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Wenger: Arsenal don't just splurge, we develop homegrown heroes

Arsene Wenger has rejected claims from Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho that Arsenal have abandoned their cautious transfer approach.

Chelsea manager Mourinho has suggested totalling up Arsenal's spending in the past few seasons leads to a "surprise", resuming his sparring with Gunners boss Wenger.

Mourinho has labelled Arsenal as genuine contenders for this year's Premier League title, before the two teams clash in the Community Shield on Sunday.

Wenger responded by insisting Arsenal spend within their means, and will not fret too much about outside opinions.

"We spend when we think we have to spend and do not listen too much to what people think or say," said the Frenchman.

"We just try to make the right decisions.

"When we have the money available, we spend it. When we don't have the money, we don't spend the money we haven't got."

Arsenal have spent almost £150 million ($319.4m) since the summer of 2013, breaking their transfer record for Mesut Oezil and signing Petr Cech from Chelsea last month.

Chelsea's own investment in that time amounts to almost £235 million.

Mourinho dropped heavy hints in his comments that Arsenal are title contenders simply because of their two-year spending spree.

Wenger rubbished that notion, however, claiming Arsenal still lead the way on producing homegrown talent.

"I believe that one day, if you make real statistics of the players we have developed here and compare them to the other clubs, you will be surprised," said Wenger.

"I think what you want is not to listen too much to what people say, because sometimes in the same week I get two different reproaches: one I don't spend enough and one too much.

"I believe if you want to create success, which we want desperately, (we have) to focus on inside and try to do as well we you can, believe in the football we want to play, play it as well as we can, and let other people talk."

Wenger refused to rule out further signings before the start of the new Premier League campaign - but scotched suggestions Calum Chambers could return to former club Southampton on loan.

"They didn't try to get him back on loan and I will not consider it. Not at the moment," Wenger said.


"I want to develop him as a centre back and at the moment we have just the right number.

"He will get games here."

Wenger must hatch a plan to stop Eden Hazard this weekend, fresh from Mourinho branding the Belgian playmaker as better than Cristiano Ronaldo on last season's evidence.

Admitting Arsenal were "a few million" away from signing Hazard when he joined Chelsea in 2012, Wenger believes the 24-year-old still trails behind the likes of Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

"He can decide the games, and you put the top players in this kind of calibre when they can decide the games with something special," said Wenger of the Belgian.

"Hazard is in this category: now to reach the other two or three who are dominating world football at the moment, I think it demands consistency which he is still to do.

"It is all about opinions, you have to compare the numbers. I must say players like Messi and Ronaldo still score 50 goals and that is exceptional." - PA Sport.

In my opinion, he should be in the top three, not the top 10 (players in Europe). Last season Eden (Hazard) was above (Cristiano) Ronaldo.

— Jose Mourinho on Eden Hazard

To reach the other two or three who are dominating world football at the moment, I think it demands consistency which he is still to do.

— Arsene Wenger on Eden Hazard

It's going to be tight this year, but I've got a feeling for Arsenal... Last year they weren't far away and had lots of injures and lost key players. This year they could go close.

— Former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp grudgingly picking Arsenal to dethrone Chelsea as EPL champions

For sure, (Petr Cech) is a great transfer for Arsenal. (But) I think the league will be the same because they are champions now and know how to win, and the whole team stayed.

— Former Chelsea attacker Andre Schuerrle (right) on why the Blues will beat Arsenal to the title


Two-year-old FINE CHOICE in form for Friday

FLASHBACK DEBUT: Fine Choice (outside, in orange) beating off Celeritas but cannot catch Kubera Warrior (not in picture), who goes on to win by almost two lengths on March 22. It was Fine Choice’s first Kranji start.
COTE DE NUITS: (In red) was most impressive at trackwork yesterday morning. He clocked 37.4sec for the 600m when ridden by Manoel Nunes.
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Movie Review: Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (PG13)

Finally, a woman in the Mission: Impossible franchise who gets equal play as Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt.

Rebecca Ferguson's Ilsa is a key ingredient that keeps this fifth instalment of the spy series afloat - besides Cruise's outrageous, gripping stunts, of course.

The Swedish actress is a total badass and has her own exciting action pieces.

The plot is rather straightforward, but it still entertains, thanks to the goofiness among Cruise and his teammates, like the always amusing Simon Pegg and the reliable Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames. Alec Baldwin is a pleasant treat as CIA boss.

At 53, Cruise is no spring chicken, but he's still pushing for more thrills and we bet there will be more missions for him yet.

Rating: 4/5



Michael Learns To Makan

Celebrity Chow with Danish soft-rock balladeers Michael Learns To Rock

ROCKING: Michael Learns To Rock members (from left) Kare Wanscher, Jascha Richter and Mikkel Lentz enjoy local treats at Nanyang Old Coffee.
Kaya toast
Soft-boiled eggs

It's a sight one does not often see at humble, nondescript local kopi joints.

At Nanyang Old Coffee at South Bridge Road last Thursday, Danish soft-rock balladeers Michael Learns To Rock made a grand entrance.

The group, famed for their hits 25 Minutes, The Actor and Sleeping Child, was in town for a sold-out concert last Friday.

Lead vocalist-keyboardist Jascha Richter, 52, drummer Kare Wanscher, 46, and guitarist Mikkel Lentz, 47, sauntered in, flanked by an entourage of security personnel and minders.

This intimidating introduction faded away as the guys sat down with M and gamely tried an array of traditional tea-time favourites, including kopi-o, kopi-c, kaya toast and soft boiled eggs.

It was all new to the Scandinavian musicians.



"Oh, coffee with a spoon?" quizzed Lentz, when we explained that he had to stir his coffee well in order to mix the sugar.

