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Wenger The Hypocrite Following Kicking United

Like many other reds, I was absolutely outraged when I found out the FA were letting off William Gallas for intentionally kicking Nani when the teams met in the Cup. The message they are sending out is that it’s acceptable to kick (United) players off the ball if they’ve previously humiliated you with their skill. With several players more than capable of switching on silky skills and tricks, this does not bode well for United.

In the post match interview, Wenger was questioned about the behaviour of his players after Nani’s showboating, who went in hard on the player, with the biggest culprit being Gallas, who kicked out at Nani twice, even when the ball had gone. “We were incensed and most rightly so,” he said. “It is difficult enough to swallow when you are three or four goals down – you do not want to be teased or humiliated.” His comments were classless and cowardice, defending the violent behaviour of his players rather than condemn it. In light of the incident of Saturday and his post match comments, this puts Wenger in an awkward position.

I watched the Birmingham vs Arsenal game on Saturday, in the vague hope that the blues might at least be able to hold our title rivals to a draw. Within the first few minutes when Eduardo went to ground after a seemingly harmless challenge from Martin Taylor I was calling for the Arsenal striker to get up. After the Birmingham player came in to him, Eduardo hit the deck, sat up, then collapsed back on the ground. It is only as the minutes passed by that the severity of the challenge became clear. The look on the Arsenal players faces were sickening and the ominous lack of replay confirmed Eduardo had suffered an incredibly serious injury.

With a few months until the end of the season, United fans will look to anything that gives us an advantage. I dislike Arsenal and the majority of their players, and following the kicking they dealt to our lads in the Cup, it would take an awful lot for me to feel any sympathy for them. However, the eight minutes in which Eduardo lay on the pitch made truly horrible viewing and I have the utmost sympathy for the player. There has been talk he is looking at the end of his career and I sincerely hope this is not the case. No matter how much the title means to us, we wouldn’t wish for an advantage in this way over any team, and I wish Eduardo a speedy recovery.

The waves of sickness that passed over me in February 2006 when Alan Smith lay on the ground at Anfield were no longer a distant memory. United fans have felt first hand what it is like to see your player suffer a horrific injury, with the Smith incident overshadowing what should have been the worst moment of the season, getting knocked out of the FA Cup by Liverpool. That feeling of dread, fear and sickness is not one I’d hope for any set of fans to endure.

It was only after watching United’s 5-1 annihilation of Newcastle that I started to hear the shocking comments coming through from Wenger. “I think this guy should never play football again. What’s he doing on the pitch?” fumed Wenger. “I’ve gone along with the idea for a long time that to stop Arsenal, you have to kick Arsenal. I knew that was coming for a long time now.” The irony these comments bring, just seven days after Arsenal players kicked United all over the field, seems lost on Wenger.

Just seven days before making these comments, Arsenal had seen one of their players sent off for jumping in to one of United’s, studs showing. Eboue made no effort to try and win the ball, he only had one thing in mind, going for the player. Patrice Evra is fortunate he isn’t lying in a hospital ward with broken bones, no thanks to the poor challenge of the Arsenal player. Should he be served a life time ban from the game?

At 4-0, Nani showboated exquisitely, highlighting what talent he has. The Arsenal players took offence to this, as if the scoreline wasn’t a big enough humiliation, with several of their players kicking out at him. Gallas kicked Nani, I suppose that was the only way he could stop him, and again, our Portuguese winger is fortunate he suffered no broken bones. With Alan Smith breaking his bones after falling awkwardly when a ball hit him, Gallas purposefully kicking Nani could have any number of consequences.

There are several differences between the events of United vs Arsenal and Birmingham vs Arsenal though. Firstly, the result of the challenges were very different. Eduardo is possibly looking at the end of his career, whereas Evra and Nani are just looking at a few bruises at worse. Secondly, Taylor didn’t look to be intentionally causing any harm, whereas Gallas and Eboue did. So who deserves the life time ban? The player who accidentally broke someone’s leg or the players who went out with the intention or hurting the opposition?

