Cole unwilling to look back ... for a day or two, at least

Chelsea's new boy mounted a somewhat confused defence of his position, but will play it by the book from now on, writes Sam Wallace

For 20 months it had been the most embittered, vicious and divisive transfer saga in the Premiership's history; yesterday it was supposed to reach a kind of resolution. But Ashley Cole's arrival at Chelsea from Arsenal was not an ending, it was hardly an explanation and at times it would have been no less surreal had the player announced that he had decided upon a move to Barnet instead.

Straight-faced, Cole said, when confronted with the question of his departure from Arsenal, "I don't want to look back on my life." He would not discuss that infamous meeting with Jose Mourinho and Peter Kenyon, the Chelsea manager and chief executive, at the Royal Park Hotel on 27 January last year. He was not for addressing the subsequent Premier League inquiry which handed out a total of £600,000 fines - reduced on appeal - to Chelsea, Mourinho and Cole for their part in the whole sorry affair.

Later he even added: "It's over now, there's no looking back." Perhaps he should have said no looking back until Monday, when the exclusive newspaper serialisation of his autobiography My Defence begins with its series of allegations - one of which, the hysterical promotion warns, is Cole will blame Arsenal for "hanging me out to dry". For a man who wishes his past to be forgotten, publishing his life story is surely the most unusual step to take.

Also listening to Cole was his agent, Jonathan Barnett, the man whom the original Premier League inquiry said had "manipulated" his client while considering it a "matter of regret" that it could not punish him too. Barnett's role yesterday was unclear but it was evident his client was not to stray into the more salacious detail that has made the serialisation rights to Cole's book so lucrative. It was a touching example of the agent-client relationship.

Cole accepted that "probably some of you think I'm a greedy pig" - he also added, "it's nothing like that." The move had, he said, "never been about money." He said he needed a "fresh challenge" and "a new lease of life. I can look at myself in the mirror and say that I'm not a bad person," he added. "I do owe Arsenal for giving me the chance to make it but I feel I repaid them a lot."

But the single most stupefying aspect of it all, and perhaps the saddest, was that Cole, at the age of 25, seemed unable to take a scintilla of responsibility for his part the whole, unpleasant saga.

It is clear that he will make allegations in his book that Arsenal reneged on an agreement with him, that he felt let down - perhaps justifiably - at a proposed pay rise which never materialised after Euro 2004. There may be more, but one thing that this complex tale tells us is that responsibility does not rest solely with one party.

There was no acceptance that his meeting with Mourinho and Kenyon might have been ill-advised, however strong his feelings about his treatment from Arsenal. "It's not down to me," he said. "I sat down and waited and was pleased to get the call from my new club." He accepted that he was "going to get stick" from supporters. "It is going to be hard for me," he said. "I've just got to deal with it now, haven't I?"

Most of all, however, regardless of the club he had left or the one he had joined, it was a pity that such a brilliant young footballer from modest beginnings would end up so embattled. Presented with two contradictory statements he made last year - one in which he said he would refuse a new contract with Arsenal even "for £200,000 a week" and another in which he subsequently signed a new deal - he admitted with exasperation that he had "said certain things in anger".

Only there did we witness Cole admitting to some culpability, although he argued, with some merit, that by extending his contract he had increased the value Arsenal could sell him for. As to the logistics of the deal, he said that when he told Arsène Wenger, in May, before the World Cup, that he wanted to leave it was the Arsenal manager who suggested he should be sold to Chelsea.

By then, however, Wenger had a player he knew he had to sell and the Arsenal manager confirmed yesterday that he would have done so regardless of whether William Gallas had come in the opposite direction.

"In everybody's life, time helps you to see who really helped you," Wenger said. "And one day, certainly not this year, or next, but in 10 years he [Cole] will see that Arsenal was not as bad as that for him."

Certainly, Cole appeared to hold no grudge against Wenger, who he said had "been great to me and supportive to the last minute". For those at Arsenal, such as the vice-chairman, David Dein, whom Cole blames above all for reporting him and Chelsea to the Premier League and thereby triggering the inquiry, there was, somewhat remarkably, the prospect of peace, although that seems unlikely given the revelations likely to emerge next week.

"I will forgive them," Cole said. "What happens with me and David Dein has happened now. I wrote about it in my book, I have said things that I meant at the time and certain things I do mean but I don't want to keep going back."

Asked for one word to summarise the whole saga, Cole's incisive reply was "boring". That said just about everything about the attention of the protagonists to the finer moral details, although it is hardly a recommendation for his autobiography.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone