After Mark Hughes’ Manchester City side produced a 3-0 victory Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal in the Carling Cup quarter-finals last night, Hughes was found looking unsuccessfully for his counterpart Wenger before the traditional post-match shake of hands. Wenger of course is no stranger to controversy and rarely retreats in his opinions or criticisms, and he can be described slightly ungracious loser at times. Wenger again told it how he saw it and said: “I am free to shake hands with whom I want after the game.” The Frenchman does have a point, it is indeed a free country, but is it too much effort to show a small token of respect to fans watching worldwide? Hughes accused Wenger of “not knowing how to behave” after the match. Early on in the match last night, the pair crossed paths as Hughes scurried into Wenger’s technical to retrieve a ball, which Wenger did not react too kindly to. It does seem petulant, and a bit of a non event to get worked up over, but the likes or Martin Jol and Alan Pardew would inform you that the Frenchman is sometimes partial towards a spot of handbags at 20 paces.
The main question here is should managers be forced to shake hands after matches? Bolton manager Gary Megson has slammed Wenger’s snub and remarked “you can do whatever you want, say whatever you like during the game but after the game, you should shake hands – even if you don’t particularly mean in.” When managers fail to show mutual respect at the final whistle, it reeks of a bad example, this effect is prolonged by the fact that Wenger played a young side inexperienced in big club matches. It is a sad day when a club is fairly beaten by quite a margin and a manager cannot be doing with holding his hands up and saying “fair play.” This lack of respect between managers is dangerous and can rub off on other parts of the game, there is a huge campaign on respect for referees, but why not any talk to promoting respect between managers? Why not give the referee or assistants a chance to step in if sour words are shared between managers?
On the other hand (pun slightly intended), managers not shaking hands is not as big a problem as diving, racism, foul play or any other pressing issues in the game. When all is said and done, how much difference does a handshake make? Half of the time it does look insincere and half-hearted as both parties outstretch arms through hordes of staff congratulating or commiserating, and then rush off in their opposite directions down the tunnel. Wenger and every other manager has a right to an opinion, and if he did not like Hughes encroaching in his technical area, then fair enough. Passion and emotions run high in the game, and managers may not even like each other in the first place. In every walk of life including everyday work, personalities clash but after clocking off time (or the 90 minutes) everything is done and dusted and you get on with your life afterwards.
Do you think Mark Hughes is just being melodramatic by criticising Wenger’s actions? Do you think Wenger was just showing his passion for his team by failing to accept defeat with a stiff upper lip? Tell us in the comments what you think and get involved in the debate.