LONDON, Feb 19 – Arsene Wenger had more on his mind than a looming clash with Bayern Munich yesterday as the agitated Arsenal boss snapped over reports saying he had agreed a two-year contract extension.
The Frenchman gave a tetchy news conference at Arsenal’s training ground, treating questions with a mixture of sarcasm and aggression and refusing to discuss the merits of a Bayern side who are strolling to the Bundesliga title.
Today’s Champions League last-16, first-leg clash with the Bavarian giants comes in the wake of Arsenal’s humiliating 1-0 defeat by second-tier Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup and Wenger was clearly rattled by media reaction to that setback.
Asked about a newspaper report of a new contract, Wenger said: “That is the wrong information.
“I think I have worked for 16 years in England and I think I deserve a bit more credit than wrong information, which has one intention which is to harm,” the 63-year-old said, fixing an angry eye on one reporter.
“If it is good information it’s alright, but this is the wrong information.”
Quizzed on the aftermath of Saturday’s defeat by Blackburn, which ended the club’s hopes of domestic silverware this season, Wenger again lost his cool.
“This is a pre-match conference for the Champions League,” he said.
“If we can get some questions about the game, that would be very nice.”
Yet, when a German reporter asked him to share his thoughts on the threat posed by Bayern, Wenger said: “Don’t talk about Bayern Munich today.”
The long-serving Wenger’s current deal expires at the end of next season and growing discontent among fans over the sale of the club’s best players such as Robin van Persie and a lack of credible title challenge has led some to demand a change of manager.
It is unlikely that Wenger would leave, at least before his current deal ends, and Arsenal are expected to invest heavily in the transfer market at the end of the season.
Until any team strengthening happens, however, Wenger believes his current squad have the “quality, spirit and mental strength” to upset Bayern in the Champions League.
“We know well what is going on here,” he said.
“What is important is to forget what people say and focus on our strengths.
“What is important is not what people say, it is what happens on the pitch.
“We live in a democracy of experts and opinions but we have to live with that and cope with that and show we have the mental strength to deal with any opinion. There are a lot of experts who are not necessarily always right.”
Wenger will be without Nacho Monreal for today’s match as the Spanish left back is ineligible and Laurent Koscielny is an injury doubt. German Per Mertesacker will return to the squad, as will right back Carl Jenkinson. – Reuters