Premier League – What the managers said


A look at what the top-flight managers had to say about their matches, with Arsene Wenger rating his side’s comeback their best to date and claiming Abou Diaby‘s red-card tackle was “protective”.

FOOTBALL - Arsene Wenger, Arsenal manager - 0

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Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)

“I can’t remember a better comeback than that – to be 2-0 down with 10 men and win 3-2 with just half an hour to go is a great credit to the team. We had chance after chance and in the end we were a bit lucky on the third goal, but we did absolutely everything to win the game and get a very important victory. I was not upset with the sending-off because [Diaby’s] foot was a bit high I feel it was more a protective tackle than an aggressive one.”

Gary Megson (Bolton)

“I don’t feel unlucky. Angry isn’t the right word because we are all angry with ourselves. That result today was a result which came from committing suicide. We gifted them the first goal. The second goal was a poor goal and then we started to panic a little bit.”

Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)

“The players reached a peak last week and we continued that today. They realise now it’s a race to the line, we need consistency and real focus. We showed fantastic energy, which is a very pleasing aspect considering some of them have been away for internationals. [The title] doesn’t feel that close for us, but there is great confidence in the way the team is playing and that’s always great at this time of the year.”

Martin O’Neill (Aston Villa)

“If you could ever try to set the benchmark, that’s it. We came up against a team on top of their game today; we have to admit they were splendid. There were things there to give us heart. The scoreline was pretty strong, but we had one or two chances that could have made it more respectable.”

Harry Redknapp (Portsmouth)

“[David] James is fantastic. Without a top, top keeper you are nothing and he’s the best one around at the moment. For me he’s the Ronaldo of goalkeepers, someone who is that little bit special. The England thing was difficult. He was caught in no man’s land and it was virtually a collision between him and Nicolas Anelka. But I don’t believe it has upset him. [Jermain Defoe] was born to score goals and I’ve watched him do it from the age of 15. I knew if we could bring him here from Tottenham he would be worth at least 18-20 goals a season for us and what he’s doing now is no surprise to me.”

Steve Bruce (Wigan)

“James was superb but it is strikers who make the difference. Harry pulled off a masterstroke signing Defoe. We created five or six chances today and deserved something out of the game, but we made nothing of them – including a penalty – while Defoe scored twice from about three opportunities. And on Friday we had four players flying into Gatwick Airport from what I call Mickey Mouse testimonials all around the world. Surely at this time of year a bit more common-sense should be shown with the scheduling.”

Roy Keane (Sunderland)

“I was happy at the end that we scored so late. I thought we deserved it and it showed good character from the players. I thought we stood off West Ham a bit at first – I could have played easily against them as we were nowhere near them. But we just about edged it in the second half. Can we get three in a row? Well, miracles can happen.”

Alan Curbishley (West Ham)

“I would have been delighted if we had taken a battling point. Once we scored we seem to back off. Then we lost one player after another after another and we were reduced to 10 men. The injury situation is chronic now. We have to regroup but I can’t tell you who I’ve got fit and available.”

Alex McLeish (Birmingham)

“I’m really delighted with Mauro [Zarate]. He was outstanding with his dribbling skills today. He was superb entertainment. You pick up contacts in the game who help to find you a player like Mauro. He is a fantastic young talent. He has got a great future ahead of him and hopefully, if we retain our Premier League status, we can talk to Zarate about staying on for another season.”

Sven-Goran Eriksson (Manchester City)

“I feel the referee got it completely wrong regarding Birmingham’s penalty but before blaming the official, we should blame ourselves very much. If we want to talk about European football next season, we can’t lose as many balls like we did today. Even when we were under no pressure, we gave the ball away. We should have done much better than that.”

Steve Coppell (Reading)

“We had two different referees. In the first half he was laid back and let things go. In the second half he was a terror. The imbalance in the way the game was refereed affected the game. Nelsen should have been sent off after 20 minutes – he would have been sent off in the second half.”

Mark Hughes (Blackburn)

“I didn’t think the game merited that amount of cards. As players and managers you review your performance and things that need to be addressed at half-time. Maybe that is what Mr Clattenburg did. I am sure Steve felt hard done by with the sending-off. It was a flat performance by both teams.”

Paul Jewell (Derby)

“I’ve been in charge for 20-odd games and we haven’t got enough points. I think there were mitigating circumstances – but I am not hiding behind anyone else and I will take the criticism. We have been embarrassed this year, there is no doubt about it. But we have got to use that as a yardstick not just to come back, but to come back competitively.”

Roy Hodgson (Fulham)

“We could have won it – and of course we’re all disappointed at having scored a late goal which could have easily have been the winner, only to let Derby straight back. Next week we must look for a much-needed win over Sunderland – if we get that who knows? Every time we get a win people say we’ll make it and every time we lose people say we’re doomed. I’m getting quite used to it.”