Wenger misrepresented by the media … again

Last man back September 20, 2010 0

Ask most journalists about an Arsene Wenger press conference and they’ll tell you they enjoy them a great deal. The Arsenal manager is open (unless talking about transfers), funny, honest and engaging.

The assembled journalists know that if they ask him a question, even if it’s not related to Arsenal, he’ll give them an answer. There is almost always a part of his weekly press conference which pertains to the pressing issue of the week whether there’s any Arsenal focus to it or not.

He speaks intelligently about the game of football itself, is critical of things he perceives to be bad for the game overall and not just Arsenal. Yet time and time again the same journalists who laugh and joke with him in the press conference misrepresent him in print or during their punditry.

This weekend was a perfect case in point. After the potential leg-breaking foul on Abou Diaby by Paul Robinson, Wenger hit out at the lack of protection for players. All players. Not just Arsenal players. He said:

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. The only thing I regret if I speak about it – it is only controversial and it is: ‘Wenger, Wenger, Wenger, Wenger, Wenger, Wenger, Wenger…’

He then practically pleaded with those in the media to support what he said about the lack of protection offered to all players:

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.

So what happens? Well, on Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports Jeff Stelling and his motley crew decided to make it all about Arsenal. After they showed one replay of the Robinson challenge they then showed five or six perfectly fair Bolton tackles, ignoring one or two terrible ones, making it look as if Wenger was the one with the problem. Nobody said every Bolton tackle was a foul. It was actually embarrassing to see the depths they plumbed just to have a pop.

On ESPN they Ray Stubbs and Jon Champion mentioned time and again how Wenger kept going on about wanting more protection for his players, ignoring the point that he was talking in general terms.

And it gets the point where you have this kind of nonsense from Mark Lawrenson in The Mirror:

What is it with Wenger? On the one hand, the guy says Arsenal are stronger physically this season. But, at the same time, he complains that his team shouldn’t be tackled.

This is a man who is paid by the BBC and the Mirror for his ‘expert’ opinion on football yet he’s either creating fiction, because Arsene Wenger has never said that, or he’s just too lazy to read or listen to what Wenger actually says. I suspect the latter, to be honest. It’s much easier to parrot what you think people are saying rather than spend any time watching Wenger’s press conferences, you know, doing some actual work. If he did he’d know the Arsenal manager has never said his players shouldn’t be tackled. Quite the opposite in fact:

I admire a great technical tackle as much as a creative pass. A tackle is an art in itself – that means you always have your eye on the ball, never with a high foot, in your tackle you can already make a pass. Tackling is an art you do not want to get out of the game.

Lawrenson is essentially ignorant and unprofessional. If you have the privilege of making a living talking and writing about the game of football then you have a responsibility to your employers, and to those who listen and read you, to be as well informed as possible. His comments about Wenger are just utterly wrong. It’s complete fiction yet people like Lawrenson are given a huge platform every week to perpetrate this nonsense.

Once again we have a situation where the story has become ‘Wenger, Wenger, Wenger, Wenger, Wenger, Wenger, Wenger…’. What he actually said and what he actually meant have been taken and twisted by the media so the real point is lost.

And here’s the thing, the real point is to make football safer for players in every team. It’s to stop tackles like this, or like this, or like this, which cause serious injury. Players out of the game for months at a time, battles to save careers which aren’t always successful, and the impact it has on teams when they lose players through acts of recklessness and violence on the football pitch.

That’s the real issue and it’s little short of a disgrace that the media use it to take cheap shots at a man for trying to raise it. Of course he’s going to be biased towards his own team, every manager is, but when someone speaks out for the good of the game in general it’s sad that the small-minded fools who have such an influence on public opinion can’t see they’re doing so more harm than good.

No Comments »

  1. abdul September 21, 2010 at 6:17 am -

    spot on!! but whos listening ?

