I foresaw this day coming. When last March, on the auspicious occasion of Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game as Arsenal manager, the Gunners played Chelsea and got thumped 6-0, the post-match reaction was not about the crushing defeat but centred around Jose Mourinho’s refusal to shake Wenger’s handshake as it is customary in the modern game.
Mourinho left with few minutes left on the clock and his excuse, when interrogated afterwards, was that he needed to go call his wife who was not at the stadium. That was the most inane statement I’ve heard in ages.
I concede that there is NO law which stipulates that you should shake the opposing manager but it is an acceptable convention that helps to promote the spirit of fair play in the game. So, I remember tweeting at the time, Mourinho should have shaken Wenger’s hand on that occasion for two reasons.
One, it would have shown mutual respect between two of the most decorated managers in English football and have a trickle-down effect among the players on both sides.
Secondly, and perhaps more fittingly, it was a special day for Wenger and the fact that you defeated him, some would say scandalously, you would have been the bigger man out there by being magnanimous in victory. Nothing beats that feeling of sportsmanship, especially when you’d won.
Having said that, it brings us to the incident at Villa Park few weeks back when Chelsea defeated the Villans 3-0 and, just before the final whistle, Mourinho left the pitch. On his way to the changing room, Mourinho walked to the Villa bench and offered his hand to Paul Lambert, the Villa manager.
Lambert refused to shake hands because, according to him, the game was still on and it smacked of lack of disrespect to shake hands while the players were still battling it out on the pitch. He pointed to his watch that it was not yet time for such formalities and Mourinho turned to Roy Keane, Lambert’s assistant who was also seated on the bench.
Keane studiously ignored the Chelsea boss and later fumed that Mourinho’s action was a disgrace blah blah blah.
“I don’t mind all that but the game is still going on. It’s disgraceful, I’ve seen him doing it to other managers, it’s a disgrace,” Keane said. “The game is still going on. You wouldn’t do that on a Sunday morning, you would get knocked out.”
Keane, added: “I’m not sure I’d have liked playing for Mourinho. He plays too many mind games with the media. I understand the need for games. But there comes a point when you think, ‘Don’t play mind games today’.”
Keane got the support of other key figures in the game, including Liverpool legend Kevin Dalglish who said: “Roy Keane said he thought it was disrespectful that Jose Mourinho had tried to shake his hand before the end of Chelsea’s recent victory over Aston Villa.
First of all, if I was in that situation, I don’t think I’d give a carrot what Mourinho tried to do. He has these things he does. They’re not new. It wouldn’t affect my life. But for what it’s worth, I probably wouldn’t have shaken his hand, either, if I had been in the same situation as the former United skipper.
Mourinho is at the top of the tree at the moment. You can get away with a lot of things when you’re in his position. But maybe he should remember the old adage about being nice to people on the way up because you might need them on the way down.
If things go a little wrong for him at some point in his career, he may find there are those who are keen to pull the ladder away from under him as quickly as they can.”
I absolutely agree that Mou steps off the line sometimes although I won’t hold him solely responsible for the altercation between him and Wenger last Sunday. To be fair, Wenger stepped out of turn (for which he’s apologised) and it is not the first time the Frenchman will be getting involved in a brawl.
However, because of his antecedent, it is Mourinho that gets blamed for whatever infraction that happens on the pitch. So, fittingly, I stumbled on a list of Wenger’s on pitch-fights as compiled by Dailymail.
WENGER’S NO SAINT EITHER…
Wenger vs Mourinho, 2014
Gary Cahill’s reckless lunge on Alexis Sanchez riled Wenger and he made straight for Mourinho. Catching the Portuguese off guard, Wenger planted his palms in Mourinho’s chest, knocking him off balance.
The Chelsea boss tried to retaliate but Wenger’s reach was too much and again the Arsenal chief landed a shove before the fourth official saved Mourinho further embarrassment.
Wenger vs Kenny Dalglish, 2011
The game was 11 minutes in to injury-time when Dirk Kuyt rescued a 1-1 draw for Liverpool from the penalty spot. Wenger wasn’t happy with the award of the spot-kick, nor the time added on, and approached Dalglish.
But the Scot wasn’t in the mood to entertain Wenger’s moan, telling him to ‘p*** off’, which he duly did.
Wenger vs plastic bottle, 2009
After celebrating Robin van Persie’s goal at Manchester United – only to see it disallowed for a marginal offside – Wenger took his frustration out on a plastic bottle, booting it in the air. The fourth official took exception to his thuggery and quickly informed referee Mike Dean of his attack on the unsuspecting water bottle.
Dean, equally enraged, sent Wenger to the stands where he took his position on a platform behind the dugout, much to the amusement of United’s supporters.
Wenger vs Mourinho, 2007
For once, Wenger played peacemaker when a mass brawl broke out during the 2007 Carling Cup final. Three players – Arsenal’s Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor and Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel – were sent off, but Wenger remained unflappable.
He and Mourinho quickly entered the pitch as tempers – and fists – flared, but the Arsenal boss kept his own emotions in check and pulled his opposite number away from his own players.
Wenger vs Alan Pardew, 2006
When West Ham boss Pardew celebrated Marlon Harewood’s late winner at Upton Park, Wenger wasn’t impressed. A Pardew fist pump – in Wenger’s direction – was the source of his ire. Pardew protested against Wenger’s displeasure but was met with a hefty shove.
But the Frenchman wasn’t finished there and, when he again went for his opposite number, the intervening fourth official felt Wenger’s wrath. Pardew attempted to explain his actions but his adversary wasn’t having any of it and refused to shake hands on full-time. Wenger was subsequently fined by the FA while Pardew was cleared of all charges.
Wenger vs Martin Jol, 2006
Spurs boss Jol instructed his players to carry on while two Arsenal men lay injured on the turf, and it resulted in a Robbie Keane goal.
An irate Wenger went brow to brow with the burly Dutchman before the fourth official stepped in. Wenger’s chest was puffed and his fists clenched, but this time he kept his hands down.
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