In Depth

Wenger slams Van Gaal gossip – another dig at Mourinho?

Arsenal boss bemoans the managerial merry-go-round, which is now run by a select band of coaches

Arsene Wenger, who will next year celebrate his 20th anniversary as manager of Arsenal, has expressed his disillusionment at the modern game ahead of Arsenal's trip to Southampton on Boxing Day.

Asked about the latest round of blood-letting in the Premier League, which has seen ousted Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho lined up to replace Louis van Gaal at Manchester United, Wenger said it was "disrespectful" and also suggested that he was not impressed by Pep Guardiola's announcement that he would leave Bayern Munich at the end of the season.

The Spaniard's declaration has only increased the furore over the future of the leading managers in the Premier League.

Manchester City are favourites to land Guardiola, which leaves current boss Manuel Pellegrini in limbo. Chelsea have only appointed Guus Hiddink until the end of the season and will also be hunting Guardiola. If Man United are after a new manager they too will be interested.

Asked about the sacking of his arch enemy Mourinho, Wenger said: "I do not want anyone to lose their job, my personal feelings on that front is that it is always sad when someone loses their job."

He then moved on to the speculation at Old Trafford. "I personally have a huge respect for Louis van Gaal and I think what is going on there is disrespectful," he said. "This guy has worked for 30 years in football and has delivered unbelievable quality of work."

And when asked about Guardiola, he said: "Personally I don't like the fact that the managers come out so early for what they will do, because it's not necessarily good for their own team, nor for the speculation about the managers who are going through a little bit of a difficult patch."

However, the Daily Mirror notes that Wenger appeared a lot more sympathetic to Van Gaal than he had been to Mourinho when the knives were out for him.

His comments were "in stark contrast to when he was asked a similar question about Mourinho last week, when he refused to back the then-Chelsea boss", says the paper.

Wenger is expected to retire at the end of the his current Arsenal contract, and the managerial landscape has changed immensely since he arrived at Arsenal as a complete unknown in 1996.

"A small group of revered coaches have become luxury brands to the billionaires who control the Champions League elite," writes Paul Hayward in the Daily Telegraph.

The likes of Guardiola, Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Jurgen Klopp and Diego Simeone control the game, he writes. "On the same principle that if you own the Derby favourite then only two or three jockeys will virtually eliminate the possibility of pilot error costing you the race, so the assumption is that the go-to guys of management could all leave a bistro together in one black London cab."

The problem, he argues, is that it blocks the path of the next generation and assumes that all football clubs operate in the same way with the same methods, undermining the diversity of styles and approaches in the game.

"The debates around Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea speak of an extraordinary cult of assumed knowledge, assumed prowess. The 'big hire' looks like showbiz but is really a desperate urge to play safe."

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