Date: 16th February 2007 at 10:30pm
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In a season of surprises, Sir Alex Ferguson is the latest to provide a shock to football fans all over the world by sticking up for his arch nemesis Arsene Wenger.

Le Boss has been often criticised for fielding teams made up entirely of non-English players, but his old buddy has defended Wenger’s honour by claiming the English academy system is at fault and not the Arsenal gaffer.

In a time when success, and plenty of it, is key to remaining top of the tree for many years, clubs such as Arsenal & Man Utd can not wait around for the youth systems and academies to catch up with the rest of the world.

Speaking in an interview where questions regarding the lack of English players in our top flight were posed, Fergie stuck up for his old mate.

‘Your obvious slant is towards Arsenal, Arsene Wenger is very strong on French football and African players.’

‘Why should he not take advantage? The problem doesn’t lie with Arsene Wenger, it’s with the system.’

‘When the academies were set up, Howard Wilkinson said England would win the World Cup within 10 years. Well, they have been going eight now and I can’t see it.’

Despite being the Man Utd manager, he is of course correct.


28 Replies to “Fergie Defends Wenger Shocker”

  • Poor Graham Taylor today was bemoaning the fact that 60% of Premiership players where foreign stating that in Italy (a country where football corruption is rife and half the stadiums cannot open) its 27% and thats why they won the World cup. Poor Graham forgot to mention that during his tenure the % of foreign players was 20% during which England were humiliated in Euro 92 (1 goal and no wins) and DIDNT qualify for USA 94. If he keeps on digging like that he’ll be able to tell us how many foreign players ply their trade in Australia!

  • in the interest of competition and achieving the best, by the logic of england number 2 terry vegetables – we should put B class english players into our acadamys over the A class french/spanish/african players etc – why didnt we see this before? thats the way to win! thats how you become the best! you stop playing with people better than you and only play with yourself – makes perfect sense! if i start fights with 8 year old kids and 80 year old grampas and go on a rampage of 30 wins 0 defeats that means at the olympics ill surely win gold for england in the boxing

  • Fergie makes sense, but I WAS suprised that he chose to use Arsene’s name specifically, to make a point. In the short run, it is surely going to have an impact on england coz they will lose out to more talented players from other countries. but in the long run (and im sure academies have been set up keeping the long term in mind), the english players will learn to cope with the competition.

  • don’t be too surprised Prits, it has come to light that they are not at each others throats as much as we all assumed, and i always felt they’d a large respect for each other. After all, they’ve been the two heavyweights for th e past 8 years til maureen and Roman the Russian came along. Fergie probably gets fed up with all the tosh being talked in the press too, about how good the players are in this country. »»Arsene Knows««

  • The basic problem is I think what has been described as the 90mins rule. There was the classic case of Dean Bowditch who Ferguson wanted but lived in Suffolk, so couldn’t join Man U and ended up going to Ipswich. Now no disrespect to Ipswich but you do wonder if his talent would have been realised at the Man U academy. What is daft is that Spurs can pick up someone from Prague, but not a similarly talented young player playing in Bristol. I think my criticism of the Gunners has been when journeyman veterans like Cygan and Alumina have been brought in and youngsters like Stewart Taylor and Matthew Upson moved on. Whilst no-one such question talents like Fabregas and in the future Denilson and Diaby, there have been one or two players who have impeded the progress of some of the English players you brought along. Hopefully the new EC/UEFA rules will force the FA to slacken their regulations and the country’s top youngsters can go to any academy.

  • Sir_Harry, i think that in the case of someone like cygan, the reason he stayed at arsenal the lenght of time that he did was that he was more likely to be amiable at not playing every game, whereas someone like upson would have felt the need to at some point break through and show what he can do. I think this is one area where Arsene has shifted and refined his policy most, he recognised a while ago his shortcomings in allowing the younger players the chance top prove their worth, and moved to rectify it, it was a problem he admitted he was sad to have been guilty of not realising and rectifying earlier. As for Almunia, he has proved an able deputy for Jens, not sure he’ll ever make an Arsenal numero uno, but a good keeper to call upon. He can definitely feel that he’s not let anybody down this year when called upon… »»Arsene Knows««

  • Almunia has, in recent weeks proved that he isn’t just here to make up numbers, indeed I would be happy to see him as our number one when Jens goes, where as Taylor can’t get into the Villa team and there is a reason why no big clubs wanted him…..why should we keep him just to satisfy a quota? The case with Upson and Cygan is entirely different. Wenger wanted to keep Upson but he wanted to go for first team football, where as Cygan was happy to sit on the bench, again there is a reason why Upson now plays for West Ham!

  • I can definietly see Almunia as our number one next year. His appearances this year have seen him become so more commanding, and assuring in the box. But surely AW wont let someone like Almunia be the first choice, not once this season have i seen him try and push over an opposing striker, or run 40 yards to moan at the referee cos Kevin Davies looked at him funny! God bless you Jens, i’ll miss you if you leave!! As for the English lads being given a chance, in the past he may not have given the youngsters enough time, but was this down to their impatience? Granted it may be annoying to get sent out on loan for a year, maybe two. But go learn, and come back stronger. Justin Hoyte looks a lot better than he did before he went to Sunderland. As for the rest of the lads that he let go, if they are good enough they will succeed elsewhere and it will be AW’s loss. Just because they are English does not mean they have the right to be given longer to prove themselves, or more chances-sadly though i believe this may begin to be the case.