He said the kaya spread was "very nice, kind of similar to peanut butter", while Wanscher liked the "sweetness" of his kopi.

But the soft-boiled eggs with their runny yolks didn't appeal to their tastebuds.

"You wouldn't catch me eating this back home," said Wanscher with a laugh. "I prefer my eggs cooked (for) at least eight minutes."

You've been to Singapore a number of times. Have you tried other local food?

Wanscher: Yesterday, we went out and had seafood. We tried chilli crab for the first time, it was really good. It's something we definitely must have the next time we are here!

Richter: I had a marinated beef dish, which was great. I also liked the dumplings in Singapore. You never know what's wrapped inside each (dumpling) and for me, I needed courage to eat them. I was surprised when they tasted really nice.

Lentz: I had delicious sweet and sour fish. The fried noodles with minced meat was very good too.

Did you try durian? Any other dishes in Singapore and Asia that are not to your liking?

Wanscher: Durian is the one that smells worse than it actually tastes, right? (Laughs) We tried, but we didn't like it.

Lentz: We don't like jellyfish and sea cucumber. If they are served, we'd give them a pass.

Is there a concept of afternoon tea in Denmark? Is it common to have coffee and snacks like today?

Wanscher: No, we'd just have a beer. (Laughs)

Lentz: In Denmark, we drink coffee all day long. When you have a five-minute break at work, you have a coffee.

Richter: If there's any food to go with coffee, it'd be cakes and cookies.

Most Singaporeans are not familiar with Scandinavian or Danish food. Any recommendations?

Wanscher: Most traditional Danish food is boring and (there's nothing) very iconic.

But in recent years, there has been a culinary movement called New Nordic Cuisine, helmed by Rene Redzepi, the owner of two-Michelin star restaurant Noma.

Richter: I love Danish pork roast. What makes it special is the crispy skin, it has a crackling sound when you bite into it. A little like Peking duck.

Lentz: I would recommend Danish hotdogs, which are served with onions, pickles and cucumbers. You can find them along the streets in Denmark, in carts.

Wanscher: Fish in Denmark is generally good. There are oceans all around, so we have a lot of fresh coldwater fish, cod for example.

Richter: The whole raw food movement is enjoying popularity in Denmark too, especially among younger people.

No word from FAS after exco meeting

No report issued over SEA Games failure, as 
ex-internationals continue to call for action

DOWNER: Aide Iskandar (in blue) quit after his Under-23 team went out in the group stage of the SEA Games.

A thick fog of uncertainty has now settled over Singapore football.  

The future of the S.League hangs in the balance, with the Asean Super League (ASL) poised to kick off next year and the participation of the LionsXII in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) still to be decided. 

National coach Bernd Stange's contract runs out in September, with Fandi Ahmad and V Sundramoorthy tipped to take over the helm.

And, to convolute matters, a conclusion has yet to be reached over the SEA Games debacle. 

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) executive committee sat yesterday in a meeting that lasted for some two hours and, while the press gathered at the Jalan Besar Stadium to hear the outcome, they were left disappointed as none was forthcoming.

Sources revealed that only the SEA Games issue was tabled for discussion.

The FAS did not respond to queries sent in by The New Paper, and the lack of any sort of clarity continues to leave the football fraternity on tenterhooks. 

Speaking to TNP later, former Singapore captain Razali Saad said: "The decision on the S.League is very urgent - no one knows for sure what is happening, not the players, not the clubs.  

"What about the sponsors? As it is, they are not getting much mileage, not much return on the sponsorship dollar. Why would they come in if things are like this?" 

This paper reported yesterday that one of the options being considered is turning the only professional sports league in Singapore semi-professional. 

According to Razali, that may not be too bad an idea.

"Look at the football market here, private companies are running competitions that have big (participation) numbers and good players, too," he said.


"Maybe the authorities can consider a zonal competition that includes more teams, because it seems that if we don't do that, no one will be interested in the S.League - especially after the SEA Games debacle. 

"Maybe we've got to drop our expectations and go back to semi-pro." 

On the subject of the national coach, former Singapore stalwart Malek Awab believes that his former teammates, Fandi and Sundram, are both ready to take over the reins of the Lions.

He has one other wish - for Kadir Yahaya to be drafted back into the national set-up. 

"The FAS need to know its stand with Stange - it needs to plan one or two years ahead. Maybe it's not for me to say what it needs to do, I'm just an ex-player, but I want to see Singapore football move forward," he said. 

"Any one of the two (Fandi and Sundram) can be national coach, but I want to see Kadir Yahaya also brought back into the system. 

"Kadir should be brought into some sort of a technical director-type role, and Fandi and Sundram in the national team and the LionsXII. 

And they need to communicate and cooperate, put the dollars and cents of salary issues aside."

Razali, who like Malek played with the above trio in the Singapore team that battled in Malaysian football in the 1990s, urged the FAS to install a directed long-term plan.

He asserted that the SEA Game debacle, which saw a public spat between Stange and Aide Iskandar, hinted at a much deeper problem.

Pointing to the appointment of a Belgian, technical director Michel Sablon, a Frenchman in Richard Tardy, who is the head of National Football Academy coaches, and German Stange, Razali said: "We know that we need youth development and we need to go back to grassroots. We've known that for a long time - our problem seems to be putting it into action. 

"There doesn't seem to be continuity. We've hired several foreign experts - no disrespect to them - but the local coaches don't seem to know what direction we're taking. 

"They're the ones on the ground... and facing the same old problems like finding facilities for training sessions for their teams. 

"What we need - what we've always needed - is action and the experts hired must be empowered to execute their plans."

We know that we need youth development. and we need to go back to grassroots. We’ve known that for a long time — our problem seems to be putting it into action.

— Former Singapore skipper Razali Saad