It’s not often that an assistant coach would get profiled following a new appointment, but there was a nice little article from The Athletic this weekend about Chelsea legend Ashley Cole, who’s joined Wayne Rooney’s staff at Birmingham City.
Rooney was appointed last week by the Blues’ ambitious new-ish ownership group, and Cole has joined as one of his two assistants (John O’Shea the other) as they turn their attentions towards promotion. Birmingham City have been languishing towards the bottom of the Championship table for the past few seasons and it’s been a dozen years since they were last a top tier side.
Cole transitioned into coaching pretty much immediately after retiring as a player in 2019, first at Derby County, then at Chelsea, then at Everton, then at Chelsea again — all four times under Frank Lampard (and the last two quite disastrous in terms of results). In the meantime, he’s also joined the England U21 setup, as assistant to Lee Carsley, continuing to grow his quickly burgeoning reputation. A former Chelsea coach of his, and now colleague Paul Clement calls it an “incredible” four-year journey so far, praising Ash for having “done it the right way; he’s not rushed it, he’s taken the right steps”.
Along with his club commitments, Cole will continue to work with the U21 European Champions, where he’s earned praise from current Chelsea boys Noni Madueke and Levi Colwill — the former giving him some credit for the brace against Serbia specifically, and the latter pointing out a key improvement he was able to make thanks to Cole’s coaching.
“Ash takes a very personal approach in bettering my game [and] I could probably score and assist more. He is always on at me about that. We have been watching clips every day this week, making sure when I play, I get into the box. Luckily I got two finishes [against Serbia]. Ash is on me every day on crossing with my right foot and finishing with my left foot and I watch loads of clips.”
-Noni Madueke; source: Athletic
“Ash gave me a big bit of advice — it’s when I try to break lines and I hit a pass with a lot of power. Normally my right (standing) foot goes in front of the ball. He showed that to me. I hadn’t even noticed.
“I thought, ‘What are you on about?’, but he showed me the clips. The next day in training, I made a pass with my right foot behind the ball. I couldn’t thank him enough. It’s those little things that no one had ever told me.”
-Levi Colwill; source: Athletic
After a legendary playing career, it looks like Cole, now 42, is far from done with football. In fact, he may be just getting started.
Good luck, Ash!