Arsène Wenger was at the centre of another row with Uefa last night regarding his attempts to get messages from his seat in the stand down to the bench as Arsenal edged to a 1-0 win against Udinese to take the advantage before a Champions League play-off second-leg tie in northern Italy next Wednesday first leg.
The manager had been banned from the dugout for one game by the governing body for his criticalcomments last season in the aftermath of Arsenal's Champions League exit at Barcelona, where he rounded on the referee, Massimo Busacca, and Uefa.
Wenger believed, following a dialogue between the club and Uefa, that it was permissible for him to send instructions via a third party in the stand to the bench, where his assistant Pat Rice was stationed. Wenger was flanked by Boro Primorac and, during the first half, the first-team coach phoned down orders to Rice.
But at half-time Uefa informed Wenger that he was not allowed to communicate in any way with the bench, leaving the Frenchman deeply unimpressed. In the second-half Primorac appeared to continue to make phone-calls, which may prompt Uefa to investigate whether Wenger attempted to bend the rules.
Wenger did not speak to the newspapers or TV after the game, arguing that his suspension ought to apply to his media commitments as well. Wenger's ire would be stoked if Uefa chose to pursue the matter or to fine him for his no-show before the media.
Problems continue to mount for the Arsenal manager, who looks likely to be without Jack Wilshere for Saturday's Premier League visit of Liverpool. The midfielder, who has an ankle problem, left the Emirates stadium with a foot in a protective cast. Wenger will also be without Alex Song and Gervinho, who will begin three-match suspensions for their indiscretions at Newcastle on Saturday. Song was punished retrospectively for his stamp on Joey Barton; Gervinho has lost his appeal to reduce his ban for slapping the Newcastle midfielder.
This article has been amended since first publication.
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