I reiterate the point that I feel for Eduardo and there’s not any part of me that is happy he’s suffered this injury, but Wenger’s comments have certainly irked me. For some reason, he seems to think it is OK for his players to go around kicking others but it’s an entirely different matter when it’s one of his own on the receiving end.

“We’ve got to stop these kind of tackles because otherwise someone is going to be put out of the game,” Ferguson said back in December. “The other issue is to ask whether a three-match ban is enough for these tackles? I’m wondering whether it should be more for dangerous tackles. For the sake of the game I’ve convinced myself that, even if it’s one of my players, he should get a red card. And if it’s wrong, a red card can be rescinded the next day.” To think Gallas received no punishment is ridiculous.

Eduardo’s injury highlights the problems Ferguson spoke about a couple of months ago, with it seemingly becoming more and more acceptable for players to go in hard when tackling, thanks to the lack of action from the referees. Wenger, however, needs to take a long, hard look at the behaviour of his own players before he can start criticising the behaviour of others.


About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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72 Comments

  1. Welling Gooner says:

    Comment by dg on February 25, 2008 15:11
    Again you’ve got your gooner blinkers on….all i have to say is Martin “caveman” Keown assaulting RVN…..

    Martin caveman Keowns attack on RVN?
    So the chuckle brothers didn’t do a hatchett job on Reyes then?
    Come on guys we’ve all got selective memories, but we are talking about a career threatening injury here.
    I hate your club and players as much as you all hate mine, but that’s not to say that as fans of the beautiful game we can’t all speak with one voice and condemn such acts of violence. Whether Taylor intended to break his leg or not (and I think not), the intent was still there to ‘let him know he was there’.
    As for Wengers comment (since retracted), I’m sure you all appreciate that it was a heat of the moment thing, – a bit like the one that sir fergie made about feeling threatened at the Emirates!
    Here’s looking forward to an exciting title run in.
    One thing you can do for us is beat the chavs eh?

  2. Mat Wade says:

    1st things first – I’m an arsenal fan. Secondly, I think Man u are still favourites for the title (particualrly after eduardo’s injury), and with Rooney and ronaldo both fit are the best team in the country, but rely heavilly on these two. I have more respect fo this utd team as for the first time since the late 90s they are happy to try to beat arsenal by actually playing better football rather than relying on a physical element.

    Taylor isn’t a malicious player by all accounts, and has never struck me as being overly physical, but the aforementioned car analogy holds some weight – he’s a very big bloke, and much like the driver of a lorry, he should be aware of the damage he can do. But a lot is down to the disciplinary structure where potentially dangerous tackles are often overlooked (evn Fergie and Wenger agree on this!), and are rarely punished as badly as acts of petulence. That Aliadiere will get the same ban for slapping Mascherano after having his throat gently tweaked as Taylor will get for this is outrageous.

    Re the Fa cup game – gallas was a tit, but nani reacting could have got in trouble. with it 4-0 I thought the ref was focused on keeping a lid on things, but we’ve seen worse between the teams before – keown, Ot punch up 91, and the ones that got away – RVN being particularly bad – the cover up after his punch on ljungberg was disgusting, and his stamp on cashly cole’s knee too – hey ho – he’s in spain and your lot are better now anyway.

    Eboue obviously was just being a prize c**t, but then most gooner’s hope he finds a new club in the summer, but even that was only ever going to hurt rather than maim (and evras no angel off the ball either!).

    What’s really pissed me off is the press reaction – poor old martin taylor – fair enough, i guess he’s upset, but he can still walk, so lets not feel too sorry for him. If it had been rooney (damn you for being able to spank £30m on him!) broken by some mid table rent a french african journeyman, the likes of MOTD and the Mail would be demanding anything from a season ban, to hanging, deportation and a nameless grave. its the hyppocracy that gets me.

