The pre Reading game press conference is almost about anything else but the Reading game.

The pre Reading game press conference is almost about anything else but the Reading game.

At least Arsene’s intelligence and humour always shines through.

By Cameron Wolfe.

Through the last sixteen years Arsene has been asked thousand upon thousands of questions from the press. As far as I can remember he’s never shirked away from any of them.

Not like SAF who famously banished the BBC for seven years from Old Trafford over a programme about his son he didn’t like.

When I followed Dundee United the then chairman Jim Mclean punched a journalist for asking him a question that he’d previously told him not to ask.

Many managers over the years have imploded on screen or just walked out of the interview.

I can’t imagine Arsene reacting in such a way.

So just in case you don’t watch any of his interviews. Here’s his latest one. As usual he’s asked some hard questions and he never shirks away from answering them.

The questions were asked by several different journalists (J1, J2, J3 etc. denotes questions from different journalists) some with their own agendas.

Friday the 14th of December 2012:

Question 1:  It’s been a tough week for Arsenal in many ways. What’s been the mood in the camp on the back of the Bradford defeat?

Arsene Wenger: Disappointment and frustration. That is normal when you go out of a competition like that. We can only look at ourselves for going out of the competition like that but we can only get on with it and look to the future.

Q 1: Arsenal has had difficult spells in the past. You’ve had difficult spells in the past.  Is your experience vital at times like this?

A.W: experience of course is vital. Having said that in the last sixteen years it’s the first time we’ve gone out against lower a division. Like in any cup competition it’s one time too many but if you look at our record in this competition it shows you we have been consistent.  We have always been focused on the competition and we prepared for it seriously. I don’t believe there’s much more to say about it. We have to swallow that. We now have to look to the future. We shouldn’t be judged how well we do not in the capital one cup but how we do in the league, the champions league and the FA cup. For the rest there is nothing to add.

Q 1: Team news concerning the game at Reading on Monday night?

A.W: It’s difficult as some players are still not practising, so it’s difficult to say who will be playing or not. Koscielny is coming to the group today. Walcott we don’t know.

Q 1: And Giroud?

A.W Giroud is back.

Q 1: And finally your thoughts on Reading? It’s been a difficult time for them this season?

A.W: They deserve a lot of credit. They came up last year for me surprisingly and they’re making it difficult for every team.  So we’re expecting another battle but away from Home our results have been quite consistent and good. We now have two away games. We had a good game against WBA and it’s now time to confirm in our next away game.

Q 2: As far as difficult weeks go. How does this one rate in terms of your time at Arsenal?

A.W: I don’t think about that situation that way.

Q2: When clubs go through a difficult period. Reports often emerge of disharmony in the camp. Could you describe your relationship with Steve Bould? How would you describe it?

A.W: We are a united staff team. Unfortunately we cannot control the lies that are written in the newspapers. I believe it’s a good opportunity to show people that we are strong inside the club and let people talk. We are criticised when results are not good. We have to take that on the chin. That we have to face lots of lies is less acceptable.

Q2: How long do you think it will take the players to get over what happened at Bradford on Tuesday?

A.W: Well. We are top professional people and what is important is what happens tomorrow, not what happened yesterday. We are sorry for that but what is important is the next game.

Q2: Do you think that the defeat could have any impact on the discussions with Theo Walcott on a new contract? What’s the latest on that?

A.W: Honestly I don’t always understand your way your thinking. I cannot see that.

J2: Well it’s a competition you’re out of. It’s a competition you can’t win that’s why I was thinking that.

A.W: How should being out of the Capital One cup have an impact on the desire of a player to be part of the long term future of the club?

J2: So you believe that Theo will be part of the long term future here?

A.W: I believe so. Yes.

J2: How much do you think the squad needs strengthening in the transfer window?

A.W: The squad just needs to focus on the next game. Today I will certainly not talk about transfers or targets. We have a strong squad. I believe I have a very strong team. It’s down to us to prove me right.

J2: Ivan Gazidis has often talked about the long term plan here at Arsenal. From your point of view must be very gratifying. Is that long term plan still in very much in place as far as your concerned?

A.W: It depends what you call long term.

J2: well in terms of bringing players through, winning trophies and contending for them.

A.W: Look we have brought more players through. I read somewhere that if you look at the players who started at the top level at Arsenal football club in the last fifteen years we have been more together than all the other clubs together in the Champions league. I don’t know where you get your statistics from but you should check them.

J2: Martin O’Neil was asked if he was still the right man for the job at Sunderland. Would you say you’re still the right man for the job here Arsene?

