Szczesny's father hits out at Wenger
Wojciech Szczesny's father has launched an extraordinary attack on Arsene Wenger, claiming that the Arsenal manager caused his son's loss of form by playing him when he was seriously injured.
Wenger dropped Szczesny for the first time in almost two years ago last week when Arsenal beat Bayern Munich 2-0 in the second leg of their Champions League fixture and, although he returned to the bench against Swansea City, Lukasz Fabianski remained first-choice goalkeeper.
Szczesny is only 22 and Wenger explained his decision to drop the Poland international with reference to concern that he had been "mentally affected" by playing so many first-team matches at such a young age.
Maciej Szczesny, who himself won seven caps for Poland and helped Legia Warsaw to reach the quarter-finals of the 1995-96 Champions League, believes that Wenger is to blame for the current situation.
"Wenger already started to look for the scapegoat – it is not the way the boss should behave," Szczesny Snr said. "Wojciech has had two serious injuries. He played with one in April and May (last year). He shouldn't have agreed to play that time, but the coach insisted.
"Wojciech did not train the whole week and then did a warm-up on Friday and played the match on Saturday. He was naturally more susceptible to minor injuries and his form was going down. Wenger was playing with the young man's good health and Wojciech agreed foolishly. In my opinion Mr Wenger messed up a lot in April and May. I don't blame the young man who went along with his coach. His current lack of form is a result of those two months."
Szczesny Snr believes that his son was also rushed back from injury earlier this season. "Then, in August, there was a foot injury after which he played almost instantly," he said. "After seven weeks out Wojciech trained for just seven days and played the match. How on earth can he be on his highest form?"
Arsenal did not react yesterday to Szczesny Snr's claims and they will leave Wenger to address the issue at his press conference next Thursday. There is some bemusement, however, that Szzcesny Snr has waited almost a year to complain about how the first injury was handled. Club sources have also pointed out that Wenger is generally cautious with players returning from injury.
Wenger himself has stressed that he still sees Szczesny as part of his long-term plans, although he has been scouting other goalkeeping options. These include Asmir Begovic, Victor Valdes, Pepe Reina and even Petr Cech, despite an acceptance that it would be very difficult to prise him from Chelsea.
The goalkeepers that Wenger has watched all point towards a desire to bring in an experienced replacement who can play in the short term and guide Szczesny in the longer term. Fabianski's form over the final two months of the season will also have a major influence on Wenger's summer decisions.
Wenger accepts that, at 27, Fabianksi is at an age where he needs regular first-team football, but is equally conscious that he must consistently produce his training ground form in matches.
After dropping Szczesny last week, Wenger stressed that he had been one of the Pole's biggest supporters. "Who gave Wojciech a chance from nowhere in the youth teams?" the manager said.
"It was me that is because I rate him highlight and have a big respect for what he has done. But we all have ups and down physically and mentally and he has played many, many games this season. Maybe I should have rested him in the cup games but I did not do that. It is normal that you have ups and downs. He is a young goalkeeper." (© Daily Telegraph, London)