  2. bharat September 21, 2010 at 4:00 am -

    @MSL and every arsenal fan … an observation made on your highly esteemed manager (for whom i have a lot of respect) isnt ‘preaching’ to you all.Frankly i dont care about arsenal fans.

    As far as fergie goes … well if wenger should have the right to say whatever he wants to then in the same vein fergie has the right to deny speaking to anyone he wants.And fergie doesnt seem to be affected by the stick he recieves and the collective hatred of a lot of people all around the world.Whilst wenger clearly is affected by it.And that what works against him.And That is why the media picks on him.He should actually stop caring.Who cares what the bbc says.

  3. Black_Apalachi September 21, 2010 at 2:15 am -


    “You gooners don’t get it, everyone is just tired of Wengers views and opinions. Tell him to shut up then people will have nothing to mock him with.”

    That’s brilliant coming from what I gather to be a Manc, based on the name. At least he doesn’t sit there chewing the cud and leaping out of his seat every five minutes to have a tantrum whenever a decision doesn’t go his way. It’s unbelievable hypocritical of you to say everyone is tired of Wenger. I think people are a lot more tired of His Royal Highness Sir Alex Ferguson, myself. I bet you love never seeing him say anything on MOTD every week. Tell me, how long is he going to keep up that pathetic charade anyway?

    I’m a Liverpool fan and still I think this is a brilliant article. It raises a very valid point which is that Wenger is always striving to offer new ideas to improve the sport. It is correct when it says he speaks generally about all teams rather than just worrying about the welfare of his own players. This is something I wish more managers would do for the sake of football.

  4. MSL September 20, 2010 at 9:43 pm -

    @unitedFixation: Trust me. The world is a lot more fed up Ferguson. We are not allowed to voice our opinion because he is the one that media is afraid of. Wenger at least has the class to keep talking to the media while His Highness would not speak to BBC because of a disagreement.
    There is always this freedom granted to the winners that they are right.

    Ferguson went on and said today that Utd might have had a cricket score. Classy. Ferguson’s shenanigans outnumber everybody else’s combined. So don’t preach us. From this side of the fence it looks very similar if not worse.

  5. unitedFixation September 20, 2010 at 5:31 pm -

    Why does this wenger debate polarise everyone.I feel for the guy.But believe me, not everytime does he make sense.You have done a good job picking out a few examples and showing them how his words were twisted.Spot on with that.But that being said he does try push his agenda through the press (dont get on my back, i know our manager does it too and should be rightly criticized).I found his comments about the stoke players tackling gomez unnecessary as he could have made his point without taking names.These are the kind of things which will have a section of fans criticize him and hence undermine all the good intentioned things he says.

    And to be frank I am a little fed up with the wenger shenanigans.

  6. Irish September 20, 2010 at 5:09 pm -

    Good write up. Its’ funny how a lot of people lap this stuff up from the media, and take it as fact. I’m always getting it of friends. I think Wenger should ban some of these reporters that contently write drivel from his pressers. Only allow the more unbiased ones in. Lets face it half of them are coming to the press conference with an agenda and questions that, answers are going to be twisted and create a headline to suit the journalist.

  7. Joshtottenham September 20, 2010 at 3:44 pm -

    I’m afraid that is the nature of the media: find a stereotype, stick to it. It’s lazy, lazy work, and it is self perpetuating as things become “common knowledge” that are simply made up. So a few people talk about Wenger complaining about fouls in the way you describe (which in fairness he has done just from an Arsenal perspective before) and 20 others read those comments and run with it. I’m no football expert, just a fan, and I am staggered by how often I can spot absolute BS from the ‘Experts’.

  8. Rob September 20, 2010 at 3:05 pm -

    An extremely good article. I am relatively new to this blog, but am already a fan. Keep up the good work – if only you had Lawrenson’s platform!

