Wenger demands an end to the 'witch hunt' of 'mature' Fabregas

Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, yesterday defended his captain Cesc Fabregas against recent criticism of his behaviour and said that he was "fantastically proud of the person he [Fabregas] has become". Wenger added that he thought the Spanish midfielder was currently the subject of a "witch hunt".

In the aftermath of his side's 2-1 defeat to Arsenal on Tuesday, the Everton manager David Moyes accused Fabregas of making comments to the match officials in the tunnel at half-time that "warranted a sending-off". This followed claims by several Huddersfield players over his unwillingness to exchange shirts with them after the two sides' FA Cup tie on Sunday.

However, Wenger claimed yesterday that there had been a "witch hunt" against Fabregas, and he endorsed the player's conduct against Huddersfield. "I hope he will not exchange shirts with players who try to kick him for 90 minutes and then come to say 'Please can I get your shirt?'" Wenger said. "I think that is a normal and natural reaction."

The Arsenal manager believes that Fabregas routinely receives not only unfair criticism but also unfair treatment from opponents. His response to such bad tackles has impressed Wenger. "I'm always surprised," he said, "that we do not pick up on people who run behind him and just kick him. They get away with it and he [Fabregas] is accused of something; it cannot be right if you love football. He gets a rough ride in every single game. I'm fantastically proud of the person he has become. And of his maturity."

When asked what recent incidents reveal about Fabregas's attitude, Wenger said that his captain was a "winner". "He wants to win and he always plays on the limit of motivation, of desire and a little bit of what could be looked at as anger, but I think he is a winner. This guy is a winner so when he goes on a football pitch, he wants to win."

Regarding what was alleged to have been said to referee Lee Mason in the Emirates Stadium tunnel on Tuesday, Wenger rejected Moyes' version of events. "I was with the referee and if I was not with the referee I would not tell you that he said nothing to the referee," he said. "And that's why I'm adamant that he did not talk to the referee at all, unless it was on the football pitch. And then I do not see how Moyes can see it."

The French manager did argue, though, that there should more tolerance for comments that players make to officials during games, particularly given the tougher scrutiny brought to bear by technology. "It is difficult in the modern game", he argued, "you want somebody to give absolutely everything in every single game, to be highly motivated, to be ready to die, and as well to be politically correct.

"You have today the example of Gary Neville; fantastic player, fantastic career. You think he has never been heard talking in the tunnel? You have to be normal, and to have a little bit of tolerance as well with what is happening in the tunnel.

"Everything is filmed, everything is recorded, when you go out from the dressing room until you go out on the pitch, but that's not football any more. When I go on Sunday for a walk, I see football playing in the park, if you record what is said there, I tell you you can make an article every day in every newspaper for everybody who is on the football pitch. It's part of football to be a little bit free to talk."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence