Category: Archive

Soccer Scene: Cops show yellow card to Wenger, Fergie

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

They are looked upon as gods in their professional lives in the world of soccer. At the end of the day, it’s only a game but try telling that to the 56-year-old Wenger and his bitter rival Ferguson, who’s 64.
They’ve more or less made public their disrespect for each other over the years. The ongoing dispute finally got under Wenger’s skin when Sir Alexander Chapman Ferguson showed his class after United beat Arsenal 2-0 last October. In the tunnel following the game, Sir Alex reportedly said to the already disgruntled Wenger: “You get in there and behave yourself, leave my players alone.” Well, it seems you can take the man out of Glasgow but you can’t take the Glasgow out of the man. The sharp-witted words pushed Wenger’s buttons and the Frenchman flipped. “What do you want to do about it,” said Wenger, with arms raised sprinting towards the United boss. The Arsenal players held the flying-Frenchman back.
Wenger was furious and accused Ferguson of bringing the game into disrepute and that he should be charged for doing so. Then he claimed that he would never talk about Ferguson again, who according to Wenger had lost all sense of reality. Wenger’s wobbler was a sure sign that he had enough of the war of words with the canny Scot. It didn’t help that Arsenal had just come to the end of its incredible unbeaten run. And let’s be honest — when United faced the Gunners during this great Arsenal period the Red Devil kicked Wenger’s players off the field. But the true end to Arsenal’s invincibility came when Bolton beat them 1-0 two weekends ago. Although Arsenal have bounced right back beating Newcastle United 1-0 over the weekend, the real challenge to get back to winning ways arrives on Feb. 1 against – you’ve guessed it — Manchester United.
The police are trying to calm the tension between the two managers. They’ve asked them to keep the peace, which in turn may help the fans to control themselves. These two have no choice, it seems, other than to keep their mouths shut. However, should they go at it and should there be any crowd violence, both managers will have to answer to some serious questions by the authorities, and rightly so. They have agreed to refrain from any public comments in the build-up to next week’s game, but can they keep tight-lipped after the 90 minutes are up? Having the Football Association and the League Managers’ Association on your case is one thing, but to have the Metropolitan Police monitoring events is no joke. Perhaps Wenger and Ferguson can put all of their 120 years of life experience together and put the game first, not their personal opinions and snide remarks.
The relationship between the two managers and their players reached an all-time low when they were reduced to a food-fight in that October clash. The affair was dubbed “Battle of the Buffet.”
Ferguson has claimed it a disgrace that Wenger has not apologized since. However their recent meeting at board level under the media spotlight was not done at th eusual psychological level.
Also calling for a truce and putting things into perspective is chief executive of the League Managers’ Association John Barnwell. “We’re delighted that common sense has prevailed. Long may it continue. All managers have a responsibility to their club, themselves and the game, as well as their fellow managers,” Barnwell said.
But Arsenal vs. United — as with the Tottenham vs. Chelsea fixtures — has been marked a high-risk tie. Arsenal has to hire double the number of police officers it usually hires for next week’s game. Well done Alex and Arsene!
We hope that Mr. Ferguson doesn’t forget January 1990 when United was suffering at the end of the table after losing 5-1 to Manchester City. Ferguson’s job was said to be on the line when United faced Nottingham Forest in the third round of the FA Cup. Does Ferguson remember a fellow called Mark Robins who came off the bench and scored the winner, perhaps saving the boss’s future at Old Trafford?
Does Arsene Wenger remember before he arrived at Arsenal for the 1997/98 season, he was dismissed by Monaco only to end up coaching in the J-League for Nagoya Grampus Eight? After doing the double in his first year, things did not go his way down final stretches for the next few years. Speculation around 2000 began to grow over his future at Highbury. The discipline was outrageously bad at the club and a Japanese return was on the cards. At that time, Wenger was said to be disillusioned with the game.
Wenger looked a lot calmer at the weekend after winning against Newcastle. It could have been 4- or 5-0 if it wasn’t for the spectacular goal-keeping of Shay Given. Ferguson is also trying to curtail himself at games as he sits in amongst his staff. For now, he is not on the sidelines making a nuisance of himself if things are not going his way. Both men seem to have taken a back seat since authorities have spoken out. They’ve no choice. But the real test for both managers and their clubs is: what are they going to do about Jose Mourinho and Chelsea?
With just under 50 points to play for, Chelsea are 11 points ahead of United and 10 ahead of Arsenal. And if the Wenger and the Fergie think they can play mind-games with Jose, they may have another thing coming. Ferguson tried to go there when FC Porto beat them in the Champions League last year. Mourinho did not take the bait.
Chelsea beat Portsmouth 3-0 at the weekend with yet another convincing win. The league is by no means over but Chelsea do look favorites. And if Wenger and Ferguson think that CL success will replace a league title, Chelsea are also strong favorites for that competition. The war of words will end between Ferguson and Wenger because the battle for both managers is truly with Chelsea and Mourinho. And that’s on the field.

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