    Should be an exciting race, and thnak god the chavs are laggin behind along with benitez’s waste of money…

  3. jimmybob says:

    And the little pad Nani got on his shins by Gallas how many times do you thing those things goes on at every corner or deadball situation if you want that sort og punishment the games will finish with a five aside contest
    whta about the knee high sliding in challenger from flamini?

    or like wenger did you not see that?

    maybe you didn’t see eboube going over the top on john terry?

    or adeybayor head butt his own player

    for a side who have had more red cards than anyone over the last 10 years you dont seem to like it when other teams kick your players

    people in glasshouses etc

    do us all a favour and stop banging on about how much money you haven;t spent over the last 2 years. and start asking why you haven’t spent a few quid and won something

    the “we speant the least” cup does not exist

  4. jsos says:

    lol jimmybob. best comment yet

    “do us all a favour and stop banging on about how much money you haven;t spent over the last 2 years. and start asking why you haven’t spent a few quid and won something

    the “we speant the least” cup does not exist”

    :D

  5. Salford Red. says:

    Danish Gooner,
    It’s not about condoning bad tackles with Wenger. No mamger would publically condone that. It’s about Wenger condemning dangerous tackles. Of which his players are all to guilty off.

  6. Eddy says:

    Salford Red.Are you suggesting that Arsenal players have been simply lucky over the years as I cannot remember too many of our opponents suuffering long lay offs after dirty challenges from our players…..please feel free to do your homework as Diaby on Bolton’s Campo was the only one I can remember where an oponent sustained an injury caused by our player(and to his credit,probably out of embarassment for previous misdemenours committed by Bolton players fat Sam didn’t moan too much).Salford Red I do challenge you to find these tackles by Arsenal players that are so dangerous.
    Now please try watching Scholes on Reyes (FA Cup Semi Final)or RVN on Cashley at O.T too see what a maliscious challenge is.There is a huge difference between intention to hurt(Steven Gerrard’s 2 footer on the Everton player is a good example of a disgusting tackle)and a petulant lash out at a player is so feeblle (Gallas on Nanny)that it doesn’t hurt him.

  7. Steve says:

    You know as a lifelong supporter of Arsenal I have got to say we have not coevred purselves in glory over the last week or so – from our behaviour at the semi final to the events of Saturday. The semi final was inexcusable but the fact that you are slating Wenger for what was an incredibly emotional moment is a bit sad. Yes he was hyocritical but at least he retreacted and relaised that. And now that I have come clean that Wenger behaved in a hyocritical way at the very least I expect you to do the same about SAF – from the day he sent the Nevilles out to kick Reyes off the park to his unbelieveable comments regarding the abuse he got at the Emirates given that I have heard what you guys have to say about Wenger at OT. Fact is they are bot hyocrites of the higest order because to both Managers the only thing that matters is winning no matter how you achieve it. Fact is both managers are hypocrites of the highest order and for you to write some sanctimonious article as though you are only sinned against is totally laughable. Both teams are as abd as each other and I am saddened as a football fan that the managers of the two teams that play the most attractive footvball in the country are reduced to playing such stupid games with each other. hats off – your critisicm is perfectly right – Dont make the mistake of thinking that your manger is any different because he is tarred with exactly the same brush.

  8. Alastair says:

    There are lots of bad tackles made every week very rarely does one result in a serious injury, thank god but Eboue’s last week was in my mind equal to Taylor’s in all but consequece. And therefore morally equal. However, no talk from Wenger about the only way to stop United is by kicking them off the pitch.

  9. craig mc says:

    The comment saying , the ‘WE HAVEN’T SPENT MUCH MONEY CUP DOESN’T EXIST’ is the funniest comment I have read on a website forum in AGES. I can’t stop laughing every time I think of it. Total comic genious IMO. Fergie will love that one for his after dinner conversations. Wenger – just out of interest Arsenal fans, can any of you tell me, DID YOU EVER SEE HIM SMILE, I’m sure he must have sometime, but I can’t recall seeing a smile on his face.

  10. Luke Nestler says:

    I’m in total agreement that the “We-spent-the-least Cup” comment is fcuking funny, will be whipping it out against all my gooner mates.

