Platini blasts Wenger, leaving Arsenal manager stunned

Serge WickerContributor ISeptember 23, 2008

Former French international, Michel Platini, widely regarded as one of the most talented footballers ever after receiving his golden boot and best player awards in the 1984 European Championships, has lashed out at Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who was left stunned by the verbal attack.

Now president of UEFA, Platini, 53, condemned the Arsenal tactician in an interview with Grenoble daily newspaper, Dauphine Libere, over video evidence for referees and the way modern clubs are manged.

Platini and his FIFA counterpart, Sepp Blatter have both come under fire over home-grown quotas and Platini's apparent dislike of teams with lots of foreign talent looks like it has intensified, despite insisting he is friends with the French manager.

The UEFA president is quoted to have said 'Arsene Wenger is a great friend of mine' something that could be seen differently after his recent comments.

Platini's scathing attack began when Wenger's name cropped up in a question about video evidence. UEFA's top man is reported to have said 'I like to talk about football, him (Wenger) about business.'

He went on to say 'It would make me happy that Arsene Wenger never sees it (video evidence).'

The final remark which suggests the two Frenchmen's relationship has soured was in response to a question about FC Cluj defeating Italian giants Roma. He said in reply, 'That is what makes football so great! It is what people like Wenger do not want, little clubs beating the big clubs, because they want their business.'

After hearing the remarks, Wenger was understandably taken aback by the outburst from such a high authority. 'I am stunned by the aggressive content of Platini's words,' the Arsenal manager told French sporting newspaper, L'Equipe.

He went on to explain he is in support of both video replays for referees and good management, on and off the pitch, something that surely most coaches in the world must agree with.

He concluded that UEFA must support the needs of the game saying 'I am fighting for the future of the game and of football.'

And nobody can argue with Arsene Wenger's concluding comment. The Arsenal boss has long campaigned for the beautiful game, trying to bringing some astonishing football to the Premier League with his club.

After Sepp Blatter's controversial statement indicating that Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo is being treated like a slave, Platini is guaranteed criticism in the future after this outburst against one of the most highly regarded managers in the modern game.

Especially when most other managers accept that football is heading the same way as tennis and rugby in using video evidence to judge decisions.

This coming just days after a shocking refereeing decision by 25-year-old Stuart Attwell in the 2-2 draw between Watford and Reading where a goal was given despite the ball missing the target by nearly two metres!

Many times ridiculous decisions have been given, so Wenger has every right to back the propositions for replay evidence to be used.

And Platini has also made a mistake in attacking the Arsenal manager over foreign players. It is true that Arsenal have an overwhelming proportion of foreign players, but it can also be said that this is what makes the Arsenal side so good.

Despite Platini's comments, Arsene Wenger is also nurturing several young Englishmen, trying to help them become great players, amongst them new England prodigy Theo Walcott, along with Kieran Gibbs, Mark Randall and Jack Wilshere.

Another point is that Arsenal, despite potentially being left behind by the influx of foreign investors to the Premier League, still resist the alluring offer from Russian investors, particularly Usmanov.

Platini's arguments are surely directed at the wrong person. Arsene Wenger has done so much for English football fans, creating a creative, eye-catching team and playing football the way it is meant to be played, without needing massive amounts of money from abroad to fund it.

English players may be in short supply, and not everybody is in favour of video replays, but Platini's comments are unwarranted and unfair and the UEFA president should show more respect rather than criticise others publically because of his traditional views he feels he has to protect so vehemently.