Monday 11 December 2017

Irate Arsene Wenger threatens to storm out of press conference

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hit back at criticism of his team as
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hit back at criticism of his team as "very, very, very, very boring"
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Angry, agitated and aggrieved….that summed up the mood of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on the morning when he threatened to storm out of his own press conference on Friday morning.

With the spikey questions flowing from reporters eager to discover why he dropped first choice keeper Petr Cech in favour of David Ospina for what he described as his side’s ‘must win’ Champions League game against Olympiacos last Tuesday, the Jose Mourinho grenade was then thrown into the mix to stir his pot to boiling point.

Ospina's howling mistake in Arsenal's 3-2 defeat against their Greek rivals has ensured that the Arsenal boss has come in for criticism aplenty in the days since and yet he was in no mood to entertain the media as they attacked him at will.

He was already showing signs of upset before Sky Sports reporter Andy Burnham threw this antagonising question towards Wenger, sparking an outburst that threatened to bring a premature end to proceedings.

"Is Jose Mourinho right when he says there is only one manager who is not under pressure," asked the reporter.

Wenger response was swift and unequivocal: “Look, stop that story or we stop the press conference.”

Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger

Regulars of Wenger’s generally jovial press briefings will confirm that this was as close as you will get to the Arsenal boss losing his cool, with his annoyance level cleared inflated after three days of criticism that followed his side’s Champions League horror show at Emirates Stadium.

Wenger had no intention of answering why Ospina had started against Cech against Olympiacos, despite constant pressure from a press pack who were less than charitable in their assault on the somewhat unsettled Arsenal boss.

“Looking at Ospina and Petr Cech, I think I have two world-class goalkeepers and it is the easiest choice I have to make because I can pick either of the two and I am very comfortable,” stated Wenger. “It is the most difficult as well, because the two of them are world-class players and always you have to leave one out.”

Wenger’s attack on the media continued and in a week when Roy Keane again suggested Arsenal were ‘soft’, he suggested the commentary of his team lack balance.

“I think you lack a bit of creativity in the press at the moment, that you follow a bandwagon that is very very, very, very boring,” he continued.

“I don't go along with that. If you have any interesting questions for Sunday's game I can answer, but apart from that let's not come back always to the same story about my goalkeepers. Come to the game on Sunday, you will see who is in the goal.

“You have not watched well the game on Tuesday night. You come always with that same story… you can put the goalkeeper you want in the goal, he can make a mistake, you have to accept that. It's down to everybody.

Read more: Ex-Manchester United captain Roy Keane delivers withering assessment of Arsenal

“If you have watched the game and you come down the conclusion that we lost the game because of Ospina, I question your knowledge of football.

“One pundit says something on television and all behind that they repeat exactly the same thing. It is quite boring because nobody came out with numbers of this game where the game was won and lost.

“It's quite depressing to read that and to hear that, to all come just to the same conclusion and haven't watch well what has gone on. We have lost the game because we didn't defend well, yes the goalkeeper made a mistake but we could still have won the game because of that.

Questions on Sunday’s crunch Premier League game against Manchester United were merely a sideshow to the Wenger rant, but he did try to steer the topic of conversation away from his latest miserable week.

“We won 5-2 at Leicester in our last match and we are the only team who has beaten Leicester, so I don't see why we should not believe we can beat Manchester United,” he added.

“At the moment it is too difficult to say that any team dominates the championship. It is so tight that one point more after seven games does not mean you will suddenly make a big difference in the league. It is settling at the moment and it is a very important time in the Premier League, but you cannot come to a conclusion that one team is above everybody else.”

Amid the euphoria of Arsenal’s latest poor result, it is easy to ignore the reality that Wenger's team will draw level with Manchester United at the top of the Premier League if they beat Louis van Gaal’s side at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Read more: James Lawton: Sundays not so super as Premier League suffering calamitous decline

It is a fact that confirms all is not falling apart for Wenger at Arsenal, but that minor point was lost on a day when the Gunners boss struggled to contain his simmering anger.

At the age of 64, you have to wonder why Wenger puts himself through this cycle of criticism year after year and as he left the room at Arsenal’s London Colney training base where his latest inquisition had taken place, he may have privately shared that thought himself.

Winning is the only way to end the tirade of abuse that flows with rapid venom towards Wenger on a week like this.

Defeat on Sunday and he will head into the international break as a manager under pressure all over again.

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