    However, as brought up in comments above, this is half of the story. Arsene is bright enlugh to know his entreaties for his words to be taken in context and without being twisted will fall on deaf ears (the soap opera of Man U wonderful, Chelsea too good for everyone, Wenger = Whinger, Foreigners don’t like it up ‘em and everyone else is in crisis or a joke makes far more money than honest critique).

    The real question is what is he trying to achieve? Is he trying to take the pressure off his team, is he trying to distract us from something else, or is there another reason to keep supplying the idiots with their ammunition?

  9. MERCY September 20, 2010 at 1:43 pm -


  10. Justin Bernard September 20, 2010 at 1:40 pm -

    Like the pundits, Red Devil ignores what Wenger is saying, and forms his own opinion.
    I guess when a United Player is one the receiving end to a career-threatening tackle, Ferguson will take Wenger’s side, and the media pundits will follow. It’s going to happen eventually.

  11. Cork Gooner September 20, 2010 at 1:22 pm -

    Absolutely top notch article. Keep up the great work

  12. Alex September 20, 2010 at 1:00 pm -

    Great piece, sums it up well. I’m incredibly bored of the hot air these journalists churn out as news. Its interesting to watch the part time bloggers and comments sections show these hacks up with the standard of their writing and insight.

    This blog, Arseblog, Zonal Marking, Goodplaya and The Swiss Ramble all write far superior content to anything you’d get on most newspapers’ sites.
    With the exception of Jonathan Wilson perhaps and maybe Barney Ronay (Guardian).

    The continued portrayal of Wenger, where he never just talks about things, its always Wenger moans, Wenger whines….what bs.

    What is needed is a cull of football experts, maybe we need a match of football experts vs a Stoke Cloggers 11, a bit like The Running Man. That’d be worth watching.

  13. Greg September 20, 2010 at 12:35 pm -

    Great article. I could be wrong, but Arsene never gave a pre-match Friday press conference last week. I wonder if this has anything to do about him being so misrepresented in the media?

  14. Michael McCarthy September 20, 2010 at 12:32 pm -

    Mark Hughes complained about the ref this week and rightly so. Hughes agrees with Wenger about Blackburn’s tactics. Even Fat Sam claimed Athens were too physical for Blackburn’s lightweights.

  15. shooy September 20, 2010 at 12:25 pm -

    Red Devil deserves absolutely no courtesy whatsoever when he comes in with a comment like that. He is as guilty as the media and pundits of not understanding the point, and that is that if Wenger is asked a question he answers it. If he is asked his opinion, he gives it. It is indeed the professional responsibility of the media to report that properly and accurately and for pundits to find out and understand what he is saying and the context in which it was said and then comment on that professionally. Only then can an intelligent discourse take place. Red Devil, in his own pathetic way, is a part of the problem. The good thing is that Wenger doesn’t really care about the criticism and cheap name calling and sticks to his principle of openness.

  16. blobface September 20, 2010 at 12:15 pm -

    Red Devil, unfortunately you seem to be one of those exact people this article refers to, one who believes the regurgitated crap that is spewed over many papers. I’m sick of pundits getting jobs because of their reputations as players, and not on intelligence levels or competancy in jounalism. If it happened to Gerrard or Rooney… oh the shitstorm that would rain down on the offending player. Focus on the point of argument and not the person arguing it.

    I think many supporters are putting club rivalries in front of common sense, and its very sad. No one wants to see bad injuries to any player, at least I dont. If we can stop the Diaby, Eduardo, Ramsey, Zamora, Messi type tackles, the better for the game.

    How this point is so hard for people to understand?

  17. Tomas September 20, 2010 at 12:13 pm -

    I think it’s time for Lawrence Gray-Hodson to weigh in. After all he was a pro and knows what he’s talking about.

  18. oldbird September 20, 2010 at 11:49 am -

    An excellent article – exactly what I have been trying (not so well) to tell my mates this week.

