Wenger hits out at 2012 tournament

Arsenal manager rejects credibility of London football event just after European Championship

Another row over international football is brewing at Arsenal.

Arsène Wenger spent much of last season questioning Jack Wilshere's planned participation in the European Under-21 Championship, and yesterday he said that the coinciding of the European Championship and the Olympic Games next summer "makes life impossible" for clubs and players.

The advent of a football Team GB in the Olympics, immediately following Euro 2012, raises the prospect of players being asked to operate all summer. Wenger is aghast at the idea of something he considers to be "not a real football tournament" taking place in late July and early August, interfering with pre-season.

"Why not organise another tournament behind that [the Olympics] and we lose them again?" he asked ironically yesterday. "The whole summer ... makes life impossible for the clubs and the players especially. At some stage you have to decide how far you can go medically for the players to play so much games under so much pressure."

Wenger's irritation is all the deeper as he does not consider the Olympics to be worthy of the involvement of his players. "The Olympic tournament for me is not a real football tournament, for me the Olympics is for track and field basically," he said. "If I asked you who won the Olympics 20 years ago you would have problems to tell me."

The European Championship runs from 8 June to 1 July, the football at the Olympics from 25 July to 11 August. Wenger said that it would be "impossible" to use anyone soon after playing in both, but also that the decision on participating in the Olympics should not be left to them: "The worst thing is to leave that decision to the players." He is also surprised that veterans such as David Beckham are seen as candidates: "Before, it was an under-23 tournament. Now for England it looks as well to be an over-35 tournament!"

While Wenger was clear that he did not want players involved in both tournaments, he was open to negotiation for those who were not involved in Poland and Ukraine."We have to find a common-sense solution to the use of the players," he said. Aaron Ramsey is likely to be called upon by Stuart Pearce, as Wales did not qualify for the European Championship, and regarding the 20-year-old midfielder Wenger said he hoped for compromise: "We'll have to analyse every case separately with the people who are responsible for the Olympic tournament. Let's hope we can do that."

Arsenal host Stoke tomorrow, and Wenger admitted he is troubled by his continued use of Robin van Persie. "On Monday I decide always to rest him and on Friday I play him again," he said. The Arsenal captain has scored 30 goals in his last 38 games, and Wenger described him as the best all-round striker in the Premier League. "You like Robin because he's not a typical goal-scorer. When you see him play it never comes to your mind that this guy is a goalscorer. And then you look at the record and think he's not only a good player, he's as well a top-class scorer."

Van Persie became captain after Cesc Fabregas's exit in the summer, and Wenger believes this has rounded off his maturing as a player. "He has made a big improvement on the mental side since he arrived. And I think the final step was the armband. He had a history of being a bit temperamental. But he is a guy who takes things on board."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine