Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cole Seeks Payback after Nightmare at Theatre of Dreams

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cole Seeks Payback after Nightmare at Theatre of Dreams

Article excerpt

Byline: STEVE STAMMERS

WHEN England left-back Ashley Cole returns to the Theatre of Dreams on Wednesday week, he will be returning to the scene of one of his biggest nightmares.

The title seemed destined to go to Old Trafford last season from late winter, and the 6-1 hammering dished out there to nearest challengers Arsenal that February just confirmed the superiority of Sir Alex Ferguson's team, putting them 16 points clear of their rivals. Cole, in his words, was "hooked" at halftime - that is, substituted after the most torrid 45 minutes of a career that was very much in the fledgling stage.

Next Wednesday, however, could be payback time. One point will ensure Arsenal are champions and it would give Cole and his teammates immense pleasure to win the title at the same arena where they suffered such humiliation.

Cole, for one, emerged stronger from that experience. "I have learned a lot over the last 12 months.

In fact, you learn from every game," he said.

"Making mistakes makes you a better player. If you don't make mistakes, how are you to know if you did things wrong?

"Next week, we think we can go there and win. It was after nightmare at Theatre of Dreams disappointing last season. I wasn't happy at being taken off at halftime.

"But a few of the goals were maybe my fault and my positioning wasn't good at times but I can't play well every game.

"It woud mean a lot to me to go out there and play well."

The 21-year-old Cole has shown immense maturity in dealing with any setbacks.

"Mentally, I have got stronger," he said. "When I first started, I was weak and I wasn't used to taking criticism. Now I do just that - take it.

"When I first came into the team, allowances were made for me. Now I am treated as one of the team and I have to take whatever comes. …

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