Belfast Telegraph

Fergie defends Wenger as beleaguered manager offers no quick fixes

Humiliated by his own admission, Arsène Wenger insisted his record demanded he be given more time as Arsenal manager after the heaviest defeat of his managerial career.

It was the day when Manchester became the capital of English football with first City crushing Tottenham 5-1 at White Hart Lane and then United winning 8-2 to condemn Arsenal to their biggest loss since 1927, when they were beaten 7-0 by West Ham.

By the end, both Manchester clubs were leading the Premier League with a combined goal difference of +19 after three matches, while only a last-minute goal for Stoke at West Brom prevented Arsenal from joining Tottenham in the relegation zone.

However, as United have done so often to their neighbours, that scoreline was quickly eclipsed by the champions’ biggest victory since Nottingham Forest were torn apart 8-1 12 years ago. It was their biggest victory at Old Trafford since Ipswich were thrashed 9-0 in 1995. Both those clubs were relegated.

After Edin Dzeko’s four goals had propelled him to a humiliation of his own, Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, said Manchester City would push United “all the way” for the title.

Wayne Rooney led the United charge with a hat-trick but as he pushed for more goals, Old Trafford manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted: “I did not want them to score any more. It was a very weakened Arsenal team but we still had to get the result. I think the criticism Arsene Wenger has had is very unfair.”

The sales of Cesc Fabregas and Nasri may have raised £60m for Arsenal but while Wenger said that some money would be released to secure the South Korean striker Park Chu-young from Monaco, it is nothing like the scale of the reconstruction demanded by Arsenal's supporters.

“It is difficult when you lose |8-2,” he said. “You don't talk too much because it hurts and you are accused of looking for excuses. At the moment I had better not speak too much.

“How much personally am I to blame? I don't know; as much as you want. I am in a public job and I have to accept that criticism. In my 15 years here I have brought some good players for Arsenal and you should give me more time before saying whether I have got it right. It is very painful but it is at the end of the season when you should make the judgement.

“In England you always think that signings are the solution,” said Wenger, who admitted that Arsenal's refusal to pay top Premier League wages meant his task was harder. “I would remind you that we have eight players out injured. Manchester United had class and they punished us. I am very open to finding other players. We have the money, we have 20 people working on that but we have not found the solutions.”

In the wake of a victory that will resonate around Europe, Sir Alex Ferguson was curiously downbeat and not just because of Danny Welbeck's hamstring injury that prevented the striker joining the England squad for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Wales.

When Andy Cole's five goals sent Ipswich careering to their |9-0 defeat, Ferguson told his then assistant, Brian Kidd, that he did not want a 10th because it would be too humiliating for the opposing manager, George Burley. He echoed those sentiments yesterday.

“I did not want them to score any more,” he said. “It was a very weakened Arsenal team but we still had to get the result. I think the criticism Arsene Wenger has had is very unfair. By keeping to his philosophy he has given his team some fantastic players. He has sold well which has always helped the Arsenal coffers.”

It was an afternoon in which Wayne Rooney continued his personal vendetta against Arsenal with a hat-trick. He had scored his first goal for Everton against Arsenal and also his first Premier League goal for Manchester United. Yesterday he took his tally for the club to 152. “I asked Ryan Giggs how many I needed to overtake Sir Bobby Charlton,” said Rooney. “He said another 100 or so and that is my target now.”

Meanwhile, Samir Nasri said after his debut for City: “We sent a signal to the other clubs. To win 5-1 at Tottenham, it is such a tough place to go. It is just the start of the season but I am convinced we have great, quality players here and that we can win things.”

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