  11. sydney_rob says:

    It seems to be an Arsenal fan you need to, not see selective incidents, be paranoid, prefer french values to english values, be prepared to see keown play for 10 years, kick the ball twice anbd the opposiot 20 times per game

  12. Tom F says:

    Eduardo suffered one of the most horrific injuries I’ve seen on a football pitch on Saturday afternoon. Had Martin Taylors studded challange met the Arsenal strikers half an inch above or below where it did, or if it had landed on his leg a split second before or after it did Arsenal would have had a much different afternoon. Arsenal would have won the free-kick that Eduardo was going for and Brum would have been down to 10 men, with Taylor receiving a well deserved red card. It was the type of challange that deserved a red card but lets not forget the point that this was indeed a freak accident. The whole situation has been magnified by the simple fact that my favourite Arsenal player has his career in the balance. All because of a clumsy challange where Martin Taylor went for the ball way too late, maybe because Eduardo was too quick.

    Arsene Wenger sat down at a post-match press conference and said MArtin Taylor should never play again, as well as speaking to 4 or 5 other journalists and reinforcing his beliefs that Taylor should be banned for life. I was suprised as well as impressed that Wenger would come out and retract his initial statement as it was said in ‘the heat of the moment’. Well to say something in the heat of the moment 5 times is surely avoidable? Maybe I’m wrong.

    Rewind a week and Eboue kung fu kicks Evra just above the groin with the ball nowhere to be won. Now, the point of Scotts artical is very easy to understand and it’s this:

    Wenger always shares his belief that ‘to stop Arsenal you must kick Arsenal’ and Wenger never seems to look at his own players who are guilty of the exact same thing Wenger accuses every other team of. So there it is, HYPOCRISY. That is what Wenger is guilty of and that is what this blog looks at.

    You can always tell when a blog involves Arsenal by looking at the number of posts, way more than any other topic. It’s a shame it’s the same old Gooners, Always moaning. The same bunch of 4 or 5 ‘fans’ who spend most of their time arguing their invalid bias points which are never based on solid facts, apart from facts irrelivant to the blog in the first place.

    Well, one thing is for sure, if Arsenal fans and even Arsene Wenger can see reason for William Gallas acting in the way he did on Saturday, they are obviously capable of conjuring up the unbelievable and the downright obsurd.

    Look out for Arsenals trip to Wigan on 8th March. That is a banana skin they are not expecting to be there.

    As for not spending much money this pre-season, United didn’t do too badly with only Michael Carrick as our main purchase the previous summer.

    Every single Arsenal fan I know makes up the worst excuses. Did the dog eat Arsene’s team sheet at Old Trafford? Because you seemed to come out with many laughable reasons why Arsenal got hammered 4 – 0 but didn’t notice your team didn’t turn up. If they feel under pressure now, god help them come April.

  13. OMelhorDoMundo says:

    I also really feel for Eduardo because he seems to be a genuinely nice guy and is a very talented player. He’d just earned a move any Brazilian kid in the favelas would kill for and looked certain to succeed in England. The injury is very unfortunate and I hope he gets fit and running soon.
    That said, I don’t think Taylor had any malice in him when he lunged in. He was perhaps too excited since the game had barely started and hadn’t gotten into the game yet. He might have intended to get stuck in but he definitely didn’t intend to break Eduardo’s leg like that.

    Arsene Wenger shouldn’t have said what he said and he has to an extent retracted his comments but we must understand the situation he was in. His player had just had his leg broken but a nasty challenge and he hadn’t been able to take another look at the incident. I don’t think we should hold too much against him because under those circumstances, few would have kept quiet about the incident. But he must take another look at Eboue’s tackle on Terry and I hope he has a word with his own players as well.
    Again, I hope for a speedy recovery for Eduardo

  14. Joel Cairo says:

    What a colossal waste of electricity, all this is. The bottom line is this: the players — on both teams — play the game, and make the plays, that are condoned, or winked at, or not severely penalized. Horrific tackles are ok if the player gets the ball as well. No ball, not so great, but still only a 3-game slap in the wrist. You’d think ManU and Arsenal fans would be on the same side on this one, since their finest players are more usually the targets. Witness Fergie on protecting Ronaldo. Alan Smith is 27. Did he really recover from his horrible injury? What does it take? Top managers are fanatics, and very competitive– and at the end of the day, they act not like the senior leaders they are, but like petulant, blinkered partisans. The point is: if dangerous play was more seriously punished, then Wenger and Ferguson would be amongst the first to play to those higher standards, and exploit them. And maybe players would have more normal lives, and the Alan Smiths of the future would still be playing at their potential

  15. spiritof1983 says:

    Wenger is hypocritical to talk THEN of opposition players setting out to kick his team into submissiom when in fact his team players have long since adapted and have been kicking players in return.

