Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wenger Says He Told Lies to Protect His Players from Punishment; Gunners Boss Reveals Why He Chooses Not to See Certain Fouls by His Team and Insists That He Could Never Have Left Arsenal to Move to Real Madrid

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wenger Says He Told Lies to Protect His Players from Punishment; Gunners Boss Reveals Why He Chooses Not to See Certain Fouls by His Team and Insists That He Could Never Have Left Arsenal to Move to Real Madrid

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Hodgson

COUNTDOWN TO THE BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAUGE

ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger has admitted he has protected his players by claiming to not see fouls in order to avoid publicly criticising any member of his team.

Wenger revealed that he sometimes turned a blind eye to misdemeanours committed by his team out of a sense of loyalty to his squad.

The joke for years at Highbury and then Emirates Stadium was that every time the Frenchman was asked in postmatch interviews about any red-card incident involving his players he would insist that "he had not seen it".

Now, on the eve of Arsenal's opening match of the Premier League season against Everton, Wenger (right) has come clean on the reasons why.

"At times I see it [a foul by an Arsenal player], and I said I didn't to protect the player, because I could not find any rational explanation to defend him.

"This is a job where you have to have an optimistic view of human nature or you become paranoid. You always have to think that a guy wants to do well.

"A coach is there to help. He must think that if he helps in the correct way the players will respond. You cannot be suspicious."

Wenger has also spoken about his long-term project at Arsenal and admitted he would have been "betraying his beliefs" if he had abandoned it to go and work for Real Madrid.

"I want to go to the end of my job here. I built this team, I want to deliver with this team and I feel that if I left I would in some way have betrayed my beliefs," he told the Daily Mail.

"It is nothing to do with what Real Madrid have done. I just couldn't see leaving this team at this stage of their development."

Wenger stressed his main objective is to create a coherent side, rather than to try and build a team around a handful of key individuals.

"I believe in working in our job, creating connections between the players. …

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