J2: I have already answered this question. Let’s not become parrotic. (Is that a word? It is now)

J2: One last question from me. Do you still have faith in Uefa after the punishments they handed out in the light of what happened in Serbia?

A.W I don’t know well enough the rules. I always stood up against racism and I continue to do that but I don’t know well enough the rules and whether the punishment is harsh enough or not. That is down to the FA to combat that with Uefa.

J3: There seems to be a lot of speculation about whether Thierry Henry is coming back in January. Can you tell us anything about that?

A.W No.  (Class)

J3: No. So you don’t see him being here?

A.W: No. I can’t tell you anything about it because nothing has happened. (So. Again that’s a no then)

J3: Does all the speculation surrounding Theo Walcott undermine what’s going on at the club? I mean it’s in the papers and on the radio and the TV all the time?

A.W:  At least it keeps the papers busy.

J3: One other point. There’s talk of netting. Of putting netting up to stop what’s happening to Rio Ferdinand. Happening again. What are your thoughts?

A.W: I am completely against it. I’ve always thought one of the charms of the English game is the atmosphere and you can shake the hand of the supporter if you take a corner. That looks slowly to disappear. The security rules have changed and that alters that. Minimum distance between the pitch and the first supporter is 9m (Who knows stuff like this?). So I believe it is already big. What we need to control is people’s behaviour and encourage them to be fair with everybody. Be respectful. It’s a big job to do in England. You don’t want to kill the atmosphere or the closeness of people to the team.

J4: Is there any update on Abu Diaby’s fitness?

A.W: He’s slow progress.

J4: How long do you think he’ll be?

A.W: I cannot fix you any date. We are a bit in no man’s land on that front. He’s working and we’re waiting for him to come back but he’s not ready.

J5: Do you think he’ll play any part over Christmas?

A.W: Over Christmas? Certainly not.

J5: Have you spoke to Stan Kroenke recently?

A.W: No.

J5: Are there times like this that when you’re going through a bit of a difficult period that you wish he was a bit more vocal?  Because it seems like you’re the one that takes all the flack?

A.W: I’m here for that and you do that very well. (Arsene smiles and the other journalists laugh)

J5: But would you not rather have an owner who’s happy to come out and talk about the direction of the club or give you more public support?

A.W: The direction of the club is fixed by me on the footballing front and when the football doesn’t work you don’t expect Stan Kroenke to intervene it’s down to me. It’s my job to do that.

J5: You feel internally though. He gives you all the support eh needs?

A.W: Yes of course. The only way to give you support is to leave you and let you work and do your job.

J6: Arsene. You’re still able to give us a smile and still be very positive about things but with everything that’s been going on recently, sometimes do you sit back and think, “You know what. Do I really need this? Do I really deserve all this?” You said you take all the flack but everybody’s been saying coming on the TV and the radio and saying this is what Arsene Wenger should do. This is what he should do.

A.W: My job is to be determined and to give importance to what is important. What is important is that I love football and I love this club and I give my best for this club. For the rest I cannot interfere with that but believe me I am highly focused on doing that. All the rest. It doesn’t interfere with my thinking. AT ALL.

J6: So you’re still as hungry now and determined?

A.W: I am very determined and very hungry. If I wouldn’t be I wouldn’t sit in front of you.

J6: Do you think that……… There’s been some suggestions that Arsenal needs a change of direction a change of voice. Can you understand that when someone’s been here so long at the club that people think that the memory of Arsenal now in the last fifteen years is just Arsene Wenger and what you’ve done with Arsenal?

A.W: Well I can understand that people criticise when results are not what’s expected. It looks like it’s become the modern way to think. I believe that somewhere sixteen years can be a handicap it can be as well an advantage you know? Because you have experience. You love the club because if I sit here it’s because I have already shown how much I love the club and as well we have come through difficult periods before and you know how to turn it around.

J7: Arsene when you look around the dressing room and you see. You look at your players do you see the belief that you get back from them is that what gives you the hunger for you carry on?

A.W: I believe that I have a strong team and if the moment you look at the season. We have not produced our performances at home. Away from home our performances are in the same bracket as the two top teams. Where we have lost the points is we have made too many draws at home. Man. U are top of the league with six points ahead and they’ve lost three games we’ve lost four but we’ve made more draws especially at home. That’s where we’ve lost the points.

J7: Could you see the hurt in the player. Everyone’s having a go at you but could you see the hurt in the players after the result the other night?

A.W: Yes. This team cares; it’s serious and it wants to do well. I don’t question the spirit of the team.


