The Libero - Hypocrit Wenger adds amnesia to his myopia
Published: 03 Mar 2010 - 11:00:33
Arsene Wenger has long been accused of suffering from myopia when it comes to how he views certain incidents involving his Arsenal side. He can now add amnesia to his list of ailments.
Wenger's paranoid conspiracy theories in the wake of Aaron Ramsey's broken leg have done nothing to endear him to the football world - and merely served to highlight how short his memory has become.
Reacting immediately to Ryan Shawcross' "horrendous" and "unacceptable" tackle which broke Ramsey's leg in two places, an upset Wenger claimed it was no coincidence that such a fate had befallen an Arsenal player for a third time in five years.
The inference was that another horrific break was the inevitable end product of a sustained campaign of aggression which has been mounted against his Arsenal side over recent years - a bid by opposing teams to rough the Gunners up and exploit their perceived lack of muscle.
Yes, it was a poor challenge by Shawcross, but one that was mistimed rather than malicious. If Wenger is suggesting the young defender went out to break Ramsey's leg, he is terribly mistaken. And to undermine a professional's integrity in such a way is scandalous.
Wenger, it is clear, has tired of teams whose only hope of beating his slick, aesthetically pleasing side is to rough them up.
While everyone likes to watch a football match played 'as it should be', the reality is that a) not all clubs have the personnel to do so and b) football is a results-based industry, and as long as employing spoiling tactics wins points, there will be teams like Stoke.
Yet Arsenal are no strangers to a bit of rough stuff themselves, even if Wenger will never admit it. They need only to cast his mind back a month for proof that the Gunners are more than capable of putting the boot in themselves if necessary - William Gallas' awful challenge on Bolton's Mark Davies was just as likely as that of Shawcross to break bones.
And what about the Patrick Vieira era? The Frenchman and his compatriot Emmanuel Petit were hardly the shy retiring types when at Arsenal and neither were opposed to putting in the odd reducer. Martin Keown, anyone? Has Wenger forgotten about them?
Wenger must understand that football can be a rough and tumble game, and while Ramsey, like Eduardo and Abou Diaby before him, deserves our sympathy, all three must also surely know that such injuries do happen. And not just to Arsenal players.
The sooner Wenger realises that, the better.
Back in January, in the wake of that Gallas challenge, Wenger said: "There was a bit of an over-reaction with the way it was treated. If it is a bad, malicious tackle I can understand that it is shown (on television) every half an hour, but the way that happened, it can happen every game."
Indeed it can, Arsene, as the incident at the weekend proved. And as for over-reacting? It is almost impossible not to accuse the Frenchman of double standards.
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- Libero (noun): 1. Versatile, ball-playing defender given licence to roam. Expected to break up opposition attacks while instigating counters. Role patented by German legend Franz Beckenbauer. 2. Versatile weekly football columnist, aka journalist Mike Hytner, given licence to write what he likes. Expected to file every Wednesday. Not nearly as talented as his boyhood hero Der Kaiser.
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