What Wenger really said about tackling
As the TV commentators for yesterday's game glibly sniggered at Arsenal having a player sent off for two relatively minor infringements and equated that with this weeks attempts to consider the nature of tackling in the modern game as simply seeking greater protection for Arsenal players I thought, in the unlikely event that they would like to know what was really said, it would help to publish the full transcript of that part of Wengers press conference. It's worth noting that his cynicism about pundits and journalists was predictably justified.
You were talking before about liking the physical nature of English football?
I'm a bit cautious because... I love the English game, I've said that many times. But every time I come out, people are more interested in controversy than protecting the players. If it is to create another story and the tackling will go nowhere, it will end up being the same. Why should I create another story? You asked me how the tackle was, and it was bad. If you want to write it was a good tackle you can do it. But for me it was bad.'
Do you have any confidence that your comments are taken seriously when you speak out?
I don't know if my views are taken seriously. I like commitment in football. What I hate the most is a player who is not committed and jumps out of the tackle. But to have a committed game you need to know that the intention of players is right, that they go for the ball. For example, you can say Cahill's red card was harsh, but he had no intention at all to play the ball. Tackles from behind with two feet off the ground are a red card. If you have technically a good tackle on a sliding pitch where the player takes the ball I say: 'it's fantastic.' It's as good to see as a player scoring a goal. But when a guy closes his eyes and jumps in with anger it's not right.'
But nothing changes. We go over this time and again and these questions must be boring for you?
The beauty of the game is down to the fact that you play with commitment, passion, but the right intention. I've been a football player. If I'm injured by a guy who goes for the ball, I'm too late and twist my ankle I say it's an accident. If I go for the ball and am tackled at the level of my knee then I feel it's not football. It's like if there's a player in your box, you take his hands, and somebody takes his feet and his head. It's not respecting the rules. I'm surprised that you're surprised.
If I pay £50 to go to a football game, what do you want to see? Do you want to see Fabregas who plays football or the guy who kicks you from behind?'
I agree with you, but what should they do to change it?
I've told you many times, respect the rules. The only thing I regret if I speak about it - it is only controversial and it is: 'Wenger, Wenger, Wenger, Wenger, Wenger, Wenger, Wenger...'.'
Should other managers support you? You seem the lone voice?
I would like you to support me, not the managers. Instead of making a story, write the truth. You have a responsibility as well don't worry. It is like the pundits on television, the journalists - we all have responsibility. It's not only me.'
Do you not think we do that? Do you think we're unfair?
I do not say I get an unfair press, its not about me this story, its about the players who play football with the right intention. Don't take me wrong we make as well sometimes bad fouls and I have the same responsibility than you. What I mean, me alone, I've not enough power. It is the referees, the people who watch the games, the people who write about it have the same responsibility as I have.'
What do you do if one of your players does a bad foul?
I have never encouraged one of my players to kick somebody, if you find a player who tells you I have told them to kick somebody on purpose I would like to see him. That is what I can do about. I do not want to create another story that goes nowhere, I just say on my side: look at the number of fouls we make in the league and the number of people we injure in the league and you will see how many players we got injured.
Of course managers have a responsibility, journalists have a responsibility and pundits have a responsibility. We have all a responsibility. I speak about it now, I just think that if it is to read tomorrow that Wenger cries because his players are injured and so why should I talk about it? Diaby has been injured: it is from an unfair tackle. We can speak until tomorrow: I will still maintain - I watched this tackle ten times and it is an unfair tackle. Where did you read it? I didn't read it anywhere. So why should I talk about it?
If it is just to see tomorrow that I cry about an unfair tackle. It's not me who has to say that, it is you. I am less credit in saying than you. Why? Because people say: 'OK, it's his team and he wants to protect his players and there is an interest there'. No, I speak about football, when you love football, you can defend the players who go in a fair way, you cannot agree with the players who don't play in a fair way.'
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