Wenger slams 'lie targeted to hurt'
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has hit out at what he claims are unsubstantiated “lies” aimed at unsettling his team.
The Gunners boss made the comments in an animated press conference on the eve of his side’s Champions League showdown at home to Bayern Munich tonight and just a few days after they crashed out of the FA Cup at home to npower Championship Blackburn.
Reports yesterday suggested that despite Arsenal facing up to what could be an eighth season without a trophy, negotiations had already started with Wenger over a new deal, with his current one set to expire in the summer of 2014.
However, Wenger, 63, went on the offensive at his pre-match media briefing this, looking to set the record straight in what at times were heated exchanges with journalists.
“I have been here for 16 years, I deserve at least that you check information with me before you write it,” the Arsenal manager told reporters in an off-camera session.
“Why does it (contract story) just come out when we lose a big game? You think I am so naive that I don’t see what is behind that? You think I am a complete idiot?
“The lie is targeted to hurt.
“It is easy to say people are not happy and on top of that say ’he is extending the contract’, that is what I mean. It is the intention behind the lie.”
Wenger, however, insists he does not feel there is a growing agenda against him.
“I don’t take it personally. I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am 30 years in this job and if I was paranoid, you would know it already,” he added.
“I just think that when I worked for 16 years in the country I expect a certain respect.
“You can criticise me and say I am doing a bad job, but manipulative things, when they are wrong, I don’t accept.”
Wenger had wasted little time in knocking down questions about the decline of his team when addressing this afternoon’s official UEFA media conference at the training ground – at one point singling out a reporter and directly asking if he had “given this information out”.
When pressed on the Champions League now being Arsenal’s only hope of ending their long trophy drought, he sarcastically replied: “No, no. I want to lose it, to lose the game tomorrow so you can all be happy.”
Wenger, however, accepts any claims a team humbled by Blackburn, and also dumped out of the Capital One Cup by npower League Two Bradford before Christmas, cannot yet be heralded as potential kings of Europe.
“If I say to you ’we will win it this season’ you will laugh at me because we just lost against Blackburn, but it can happen. Unfortunately in football, it is less predictable than that,” he said.
“In Europe, we have beaten everybody, which is what people forget, and also we are the only team that has gone into a (Champions League) final without conceding a goal.
“Chelsea last season is a good inspiration for us, to show the same resilience and hope, because sometimes the luck goes your way when you have that resilience.”