IAN LADYMAN: Carlton Cole deserves a second shot after his 'Holocaust' radio blunder... the former striker's regret was genuine but the language used in dressing rooms must change

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Carlton Cole inexplicably used the word 'Holocaust' on live radio last weekendHe was covering Manchester City's match against West Ham for BBC 5 Live 'Football speak' is often crude and hasn't grown like other parts of the gameEveryone deserves a second chance and I have a feeling that Cole will take his

A week or so ago at Arsenal, the former West Ham forward Carlton Cole approached a couple of newspaper journalists at half-time. ‘Hello, I am Carlton,’ he said, extending a hand.

On radio duty for BBC 5 Live for the first time, Cole explained he’d been nervous beforehand but that he was enjoying himself. Soon talk turned to the football and he offered an insightful view on the Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The next day Cole was on radio duty again — this time at Manchester City’s game against West Ham — and this time his world threatened to fall apart. The 38-year-old inexplicably used the word ‘Holocaust’ when talking about the possibility of a heavy defeat for David Moyes’ team.

Carlton Cole should be given another chance after his blunder on BBC 5 Live last weekend

Carlton Cole should be given another chance after his blunder on BBC 5 Live last weekend 

The former striker referred to a big defeat at the Etihad being like a 'Holocaust' for his old team

The former striker referred to a big defeat at the Etihad being like a ‘Holocaust’ for his old team

There is no excuse for what Cole said. Equally, his immediately expressed regret was genuine. When I called him a couple of days later, he admitted that he was still coming to terms with what had happened. ‘People will hopefully understand how sorry I am,’ he said. ‘I am not sure what more I can say at the moment.’

Reaction to Cole’s comments was predictable. There was not a lot of understanding or sympathy. Some said the former centre forward should never work in the media again. But one of the few pertinent observations came from another former footballer, Stan Collymore.

Writing in his Daily Mirror column, Collymore said: ‘During my playing days, “Holocaust” and “Chernobyl” were used liberally in dressing rooms as words for “nightmare” or “woeful”.

‘Football speak is a weird mishmash of sayings, old and new, which players use as accepted language without even thinking about what words actually mean. The majority of players have used those words at some point around the training ground. Is that an excuse? No, of course not. But I hope it provides a little context.’

Collymore summed the matter up well. Football has come a long way in terms of the enlightenment and social awareness of its players. But dressing rooms remain crude places where the language used can be base. 

I asked a former Premier League manager over the weekend if much has changed in that regard. ‘Basically, no,’ he replied. So it seems as though the education of our players must continue and must be accelerated. This language must change.

Cole working in radio again feels right, he seems like a man who can learn from his errors

Cole working in radio again feels right, he seems like a man who can learn from his errors 

Equally, taking footballers straight from such environments into TV and radio gantries and studios continues to constitute a risk. Not many of these men and women undergo any kind of media education as they make the transition. The people asking the questions and doing the commentary by their side have all been trained. They have experience.

But the pundits — the ‘experts’ — do not. From time to time then, men like Cole may make a dreadful mistake such as this. It is almost inevitable that they will bring the outdated, offensive vernacular of the dressing room with them to the press box.

As far as I am aware, Cole will continue to work on radio and that feels right. Everyone in life deserves a second chance and I have a feeling that he will take his. He understands the gravity of his mistake and will hopefully emerge from this saga a more rounded person and more considerate broadcaster.

I was struck by his manner at the Emirates nine days ago because it was unusual. Many former pros begin work in the media with the attitude that there is nothing for them to learn. They feel as though their achievements on the field are all that they need. Many remain aloof and they are wrong.

Cole struck me as the opposite. He was in a new world and was taking some steps to fit in. Turns out he learned the biggest lesson of all the very next day. It feels as though he has absorbed it already and should be allowed to move on.


Qatar gag is nonsense for smart Sterling  

In an interview in The Times magazine on Saturday, Raheem Sterling covered a variety of topics with intelligence. He is a valuable figurehead for our game.

But on one matter, Sterling would not be drawn.

Asked about the issue of migrant workers dying as Qatar prepares its infrastructure for next winter’s World Cup, Sterling said simply: ‘I am not allowed to speak on that.’

It seems it’s OK for our players to be encouraged to find their own voices but only when it suits. This kind of nonsense makes players like Sterling sound stupid when they are not and it’s embarrassing. 

Players like Raheem Sterling should be allowed and encouraged to speak for themselves

Players like Raheem Sterling should be allowed and encouraged to speak for themselves 


Aubameyang a legend? Not at this rate! 

News of Arsenal’s interest in Dominic Calvert-Lewin raises questions about what will eventually become of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Aubameyang is Arsenal’s centre forward and captain but very little that he does justifies either privilege.

In September last year the 32-year-old signed a new £350,000-a-week contract and vowed to become a club legend. Since then he has scored 13 Premier League goals. Last weekend against Newcastle he hit the post from two yards and did not look remotely surprised.

Aubameyang’s deal expires in 18 months when he will be entitled to leave on a free.

Legend? Not quite.

Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang has so far failed to deliver on his promise of being a legend

Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang has so far failed to deliver on his promise of being a legend 


Wembley denial  

Amid the carnage of the Euro 2020 final at Wembley, an email arrived from a stadium spokesperson saying that nobody had gained access without a ticket. 

This week an official report on that dreadful night in July revealed them to have been out in their calculations by almost 2,000. An easy mistake to make, then. 

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