Arsène Wenger: Of course Sir Alex Ferguson should have been punished

Arsenal manager says Dean, who sent him off in 2009, was wrong not to report United counterpart

Arsène Wenger fuelled the controversy surrounding Sir Alex Ferguson's heated exchange with referee Mike Dean by suggesting the Manchester United manager should have been punished for his actions.

Ferguson confronted Dean and his assistants at half-time during his side's Boxing Day meeting with Newcastle but escaped sanction because the match official failed to mention the incident in his match report.

However, Wenger, who was sent to the stands by Dean for kicking a water bottle when Arsenal visited Old Trafford in 2009, believes Ferguson's behaviour merited further action. "If he didn't behave like he should have done, yes of course [he should have been punished]," said the Arsenal manager. "He would be the first to say that. We go sometimes overboard on the touchline and when we do it we have to be punished, it is as simple as that."

And he added: "If a referee doesn't make a report it's not the fault of the Premier League not to take any action. It's only Mike Dean that can answer why he didn't make a report."

Wenger will again ask Theo Walcott to lead his attack when Newcastle visit the Emirates Stadium this evening and is set to offer the winger the opportunity to make the central position his permanent home.

Walcott, who is out of contract next summer but has expressed a desire to fill a more central role, is currently working with Thierry Henry, who is training with his former club and Wenger is confident the England international can make the transition, pointing out he is the same age that Henry was when the manager moved him central from a wide position.

"I like the signs I have seen from him [Walcott] in that position," said Wenger. "I think he can take it on. If you look at my statements I always said that one day he would play through the middle and it grew in his brain. He is now 23. I decided to play Thierry Henry at 23 through the middle because you have to learn a lot before.

"The fact that you play in other positions as well helps your technique. On the wing you need a shorter technique against the line, once you play in the middle you can go on both sides. Theo has learnt a lot. Now we will sometimes play him on the flanks and sometimes through the middle."

The possibility of Henry, 35, repeating last season's loan move from New York Red Bulls and joining Arsenal for a third spell appear to have receded after Wenger admitted he had yet to decide on a move. "I've not lost interest in him," he said. "He's still coming in to practise with us. Our relationship is very close but he has had a second spell at the club that was successful. You have to be cautious that it's not one time too many."

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