Ashley Cole leaves Stamford Bridge pitch in tears in sign his time at Chelsea is up

The 33-year-old left-back's contract with the Blues expires next month

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The Independent Football

Ashley Cole today appeared to take his leave of Stamford Bridge in tears, the strongest signal yet that his eight years at Chelsea are over with his contract up in June and a fracture in the relationship between him and Jose Mourinho, who has ignored him for long periods of the season.

The 0-0 draw with Norwich City, which puts Neil Adams’ team on the brink of relegation, was Cole’s fourth game back in the starting XI. Previous to that he had missed out for 18 straight matches going back to the end of January. The 33-year-old looked assured again but there are no guarantees that if he signs a contract extension he will find himself in the first XI next season.

Cole took part in the lap of appreciation at the end of the game and broke off with John Terry and Frank Lampard to acknowledge the Chelsea fans separately where it appeared he was in tears. Asked whether Cole was saying farewell for good, Mourinho said that he still believed all three players could stay but that decisions had to be made. There has been interest shown in Cole from the New York Red Bulls and Liverpool among others.

Mourinho said: “They are with the club on their future. I think so. I think so. But now it's time to wait a little bit. The summer is a long summer for us. For you, media, with the World Cup, it's a different story. For the players involved in the World Cup it's a different story. But for us, as a club, it's a long time to be calm and to sit and to discuss and to analyse options and the market and possibilities. It's a long summer for us.”


There was unhappiness on Mourinho’s part that he was denied what he thought was three penalties for fouls at different times on Demba Ba, Andre Schurrle and the substitute Eden Hazard, although he was unwilling to discuss them in detail. Claiming he feared another Football Association charge, and that his assistant Rui Faria was “in jail”, he referred to games in which decisions went against him as “festivals”

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He said: “Without ‘festivals’ it would have been a better season too. But we could have been better in some matches. We could have done better against Crystal Palace. Or killed matches at Everton, Newcastle, Stoke. There were matches we lost where we had the games under control but didn't kill them and we were killed. But it's a very dangerous league. You lose two matches you are out of the top four.”

Adams defended his decision not go for the win by putting on another striker. Norwich are almost certain to go down if Sunderland get a point from any of their two remaining games, both at home. He was also decided a penalty by referee Neil Swarbrick for John Terry’s trip on Martin Olsson in the first half.

Adams said: “We didn't want to lose the game. If we'd lost, we were down ... with Chelsea needing to win the game as well, we thought there may be opportunities to get at them with our pace. Those last five minutes, do we gamble? Do we go for it?”