London: Patrick Vieira will get more protection from referees after taking over as Arsenal captain, according to his manager Arsene Wenger.
Vieira’s disciplinary behaviour and temperament have often been called into question, but Wenger insists the France international is the best man to succeed the retired Tony Adams as skipper of the English Premier League champions.
Wenger believes officials will treat the midfielder differently if he is wearing the captain’s armband. “He was respected before, but I think there will be more protection from referees now,” Wenger told reporters at the club’s training ground on Friday. “To be captain is a more privileged position, with the job of communicating (with referees).
“Patrick leads by example now, and he is admired by everyone in our dressing room. I had no problems with making him captain. He was captain of Cannes at 18, so why not now he is 26' In fact, he is looked at as a successor for Marcel Desailly in the French national team. The question is whether it is time for him to take over.”
While Vieira may be given special status, Wenger still believes the rest of his players are unfairly treated by referees, supporters and media pundits alike.
His anger has been stoked by the furore surrounding defender Ashley Cole, who was accused of diving and attempting to get Aliou Cisse sent off in Arsenal’s victory over Birmingham City last Sunday. Cole went down after a tackle by Cisse, who was shown a second yellow card and ordered off. Referee Mike Riley has since rescinded the booking and Cisse will not be banned.
But former Arsenal defender David O’Leary said at the time that Cole had tried to “con” the referee, not the first time the defender’s conduct has been questioned.
“Cole has not been bothered by the fuss,” said Wenger. “He has looked at what he did, which was nothing wrong. Maybe it was the fact he was wearing a red and white shirt...maybe that’s why he attracted a lot of criticism... I thought the criticism was unfair... I have looked at the video of the incident and Cole was right to jump out of the way.” (REUTERS)