Dressing room chat must stay private, says Wenger after Hodgson furore

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said that what goes on in the dressing room must stay there, following the race row caused by England manager Roy Hodgson’s ‘Space Monkey’ joke, the Daily Mail has reported.

The Frenchman said it’s hard not to say anything politically incorrect in the heat of the moment when delivering a team talk. The England manager was giving a half-time team talk to his side as they were just 45 minutes away for qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Brazil, when he made a joke that appeared to offend a member of the England camp.

The former West Brom manager is reported to have said “Give the ball to Townsend. It’s like the NASA joke: keep feeding the monkey.” The 66-year-old explained the joke to the squad and post game approached Andros Townsend to see if the young winger was offended by his comments.

Wenger said: “We can go sometimes a bit over board at half time. It’s an emotional situation and there is a lot of desire and effort in there. Basically all [that happens in the dressing room] has to remain in the dressing room. That’s an old rule. Unfortunately these times have gone so you have to be today of course very careful about what you say wherever you are.

The Frenchman added that managers must watch what they do and say in football grounds nowadays as there are cameras watching you everywhere. “I’ve been aggressive at half time,” the 63-year-old said. “You have to adapt to the culture of your team. When you go to Japan you have to be cautious because what looks normal in an English dressing room suddenly looks shocking in a Japanese dressing room. You adapt to the culture of where you are.

Sometimes you can say one word stronger, or someone that is not politically correct, that can happen to any manager. People always want more. There are cameras everywhere. We would like a bit more confidentiality and we know we’re in danger in these situations.

I can go in after a game, you have a penalty against you in the last minute, you can go overboard in the corridor with the fourth official and you wouldn’t like a camera to be there. The demand to see more is always bigger. Who pays the price? Sometimes it’s the manager.

The FA moved quickly to show its support to the England manager and consider the matter closed. Furthermore, Townsend has come out and said that the joke was taken as a compliment to the way he was playing, and no offence was taken.

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