Per Mertesacker has talked about Martin Keown’s comments about the German’s FA Cup final performance in an interview with the Guardian.
Per made his return from a long injury at the end of last season, getting his first start in the FA Cup final. Before the game there was much media speculation over whether he would be up for it, but he ended up putting in a man-of-the-match performance.
Martin Keown then referred to the match as “the Per Mertesacker final”, and when asked about that title by the Guardian, Per had this to say in the interview: “I heard that because Martin Keown said that to me in the tunnel after the game. He said: ‘I just said on TV that this is the Per Mertesacker final.’ I just said: ‘Don’t write me off, Martin.’”
“I don’t know what was in his mind, maybe it was justifying himself: ‘Oh, I said you were great because maybe before I said something else.’ But why would he say that to me? And should I thank him? I just told him: ‘Don’t write me off.’
“I told him that because I’ve heard a lot of rumours. I don’t listen too much to critics or opinions out of the club but sometimes you get a feeling. Some people think you still have a chance but in this case I would say not many.”
All of which sounds very much like Mertesacker had got the impression before the final that Keown had been speaking negatively about the defender and his chances in the match.
Per seemed to believe that Keown’s comment was perhaps motivated by a sense of saving face, because he’d written the German off in the past, and was praising him more than usual to make up for it.
Many ex-Arsenal players who have gone on to work in the media, rather than in some form of coaching role, had a lot of bad things to say about the players and the staff at Arsenal last season.
In fairness, the team probably deserved a lot of the stick they were getting. Performances were not good at all, until a late revival, and in a sense it was lucky for the Gunners that they played the hardest teams in the cup in the only period of the season that they were actually playing well.
However, Mertesacker doesn’t seem to have forgotten how few pundits stuck by him and the side, and clearly wanted to make that point at the end.