World News – GB – ‘Roy Keane was an exceptional footballer but he was always also on the fringes of violence’





Arsene Wenger transformed Arsenal in his 22 years as manager, enjoying a famous rivalry with Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson along the way

Vincent Hogan on Twitter

« Look, we must be lucky, you lose so many friends who had a good lifestyle », explains Arsène Wenger, defending the regulations that prevail in his life

It’s just after 1030am Wednesday, a full five hours into his day at a small gym he built in his north London home. He is chatting from a landline from his office, ‘The Professor  » at 70, is no longer a football manager, but still – obviously – fascinated by the match

His job for FIFA (he is responsible for the global development of football) requires a lot of travel, but every time he comes home – and he still considers England to be home today – he rides without fault at 5 years30h for a 90-minute workout

“At my age you know training isn’t about getting better anymore”, he laughs “It’s to slow down the process of losing something”

In his newly published book, My Life in Red and White, Wenger reveals that he recently lost a sister and an older brother, so it seems natural to wonder if this loss may have increased. his own sense of mortality He doesn’t deny it

« It makes you more aware of how quickly it can happen, » he said « People that you subconsciously think will be here forever can leave You cherish life a little more When you’re in football , maybe you don’t think about it

« I think the most important thing is to have goals and to focus on something that occupies your mind If you don’t do this you are wondering about life and maybe becoming a little more careful. life must be lived while you are here « 

The book is, in a sense, a chronicle of an unhealthy obsession An admission of neglect by those around him in the service of a game that drives him forever to emotional extremes

At just 34 years old, while coaching Nancy, Wenger describes how he found defeat « physically unbearable », once drifting away from family and friends for a whole Christmas break due to of what he considered the impossibility of being sociable

Over time, he developed coping mechanisms, but never to escape what seemed convulsive and debilitating

“I felt physically sick, I threw up sometimes”, he explains now “I think we are all a mixture of will to win and hate to lose, especially men From an early age, I had that And, at the start of my career, I had to go through a period when I found it so difficult, I sometimes thought « I’m not made for this job! »

« But slowly I got used to the stress I mean I survived for 36 years and didn’t miss a game during that time »

His 22-year reign at Arsenal is widely recognized as a time of transformation, not only for the club but for the English game itself.However, he encountered a mixture of sarcasm and media malice upon his arrival at Highbury in October 1996, the question “Arsène who? splashing over several back pages despite having previously been Manager of the Year in France (with Monaco) and Japan (with Grampus Eight)

Lies quickly spread about his private life too, but within 18 months of joining Arsenal they were crowned champions of England, setting in motion a rivalry with Alex Ferguson and Manchester United that would cross the next one decade with flamboyant, sometimes crazy intensity

An intensity perhaps crystallized by almost lawless scenes at Old Trafford on October 24, 2004 when Wenger’s so-called ‘Invincibles’ suffered their first Premier League defeat in 50 games It was the day an Arsenal player threw a slice of pizza at Ferguson, hitting the United manager in the head

Wenger writes today that Ferguson was « ready to die for his club and I for mine, » but are those days now returning to him as mildly deranged?

« It was a bit crazy to remember, » he admits « But you have to understand that at the time, Arsenal players were Arsenal players for life Liverpool players were Liverpool players for life Man United players were Man United players for life So once these guys were at a big club they completely identified themselves and were ready to give it a try So hate between clubs was greater than today Today, players move more « 

The individual manifestation of this Arsenal-United ferocity may have been communicated more consistently during the physical battles between Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane One of Wenger’s former players, Paul Merson, suggested the Frenchman would never sign a player like Keane due to his difficult personality

“I would have liked a Roy Keane,” he says emphatically “because he does the job of manager. So I don’t necessarily agree with that opinion Roy Keane was an exceptional footballer but he was always also on the fringes of violence

« I don’t know what kind of player he was in the locker room but to me on the outside he looked like a guy who controlled the team

« But I also had a lot of strong characters on my team, trust me When I arrived I already had Bould, Adams, Keown, Seaman and Bergkamp They were all strong people and you need them to win football matches « 

However, there was still the sense of what seemed like a higher calling for Wenger’s arsenal As if winning wasn’t enough Winning beautifully became prayer

To that end, he would sometimes openly bubble over the overt physicality of the English game, on sites synonymous with an intimidating state of mind, the wild and unpunished tackle, the usual danger to his lighter and more creative players. men like Vieira, Emmanuel Petit and Gilberto Silva had the self-sufficiency to comfortably fight their corners, but others struggled in a storm of flying limbs

Wenger checks the names of those he believes were brutalized in the absence of referee protection, revealing what he calls his « sadness » – to this day – during the experiences of Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere , Abou Diaby and Eduardo

« They were all kicked out of the land you know and damaged for life, » he says « They couldn’t have the careers they deserved because of physical violence and without any protection Look at Wilshere He has 28 years old now and he doesn’t play at West Ham, this world-class player « 

In this context, he expresses his pride now that Arsenal, globally, have embraced a desire to play creative and innovative football, even on occasions requiring more solid manners.

