This French resistance to the obvious truth...c'est magnifique


Belligerent, stubborn, unyielding.

Arsène Wenger has been called all that and worse over six seasons without a trophy but as he faced the world yesterday morning, hours from losing Cesc Fabregas and with the prospect of Samir Nasri departing over the Premier League's opening weekend, there was also something strangely magnificent in the intransigence of England's most famous Frenchman.

He would not even contemplate taking the invitation to wallow in the misery that so many Arsenal fans are experiencing on the eve of a new season. He certainly would not accept the blame that some believe is his for presiding over the break-up of another promising Arsenal team without spending on new players. At one point he even said "I expect nobody to leave the club" just hours before Fabregas took a step closer to doing just that.

There was something of the captured French resistance fighter about Wenger as he refused to give up any information to his interrogators. Just because the mood around the club is approaching crisis point with Fabregas's departure – and no obvious replacements – Wenger does not believe that this is reason to cast aside his usual cautiousness in matters of player trading.

He has always conducted his transfer business in the utmost secrecy. It has been part of his success in years gone by when he signed little-known players who turned into stars before his rivals even knew they existed. In years gone by he was celebrated for his ability to keep his business in-house while others conducted theirs in public. Now, with a lot of people demanding an explanation, it is perceived as his weakness.

Those who know Wenger say that there is nothing to be gained by accepting that a player is leaving before the ink is dried on a deal and, by doing so, Wenger would be weakening the club's negotiating position. In his mind, Wenger yesterday was sitting at the poker table with Manchester City and Barcelona and one unguarded moment of weakness could have cost his club money.

It is evident that faith in the old maxim that "Arsène knows" is starting to waver in some elements of the Arsenal support, especially after his summer pronouncement that the club could not be taken seriously if they sold both players. Besides, and there really is no polite way of saying this, he could not give a monkey's about what the fans think over a set of negotiations that only he and a few others know the real truth about.

It made for a surreal, if often entertaining, press conference at Arsenal's training ground at London Colney. We came anticipating answers. We left with virtually none unless you count the news that Juan Mata will not be joining Arsenal this month (explanation requested but none forthcoming).

Increasingly, though, it became less about Fabregas and Nasri and more about Wenger, as it undoubtedly will this season if things go badly. "I am not here to judge my own performances, I have to leave that to other people," Wenger said. "I am here to give absolutely my best, which I think I do, to show my commitment and loyalty to the club. The rest, I will let other people judge."

Asked whether winning the Premier League title this season would rate as his most miraculous achievement, even Wenger said: "I don't know, I am not here to tell you how great I am. I just want to give my best for this club." For the first time in a long time, he was asked whether he would consider resigning if things went badly. "There again, it's not down to me to do that. I am here to give my best as long as I can and I will do that, I promise you."

It is worth pointing out at this stage that there are many managers – most of whom have won much less than Wenger – who would have walked out there and then. That he does not is to his great credit. Asked about the criticism from fans he was unyielding. "Yes, I'm a human being. [But] my reaction is I don't listen to what people say. What I want is for our fans to appreciate our team and to support our team.

"The media environment with our team is very negative – if our fans go the way the media want them to go we have no chance. Everybody looks for centre-backs [all over] the whole world. Clubs with unlimited resources are looking for a centre-back. We are not in a supermarket where you go to a shelf and pick up a centre-back or a striker."

Wenger's point is that buying good players, producing winning teams and keeping a club solvent are not as simple as others believe. "We are in an international market where all over the world people look for the same players," he said, "you don't need to be a genius to understand that." Indeed, but he is losing the battle to convince people that his club's money is better off in the bank than invested in inflated transfer fees.

The world is not operating to Wenger's principles but that does not mean he is about to abandon them. Instead he seems even more rooted than ever. He needs a break. He needs a signing that excites the support and energises the team. He needs a win against Newcastle this evening. He needs to beat Udinese over two legs in the Champions League qualifier. The trouble is, the way things are going, he cannot count on any of the aforementioned.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Midsummer swimwear season is well and truly upon us – but diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice