Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

DON'T BLAME ME FOR 'PIZZAGATE', INSISTS WENGER; BOSS DEFENDS HIMSELF OVER FERGIE BOOK; Chief Football Correspondent

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

DON'T BLAME ME FOR 'PIZZAGATE', INSISTS WENGER; BOSS DEFENDS HIMSELF OVER FERGIE BOOK; Chief Football Correspondent

Article excerpt

Byline: James Olley

ARSENE WENGER today welcomed the publication of Sir Alex Ferguson's autobiography but contested the former Manchester United manager's version of events in the controversial 'Pizzagate' affair.

During the most intense period of competition between Arsenal and United at the top of the Premier League, they met in October 2004 at Old Trafford in a match that ended the Gunners' 49-game unbeaten run in hotly contested circumstances.

Referee Mike Riley awarded United a penalty after Wayne Rooney went to ground under minimal contact from Sol Campbell and Ruud van Nistelrooy converted the spot-kick which precipitated a 2-0 defeat.

The players were said to have been involved in a heated exchange in the tunnel after the final whistle which included a player -- widely believed to be Cesc Fabregas -- throwing pizza at Ferguson.

In his book released this week, Ferguson claimed the defeat "scrambled Wenger's brain" and that the Arsenal manager instigated the scuffle because he had verbally insulted Van Nistelrooy as the teams left the pitch.

"Arsene had a thing about Van Nistelrooy," wrote Ferguson. But Wenger said today: "It's difficult for me to answer any suggestion about this book because I haven't read it yet. The 'Pizzagate', I think it was a little unrest in the corridor after the 49th game, refereed by Mike Riley at the time, who is now responsible for the referees.

"I think on that day, he had not his best day and that caused a lot of frustration because on that day, Rio Ferdinand should have been off after 20 minutes so I believe that's what created all the problems in the corridor. Yes, it was aggressive because to lose the way we lost after such a long undefeated run was not acceptable for me and that's why everybody was frustrated."

Ferguson also claimed Wenger's "softer side" has emerged in recent seasons, leading him to buy less physical and more technical players including Andrey Arshavin, Samir Nasri and Tomas Rosicky. …

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