Arsenal made huge mistake letting future Man Utd star go and their senior players knew it

Andrew Cole
Andy Cole started his career at Arsenal -Credit:(Image: Getty)

Andy Cole claims Arsenal knew they made a huge mistake in letting him leave the club.

Cole began his career at Arsenal, joining the north Londoners immediately after leaving school in 1988. Yet he managed just one Premier League appearance as a 19-year-old before being left frustrated by his lack of game time and being sold to Bristol City in 1992 for £500,000.

The striker then signed for Newcastle, where he thrived for two-and-a-half seasons and recorded an incredible 34-goal league campaign in 1993/94. The Englishman’s tremendous form meant Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson paid £7million to bring him to Old Trafford in January 1995, where he went on to become a Treble winner and a club legend.

Now Cole has opened up on why he left the Gunners in the first place, highlighting friction with at-the-time manager George Graham. Cole claimed the Scottish boss simply did not like him or give him a chance to break through, leading the forward to seek a move elsewhere.

Speaking on The Overlap, brought by Sky Bet, Cole said (via the Express): "I just think they [Arsenal] didn't understand. Especially George [Graham], he was hard work at the best of times. In those days, they didn't really have a lot of respect for the younger generation.

"Just the way they used to dismiss you - their perception was that you weren't working hard enough, you were arrogant. It's not like they want to get to know the individual, straight away they have a perception of 'what we think'.

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"I remember when I left, and Bouldy [Steve Bould] and Lee Dixon said they told George 'you should never have sold him'. I just decided that I want to get my head down, and that's what I did. That's why I went to Bristol City instead of going anywhere else - go there, take that step backwards, and try and move forwards."

Cole, who earned 15 England caps, added: "George [Graham] didn't like me from day one. He just thought I was arrogant. I speak my mind when I have to - everyone says I'm a quiet guy, but when I'm ready I'll speak my mind.

"I did that a few times, and he didn't like that I was speaking my mind, and neither did Pat [Rice] or Geordie Armstrong at times. For me personally, I'll get it off my chest when the time is right. I did that, they didn't like it."

Andy Cole went on to become a Man Utd legend
Andy Cole went on to become a Man Utd legend -Credit:PA

Graham was sacked by Arsenal in 1995. Meanwhile, Cole went on to become one of the most promising talents in England, winning a Golden Boot and six league titles.

Describing the manner in which he left Arsenal, Cole continued: "I made my debut for Arsenal and everyone believed 'Coley is going to get a chance now' then they shipped me out on loan to Fulham and then Bristol City. I was just about to play a game for Bristol City [whilst still on loan] and Pat Rice called me in the hotel.

"He said Derby County were interested in me. I said 'Is George prepared to sell me?' And he said he'll come back to me. I saw Pat about two years ago at the Emirates, and he still didn't tell me then! That's over 20 years later, and in that time they sold me, but that's what I was dealing with a lot of nonsense like that."