The Ferguson-Wenger relationship has changed and mellowed as the years have gone by, with our manager seeming to chill out and Wenger’s team not posing the same threat to our Premiership title. They’ve even appeared to be friends at times.
Before we won the title, Wenger was pull of praise for us and conceded there was no shame in saying we were the best team.
Likewise, our feelings have generally softened towards Arsenal too. I’ll never like them and the arrogance from their fans is irritating (particularly now they don’t have the trophies to support their arrogance) but they just don’t evoke the same passion and hatred anymore.
But in case you were starting to worry, unnerved by the mellowed feelings about Arsenal, then be grateful to Arsene Wenger today, who has reminded us exactly why we’ve loved to hate them for so long.
Following Eduardo’s dive last night, the Scottish FA chief is ridiculously asking for a ban to be handed out. Whilst I certainly agree the only way for us to stop players behaving like Eduardo did last night is to hand out bans, that needs to be a decision UEFA make across the board, not just when a club kicks up a big fuss.
“We are reviewing the match to see whether a disciplinary investigation should be launched,” said a UEFA spokesperson. Well, if he is banned then I would like to think the precedence has been set for all diving in Europe, not just for English clubs. I don’t watch a lot of Spanish football but when I do it is clear their league is totally riddled with cheats. Will Real Madrid and Barcelona players be banned too? Or will it just be United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool players? The bias against English clubs from UEFA is all too apparent.
Regardless, diving is shit and any football fan should hate it, whether it’s their own player who is guilty of it or not. We should welcome anything UEFA decide to do to stamp it out, as long as it is applied to all clubs, not just the ever unpopular English. This is a viewpoint Eduardo’s boss has previously supported.
“We have to fight it and there is only one way to punish people diving obviously: suspension,” Wenger said in 2006. “Once it is in the game it is difficult to get it out. Once a guy knows he might be punished he will not dive.”
Here, here, Arsene!
But he continues: “Sometimes the players dive just because they pushed the ball too far and the only way to get something out of the situation is to dive. We are all managers who can never say that one of our players has not dived. Nobody can say that in our league. I can say that when my team are not involved I am 100% against it.” But when your team are involved it is OK? When it’s your player who has pushed the ball too far and dives, as Eduardo did last night, you’re not 100% opposed?
Despite it being painfully obvious that Eduardo dived last night, Wenger reckons that his player didn’t intentionally do anything wrong.
“I believe it was not a penalty but I’m not sure the keeper didn’t touch him with his right knee,” he claimed. “Eduardo might have jumped out of the way as well. I have never asked anyone to dive to win a penalty. I do not want a penalty which is not a penalty but I do not go as far as to say Eduardo dived.”
But then this is a manager who recently admitted he lies about incidents when he can’t explain what they’ve done, after being asked whether he denies seeing things.
“Yes, because you are thinking, ‘Why has he done that?’ and you know you cannot explain it. At times I saw it and I said that I didn’t to protect the player, because I could not find any rational explanation to defend him.”
With all this negative publicity, hopefully whoever is refereeing on Saturday will have a hard time awarding Arsenal any penalties at Old Trafford.