By his standards it was a spectacular outburst from Arsene Wenger in an expletive embellished response to a trite enquiry from a reporter. It was a particularly incongruous question about Walcott`s prospects of making the England squad for a World Cup competition still over 6 months away that caused the usually more disciplined Arsenal manager to react a little indignantly at a press conference prior to the Champions league game against Liege this week.
“For me, the big season is with Arsenal, not at the World Cup,” he said “We do not pay players to go to the World Cup, we pay the players to do well for Arsenal,” adding for good measure “The first pride of a man is to do well for the guy who pays you in life, not to go to the World Cup.”
His frustrations may have appeared at the time to have had something to do with injuries that international football had fashioned for his squad. However, a report today suggests that his mood may have been affected by an apparently not altogether successful attempt to counsel our Russian forward Andrey Arshavin seemingly distraught at missing out on the tournament in South Africa next year.
Speaking after the game Andrey told a Russian newspaper “When Arsene Wenger asked me how I was feeling I honestly said that I just did not want to play football. He spoke to me, advised to switch to new things but it does not help at the moment.”
It appears that Wenger had to work quite hard to persuade Arshavin to play against Liege as the reporter was told “I need to turn my attention to the club`s matters, to the Champions League but it is easily said but not easily done. At the moment nothing spurs me to life.”
Having turned out his mood probably wouldn`t have improved by being laid out twice in the first half. Firstly by a Vermaelen thunderbolt which was later followed by Gallas`s head leaving Arshavin needing to have a head wound stapled together. To be fair though he came out for the second half and completed the 90 minutes without giving any obvious sign of a lack of effort.
At first call this sounds a little self indulgent for a professional footballer. The fact that this interview was given to a Russian sports journal and for the most part was levelled at some disparaging comments in the Russian media suggesting he and other players had been out drinking prior to the game probably explains more. In context it could be understood that he was trying to tell Russian supporters that he felt their pain in the failure to qualify. Then again Wenger`s mood prior to the Liege game might be partially due to the frustration of dealing with the mindset of one of his more mature players.
Getting the best out of any player first requires that player to have an ambition to play, a desire to win, to have something to prove. No doubt Wenger will want to be sure Andrey is in the right frame of mind to put in a performance this weekend before selecting him. And if he hasn`t done so already he should be telling him that there is only one thing to do when a dream dies – get yourself another one – fast!
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