    Red Devil – I can understand you being fed up with hearing Wenger’s views blah blah but he is only replying to questions asked not standing on a pulpit forcing his opinions on everyone. It is the press who ask the questions and then make a story out of what he says – frequently twisting it to create controversy and thereby fanning the anti-wenger flames.

    Believe me, we Gooners are as tired of this as you are. Wenger is one of the most courteous and intelligent managers and his views should be listened to with more respect. We all love football and most of what he says is for the good of the game not just Arsenal.

  19. Sri September 20, 2010 at 11:47 am -

    When Harry Redknapp used the “F*** off” word to the press when he was asked whether he is a “wheeler dealer”… it was taken as a joke.. but when wenger makes a legitimate complaint about bad tackles, it becomes a sin.. It is silly to compare the one tackle by Gallas in the match against Bolton with the numerous tackles against Arsenal players.

    It’s frustrating to see how the press manipulate and re-write what he actually said or meant. i’m beginning to wonder whether the same level of criticism would be levelled at AW if he’s English.. i may sound racist but that’s only deduction that one can possibly make..

  20. johan September 20, 2010 at 11:38 am -

    look at the tackle on messi!!
    after the game guardiola said to the press:
    “We are pleased with our game, but no such action. The images speak for
    themselves. It appeals to the media, those who write the articles, you must
    say the following. Messi is one of the players who cheat the lowest in the league. His only
    concern is to play well and score goals. We must not only protect
    Cristiano Ronaldo. Referees must protect all players.”
    and today the press here in spain speak about it like a tragedy… messi out 2 weeks minimum… when in england player like paul robinson doesnt even get a yellow card for his tackle on diaby.. worse wenger is critisized for speaking about it!!
    and to finish the last from big sam…

  21. Last man back September 20, 2010 at 11:33 am -

    I don’t think the Valencia injury was caused by a bad tackle though.

  22. ArsenalPanda September 20, 2010 at 11:23 am -

    @Red devil…. Lemme jus take u back to a certain antonio valencia… Lets see if you want more of those in your game.

  23. treacle September 20, 2010 at 11:22 am -

    The only person that can truly misrepresent one is oneself. When asked about the comments, and when names are named, Arsene should be allowed to just wave his hand and say “cunt”. I.e: *self pitying hack*; “so Mr Wenger, Tony Pu”, *Arsene*; “Cunt, next”. Who’s gonna sue him?

  24. Jacquoranda September 20, 2010 at 11:16 am -

    Great article. TBH, the level of “analysis” on SSSS is beneath juvenile. I remember Phil Thomson when asked to describe Mark Noble said something to the effect of “he’s a proper player, he can move it and mix it up”. In any other job that I can think of where analysis of a situation is required, this would immediately deem one incapable. I’m loath to use an analogy, but it is the equivalent of a doctor surveying a corpse and stating “I don’t think he’s well”.

    @RedDevil – what Dave Lewis said.

  25. Ati September 20, 2010 at 11:06 am -

    @Red Devil, please ask the press to stop asking him questions, then.

  26. ArsenalStation September 20, 2010 at 11:03 am -

    I have been pointing out the willful misrepresentation of Wenger and his words on my blog for a couple of years now. This piece was very well-written and well-argued.

    As for Red Devil, if everyone’s tired of his opinions why are 60 reporters from every paper in England showing up to is press conferences plying him with questions every week?

  27. Francine September 20, 2010 at 11:02 am -

    Excellent! Wouldnt it be advisable for Arsenal to do away with the Press Conferences? I see no point in holding a Press conference if your message is going to be deliberately bastardised! There is nothing been gained by the club if their message is continuosly and deliberately distorted. I honestly feel for Arsene. I have never before seen a Manager mercilessly ridiculed in this manner. I just dont know how his immediate family is coping. His name is all over in the papers, radio, television, bloggersphere and always in a negative way. British managers are lining up against him. So are former referees like the infamous Mr Poll, all hue of hacks not to mention all sorts of ex footballers even failed ones!And all this because he dare call for the removal of dangerous play from the game!

