After a few years of doing this, I'd like to think I've gotten pretty good at parsing awkward Google translations of Italian text, but I'm always surprised at all the nuances they miss and how ‘Benatia' becomes ‘Benatar', which then makes me think of this classic from the '80s, but love really is a battlefield, so I won't begrudge Google on that one. So imagine my surprise when I sat down to read Ashley Cole's press conference this morning...what was this? No jenky translations, no awkward syntax errors, no Pat Benatar cutaways, something seems wrong.
What Ashley Cole did say in the King's English, however, was quite interesting. I was initially on the fence about this move, but the more we discuss it, the more excited I become. So in the absence of any actual transfer news, let's take a look at Cole's first formal Roma presser.
Coming to Roma
I decided to come here because I want to keep playing in the Champions League. I'm joining an ambitious club that has signed some very experienced players and I'm ready to fight for my place. How was the first training session? It wasn't bad. I feel fit, I kept myself busy in pre-season although I still have some way to go. Hopefully I'll be fully fit when we come back from America
No real shock there, while the MLS probably could have coughed up more dough, the lure of the Champions League was still too great to ignore. Score one here for Cole, his desire to compete at the highest level should provide ample motivation to stay in shape. Few players can match his resume, so I can't imagine he'd put himself in a position to besmirch his on-pitch legacy.
The Special One
I've always had a good relationship with him. I understand that he was perhaps looking for something else and my time at Chelsea had come to an end. As soon as I spoke to Garcia and I saw how much they wanted me here at Roma I jumped at the chance. Hopefully we can do something special next season and win the league. Similarities between Mourinho and Garcia? It's too early to say, ask me again in six months' time. I've had some great managers in my time and I'm sure I'll work with another one here at Roma.
Even if Cole burnt a bridge with Jose Mourhinho (or vice versa), that hardly makes him unique. The Special One can often be the caustic one. The parallel Cole draws between Mourniho and Rudi Garcia was quite interesting, however. While no one will ever mistake Garcia for Mourinho (in any sense of the word), it certainly seems that Garcia's reputation is growing on the global stage, so that certainly bodes well for Roma's recruiting efforts.
I think perhaps English players feel in their comfort zone in England. It's a big opportunity for me to try a different language, culture and way of living. I'm happy with my choice.
I don't think it has anything to do with comfort, Ashley. Just take a look at oil tanker full of cash United landed from Adidas yesterday; England is where the money is, so there really isn't a need for Englishman to venture abroad. Steve McManaman aside, the track record for Englishman abroad isn't stellar, most because it's such a unique phenomenon; why go abroad when the world flocks to your league already?
In many ways, Ashley Cole is entering uncharted water. Many European stars past their prime take the money and run to MLS, Australia or UAE, happy to draw an enormous paycheck to compete in a secondary league. But Cole seems hell bent on proving he's not some parlor trick meant to draw nostalgic fans to the stands. The same holds true for the club, really. This was a football move through and through, not a veiled attempt to boost their London street cred.
Eternal City Pressure
No, I'm not afraid of pressure. I spent 14 years at the top level in England fighting to win things and for my place in the team. I noticed the Roma fans' passion and love as soon as I landed. I can't wait to play at the Olimpico and feel the fans' support. I'm going to enjoy my time here.
I don't doubt he has the temerity to fight for his place in the squad, but as we all know, no fan base is as extreme in their loyalty or their loathing as Roma. Ashley aint' seen nothing like the Curva Sud, that's for sure.
Eto'o? He's a great player and a great striker, but it's not up to me to decide things like that. It's down to this man sitting beside me [Zanzi]...
We've focused so, so much on wingers this summer that we tend to forget Roma may need another striker/center forward, particularly one with experience who won't stand in Mattia Destro's way. Is that man Eto'o?
Of course, Cole will ultimately be measured by what he does on the pitch, but based on his words and actions thus far, he's setting himself up for success.