Wenger plays down 'Pizzagate' row

Arsene Wenger has welcomed Alex Ferguson’s controversial autobiography but played down the Manchester United manager’s recollection of ’Pizzagate’ as nothing more than “a little unrest in the corridor” at Old Trafford.

Wenger plays down 'Pizzagate' row

Arsene Wenger has welcomed Alex Ferguson’s controversial autobiography but played down the Manchester United manager’s recollection of ’Pizzagate’ as nothing more than “a little unrest in the corridor” at Old Trafford.

The Arsenal boss has his own dedicated chapter in the book, published earlier this week, entitled ’Competing with Wenger’

Unlike in his first autobiography, Ferguson generally has a much more measured view of the Frenchman, whom he now regards as a good friend.

However, there was a notable exception in recalling when United ended Arsenal’s 49-match unbeaten Premier League run in October 2004 which saw Ferguson left covered in pizza following a furious row between staff and players from both teams.

The row came after Ruud van Nistelrooy claimed Wenger berated him as he left the pitch. Ferguson says he does not know who threw the pizza, but claims Wenger’s “fists were clenched” when the Scot confronted him over Van Nistelrooy’s claims.

Wenger, a fierce adversary for Ferguson during his early days at Highbury, joked he was “fearing the worst” prior to the release of the book, which the Arsenal manager maintains he still has not had time to read.

However, the Gunners boss gives a different recollection of events at Old Trafford, which still clearly touch a nerve when the matter was raised at Friday’s press conference ahead of the Barclays Premier League game at Crystal Palace.

“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 brought a lot of frustration on,” Wenger said.

“On that day, (Rio) Ferdinand should have been off after 20 minutes so I believe that is 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 later signings had mirrored his own ’softer’ stance towards the game.

Wenger joked: “Do I have a soft side? Yes, of course. I just try to buy good players.

“Sometimes the more technical players are not the biggest tacklers, but if they have both I am very happy with it.

“Yes, compared to my start at Arsenal, we have gone a little bit for a different type of player, but that was more coincidence than planned.”

Wenger turned 64 on Tuesday and despite having yet to agree a new deal at Arsenal, where he has been manager since 1996, the French coach insists his hunger for success burns as bright as ever.

“I have the same desire to win. The game and the environment has changed, that is for sure,” he said.

“For the rest, when you are a manager, the most important is to win the next game and that has always stayed the same.”

Wenger, though, has no plans to follow Ferguson’s lead in writing a book just yet.

“Maybe one day I will be inspired to do that, but at the moment I do not,” he said.

“I do not say never, but at the moment I do not have that need at all.”

In Ferguson’s book, Roy Keane was criticised for his behaviour in his final months as a United player, while David Beckham’s celebrity lifestyle was blamed for his Old Trafford exit.

Wenger, though, welcomed Ferguson’s honest comments on the game he dominated for more than half a century.

“The past is history and history has to be written. In France we say it is not only important to make history, but also to write the history,” he said.

“It is good. It is a legacy of his career.

“I think that is important, especially in England where he was a manager at Manchester United for 27 years. It is not just anonymous. It is huge what he has achieved, but it is difficult for me to answer anything on the book because I have not read it.”

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