  28. Dave Lewis September 20, 2010 at 10:59 am -

    @RedDevil, I’m interested to hear from people who are in the game and who know about the game. I’d like to see Ferguson back on MOTD if he can get over this petty feud.

    I also like to hear from Ian Holloway, Harry Redknapp who tell it straight (most of the time), and then you have the likes of Pulis, Big Sam etc who just spoil it all. I’d laugh at them if they weren’t so pathetic.

    If you don’t want to hear these tiring views, just don’t read shit newspapers or watch Sky….

  29. Last man back September 20, 2010 at 10:57 am -

    igooner – I genuinely believe Lawrenson is so bored with his job – remember, he was moaning about having to be at certain World Cup game this summer while actually co-commentating – that he doesn’t spend any time on any official sites to see what’s really being said.

    His comments suggest he’s listened to some equally ill-informed radio stations etc and formed his opinion from their opinions, not from what Wenger actually said.

  30. Last man back September 20, 2010 at 10:55 am -

    Red Devil is entitled to his opinion, like everyone else, without being called names.

    I happen to think he’s wrong but please challenge the opinion, and let’s not resort to name calling etc.

  31. DPT September 20, 2010 at 10:53 am -

    Red Devil – f**k off you stupid prick! Wenger is a very intellegent manager and whenever he speaks about football everyone should listen as he is very rarely wrong!(unlike your manager who’s as full as shit as you are)

  32. igooner September 20, 2010 at 10:52 am -

    I believe that people like Lawrenson & Co. know exactly what Wenger says. I mean how hard is it- you just have to visit the official site once a week to read what he said.
    These so called ‘pundits’ just deliberately misrepresent Wenger to portray that Wenger is whining. And the Allardyces and Pulises of English football really like to hear that. Most of the media people just say/write what the majority wants to hear. And in England, the majority wants to hear pundits criticize Wenger. I might be wrong because I do not live in the UK, but thats what I percieve from where I live.

  33. Ken Ward September 20, 2010 at 10:52 am -

    Fantastic article. It became obvious it was gathering pace throughout the week. Allardyce making sure it became more of a foreign vs English managers debate. Pundits exacerbating his views about Wenger deliberately playing the media. The overall media backlash before the Sunderland game was such that the girl from Espn even mentioned about keeping an eye on tackles to the referee in the tunnel before kick-off. It is tedious that the press attack every word out of Wengers mouth, yet barely register Harry Redknapp’s outburst about “wheeler-dealers”.

  34. Dave Lewis September 20, 2010 at 10:51 am -

    Admittedly, I am biaised as an Arsenal fan. But, my personal opinion is that printed media and punditry is really warping football into some kind of soap opera. Am rapidly falling out of love with the game.

    Wenger is an intelligent man and does seem pretty straight in the way he speaks about the game overall. It’s a shame many of the other managers now believe they are a commodity, moving from club to club, like the players and talk themselves into the newspapers with comments that wouldn’t be out of place from some moron caller on 606.

  35. DPT September 20, 2010 at 10:49 am -

    What an excellent article! Could not be more spot on! If I was Wenger I would just refuse to answer any questions the media ask. I would like to know why the media/pundits have it in for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal????????? they constantly twist things into something that is not there, what have we done apart from trying to play football how it is meant to be played…………

  36. Ati September 20, 2010 at 10:47 am -

    Just brilliant. It’s frustrating how hundreds of articles and tv shows fail to bring out the true meaning of what he keeps saying.

  37. RedDevil September 20, 2010 at 10:46 am -

    You gooners don’t get it, everyone is just tired of Wengers views and opinions. Tell him to shut up then people will have nothing to mock him with.

  38. Terence McGovern September 20, 2010 at 10:40 am -

    Article straight out of the top drawer.

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