Living in North America I definitely don’t read the British tabloids. In fact even when I lived there I wasn’t a huge fan of them. More gossip than fact. The journalists in this interview had their own agenda. Especially the second one who he seemed to me to be trying to evoke a reaction from Arsene. By focusing on the alleged Steve Bould rift.

I personally think Arsene is still focused on doing the very best for Arsenal. He’s under a huge amount of pressure to deliver results on a weekly basis but as he rightly points out. That’s his job.

As far as I’m concerned he’s doing exactly what he’s charged to do. Get the best out of the current team as he can.

Whether or not every fan believes that is another thing. The most important fact is that the manager believes in his team and wants them to win every game. Just like every other fan.



The books…

The sites…

36 Replies to “The pre Reading game press conference is almost about anything else but the Reading game.”

  1. Its clear the media have an agenda and have tried to vilify Wenger in recent weeks/months. They have even suggested he has deliberately tried to alienate the team from the fans. The media are constantly on his back and look to sensationalise every piece of Arsenal news. It beggars belief.
    One comment from the Wolfe that I don’t agree with. That being
    – ‘As far as I’m concerned he’s doing exactly what he’s charged to do. Get the best out of the current team as he can.’. If Wenger is getting the best out of this team then Arsenal really are in trouble. In my opinion (which you should know is far more important than anybody else’s) Arsenal are playing well below par. Players are played out of position, defending is still highly suspect and there still seems to be no plan B when plan A isn’t working. Do you really believe Gervinho is playing at his best? If that is the case then why did Wenger pay £8m for him?

  2. It was a good interview. I like his different responses to the different journalist, he knows which ones are trying to lead him and which ones are asking genuine questions.

    I think Wenger brings extra critisism on himself sometimes because he always takes the responsibility for the whole team. He very very rarely will talk about a player negatively even when they have missed sitters and had a stinker. He re-directs critisism that would normally be directed at players onto something else – grass, referees, fixture lists etc. This annoys a lot of fans and puts more pressure on Wenger but I personally think it is very good. Many managers are quick to publicly blame players for mistakes or a loss, this can’t be good for morale.

  3. @ Dan, would you entertain the idea that that type of philosophy of constantly protecting players (well paid professional men) may even remotely lead to a lack of accountability/consequences, lack of motivation and complacency?

    Perhaps when players know they are consequences for “failure”, it may motivate them to work that much harder and do that much better?

    The other day Evra came out and said that if they fail again like last year (mind you “fail” meant losing the title on GD) that Ferguson will sack everyone of them (yes hyperbole but the undertones were clear), and that has the team (UTD) motivated to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    Do you think transferring blame to things like “grass, fixture lists and tiredness (which all other big clubs have to endure) etc etc” could possibly result in players being complacent because of the excuses offered for poor performances?

    I’m not sure Wenger’s protecting and in my opinion molly coddling of players has the desired motivational effects.

    It was different when his successful teams were littered with players who had won all sorts of things before working with him at AFC, and very experienced players before working under Wenger, and thus (imo) had nous and know-how already ingrained in them to pull their finger out and get things done. But I’m not so sure it helps with these generally in comparison much younger players of recent seasons, and players who haven’t won much (and are paid on potential as opposed to proven) before in comparison to the players of his successful teams.

    Just some things to consider.

  4. @ A. Stewart,

    I see your point, but no I don’t think it breeds complacency. There’s something to be said for Ferguson’s approach, but I doubt that the players believe that they would be sacked if they didn’t win the league title. I doubt that the board and owners at Manu U would allow him to do that, anyway.

    It may be that Ferguson wasn’t thinking of just the league, but perhaps primarily of not getting past the Champions League group stages last season, which he probably found quite humiliating.

  5. Nice one Cameron, as you have shown, some of the media have their own agenda, as does the commenter above me.
    maybe a job opportuniy for you A.Stewart.

  6. @ M. Staley, of course the “sacked” was some hyperbole (as I mentioned in my post), but the intent of his approach, and how it was received by his players was, is and always has been clear. I’m just really trying to raise the discussion based on what was said by Dan, about whether Wenger’s soft handed approach (at least publicly) is a good thing.

    And I’m not endorsing the Ferguson approach as the only good motivational tool, but the Wenger protectionism approach to me increasingly doesn’t seem to be working (especially as he has less experienced previous winners as he once did), and maybe he could demand a bit more publicly from his players, and place the blame at our performances a bit more than at external factors such as the schedule (which others have to endure), pitches and the like.

    I think a lot of gooners no matter which side of the Wenger debate they lay, have seen that effort and motivation etc has dwindled in recent years.

