During his pre-match press conference ahead of tonight’s trip to Southampton, Arsene Wenger discussed tunnel etiquette.
In the tunnel prior to our 2-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday, cameras showed full-back Nacho Monreal embracing some of the visiting players – namely Ander Herrera and David de Gea, his Spanish compatriots.
Match of the Day 2 pundits Martin Keown and Phil Neville, who both used to feature for Arsenal and United respectively in the past, were unhappy about the jovial mood just minutes before kick-off.
Wenger was asked for his response to the criticism by reports during the presser and said, “Yes, I think I understand that the pundits are a bit surprised by that because 10 or 15 years ago that did not exist.
“But it is an overall, international thing now. You can watch Real Madrid against Barcelona – it’s the same, because people play together, come from the same country. I was surprised as well I must say, but I must confess as well that it doesn’t stop the players to focus and concentrate after on the game.”
Neville in particular was harsh with his criticism, describing the whole thing as “a nonsense.”
“I think Monreal thinks he’s going to a christening and not a football match. I can’t imagine doing that to Martin Keown ten years ago in the tunnel at Highbury.
“It doesn’t matter if you know them. You see each other in the bar afterwards but before the game you need to concentrate,” Neville added.
Despite this though, Wenger said that this just highlighted how far the game has come in the current modern era. “It’s pictures we were not used to seeing, but it’s part of the modern game. Today you have cameras everywhere. Maybe as well it happened 10 or 15 years ago but there was no camera in the corridor before the game.”
In the days of Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane, players wouldn’t have dared to be so nice with one another before an important match but Wenger agreed and said it’s not because the “commitment and focus of the players has gone down“, especially as they perform on the pitch straight afterwards.