    This is also an unfourtunate distraction from the Taylor incident which was a LUNGE (with both feet off the ground). Something both Arsenal and yes United players have done, as well as seen in most any EPL game these days it appears. The key difference in United and Arsenal from other teams tends to be that they aim the foot lower, rather than a high challenge. Eboue however has to be excluded from this as he appears to have scant regard for anyone.

    This lower challenge (lunge) hower can lead to severe injuries to ankle and lower leg, and thankfully I see lesser of this happening from my team but I do fear for them in returm as it appears less of a priorty in the minds of other managers in the EPL to stamp out.

    The case of Alex McLeish and Steve Bruce not admitting that this type of LUNGE (launching oneself) is not acceptable is disheartening. I fully back the words SAF spoke of following Reading (Dave Kitson on Evra) and Portmouth (Ronaldo, from front and back) that this must be dealt with more severely by law. Meaning there must be more than a three match ban (maybe 5-6) for violent/dangerous tackles to accompany the red card.

    Taylor’s case will be dealt with existing law which is three match ban. You can’t call for more under existing laws, not unless you can prove malicious intent which no one can. Wenger was foolish to do so and soon realised his losing position in this. There is however something called MALICIOUS DISREGARD and there isn’t enough being done to address this. This is where Wenger should have directed his anger.

    I will leave this here with some words SAF spoke of earlier (quoted in this article) that is relevant and forewarned what might happen.

    “We’ve got to stop these kind of tackles because otherwise someone is going to be put out of the game,”

    “The other issue is to ask whether a three-match ban is enough for these tackles? I’m wondering whether it should be more for dangerous tackles. For the sake of the game I’ve convinced myself that, even if it’s one of my players, he should get a red card. And if it’s wrong, a red card can be rescinded the next day.”

    If I recall correctly, SAF said this in post match interview that this was his exchange with referee Rob Styles in the Bolton away game, on the whistle of half time. For getting into the referee’s face, he was sent to the stands for the remainder of the game and received a two match touchline ban soon after. I am sure he will be talking against this type of tackles this week.

    You will note that since SAF words, in the holiday fixtures onwards there is more tendency of referees to caution or send off players making these sort of tackles. Now I think there will be even more impetus.

  16. austin reynolds says:

    @ asshat- i didnt ask what journalism should be. i asked what it really is and where u read it cos ive not read much journalism that is objective with direct presentation of facts with no attempt at interpretation or analysis!
    u must live in utopia. any plots going there?

  17. austin reynolds says:

    @matt wade- not a bad piece from a gooner. but y spoil it with the jealous lie about paying 30m for rooney?!
    as far as im aware he cost about 22m. didnt u spend around 17 on a spanish fly that couldnt cope?

  18. Easter Leg says:

    interesting to see the quality of the rose-tints you Man U fans like to sport. I wonder what the colour of your soul-searching would be if it had been one of your players who’d their leg snapped like our no. 9?

    The author of this article has focused on Arsene’s comments in the aftermath of the match, but discreetly chosen to ignore the qualified reaction Arsene made later that weekend. So, AFC is now considered to have kicked your lot off the pitch at Old Trafford? It makes a change doesn’t it? Most Gooners will allow that if we didn’t want to be humiliated in the FA Cup then we should’ve focused on the game and not the CL match with Milan. Yes, Eboue deserved the red, but to try and hypothesise that Evra could have been hospitalised with ‘broken bones’ is pure hyperbole designed to propel your spurious notions. If you want to highlight against the consequences of brutal play, you should’ve highlighted that that City lad’s stamp on your no. 7. Try looking on You Tube for that clip of Reyes nutmegging Neville the Elder and getting chopped from the side for such creative impudence.