    I’d say in almost all of our daily jobs there are consequences for poor performance, and that in itself serves as a motivational tool to avoid said negative consequences (regardless of if we love the job or not). If we had bosses who excused all of our poor work, didn’t readily contemplate bringing in other employees as replacements if we continued to work shoddily and didn’t give high effort, and yet were seemingly ready to give us salary increases and prolonged job security, I think it would lead to a tad bit of complacency.

    And while a lot of footballers are young, to me these are highly and handsomely paid professional men, and don’t need to be as protected as Wenger seems to offer imo. And if they wilt away without such protection, scrutiny, or with a more heavy handed approach, then perhaps they don’t have the requisite mental strength needed to succeed at the highest level in the first place.

    I’ve also never thought this whole “father figure” role that Wenger often portrays is necessarily a good thing. I think being too emotionally invested in a player like a parent removes some of the objectivity (and ruthlessness)needed to thrive as a professional football manager (especially in the modern game at the highest level). I’m a parent, and like most when it comes to our children we more often than not desire to see them succeed at all costs and will afford them countless chances to do so out of pure love, and generally take exception to them be criticized. I struggle to think if that’s the best approach for the cut throat world of top level professional football.

    Anyway this is way off topic, thanks for the debate and seeing where I was trying to go with my points.

    Back on topic….I think it will be a hard fought 3-1 AFC victory today, with two of our goals coming in the last 10.

    @ Adam, no thanks I’m happy with my job. Erm, yes Media have an agenda, unless it’s a match report, they should. Not sure what’s wrong with that. And yes I had a clear agenda in what I wrote, which was to provoke thought and discussion as to whether the seemingly soft approach of Wenger towards his players is the best approach currently for our club and current players to motivate them. Not sure what is wrong wrong with my clear agenda and questions either? The end game of my agenda is trying to think about what is ultimately better for the Arsenal Football Club, and that sometimes include questioning and thinking if our current approaches need adjustment.

  7. The Media shouldn’t have any vested interest in just “supporting” Wenger or another manager etc. They in the opinion format, exist to ask difficult questions (especially when there are problems), find answers, and yes to sell their product, and courting controversy helps in doing that. I’m really struggling to find why that is not to be expected, and why that’s a problem, things aren’t all rosy at AFC these days (they aren’t all gloomy either I’ll admit) and the Media as a result if they are worth their salt, should ask tough questions, should have agendas, should try to sell their product. They are not supporters and don’t have to give the manager the benefit of the doubt.

    I see nothing outrageous about any of the questions asked in the original post above.

  8. A. Stewart,
    I think there are two Wengers.
    The one that defends his players to the outside world and the one that will have a go at them in private.

    The Bradord defeat to the outside world he took it rather calm. But according to Bradford players they could hear Wenger shout in to their own dressing room. But to the outside world he defended his players.

    I do think that is the best way of working to be honest but I’m not a sports psychologist but I think he will know what he is doing. He has always worked like that with his successful teams as with this team. Remember how he never criticised Vieira, or even TH for not scoring our second goal in the CL final? Well no in public anyway.

  9. @A.Stewart, my apologies, I thought you was being argumentative. The point to these compulsory interviews is for the managers to inform the media of team preparations for the coming game, the media use these moments to push club issues.
    Its not intelligent reporting its more sh*t stirring, If these reporters really cared about the game they would be reporting on more important issues than individual clubs.

    Maybe football clubs have contributed to this form of journalism due to te closed nature of football?

  10. @ Walter, I completely agree with you regarding Wenger’s approach.
    It seems a bit connected to ‘The Godfather’ that the family matters must stay inside the family only & everything must appear to be calm from the outside.
    Furthermore, I can’t imagine the ways in which media would have twisted his statements if he would have singled out any player for the defeat.

  11. I do think that if Wenger would have a go in public on one player the moaners would go crazy on that player and he would be done with forever. I do think Wenger will keep that in mind before ever having a go in public on a player.

  12. As always class is permanent and form is temporary do the AAA asses know that?? From today onwards put it in your little bums and shitty dreams ha ha ha ha ha ha haha.

  13. Very enjoyable match.

    This is why I love to watch Arsenal.

    We have Arsene Wenger to thank for this wonderful, passing, flowing football.

    And today we had great goals as well.

    And a fully deserved hat trick for Santi Cazorla.

  14. I don’t know Walter, if Wenger has a go at a player in public the AAA would probably decide he was the best player in the team and Wenger was wrong to do it etc.

    Maybe he should have a go at Ramsey to get them off his back 😉

  15. I love the SPEED of thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis game (our game)!!!!!! Btw, thanks Cameron for the article.

  16. Yes, thanks for the article, Cameron. I enjoyed seeing the press conference, and it was good to read the text. I love the way Arsene Wenger deals with the press.

