‘Will never forgive him’ – Ex-Spurs coach reveals he was ready to punch Arsene Wenger

Former Tottenham coach, Clive Allen, has admitted that he has no time for Arsene Wenger and that he once had to be stopped from punching the former Arsenal boss.

Allen, who scored 60 goals for Tottenham as a player in 105 appearances between 1994 and 1998, also served as part of both Martin Jol’s and Harry Redknapp’s coaching staff at Spurs.

He revealed that it was during the Jol era that the bad blood between him and Wenger began as the Frenchman labelled him a ‘cheat’ after Spurs refused to put the ball out when an Arsenal player was injured.

The game ended 1-1 and it is most vividly remembered for Jol and Wenger squaring up on the touchline but Allen revealed the altercation carried on long after the final whistle.

He wrote in The Evening Standard: “The whole issue dates back to a game at Highbury in April 2006. Arsene was furious we didn’t put the ball out of play after Emmanuel Eboue and Gilberto Silva ran into each other in the build-up to Robbie Keane scoring the opening goal.

“He went doolally to the fourth official and then squared up to [Tottenham manager] Martin Jol on the touchline. Thierry Henry equalised for Arsenal and the game finished 1-1, but that was just the beginning of it.

“Martin was doing his post-match media interviews, while Chris Hughton and I went and had a chat with Arsene’s backroom staff, as we would do with most opposing teams at full-time.

“There was a little manager’s office opposite the home team dressing room. As we walked in, Pat Rice was there, alongside Arsenal’s goalkeeping coach, Gerry Peyton. I’d played alongside Pat and he was captain at Arsenal when I was there briefly.

“It was all very amicable. They offered us a glass of wine and we began exchanging pleasantries, when all of a sudden the door slams open and in comes Arsene. ‘I am not drinking with you, You are cheats’, he said.

“I took offence to that and turned to Chris. ‘I’m out of here, I’m not having that,’ I whispered to him. Chris told me under his breath to stay put. Nobody said -anything out loud, so Arsene’s words hung in the air. I was adamant I wanted to leave.

“As I went past Arsene, I looked him in the eye. ‘Don’t call me a cheat,’ I said. ‘I was sitting eight rows back in the dugout. I didn’t cheat.’ ‘You are all cheats,’ Arsene said. I walked out. Chris told me I shouldn’t have said anything. ‘I’m not being called a cheat, Chrissy, it’s not on’.

“Arsene came out of the manager’s room a few seconds later and I decided to have another word. ‘You know what? If that had been your team and they’d kicked the ball out, you’d have gone mad they didn’t play on. The referee said play on to whatever conclusion.’ ‘No, no, no, you cheated’, he said. From that point on, all I wanted to do was shake his hand as a winner.”

Allen revealed that Wenger had also subsequently refused to shake his hand after Tottenham beat his side on two other occasions.

He admitted that he was close to punching the 71-year-old in the tunnel after Tottenham’s 2-1 win over Arsenal in 2011, only to be stopped by former Spurs goalkeeper, Carlo Cudicini.

The former Tottenham striker added: “We actually beat them twice — once thrashing them 5-1 in the 2008 League Cup semi-final and again in the League in November 2010 — but Arsene just walked off.

“It ended up third time lucky. In October 2011, Rafael van der Vaart and Kyle Walker scored as we won 2-1 at White Hart Lane. I was wrong to do it, but at full-time, I jumped up and went straight to see him nose to nose.

“I stuck out my hand to shake, but he just walked past me, because he’d lost. That’s the way he is. I chased after him down the tunnel. ‘Come on Arsene!’ I shouted. ‘Are you a man or a mouse? Shake my hand’. He wouldn’t.

“At that point, I lost it. The tunnel area was teeming with stewards, press and the players, who were beginning to make their way off the pitch. I couldn’t believe his attitude.

“‘Where are you walking to? You’re a mouse!’ I screamed at him. I was ready to blow. ‘Just because we’ve won for once!’ I called him a few choice names. He kept looking at me, edging away. I was ready to punch him.

“Just as I went to swing for him, reserve goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini saved the day. He threw his arm over my shoulder. ‘Clive, what was the score?’ he said, smiling. He dragged me away and into our dressing room.

“The club were furious with me. They told me to write to Arsene, offering an apology. I refused and I don’t know to this day whether they ever held that against me.”

“There are a lot of people in football who have been adversaries — Peter Reid, for example — but mutual respect has developed down the years. Arsene Wenger? No. I wouldn’t give him the time of day as long as I live.

“It is not about football, it is the way he behaved. People might think it is childish, but he’s not for me. You have to take defeats on the chin. He can’t and won’t.”

Spurs Web Opinion

Wenger has a reputation of being one of football’s biggest gentlemen but I do remember in his first decade or so at Arsenal that he was extremely arrogant and a terrible loser. So, I am not surprised by Allen’s story and I do not blame him for blowing up at the Frenchman for refusing to shake his hand after losses.

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