There is a little bit of a theme on a few websites of renown at the moment. The theme, specifically, is that Arsene Wenger is guilty of inappropriately speaking out against Stoke City. Quite how this constitutes a breaking of a rule, strictly speaking, is a little beyond me but understanding that many of the rules which concern our beautiful game are as ambiguous as politicians I am hardly surprised the claim against Wenger is made.
I can appreciate that what Wenger said was inaccurate. That is quite obvious. Our Frenchman claimed that Ryan Shawcross kicked Gomes, the Tottenham goalkeeper, when in fact it was quite obvious he didn’t. Beyond a trivial lie, however, I can’t quite figure out what people want to charge Wenger for. More so, what do people expect to happen? A trivial fine, which will head to the coffers of the Premiership or FA, at worst / best.
Stoke, indeed, might believe they have been dealt a low blow, Wenger said that what Stoke play ”can’t be called football any more, it is rugby”, but is the accusation really so dreadful that some type of action is needed? Perhaps a quiet word between the directors would suffice, or even Tony Pulis and Arsene Wenger, next time the two clubs face each other, perhaps even an apology or two from Wenger to the Stoke manager and Shawcross. That would seem appropriate. Stoke would maintain the high ground and the issue would be put to bed. Stoke, however, chose a different route. They demanded public retribution. An official apology from Arsenal was wanted. Apparently, we, and by we I obviously mean Arsene Wenger, are unwilling to do that. I ended up on both sides of the bed. Stoke City are clearly in the right, Wenger did lie about Shawcross and his comments about the way Stoke play were somewhat unnecessary, however Stoke chose to make a an olive tree out of a pip. It was never going to become such a big thing until they decided to turn it into one. I pondered if Tony Pulis was playing a game of double bluff, highlighting the charge against his team to their detriment in the short term but to their benefit in the long (referee’s might see they don’t actually play rugby and perhaps be a little more lenient), however I imagined it was just a case of him galvanising his players and developing one of those cliché ‘us against the world’ mentalities.
Wenger, however, has played this one badly. It is now in everybody’s mind that he is a liar and a moaner, although the latter was already well established. These types of things, especially the accusations against referee’s, often come back to bite. The lesson learned? Wenger needs to stay out of Stoke’s business and Stoke football club ought to be a little less sensitive.