person at all. Such a nice guy. He took his time to take me everywhere: he took me for dinner, I stayed in his house, everything. His best advice was to be yourself and if you want something, you better work for it. At Chelsea, my position changed too as I arrived as a centre-back. Brendan Rodgers was the reserve team manager and he said that a centre-back in England needs to be tall and very strong. I was more about technical ability and not six foot tall. I had technical ability, to go forward, and he made me a left-back.”

At Sunderland, Van Aanholt found a Premier League home. “I lived in Newcastle and it is the best rivalry and derby I have experienced. We, Sunderland, dominated them. We beat them four times when I was there. Maybe five. That’s the game of the year. The move made me a proper ‘Prem’ player. Lee Congleton (the head of recruitment) signed me for Sunderland. I am thankful but it is my feet that did the work. From that moment, I was ready to show myself.”

At Sunderland and subsequently Palace, Van Aanholt has grown in prominence, making close to 200 Premier League appearances. Palace’s win percentage this season is more than 40 per cent higher when he plays compared to when he is absent. In an interview with The Athletic earlier this season, his former manager Sam Allardyce — who coached Van Aanholt at Sunderland and then signed him in a £14 million deal for Palace — argued only the Dutchman’s lack of defensive concentration has held him back from being one of the very best in the division.

“It is true,” Van Aanholt nods. “He has told me that, too. I don’t switch off any more. I am alert now. The past two and a half years, I have been spot-on defensively. Sam is right. Sometimes I did switch off. I don’t know why. It’s something I have always done but the players around me talk a lot to me to keep me switched on.”

You played for him and then you signed for him, so you must really like Big Sam?

“Tactics-wise, he was one of the best managers of my career. He had a huge influence on me. He is old-fashioned, but it works. He is always right. For example, if we didn’t play one game how he said we should play, he would come into the meeting and say, ‘I told you. If you don’t listen to me, you won’t win.’ The next game, we listened and got the points. He knows what to do. If you are a manager who wants to play football, then very nice. Everyone wants to play football nowadays. Everyone wants to play out from the back. But it is also about points on the board. If you don’t, the fans start to get frustrated.

Patrick van Aanholt, Sam Allardyce, Sunderland

“At Sunderland, Sam left for the England job. He came to speak to me in person and he was honest. He said, ‘I’ve been offered the England job and I am going to take it.’ I said, ‘But I signed a new contract because of you’ but then I said, ‘If it is a dream come true, then you have to take it. Follow your dreams. I will be fine. We’ll see each other soon.'”

Despite Van Aanholt’s blessing, Allardyce’s tenure would be hopelessly short-lived with England and soon, the pair were arranging to reunite in south London.

“He called me straight away (after getting the Palace job in December 2016) and said, ‘I need you.’ I said, ‘Sam, I am coming!’ I had a bad time at Sunderland off the pitch. I had problems with my wife. My wife moved back to Holland because she didn’t love living in Newcastle. So I chose, for my family, too, to move back to London. Sam was so good. If you are tired, tell him: he gives you another day off, as long as you perform on a Saturday. If you need two days off, you can tell him. Performance is all that matters to him.”

Van Aanholt’s current Palace boss Roy Hodgson is similarly respected. He says: “I have a good relationship with Roy; he listens to me, talks to me, understands me.”

What about the noise from outside? Newspaper ratings? Social media?

“You know when you have played a good game or bad game. I don’t care if someone gives me a four in the paper. Sometimes, they just don’t like the player, so they give a four. I don’t care. Social media is different. I had scored the winner at Old Trafford in August. My phone was popping off. But you have to move on. I always look at my phone. I don’t look really at social media. I watch my clips back to see what I did wrong and what I can do better. We get clips sent to an app either on the night of the game or the following morning. I learn from it. I get criticised sometimes by the manager and I listen, learn and improve.

“When things go wrong, that’s where you really want to watch it and know you should have been there. If you want to be a top player, it starts with that. That is what I strive for every day. I am happy now — and I’m not stopping.”

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