Arshavin hits out at 'severe' Wenger tactics


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The Independent Online

Andrei Arshavin, the Arsenal midfielder, has issued a forthright critique of his manager, Arsène Wenger, suggesting the Frenchman makes substitutions based on philosophy rather than performance, revealing players feel he is so stubborn as to be unapproachable and describing him as the "most severe" coach he has ever worked with.

In a revealing interview in the Russian newspaper Sport Express, Arshavin insisted he is not contemplating leaving the Emirates Stadium despite finding himself out of favour for much of this season.

The 30-year-old did, though, acknowledge that remaining a reserve for a long period of time might force him to reconsider as he offered a frank insight into life as a substitute at Arsenal and the futility of hoping Wenger will change his mind.

"I am not thinking about changing clubs," he said. "If I am on the bench for a very long time, then such an issue might be relevant. I still want to play for 90 minutes, but now I am glued to the bench.

"At the moment, he has more faith in [Theo] Walcott and Gervinho [in wide roles], and under his current scheme, I bet there will not be [a chance to play centrally]. Our midfielders are now playing deep.

"He has his own philosophy, a special Wenger look. He is not as stubborn as [Russia and former Zenit St Petersburg manager] Dick Advocaat, but he is perhaps more severe. When difficulties occur, nobody in Arsenal even considers going to him on matters concerning football to try and change something, everyone knows what the answer will be.

"It is true [he does things in his own way]. Sometimes you can see it on the field: no matter how well you have played, you will still be replaced on the 70th minute. And sometimes you sit on the bench in full confidence that you will just come on in the 65th minute."

In Moscow to join up with his national side, Arshavin suggested the "unique philosophy" which has led to Arsenal's steadfast refusal to invest large sums on Wenger's playing staff does make it difficult for the club to compete in an age dominated by the oil billions of some of the world's richest men.

He did acknowledge that he and his fellow team-mates understand the business rationale behind the stance, something explained to them in person by chief executive Ivan Gazidis.

"That is the Arsenal philosophy," he said. "Ivan Gazidis came to the training base and said a lot of interesting things on this subject. He says clubs are divided into three categories. Some climb into the pocket of a master, some into debt, and some, like us and Bayern Munich, live on the funds we raise ourselves.

"From a business perspective, it's the right approach. It is just that it is difficult for such a team to be competitive, though Bayern prove otherwise. But in football there are more and more financial magnates, who are willing to shell out any amount for a player for short-term success."