After repeatedly being asked about the same issue, a furious Arsène Wenger did something rather different and rather drastic yesterday. The Arsenal manager threatened to walk out of a Friday press conference for the first time in years, when a series of awkward questions over his decision to play David Ospina rather than Petr Cech in Wednesday’s 3-2 Champions League defeat to Olympiakos culminated in the 65-year-old being quizzed on whether Jose Mourinho was right that he is the “only manager not under pressure”.
Wenger then lambasted a “boring” and “depressing” media for persistently focusing on Ospina’s error in that game above anything else.
The French coach had been getting visibly irritated with the subject in a press conference intended to preview tomorrow’s home match against Manchester United, and reiterated he felt both his goalkeepers were “world class”; he then snapped when Mourinho’s recent allegations were put to him.
The threat to walk out of a press conference is unprecedented in recent times from Wenger, but it had arguably been building here even before mention was made of the Chelsea manager, as a fractious exchange indicates:
Question: When you look back upon the summer, you only made one signing and felt that was enough to improve the squad. Then when the big games come around, you don’t use the player you signed. The fans were frustrated about the team selection. Do you understand that?
Wenger: No. I don’t understand that at all.
Wenger: I make the decision I think is right for the game.
Question: After the game, you said you weren’t accountable for your selection. Do you think you should be accountable or not?
Wenger: I am accountable on the results of my team and the way they play football.
Question: Do you think you should be more accountable to the fans on selection?
Wenger: I just gave you the answer.
Question: If you are not accountable in that way, does that not make Jose Mourinho right when he says there’s only one manager who is not under pressure?
Wenger: Look, stop that story or we stop the press conference.
A few questions later, Wenger was asked whether he had picked his goalkeeper for the match against United. He coldly glared at the journalist before asking “have you another question?” and embarking on a rant about the media.
“Do not come always back with that same story. I think you lack a bit of creativity in the press at the moment and you follow a bandwagon. It’s very, very, very, very boring. I don’t go along with that. If you have an interesting question I will answer but apart from that let’s not always come back to the same story.”
Wenger also criticised pundits for the Ospina-focused analysis of the Olympiakos defeat. “They don’t analyse well,” he said. “Honestly, not one came out and analysed well the game. One pundit says something on TV and all behind that repeat the same thing. It is quite boring.Nobody came out with numbers where the game was won or lost. It’s quite depressing to read that and hear that.”
Wenger said he would have tried to sign Anthony Martial had Monaco not declared the striker “unsellable”, and that Manchester United only got him by paying “special money”.
“They said they would not sell him. I thought they had sold many other players so they did not need to sell, and they would maintain their word. But only an acceptable amount of money after could do it.
“We always liked him, already when he was in Lyon. That was already a surprise, that Lyon sold him on the last day of the transfer market for €5m at the time.”
Wenger confirmed that Francis Coquelin is fit to face United, but Laurent Koscielny is out for three weeks with a hamstring injuryReuse content