Wenger admits lying to protect players

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The Independent Online

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits he has protected his players by claiming to not see incidents which he had seen to avoid publicly criticising any member of his team.

Wenger has revealed the sense of loyalty he feels to his players, and admitted it did sometimes stray into being dishonest if he felt it was in their best interests.

Asked if he had ever been economical with the truth, the Frenchman told the Daily Mail: "Yes, because you are thinking, 'Why has he (a player) done that?' and you know you cannot explain it,' Wenger said.

"At times I saw it, and I said I didn't to protect the player, because I could not find any rational explanation to defend him.

"This is a job where you have to have an optimistic view of human nature or you become paranoid. You always have to think that a guy wants to do well.

"A coach is there to help. He must think that if he helps in the correct way the players will respond. You cannot be suspicious."

Wenger also spoke about his long-term project at Arsenal and admitted he would have been "betraying his beliefs" if he had abandoned it to go and work for Real Madrid.

"I want to go to the end of my job here. I built this team, I want to deliver with this team and I feel that if I left I would in some way have betrayed my beliefs," he told The Times.

"It is nothing to do with what Real Madrid have done. I just couldn't see leaving this team at this stage of their development."

Wenger stressed the main objective for him is to create a coherent team, rather than to try and build a side around a handful of key individuals.

"I believe in working in our job, creating connections between the players. I believe in what makes football great," Wenger said.

"It is a team sport, a collective sport. You can win because you are more a team, or because you have more individual talent. What is interesting for me is the team ethic. I love Davis Cup, but I am not a big fan of individual tennis. It is when sport is about the team that I like it. I like the Ryder Cup."

The Frenchman also gave an insight into how football still dominates his life, and drew comparisons between his attitude to the game and the late Sir Bobby Robson, who died last month after a long fight against cancer.

"The worst is to have no target," Wenger added.

"Imagine you get up in the morning and you do nothing. You enjoy one minute. Then there is another minute. But what do you do next? Can you dedicate your whole life to this? Somewhere within us is the desire to feel that we are useful and that we have some quality.

"Sir Bobby Robson just died. Did you see the last game he watched (at St James' Park)? Just a charity game, but still he had that spark in his eye.

"He could have sat at home, yet he chose to go there. He had two, three days to live and that is where he wanted to be. Yet what would he have done at home - sat there and thought about dying, maybe terrified? The way to get through was to enjoy his passion."

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