  • Fergie is right. I wonder what manutd fans and the english media would say against Fergie. Fergie’s statement has effectively ended their rants. Arsenal not buying/having english players is not the problem of the national team, the system is at fault.

  • Haha, actually, I was smiling as I was reading the article because while it surprises me, at the same time it doesn’t. I’m wondering if the fact that he wrongly accused Wenger of the whole Man utd lack stamina crap had anything to do with the fact that he mentioned Arsenal and defended Wenger’s recruitment choices. Even if that isn’t so, it’s still something to smile about. x)

  • @untly @ole, Sol Campbell, David Bentley. Fine examples of what happens when you show loyalty to English players. Without trying to generalise too much, it wouldn’t be out of order if AW was burned out on English players. However, I don’t think AW even considers that actually. Hoyte and Theo seem to have refreshingly positive attitude right now. Hope it lasts, if it does, they’ll be given EVERY opportunity.

  • I was thinking the same thing ducksworth…this might’ve been Fergie’s way of publically making up to Wenger without losing face. Works pretty well really. And it isn’t like Fergie doesn’t know who’s helped to butter his bread this year…Ronaldo, Giggs, Saha and Van Der Sar, all foreign players. The funniest part about that quote by far though was this – ‘When the academies were set up, Howard Wilkinson said England would win the World Cup within 10 years. Well, they have been going eight now and I can’t see it.’ – stinging, yet dead on.

  • Surprised that none of your guys have referred to the fact that because of stupid FA rules, it is easier to get young foreigners into academies than it is to get young English guy.

  • for england to win anything, they need to get rid of those muppets in the FA, and get rid of that tool McClaren. in my opinion you should have a manager that has played at the top and won at the top to have any success. international tournements is like having a pedigree dog at cruffs, nobody would dream of entering a mutt would they !

  • Agreed PG. England for too long have appointed managers that are used to nicking games. McClaren when at middlesborough would put 10 men behind the ball when playing the big teams and hope to nick a goal, I witnessed the same tactic when we played Spain. England need a manager who is used to setting up his team to be on the front foot and attack teams rather than this dreary bulls*@t we are forced to watch.

  • PG, im not so sure thats the case always. I mean, sure, its better to have a manager with pedigree and success as a player or manager to take over a team, but take our very own arsene for example. Not a great track record before he took over, and what tremendous success he’s had. Of course, having said that, there must be someone at the FA smart enough or tough enough to take such gambles which is doubtful.

  • Rocky, i agree. Almunia has looked much more assured this season. I’ll confess I had doubts about him but he has surprised me this year. Maybe Jens will sign on for another season and then Almunia might be ready to take over no.1. Regarding the other english players, I dont think bentley, upson and pennant were good enough to play for arsenal. I would like to think arsene considers it from the players perspective and 1st team action for another team is better for them rather than waiting on the bench for arsenal.

  • Look guys, there are a couple of things I noticed: ***
    1) The people that Wenger wanted to keep have done well when they have gone out and have nothing but praise for wenger(source: an article in Independent) whereas the ones that he has let go has not troubled Arsene’s sleep at nights.

    2) Peter Hill-wood in arseblog’s podcast has said apart from the talent Wenger wants “level headed” players who are well put together in the head and take care of themselves. That rules out most Englanders don’t you? Thankfully walcott and hoyte are a case apart.

    3) According to one more article in Independent the author says EPL is better than La liga this year due to injection of all the technically skilled ball players from other countries all these years. I think arsene deserves credit for that.

    4) Last of all can you promise anytime soon (next 4-5 years) that England team will ever play the style of football that Arsenal played in the first half of Bolton FA cup game(they are young yet that is the scary part.)? If not why would AW should listen to the pathetic moaners about their lack of quality?

    “You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.” – Lincoln

  • I find the whole argument about young english players pointless. What does it matter how many excellent prospects there are if an international manager won’t play them. I think Nolan is a terrific player & was outstanding for bolton for the past two years, yet did sven or now mclaren ever given him a chance?? There are plenty of young players in this country but they don’t get a chance because mclaren is sticking with the squad that has accomplished nothing. Gerrard & Lampard are excellent premiership players but are they anywhere near the world class level that vieira or keane was upto?? I dont think so, although obviously the chav & scouse fans will say they are but thats just bias & means nothing. Neville is a decent right back, but you cannot tell me we don’t have better younger ones available. Why is Lennon not first choice on the right?? Why does downing continued to picked despite a bunch of pathetic displays. England need a manager with guts & then just maybe we could build for the future, rather than relying on the tried & failed method currently employed. England failing has nothing to do with arsenal or any other club for that matter, after all we haven’t had a top league full of foreigners since 1966, yet we have failed to achieve anything since that world cup. Maybe its wenger’s parents fault….who knows!! Ferguson wasn’t sticking up for wenger, he was just stating a fact.

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