Off The Ball: Everybody everywhere really hates Ashley Cole
Given the time of year, it seems appropriate to offer up a 'My Summer Holiday' type entry this week. Two glorious, activity-free weeks under the Spanish sun did me just fine. I read, ate, swam, saw nothing, did nothing. Nice. Horizons were not dramatically broadened.
And yet I do return home with news. For it turns out that everybody, everywhere, hates Ashley Cole. His unique appeal knows no bounds. Inevitably on my little sojourn I found myself in front of a TV screen for Manchester United v Chelsea.
'The Local Pub' gathered round. Second-half, a sensational Cole dive inside the penalty area. Not even a hint of contact resulted in flailing arms and lifeless legs. These things happen, of course. We can't castigate the boy in isolation. It's modern warfare. But then Cole does what Cole does.
He screws up his face and bawls at Martin Atkinson. He is outraged. Venom spews. There's hate in his eyes. A high-definition, slow motion replay of his dive followed. 'The Local Pub' was not impressed. A man says: "F***ing Ashley Cole. Jesus. Everybody hates Ashley Cole, don't they?"
And I thought, my god, he's absolutely right. Everybody really does hate Ashley Cole.
Fast forward a few days. Friday night. Super Cup final. In the closing minutes, Ramires does his level best to drive his studs through the shin of a Munich player. He was already on a yellow. Referee Jonas Eriksson does what has to be done. Really, if we should be against anyone, it's Ramires. But here comes Ashley. He can't believe it. He's bawling out the ref. He is outraged. And venom spews again.
He won't change at this late stage, I suppose. I've just never understood it. In the shoot-out, Ashley's penalty was the pick of the bunch. It oozed sophistication and class. He sold Manuel Neuer with ease. Such a quality player.
But so bloody awful.