Wenger takes swipe at Mourinho in pre-Bayern press conference?

Arsene Wenger Press Conference - 18/02/2014

Did Arsene Wenger's comments in his pre-match press conference include a thinly veiled swipe at the Chelsea boss?

Arsene Wenger admitted at the weekend there would be no 'final word' with regard to Jose Mourinho, hinting their rivalry would be one which would run and run.

The Arsenal boss had been criticised as a 'failure specialist' by Mourinho, after Wenger had earlier asserted the 'Special One' was 'afraid to fail'. 

Wenger said after the Liverpool game that he was embarrassed for his counterpart, while not wanting to get drawn into a further war of words, but did he have a thinly disguised swipe at Mourinho ahead of the Bayern game?

He told Arsenal.com “Look, it's interesting, but football is not a chess game. It belongs to the players, when the game starts [it is about] the right decisions on the pitch.

“As managers, we prepare the team to do well. We take responsibility when it doesn't go well, but let’s not forget that the main heroes are on the pitch, not on the bench.”

Now we may be reading something into the above which simply isn't there, but could it be that Wenger is trying to shift the attention away from the managers and onto the players?

Mourinho makes headlines whether his team win or lose, he can't help it, it's just his personality. Wenger by contrast is quite happy to slink back into the shadows regardless, even if the team's recent lack of success means he cannot escape the spotlight on occasion.

Wenger likes to give his opinion on a plurality of football matters in his press conferences and interviews, but he has no desire to turn the Bayern game into a Wenger v Guardiola contest - perhaps wise as the Spaniard has a superior head-to-head record from his time at Barcelona.

If it was Mourinho v Guardiola, you can bet the headlines would be dominated by the two bosses, even if the two managers were meeting for the first time and did not have the history they did from their La Liga days.

Wenger appears happy to embrace the challenge of facing Bayern, and is glad to get away from the recent verbal spat with the Chelsea boss. A win, even just in the first leg for now, would prove the ultimate response in any case.

image: © Jenny Leigh

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