As Arsenal prepare to face QPR today, Arsene Wenger comes face to face with Mark Hughes, a man with whom he’s had more than one run-in with in the past.
When managing Man City – before they sacked him, of course – Hughes spent an entire game shouting abuse at Wenger who then refused to shake his hand as is customary after the game. Hughes complained and made a big issue out of it, Wenger simply made reference to the fact that he can shake hands with who he wants.
It’s one of the most ludicrously over-stated customs in English football, as if not shaking hands with somebody is one of the worst things you can do in the game, but I’d always have more respect for somebody who was true to their own principles enough not to shake hands.
So I’m on Wenger’s side. The same way as when he falls out with O’Neill or Allardyce or Ferguson or Mourinho or Dalglish or … well, you get the picture. Still, the boss jokes that perhaps the common denominator in all this is him, making reference to today’s meet-up.
“We have a rivalry. But in fact I discover I have this kind of rivalry with many managers,” he said. “Maybe it’s me, that’s exactly the conclusion I have come to!
“I respect every manager because I know they all suffer. That’s part of the job. He was a passionate player, he didn’t give anything away and that comes across in his management.”
Which is basically a nice way of saying he was a filthy, elbowy bastard and nothing has changed. The boss knows that today’s game isn’t about him v a filthy, elbowy bastard though, it’s about ensuring Arsenal take three points.
“We know QPR are a side with quality players and are in a difficult situation,” he said. “I expect them to fight not to go down.
“However the key will be on our side, no matter what QPR’s quality or problem is. It will be important for us to go out and show how much we want another win.”
And here’s to hoping Hughes is too sickened to even think about a handshake at the end.