Wenger: Big Sam and I are not that different

Date published: Sunday 1st January 2017 9:37

Arsene Wenger: Says two are similar

Arsene Wenger feels he and Sam Allardyce are not quite as different as many people would believe.

The pair come up against one another on New Year’s Day when Allardyce takes his Crystal Palace side to face Wenger’s Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

It will be just his second game in charge of the Eagles after the former England boss replaced Alan Pardew at the helm last week.

Having done battle in the Premier League for over a decade, Wenger and Allardyce have had their flash points, with the former admitting he still hurts from a 2-2 draw against Allardyce’s Bolton in 2003 which went a long way to costing the Gunners the title.

Having been branded a long-ball specialist and a manager who is more than happy to employ rough and tumble tactics, Allardyce has always impressed his contemporaries with an ability to embrace the latest technology within the game.

And Wenger feels his own, attacking approach to management is no longer at the opposite end of the spectrum to the man who will sit in the away dugout on Sunday.

“It is less and less. I don’t think the difference is as black and white,” he said when asked about their respective philosophies.

“I think he has the quality of a guy who is intelligent as he adapts to the level of his team and makes it simple for them to apply what he wants from them. So I believe his adaptability is one of his strengths.

“When he has to be direct in a team, he can be direct. When he has to get them to play, he gets them to play. He is competent – it is as simple as that.”

Wenger has not always spoken as kindly about Allardyce and it was a game at the Reebok Stadium in 2003 which will stick in his mind.

The Gunners were fighting for the title with Manchester United but missed the chance to top the table in late April when they let a two-goal lead slip to draw with Allardyce’s Trotters.

And the 67-year-old concedes it is a moment which still weighs heavy on his heart almost 14 years on.

“Unfortunately, you have awkward moments in a career and you never forget them,” he said when asked about the game.

“But it’s part of the game and it’s part of the English charm, as well. Because what happens to us can happen to the opponents.

“At the time, they had the players that could make it uncomfortable for you. Very physical. Very direct.

“They had a good team, as well. They had Jay-Jay Okocha, Youri Djorkaeff, Kevin Davies, Ivan Campo. I forget a few now but they had a really good team.

“I spent a lot of time with Djorkaeff during the European Championship and he said that they had really good players, they had a good team. And they could mix it up well.”

Asked whether disappointments such as that day stay with him longer than the successes of his career, Wenger said:

“Yes. It is the problem of my life basically.

“I’m competitive and every disappointments stays with me forever and is a scar in your heart and reduces your life expectancy.

“Football is like real life. But in a more condensed way, more intense. It can be very cruel.

“We forget, when you live every day, it’s normal but at some moments, it catches you suddenly and it’s very cruel. In competition, it is like that.”

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