Wenger denies gunning for Ruddock in appeal to FA

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The Independent Online

ARSENE WENGER said yesterday that it was not his intention to land West Ham defender Neil Ruddock with a Football Association disciplinary charge, after Arsenal presented evidence of "extreme provocation" to the disciplinary tribunal that gave Patrick Vieira a six-match ban.

ARSENE WENGER said yesterday that it was not his intention to land West Ham defender Neil Ruddock with a Football Association disciplinary charge, after Arsenal presented evidence of "extreme provocation" to the disciplinary tribunal that gave Patrick Vieira a six-match ban.

Four games of that suspension are for Vieira spitting at Ruddock in the fracas that followed the French international's sending off at Upton Park earlier this month and Wenger subsequently said he wanted "the provocateurs judged in the same way as the players they provoke".

But the Highbury manager said: "We went to the FA hearing to defend Patrick, not to attack Ruddock. We just wanted to show the provocation Patrick had to put up with even though we accept, and he accepts, that his reaction was wrong."

Vieira has claimed that Ruddock called him, among other things, "a French prat". Also presented was an extract from a subsequent TV interview in which Ruddock said Vieira's spitting attack "missed me but it was close enough to smell the garlic on his breath."

The FA has announced it will investigate those comments but Wenger admitted: "What he said in the interview was only minor. I am a Frenchman and I don't like garlic. You can call me a French so-and-so and I don't think that is racial."

David Ginola rejected claims from Kaiserslautern yesterday that he took a dive during Tottenham's Uefa Cup victory over the Germans on Thursday.

The Frenchman won a 33rd-minute penalty that proved the difference between the two sides at White Hart Lane. Goalkeeper Andreas Reinke sent Ginola sprawling and Steffen Iversen scored from the spot to give Spurs a 1-0 advantage for next Thursday's return leg.

Ginola, however, maintained that Reinke needlessly brought him down when the ball was going out of play: "It is always the same. I ran on to the ball and I knew it was going out but the keeper was late and made a mistake.

"People are always speculating about whether I dive or not but I don't really care... I don't think that talking about me diving is the right thing at all because I do so many more enjoyable things."

Steve McManaman has suffered an injury relapse 15 days before the first leg of England's European Championship play-off with Scotland. The 27-year-old Real Madrid winger will miss tonight's Spanish League derby against Atletico Madrid after a fitness test showed that he had not yet fully recovered from his groin strain.

Michael Oakes has joined Wolverhampton Wanderers for £400,000 from Aston Villa and will be in the squad for tomorrow's derby at West Bromwich Albion. The fee will rise to £500,000 based on the number of appearances the keeper, who is 26 today, makes for Wolves.

Bristol City, meanwhile, have also moved to strengthen their squad, and have agreed a £1.5m fee with Nottingham Forest for their 22-year-old Canadian left-back Jim Brennan

Osvaldo Ardiles has been sacked by Croatia Zagreb after a run of poor results in the Champions' League, culminated in Wednesday's 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester United. Ardiles, who joined Zagreb last June, will be replaced by his assistant Marijan Vlak, the club's former goalkeeper.

Huddersfield Town have signed Ken Monkou, who has been on loan at the McAlpine Stadium this season, on a permanent basis. The 34-year-old former Southampton defender has signed an 18-month contract.

The Newcastle United goalkeeper Shay Given has been ruled out of the Republic of Ireland squad for next month's European Championship play-off games with Turkey. Given suffered a wrist injury in the Magpies' victory over Derby County on Monday night.

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