Wenger shows pressure is getting to him

Updated 18 February 2013
0

Wenger shows pressure is getting to him

LONDON: Angered by criticism of Arsenal and claims about his future, Arsene Wenger’s irritation boiled over publicly ahead today’s Champions League showdown with Bayern Munich.
Arsenal’s last chance to end a trophy drought stretching back to 2005 is in Europe after being knocked out of the FA Cup by second-tier Blackburn on Saturday.
Wenger was frustrated yesterday by continued questions about that loss, and grew angrier when asked about a report claiming he is in talks about a new contract.
“That is the wrong information and I work for 16 years in England,” Wenger said. “I think I deserve a bit more credit than wrong information that has only one intention: to harm.” Turning to one reporter, Wenger asked: “Why do you look at me?” “Because it’s your press conference,” the reporter snapped back.
“I just thought you had given this information out,” Wenger responded, referring to the report of contract talks.
The Frenchman is facing mounting calls from some Arsenal fans to leave the club he has managed since 1996.
“What is important is not what people say it is what happens on the pitch,” Wenger said. “We live in a democracy of experts and opinions, but we have to live with that and cope with that and show we have the mental strength to deal with any opinion.
“There are a lot of experts who are not necessarily always right.” What is indisputable is Arsenal’s Premier League position: fifth, 21 points behind leader Manchester United and four points behind the fourth spot to qualify for the Champions League.
The only way to qualify for Europe’s elite competition for a 16th straight season could be by winning the European Cup for the first time in May.
First, though, Arsenal must negotiate the two-legged last-16 match against Bayern, which has a 15-point lead in the German title race.
“Football is about skill, intelligence and some things as well are a bit unpredictable,” Wenger said.
“We know well what is going on here. What is important is to forget what people say and focus on our strengths.”
Porto, Malaga ready
for Iberian duel
Meanwhile, FC Porto and Malaga are at the top of their game as they head into their hotly anticipated Iberian duel today.
Porto is on a 19-match unbeaten run in the Portuguese league and stands joint-top with Benfica with a 14-point lead. The two-time European champion is in the tournament’s knockout round for the seventh time in 10 years.
Malaga, meanwhile, lies fourth in La Liga where it has racked up a five-game unbeaten streak. The Spanish club is unbeaten in its debut appearance in the top-tier European competition, finishing top of its group ahead of AC Milan as it profited from the experience of Chilean coach Manuel Pellegrini.
“We’re gearing up for what will be a big game. Everyone is looking forward to it,” Porto coach Vitor Pereira said. “I’d even like to play in it myself.” The Portuguese champion won all its home games in the tournament’s group stage, conceding one defeat in six games to claim the runner-up spot behind Paris Saint-Germain.
Porto striker Jackson Martinez is hot property. Playing his first season in Europe, the Colombian is the top scorer in the Portuguese league with 20 goals — seven more than his nearest rival.
He has made the most of the opportunities provided by Argentine playmaker Lucho Gonzalez and Portugal’s Joao Moutinho, who marshal Porto’s midfield. Ghanian midfielder Christian Atsu is also back after appearing at the African Cup of Nations and scored Porto’s opening goal last weekend in a 2-0 win over Beira Mar.
James Rodriguez and Silvestre Varela are recovered from injuries and will probably be positioned on Porto’s flanks, but Belgian midfielder Steven Defour is in doubt with a muscle strain.
Malaga has lost only once in 12 games on the road in Europe — a defeat that came in Porto, against the northern Portuguese city’s second club Boavista, in the UEFA Cup during the 2002-03 season.
Malaga midfielder Ignacio Camacho says his team is looking for a result at the Stadium of the Dragon that will put the club in good stead for the return leg next month in southern Spain, though he isn’t expecting an easy ride.
“We’re going there to win and we’ll try to be faithful to our usual way of playing. Even if we don’t win, we’re hoping for a good result,” Camacho said. “We came up against some big clubs in the group stage and came through it, and Porto is no bigger than Milan. They’re favorites because of their record, but they’ll have to prove themselves on the pitch.” Malaga beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 on Saturday in the latest sign that it has stayed strong despite the loss of some key players and a continuing wage dispute at the club.
“It was very important for us to win in La Liga and keep fourth place, especially when attention is already turning to the Champions League game,” Pellegrini said.


Why even the #WengerOut brigade should lament Arsene Wenger's exit from Arsenal

Updated 21 April 2018
0

Why even the #WengerOut brigade should lament Arsene Wenger's exit from Arsenal

  • The Frenchman revolutionised the game in England across all leagues, not just the Premier League.
  • After initial success he found the going tough in the second half of his reign, but will still go down as an all-time great.

Over the past few seasons it has been fashionable to view Arsene Wenger as some sort of figure of fun — a man living in the past, left behind by the modern game, but too stubborn to realize it.
In time, though, even the most ardent, frothing-at-the-mouth #WengerOut believer would have to agree that the Frenchman will go down not just as one of the best managers Arsenal have had, but also among the greatest in English club football.
As with any caricature, there is a hint of truth in the picture created, crude as it sometimes is. Yes, Wenger’s past few years at the Emirates have been painful to watch. Yes, he was stubborn when it came to both activity in the transfer market and belief in his methods and tactics. Yes, it is fair to say he leaves the club, on the pitch at least, in a bit of a mess. And, yes, he should have left two or three years ago.
But if there is one thing that any sane fan should remember about Wenger’s 22 years as Arsenal boss, it is this: He was a game-changer, a manager who oversaw not only a revolution of the Gunners, but also of the English game.
As soon as Wenger landed in England in 1996, he banished Arsenal’s Tuesday drinking club and munching of Mars bars — in their place came stretching sessions and broccoli. Hardly profound or radical in today’s game, but this was the era when change in English football invariably meant no pies and pints on a Friday night.
The technical, passing, possession football that is now the norm for any side with ambitions to remain in the Premier League, let alone win it, and the idea that eating vegetables rather than a tub of lard would help player performance, were brought in by Wenger alone.
He won the double in his first full season in charge, signed unheralded foreign talent such as Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Viera — who went on to become world-class players — and created teams that were a joy to watch, culminating with “The Invincibles” of 2003-04, who won the Premier League without losing a match.
The irony is that the one-time revolutionary ended up being viewed as a throwback, a stuck-in-the-mud anachronism; a manager who harked back to a time when playing with the owner’s chequebook was not seen as the only path to success and when paragraphs were favored over 140 characters.
And that perhaps explains why so many Arsenal fans seemingly wanted him gone: Wenger is not of the Twitter generation, of instant opinions for the 24-hour news agenda and of hype over humility. The man who was once seen as the future stuck to principles that were deemed as belonging to the past.
It is clear there is a lot of bad blood at the club — a ridiculous Facebook post by an Arsenal fan claimed Wenger’s announcement he was leaving made it the “greatest day in Arsenal’s history.”
But for all the bluster and nonsense, Wenger’s legacy will be that of “The Invincibles” — one of the greatest club sides of modern times; of beautiful football played at pace and with artistry; of being a decent, yet flawed, man who was never anything but articulate and courteous.
Having been in charge of Arsenal for 22 years, he is undoubtedly the last of a kind, and in the era of trigger-happy owners, short-term fixes and sensationalism over stability, that is something everyone, even the #WengerOut brigade, should lament.