Photos of Chelsea left back Ashley Cole smoking have been published in tabloid papers this weekend, leading to some journalists predicting that the English full back will be dropped come the start of next season. Mourinho is well known to punish players who are caught smoking; he dropped Portuguese defender Fabio Coentrao when photos of the player emerged showing him enjoying a cigarette on his birthday in April 2012. Cole has been pictured smoking before, but never while under Mourinho’s charge. Furthermore, friends of Cole have confirmed that he regularly smokes during his summer holidays and that this is nothing new.
Cole turns 33 this year, and so while he remains an incredible player for now – the demands placed on him as an attacking full back will eventually start to catch up with him. We have Ryan Bertrand waiting in the wings, but he does not yet look ready to step in to the huge shoes worn by Ashley. Cole should be looking to keep himself in peak physical condition so that he can continue his career for as long as possible. As any fool will tell you, you don’t do that by smoking. When you look at someone like Ryan Giggs, it becomes clear that many players have ended their careers prematurely. By looking after himself with absolute care, Giggs has managed to adapt his game and remain an important player at a big club for 20 years.
The question, however, that I’m asking is whether the club should punish Cole for his actions? He is on his holidays, and if he returns after the summer holidays in a condition no worse than the other players, does the club have a right to reprimand him? There is an issue over the image he is portraying as a role model, but Cole doesn’t have a contract to be a role model. He has a contract to play football, and if there is no noticeable drop in standard, where is the problem? Personally, I believe that the club should take action. We pay these players absurd sums, and it is not unreasonable to expect them to take advantage of the facilities available to them, including over diet and fitness. Cole should be looking to maintain off-peak fitness so that he can return from the summer in top condition, and smoking will only accelerate any potential decline.
Tell us, do you think Cole should be reprimanded for smoking?