During Arsene Wenger’s pre-Manchester United press conference on Thursday, he gave a concerning injury update on Hector Bellerin, which Mauricio Pochettino is a little confused about.
The boss confirmed that our first choice right-back, who was dropped from the Spain u21 team during the international break, is indeed our for four weeks with an ankle injury. He sustained said injury late on in the North London Derby thanks to a strong tackle from Danny Rose. This is essentially all Wenger said:
“Hector is out for four weeks. He got injured in the last 10 seconds against Spurs after a very strong tackle by Danny Rose.”
Now, we all know what the media like to do when Wenger says anything that could even vaguely be misconstrued as a viscous dig. So when Pochettino gave his pre-West Ham press conference on the same day, the journos were wetting themselves to find out what he had to say.
“I respect Arsene Wenger a lot. After 20 years as a manager in one place, at Arsenal, I respect that a lot,” he said.
“But for me what happens on the pitch is never about bad intentions, it’s about football.
“I stopped my career 10 years ago and I feel like it was last month. I totally understand when the players are playing with passion, like Danny or anyone in our team. We are always aggressive in our play and sometimes things happen because football is very aggressive – it’s a contact sport, always. You cannot avoid the contact.
“It is strange, if the comments are true, that after 20 years he should criticise this.
“Two days ago Danny Rose suffered a bad tackle from Carvajal but that is football. If today maybe Danny comes in for training and says ‘I cannot play on Saturday’ I cannot criticise Carvajal because it’s a game – or Vardy for the tackle on Azpilicueta.
“We want all players to be like a man, be aggressive, tackle, always. But intention to injure the opponent? In football you know sometimes you cannot stop, you arrive late and you cannot criticise every single tackle.
“It is very strange, that comment, but I fully respect him.”
As the Hackney Gazette points out, Pochettino didn’t actually know the exact wording or context of Wenger’s comments and therefore it’s understandable that he might feel a bit blind-sided or feel the urge to defend his player, Rose.
Both managers have a huge amount of respect for each other despite being rivals and I’m sure the Spurs boss will now have a better context in which Wenger’s ‘strange’ comments were said.
Was Wenger a bit miffed about the challenge? Probably, or else he may not have brought up Rose’s name, but he didn’t exactly launch a personal attack on the guy.