Instead of finding Serie A to be fertile ground in his advancing years, Ashley Cole seems to have wandered into a situation he can’t quite cope with at Roma.
The 33-year-old ventured out of England this summer for a new adventure at the expiry of his Chelsea contract and hasn’t exactly become a popular figure at the Stadio Olimpico.
Cole has come under scrutiny for lacklustre performances in the Italian top flight, while his horror show against Bayern Munich in the Champions League was well documented.
The ex-Chelsea defender was put to the sword by former Blues team-mate Arjen Robben and hooked off by Giallorossi boss Rudi Garcia at half-time in the crushing 7-1 loss.
And with the capital club set to face the German outfit once again on Wednesday, few have considered the possibility that Garcia will throw Cole into the mix.
But World Cup-winning former Roma left-back Vincent Candela is of the opinion that it’s essential for Garcia to start Cole in the contest.
He told La Gazzetta dello Sport: “For me, they should play Cole [from the start]. He has experience, we’re talking about a player who has been one of the best in the world."
“The home defeat to Bayern wasn’t just his fault, but he was jumped on, the others should have doubled up [on Robben]."
“In my Roma days, I knew that spot was mine and I knew I had a lot of responsibility. The responsibility made me feel even more important. If this happens with Cole he’ll be reborn.”
Getting up for the Bayern clash would be a tough ask for Cole, whose nightmare against Die Roten is still fresh, while he looked out of sorts last week against Cesena in Serie A.
The Englishman was booed by sections of the Giallorossi support and his confidence looks to be at a low, called a ‘listless’ passenger by the Italian media.
Cole was brought in to provide veteran leadership and experience at the back, yet these have been lacking, so perhaps throwing him in at the deep end isn’t the best choice.
He was indeed one of the world’s best in his position at a time, however those days look to be beyond him.
There’s still time for him to adapt and have a productive tenure at Roma, only Bayern away – considering the circumstances – doesn’t look an ideal place to start.
Garcia well could grant him the responsibility of being a nailed-on starter in time, but Cole will first have to earn the trust of his new coach and team-mates when the stage isn’t quite as big - rather than getting minutes based on past exploits.