Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger isn’t just the softly-spoken Frenchman prone to occasional bouts of stroppiness when Arsenal lose – the French master of the sore-lose is also an excellent storyteller. Today’s story is about honest and brave Arsenal and the evil nation of the Ivory Coast. It appears that the African nation have ignited Wenger’s outrage and the Frenchman let off a real zinger of moany indignation. It appears that Wenger is pretty much resigned to losing Emmanuel Eboue and Kolo Toure for a long time in the new year. He lamented:
“They are so stubborn that there is no point in even speaking to them. They will go at the beginning of January. They have to be available for their country 15 days before the start of the tournament. Before the last tournament we tried to negotiate a later release date with the Ivory Coast, but we had no success so we won’t try this time. We will give them the players when they are due, and won’t even speak to the Ivorian federation about it.”
Wenger then carried on moaning, mainly about how mean the Ivory Coast management are and that Toure and Eboue had to meet up early last year for what was a glorified Ivorian sleepover in a Paris hotel. Wenger continued:
“We were so disappointed with their attitude last time. We had to pull Manu and Kolo out of the FA Cup game against Cardiff [in 2006] an hour before kick off.The Ivory Coast were adamant they had to join up, even though they were only going to be sitting in a hotel room in Paris doing nothing. Eboue had not played many games back then, so it would have been good for him to play in the FA Cup tie. But they wanted to meet up on a Saturday night, and even though our game was early that day they refused to give us permission to play them. This was not even to go to Africa, but to go to Paris, where they would not even start fitness tests until the Monday.They just sat in the hotel that weekend, and I said to them ‘let’s be a little bit logical here’ – but it was impossible. It is not the players’ fault at all, but the Ivory Coast management were very stubborn, and unnecessarily so because it would have been better for their preparation. So this time I count them out from about January 5 until approximately the middle of February.”
So are the Ivory Coast really the bad guys in this story? Or is Wenger just pointlessly moaning about something he knew was coming, and that he cannot control?