Arsene Wenger is set to take charge of Arsenal in the Premier League for the 500th time on Saturday as the Gunners host Stoke at The Emirates, with the fallout from the incident with Manchester City manager Mark Hughes on Wednesday still fresh in the memory. Wenger refused to shake Hughes’ hand after the Carling Cup encounter in which Arsenal lost 3-0, but did Wenger have any real reason not to do so? Is it just a case of sour grapes, or was Wenger standing up for his principles?
Wenger and Hughes don’t exactly see eye to eye and the City gaffer has been highly critical of the Frenchman’s behaviour. Hughes said that Wenger didn’t know how to behave after the match, but if the heated incident on the touchline offended Wenger then was he right in what he did? Wenger has responded in typical style and has defended his honour and tried to play down the incident.
Wenger told BBC Sport that “On Saturday, I am managing my 500th game at Arsenal and I believe I have shaken hands 497 times. It is a ceremonial courtesy but the most important is not the ceremonial but the courtesy of behaviour.” Wenger is inferring that he believes that Hughes’ behaviour throughout the match was inappropriate and that the Welshman’s actions didn’t warrant shaking his hand. I’m not surprised that Hughes can get on the wrong side of people as when he was a player he certainly liked to throw his weight around. However, isn’t it best to leave what has happened at the match and shake hands as a matter of ending the disagreement?
Wenger went on further to say that “I maintain exactly the way I behave and do not regret one second of what I did.” But is this another case of an occasion where Arsene Wenger is wrong to stick to his guns, as similarly after controversial decisions in matches, when asked about it he will say that he didn’t see it when he blatantly did and just doesn’t want to get involved in the controversy. Personally I think that Wenger is right not to shake Hughes’ hand if he has a legitimate reason not to do so, but we only have the facts to go on and from that angle what Wenger did seems to just be a little bit childish.
Arsene Wenger obviously has the right to do what he wants at the end of matches, but it may just be easier in the future for him to shake hands and let bygones be bygones. Manchester City seem to have got one over Arsenal this season, having beaten them at Eastlands twice already this season and the next Premiership match between the two teams will be hotly anticipated. I think that this may be a rivalry between the two managers and clubs that will only get fiercer in the future. But in the form of Man City, do Arsenal have anything to be worried about?
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