clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Arsene Wenger gets harassed by a journalist with an agenda

New, comments

Ambushed at today's press conference, Arsene Wenger explodes, and the journalist got exactly what he wanted

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger's routine pre-match press conference took an unusual turn today, with the boss getting grilled repeatedly from a journalist in attendance regarding his decision to start David Ospina in goal over Petr Cech in this week's Champions League's loss at home to Olympiacos.

Wenger stood firm in his belief, in the face of continual questioning about why he made the goalkeeping decision he did earlier this week, and refused to divulge additional information regarding the reasoning behind the Ospina start. Perhaps feeling a bit 'back against the wall', Wenger finally snapped when the same journalist brought up Jose Mourinho's past comments about there only being one manager - Wenger - who doesn't feel any pressure to win:

Journalist: With regards to the fall-out, you said after the game that there were things we didn’t know and chose to ignore. What were they?

Wenger: "Look I don’t want to come back on that. All that’s been said in the press conference. I don’t change a word of what I said. Looking at Ospina and Petr Cech I think I have two world-class goals and it’s the easiest choice I have to make because I can pick any of the two and I am very comfortable. It’s the most difficult as well because both are two world-class players and always you have to leave one out."

Journalist: But you said we ignored things, what did we ignore?

Wenger: "Like I don’t know anything that you do in your job. You make decisions and you have more information than I have and it’s exactly the same in my job. "You come to the came and assess. Was I right or wrong. I never criticize that. I accept your judgment of how the team played and your assessment. But I don’t have to give you all the information regarding my decisions."

Journalist: That’s fair enough. When you look back upon the summer, you only made one signing and felt that was enough to improve the squad. Then when the big games come around, you don’t use the player you signed. The fans were frustrated about the team selection. Do you understand that?

Wenger:  "No. I don’t understand that at all."

Journalist: Why?

Wenger: "I make the decision I think is right for the game."

Journalist: After the game, you said you weren’t accountable for your selection. Do you think you should be accountable or not?

Wenger: "I am accountable on the results of my team and the way they play football."

Journalist: After the game, you said you weren’t accountable for your selection. Do you think you should be accountable or not?

Wenger: "I am accountable on the results of my team and the way they play football."

Journalist: Do you think you should be more accountable to the fans on selection?

Wenger: "I just gave you the answer."

Journalist: If you are not accountable in that way, does that not make Jose Mourinho when he says there’s only one manager who is not under pressure?

Wenger: "Look, stop that story or we stop the press conference."

My opinion regarding the goalkeeping decision made earlier this week, that Cech should have started over Ospina, echos many others' opinions as well. Including journalists and pundits. And I do think there needs to be some sort of questioning to Wenger over his decision today.

That said, there's a line where questioning can suddenly turn into hostile badgering. Maybe this journalist watched a fictional crime drama the night before and saw the show's lead detective break down a criminal suspect in getting the satisfactory information they wanted, but there was absolutely no reason, whatsoever, to continue down a pre-determined line of questioning and assumption like this guy did.

Wenger decided he wasn't going to answer the initial question regarding the Ospina-Cech decision - he even said so after the very first inquiry - and he predictably lost his cool after the journalist wouldn't drop the subject. The problem isn't that Wenger held firm in his belief that he isn't responsible for going into detail about past squad decisions he's made, it's that the journalist succeeded in what he set out for. That is, to get Wenger to react to his incessant behavior and questioning. After all, he knows there's a new story to be had when a manager finally shows a side few in the public have previously seen.

The narratives being drawn up after this press conference will be one that turns Wenger into a raging boss who's channeling his frustrations at the two Champions League defeats towards an innocent third party, but that would be inaccurate and false.

This sort of behavior and attitude from journalists is extremely unfair, and one part of many different components of mainstream media that's lacking and doing a massive disservice to fans and observers of the sport.