Tony Adams' coaching comments about me 'sad' - Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger has fired back at Tony Adams, describing the criticism from his former captain as "sad" and aiming his own dig at the Arsenal legend's performance as Granada coach.
Adams questioned Wenger's coaching ability in an excerpt from his upcoming book that was published in the Sun newspaper on Friday, and said Wenger had blocked his return to the club on several occasions. Adams wrote that Wenger "is essentially not a coach" and did not want an assistant around who would question his methods on the training ground.
Adams is widely viewed as one of the club's greatest-ever players, winning 10 major titles in a 19-year spell that earned him the nickname "Mr. Arsenal." He has criticised Wenger in the past as well for neglecting the defensive side of the team in recent years -- an opinion shared by many other pundits and fans. But his latest comments come as Adams is struggling as interim manager at Spanish club Granada, his first head coaching job in Europe since being sacked by Portsmouth in 2009.
Adams has lost all seven games in charge at Granada and has been unable to stave off relegation from La Liga -- a fact that didn't seem lost on Wenger.
"He can show what he can do now," the Frenchman said when asked about Adams' criticism. "Who gives importance to that? I've known him for a long time, you know. So, it's sad. ... For me it's a subject of no interest, and so I would like to dedicate my time to something that is more interesting."
Adams made it clear that he had wanted the job as Wenger's assistant manager when Pat Rice left the post in 2012. But he echoed former teammate Patrick Vieira in saying that Wenger doesn't want strong characters around him who will challenge his opinion, and described Rice's eventual successor Steve Bould as someone who "won't ruffle feathers."
Adams spent a month back at Arsenal last summer training the under-18s but then left for a job in China amid speculation that he would return permanently.
Wenger has been criticised in the past for not doing enough to hire former players as coaches, with the likes of Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry all working elsewhere at the moment. But the Arsenal boss insisted that he has to hire the best people for the job, and that former players don't have "a divine right" to come back to the club.
"In a football club today you have to employ people who can help you be successful. Sometimes it [forces you] to make harsh decisions," Wenger said. "But there is no right. I think if I leave Arsenal Football Club tomorrow I have no right to come back [just] because I've worked here. You have to be needed.
"And if you've made a career as a player somewhere, it doesn't give you any divine right to come back. Because all the players at some stage have decided to leave, when their interest was to leave. It's not like some players have never left the club.
"When it was in their interest to go somewhere else, they went somewhere else. I just think when you're a football club you want people who can help you do the job. And after, the rest, if you can employ everybody who played for Arsenal Football Club it would be even better, but you have to have the need as well."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.