Wenger stays silent after too much phone chat provokes Uefa's anger

 

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The Independent Online

Arsene Wenger found himself at loggerheads with Uefa last night after the European governing body censured him for communicating with his bench during last night's Champions League qualifier first leg 1-0 victory over Udinese while he was sitting in the stands serving a touchline ban.

In response the Arsenal manager refused to do any post-match media – unprecedented for Wenger – and will be fined by the governing body. Arsenal said that they had an agreement with the Uefa match delegate, which was negotiated on Monday, that Wenger could communicate via his assistant Boro Primorac, who sat next to him in the Club level seats and was on his mobile phone for long periods of the match.

Primorac was understood to be talking to staff who passed Wenger's messages on to assistant Pat Rice. Arsenal found themselves in an early season mini-injury crisis with both Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou, himself a substitute, coming off last night with hamstring injuries.

However, the Arsenal manager was then warned by Uefa at half-time that the arrangement was unacceptable. The dispute came after another limp performance from Arsenal who won with Theo Walcott's fourth-minute goal but travel to Italy next week for Wednesday's second leg with a slender advantage.

Walcott, who refused to discuss the furore surrounding his autobiography and its description of his relationship with "starchy" England manager Fabio Capello, said that he hoped Wenger would play him in a more attacking role in the future. "It was nice to get the goal. I want to get more goals this season. It was a great ball from Aaron [Ramsey]," he said.

"Hopefully the boss will play me up front now, I don't know," Walcott added. "I could have had a couple more but the keeper made some spectacular saves. We're going to find it difficult over there but we're very happy with the result. That's the most important thing."

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