Arsenal legend Arsene Wenger ‘wanted to hit’ Geoff Shreeves over brutal question following infamous 8-2 Man Utd defeat

    SKY SPORTS’ coverage has taken the Premier League into orbit over the past 30 years — and nobody has been closer to the action than the channel’s chief football interviewer, GEOFF SHREEVES.

    In his new book, Cheers, Geoff! Tales from the Touchline, he reveals some of the secrets of the inner sanctum, including a brush with Arsenal legend Arsene Wenger.

    Geoff Shreeves has revealed Arsene Wenger wanted to hit him in his new book

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    Geoff Shreeves has revealed Arsene Wenger wanted to hit him in his new bookCredit: Getty
    Wenger wanted to hit Shreeves after his questions following the Gunners 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford in 2011

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    Wenger wanted to hit Shreeves after his questions following the Gunners 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford in 2011Credit: PA:Press Association

    I FIRST interviewed Arsene Wenger when he joined Arsenal in 1996.

    We’d speak 30 times a season, over the 21 years he was in charge.

    I know what makes him tick, he knows how I work but there are still moments when the relationship spills over into antagonism.

    After Arsenal had been beaten 8-2 by Manchester United at Old Trafford in 2011, there was no room for soft-soap questions — Wenger had to face an inquisition.

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    I asked if he would resign and if he thought the board would back him. Brutal questions.

    I could see the anger building in his eyes and afterwards Arsenal’s head of media, Mark Gonnella said: “The boss has just told me he wanted to hit you during that interview, he was so angry.”

    Years later, Arsene told me: “Geoff, I wanted to hit you that day, it’s true. But you were not the only one — there were many others.”

    Wenger was always fascinating, he never ducked an interview, never made an excuse or stepped away. He would always front up.

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    Arsenal were an existential threat to Sir Alex Ferguson and United’s dominance.

    There was an intense dislike between the two managers and between the two sets of players.

    It was visceral and the tension was palpable. Never have I met two men more unalike in character but identical in their drive and passion for success.

    But there was also a humour about Wenger.

    We were at Wigan and Roberto Martinez invited me and the floor manager, John Smart, into his office for a drink.

    Wenger would very rarely meet up post-match but, on this occasion, he and his assistant Pat Rice came in for a glass of wine.

    Pat was talking dismissively of Nicklas Bendtner.

    “The problem with Bendtner is that he thinks he’s the best player at this club,” Pat said, which got a bit of a laugh.

    Suddenly, Wenger cut him off with a sharp, “You’re wrong, Pat.

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    “The problem is not that he thinks he’s the best player at Arsenal… it’s that he thinks he’s the best player in the world. That’s his problem.”

    Suddenly the room was in stitches.

     * Cheers, Geoff!: Tales from the Touchline by Geoff Shreeves will be published October 13 by Macmillan priced £22 in hardback. Available on Amazon in all formats at: https://amzn.to/3BTYnNn

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