Furious Wenger to fight latest FA charge

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"The new bad boy of English football", as one journalist jocularly called Arsène Wenger to his face on Saturday, was yesterday charged with "improper conduct". This was in relation to "his words and behaviour towards the match officials" at half-time during Saturday's match against Portsmouth.

The Arsenal manager, who has until 5 January to respond, said he would fight the charge. After the match he had said: "It didn't disturb me and I don't expect to be banned. Do you want me sent to jail?"

Wenger, who was sent from the technical area for the second half and could receive a touchline ban, said yesterday: "[In the past] I have said I was wrong, that I regretted what I did and I accepted the punishment. What happened on Saturday was different. I didn't lose my cool. I will not accept any charge on that incident. I feel that strongly about it. I find it quite scandalous, considering what I have seen in the corridors the last 10 years.

"I think I am big enough to say when I am wrong and big enough to accept it, but on this incident I don't accept what happened. I was amazed I was banned from the touchline."

The offence came just 48 hours after he had been "warned as to his future conduct" following the confrontation with Alan Pardew, the former West Ham manager, at Upton Park last month. He was found guilty last Thursday, fined £10,000, and severely censured.

After Saturday's match Wenger denied swearing at the referee Steve Bennett, or his linesmen, Glenn Turner, who officiated at the World Cup, and Robert Lewis. Bennett was yesterday reported as saying Wenger had been dismissed "for insulting and abusive language to an assistant referee as we left the pitch at half-time".

The Football Association may decide he compounded his offence by continuing to manage the team, a technical breach of the dismissal. He gave the half-time team-talk then, from a seat in the stand near the dug-out, decided the match-changing introduction of Emmanuel Adebayor as substitute.

Several managers and coaches have been penalised this season for breaches of FA Rule E3 (1). Four, Steve Thompson, Notts County's manager, Leroy Rosenior, the former Brentford manager, Steve Brown, assistant manager at Wycombe, and Nigel Pearson, the former West Brom coach, received bans, two games for the managers and one game for the coaches.