Usually, before the North London Derbies, his longtime aide – Pat Rice – would suggest Arsenal could be better served against Spurs by picking out « fighters. » But Wenger’s faith still rests on techs from his team

“I tried to overcome physical football with mobility and intelligence, you know,” he says now “It wasn’t easy Pat was an exceptional assistant for me, but he got a little nervous during the week before we play at Tottenham The British reflex when it comes to life is ‘Let’s start with the fighters!’

« And sometimes you would be tempted to say ‘Yes, you are right! « But, at the end of the day, it was always the technicians who won us matches »

No player has brought this theory to life more often than Thierry Henry, arguably the best footballer in Premier League history

Wenger knew him as a talented 17-year-old player in Monaco when he led there, but admits that even he could not have imagined the player he signed from Juventus in August 99 On the contrary, he refers in the book to Henry suffering from a « lack of self-confidence » at the time

« Your confidence is still tied to your last experience and his time at Juventus was not all positive, » he says of a player signed by Arsenal for £ 11million « When he came to us, that confidence was not fully there

« He came back pretty quickly but honestly no I couldn’t imagine then the player he would become. What I mean is when you have a group of talented players between the ages of 17 and 20 , you can’t tell who will be a master

« You get the first little split of this group of players at 20 The second split comes at 23 where some go even higher Henry was in that group you know, like Vieira They became superstars »

Eleven years ago, Wenger was outspoken in his claim that Ireland should have been granted a repeat of the World Cup play-offs after Henry’s infamous handball led to the winner of William Gallas at the Stade de France

« Two billion people see what happened, but a guy can’t see it and we can’t help him! » Wenger said at the time, saying he was « embarrassed » by how his country qualified for the final in South Africa

« And you know, they independently say that VAR has improved good decisions in England today from 84% to 95% So 11% more correct decisions

« Where it gets really interesting is that referees make over 100,000 decisions in a season It means over 10,000 more decisions were fair thanks to VAR So to me it’s amazing that people still question it I agree, it’s not perfect

« Yes, it’s ridiculous when a guy scores a goal and then he has to sit there for two minutes waiting for the answer is he offside or not But, in 2022 we will have an automated system that will give you the decision right away This is just the beginning

Wenger is skeptical of what he sees as ‘a little too much self-interest’ in the ‘Project Big Picture’ which is now being pushed by the Premier League’s big six clubs as some sort of bailout for the England game and he believes the lack of supporters may have contributed to the bizarre early-season losing streak for these clubs

“Sometimes the public pushes you to revolt when there is a problem,” he suggests. “It spurs you on. But there is a mental flatness there and the fact that there is no public, the teams seem to have less mental response « 

He has previously considered buying an apartment in the development built on what was once Highbury, but has not returned to the Emirates since his last game as Arsenal manager on May 6, 2018 A passage from the book even suggests that he never will

“The stadium that I built”, he writes, “and of which I know every little secret is somewhere I can’t go anymore: it’s too moving”

« At first I just cut », he said « I had no relationship with the club at all With no one I thought you better cut it off completely Because if you go there the people might think, « What’s he doing here again? He’s not in charge anymore! »

« So I didn’t want to embarrass people or annoy them It’s hard Because day by day you can’t go to your club anymore But time is a good doctor It heals pretty well

As for a potential return to management, Wenger isn’t ruling it out, although acknowledging that international play seems a more doable option than any return to the club’s daily routine

« Listen, I’ve been on the drug for 36 years and it’s not easy to get rid of it » he said laughing « So I miss it, I don’t deny it I don’t rule it out not

« But at the moment I’m just on a mission with FIFA and I’ll see in a year or two what I’m going to do »


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Arsène Wenger, Roy Keane, Thierry Henry, Manchester United FC, Arsenal FC, Republic of Ireland National Football Team

Global news – UK – « Roy Keane was a exceptional footballer but he too has always been on the fringes of violence  »


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