    I don’t expect anything but bias on a Man U site – I mean, you even set your stall out by stating your dislike of AFC and its players – but perhaps you should have chosen a different title for this article because the final argument seems to focus on the wisdom of your manager in highlighting incompetent tackling.

    I also think your central argument is ignorant and ill-thought out; so Arsene shouldn’t criticise the likes of Taylor et al because his players are the same? That’s like suggesting Fergie shouldn’t criticise diving because some of your players like the dying swan routine.

  19. Scott the Red says:

    I am not for one moment suggesting Wenger can’t criticise Taylor and the like because his own players do the same.

    I am merely highlighting the hypocricy of Wenger within a seven day period. His players kicked at United and fouled us over the park, and Wenger defended them, claiming they were “incensed and most rightly so.” A week later, one of his own players is on the receiving end of brutal play, and he claims the only way to stop Arsenal is to kick them and that player should be banned for life. It is hypocritical to defend your players for intentionally kicking others (as Eboue, Gallas, Flamini etc. did) and then 7 days later get on your high horse claiming everyone kicks Arsenal players. A rather simple argument yet for some reason is lost on most Arsenal fans here.

  20. Easter Leg says:

    alright, if that’s your intention, again, I’d question your principal motivation; is it really such a sound basis for criticism to look at what Arsene said eleven days ago? Why don’t you put in to context his qualified retraction, his comments over the years, and the conduct of his players?

    The notion you are trying to propoound, that AFC knocked seven bells out of Man U throughout the match isn’t accurate, barring Eboue’s ‘challenge’. I’m not condoning the conduct of our Captain and some of the other players, but the fouls were manifest when the game was foregone conclusion.

    I recall Mauro Cameronesi kicking out at van Persie in our q/f with Juventus two years ago, that was a second yellow, and by that time Juevntus had shipped two goals away; a similar situation to Old Trafford two weeks ago.

    Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not condoning what our players did, but I and lots of Gooners always find it difficult to accept subjective diatribes masquerading as reasoned argument. You tell me what was ‘fair’ about the Neville brothers’ treatment of Reyes that Sunday afternoon in Salford three and half years ago. I don’t recall your manager having too many complaints about the ‘spirit’ Man U played that game with, but I can tell you that the ‘spirit’ observed then, was pretty similar to ‘spirit’ Taylor observed when he chopped Eduardo, I think intentional, but ignorant of the potential consequences. You can’t label our manager a hypocrite without taking an honest look at what goes on in your yard.

  21. Scott the Red says:

    Like all the other Arsenal fans, you’ve just gone on to quote things that have happened in the past. Yes, all teams have players that have done bad things before, on and off the field. So? Write your own article if that’s what you want to talk about.

    The article is about the hypocrisy of Arsene Wenger, the clue is in the title. Wenger’s hypocritical comments of the past week have nothing to do with what the Neville’s did to Reyes years ago.

    Wenger retracted his comments on Taylor. I didn’t see him take back the thoughts that to beat Arsenal you have to kick them. I suppose it’s a compliment, because even when kicking United, Arsenal got batted 4-0 lol.

  22. Easter Leg says:

    Fine. My purpose was to try and see if you would consider other perspectives outside of the ‘facts’ employed in your grand theory. I have my answer.

    Like it or not, you have to take Arsene’s comments in the context of how some teams have decided to play against us in the past, Bolton away in ’03 comes to mind as the first example of this style, and in the present. I suppose you can decide to ignore this, because if you did consider any view that was contrary to your own theory, that view would undermine the keystone of your argument.

    Anyway, I don’t think the rough-housing started until we were 3-0 down; my own take on it was that it was a manifestation of the players’ petulant frustration at rolling over so easily and the lesson for us was don’t ship three goals in the first half if you don’t want to see players juggling balls (every pun intended).

    I hardly think that violence formed part of the strategy to put you off your game – three goals in the first 45 certainly put us off our game in a match where we didn’t even turn up to. We deserved waht we got, just like when you boxed us 6-1 six years ago. You’d won the match even before we started the ‘kicking’. So much for your coup de grace remark.

    Good luck for Saturday.

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