  17. Good article, I agree the press tried to concentrate on any possible negativity and that, as usual, AW was far too clever for them. Wenger is such a gentleman esp when compared with the “gentlemen” of the press.

  18. @bjtgooner
    Yes he is far too clever for them and that is probably why they have it in for him. Of course him being French as well as intellectualy superior into the bargain must make it unbearable for them.

  19. Another nice gem , Cameron , thanks for the same.Le Prof is very articulate and sharp and to his credit doesn’t seem to take offence at the crap they throw at him .
    Instead he steers the interview to pertinent matters and if the said reporter persists in his pursuit ,he’s often made look silly with a sharp but funny rebuke.

  20. As for the new word ” parrotic ” added by Le Prof to the English language ,it reminded me of an old parrot /medical joke I read in a very funny comic strip about 30 years ago ,and which site I just found –
    Save this one and enjoy at leasure – I sure will !
    In future I ‘ll be using this website’s strips to “add’ to my arguments/comments !

  21. @Mick I’ve no idea why him being French makes it unbearable for journalists. Exactly how do you now he’s intellectually superior? In recent years Wenger’s had a very good relationship with the press, and his being French was never an issue. Only in the last two seasons has there been growing doubts about his abilities and only in some sections of the press.

    The questions asked where fairly standard and I imagine Wenger is quite used to dealing with them. It hardly needs a genius to fend off the more determined journalists. Whether they should be asked in that particular environment, that is during a press conference held in regard to the forthcoming match, is another issue. But because Wenger has always embraced the press I think most journalists enjoy engaging in debate with him.

    Wenger may have become a little more terse with the press but I think that’s due to his frustrations with some of the team’s performances. The sharp, incisive football that could be seen against Reading is more of a rarity than a common occurrence these days.

    If Arsenal can replicate last night’s performance against stronger teams and are a little more parsimonious at the back then better results should follow.

  22. You have to doubt if Ruptwerp has anything good to say about Arsenal or even Arsene himself. EVER!
    Everytime I read his comments it’s just Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah.
    There’s a guy who know doubt loves the sound of his own voice or seeing his big words in print.
    I thought last night’s game was exactly what we needed after last week. We put them to the sword. Had all the best chances. Their keeper kept them in the game and without him it could easliy have been more. Even double figures.
    Keep it up Ruptwerp love the negativity. You could easily be a football journalist for the Sun?
    Ruptwerp. AAA member anyone?

  23. As I’m following this thread I now realize how intellectually superior all of us are just for being Arsenal supporters.

  24. @St.Albans Gooner, Ruptwerp, that’s so funny. I expect your comic genius is an asset at every party. I seriously found it hard to respond for maybe 5 seconds I was laughing so hard. Oh my sides, they’re splitting, get me some tape!

    Strange how I actually praised the team and people who obviously have some difficulty in reading and comprehending what is written are still being abusive.

    I guess that’s their default setting in life.

  25. If there is one thing that can unite Arsenal fans its the sick British football media.

    Wenger answered these questions with class and frankly the reporters were made to look like fools. Bravo for that.

    I hope that with the turmoil in the British press over the past couple of years, the attention turns to sports ‘journalism’ which is littered with biased, vindictive, spiteful prats. I think a few law suits against them for printing lies would be welcomed by most football fans.

  26. Rupert, i gernerally get the feeling that the media, espeically the ex-pros hove a general dislike of foreign managers despite what some have given, look at how AVB was villified at the Chavs, and was at the start of the season, now look at the table, Benitez was another one, look how Liverpool have done since he left and got ‘British’ managers in. Compare that to the endless slack given to utter clowns like Bruce & Hughes and there still sadly the ‘little engalnder’ attitude around.

  27. @the mickster, I think you’ve got a point. I always thought that Wenger had a good relationship with the press, most of it anyway, and only in the last two seasons things have grown ugly.

    But yes very true about Benitez and AVB, although RDM had a lot of press sympathy after his crazy sacking at Chelsea.

    What I can’t stand is the fawning over Redknapp. I’ll be quite happy to see him stumble at QPR.

  28. A. Stewart
    It wouldn’t actually motivate me to be told do this or get sacked, it’s a team effort and everyone needs to play their part.

  29. Reading the responses from Mr Wenger makes you realise how integrated his life is with football. It’s as though the two are intertwined and dependent on one another. The guy knows in an instant factual information about every competitor, about all the other divisions and leagues both in the UK, Europe and beyond. That he can (without requiring reference) tell you how many games other teams have won, lost and drawn and break that down into home and away is astounding and shows just how focused he is.

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