| Jens Lehmann
Berlin: German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann has launched a scathing attack against his club manager Arsene Wenger and the two goalies keeping him on the sidelines at Arsenal.
Lehmann made a host of calamitous errors at the beginning of the season and Wenger quickly replaced him with Spaniard Manuel Almunia.
Lehmann was expected to return after overcoming Achilles and elbow injuries, having played well in helping Germany qualify for Euro 2008 after a 0-0 draw with Ireland earlier this month. But he found himself barred even from the bench for this weekend’s Premier League match against Bolton, with young Pole Lukasz Fabianski preferred as back-up to Almunia.
And now the German stopper has questioned his manager’s thinking and even the credentials of his teammates, while claiming he is being humiliated.
In an interview to a German television channel, Lehmann declared: “It could be that at some point I feel like commenting on the whole issue, but right at the moment I just accept everything as part of the humiliation. You have to let it happen.
“But I think — and this is directed towards my dear coach — that you should not humiliate players for too long. I am an Arsenal player and I will not just fade away quietly.”
Having criticised his boss, he turned his attentions to Almunia and Fabianski.
“I am convinced I will soon be playing again,” he said. “Almunia hasn’t shown that he can win us matches just yet. I have been through this situation once and know how the other ’keeper is situated mentally. I can’t imagine he will handle this.
“Wenger has spoken of three world-class goalies. I guess I must be one of them. Have the others proven their class by winning titles' I’m just thinking about it, and I can’t recall any. But yet today they are considered world class.”
Lehmann is desperate to reclaim the starting jersey as Germany coach Joachim Loew has told him that he must be playing regular first team football or he will lose his place as the No. 1 in the German team for next summer’s European Championships.
“The disadvantage from the game against Ireland is that my coach now knows that he has a ’keeper who can produce a pretty good game out of nowhere and without match practice. He could not ask for a better ’keeper on the bench,” said the 37-year-old, who joined Arsenal in 2004.
Wenger, meanwhile, said he had no intention of humiliating Lehmann and had enormous respect for the goalkeeper.
But Wenger said after Arsenal’s 7-0 victory over Slavia Prague in the Champions League on Tuesday that he had no intention of humiliating his ’keeper.
“There is no purpose to humiliate anybody. I have said many times that I respect him a lot. That is how he experiences things, but that is not my purpose at all. We have had chats about that already. I do not know how and why this has come out.
“I have not read what he has said and do not give too much importance to that. What is important is to praise the players who have done well and 60,000 people go home happy having watched good football.”