Beauty and the blunt
On the eve of the FA Cup final between Arsenal and Aston Villa, managers Arsene Wenger and Tim Sherwood agreed to a Q&A interview for this week’s Wacky Neilo column. Here’s what they almost certainly would’ve said.
1. The FA Cup is the English game's traditional showpiece. How will you send out your side to play at Wembley?
Wenger: With the world watching, I think it's important to adhere to the aesthetic principles to play in an attacking fashion that captivates the audience.
Sherwood: We'll get stuck in.
2. Do you think you could be more specific, Tim?
Sherwood: We'll give 150 per cent.
Wenger: You do realise that's a mathematical absurdity.
Sherwood: What are you an economist now?
Wenger: Well, yes, actually.
Wenger: Yes, I was an economics major.
Sherwood: Wow, you were in the army, too?
Wenger: No, no, when I say, "major", I mean, it doesn't matter. I think he was asking you to be more specific about how Villa will play.
Sherwood: Oh, sorry, I didn't realise. You want detailed tactical analysis? Right then. We'll roll our sleeves up and give 150 per cent. Ah, sorry Arsene. That's wrong isn't it? We'll give 110 per cent.
3. Arsene, a win at Wembley would make Arsenal the most successful club in FA Cup history with 12 triumphs. Will that be the boost you need to go out and spend serious money?
Wenger: I'm sorry. I don't understand what you just said.
Sherwood: He means you would've have won 12 FA Cups.
Wenger: No, I got that. I didn't get the spending huge money bit.
Sherwood: Call yourself an economics sergeant.
Wenger: Major! It's economics major! I just don't believe throwing loads of money at a problem will make it go away.
Sherwood: It always did for Fifa until this week.
Wenger: It didn't for Brendan Rodgers.
4. Ah, speaking of Rodgers, do you consider the FA Cup semi-final win over Liverpool to be the highlight of your coaching career, Tim?
Sherwood: Not really. It was only Liverpool.
5. But were you disappointed that the semi-final victory was followed by poor league defeats by Southampton and Burnley?
Sherwood: I told the lads they needed to raise their game. They can't play Liverpool every week.
Wenger: That's a bit harsh.
Sherwood: Liverpool finished our semi-final with Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert up front.
Wenger: Fair enough.
6. Arsene, how do you feel about taking on a Villa side determined to win their first FA Cup since 1957?
Wenger: Well, obviously, we really wanted to get the weaker side from their semi-final. Unfortunately, Liverpool lost.
Sherwood: That's a bit harsh.
Wenger: But we've got Villa now. Their front three of Jack Grealish, Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor have experience and pace. But, we've got Per Mertesacker. He's got experience and err... he's really got a lot of experience.
7. How will Arsenal cope with the loss of Danny Welbeck?
Sherwood: Is he still at Arsenal? I thought he'd been sent out on loan.
Wenger: He's got an injury. He's still struggling with the pace of the Premier League.
Sherwood: Pace? He came from Manchester United.
Wenger: United are still struggling with the pace of the Premier League.
8. And finally, what must your teams do to win?
Wenger: We need to be patient and willing to concede possession so we can break on the counter, utilising the ingenuity of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Oezil. Our football must be fast and fluid, inventive and controlled.
Sherwood: We'll give 110 per cent.
Wenger: For heaven's sake, Tim, they can't do that.
Sherwood: Really? How much can my players give then?
Wenger: 100 per cent. It's always 100 per cent.
Sherwood: Nah, that's not enough for me. No wonder your boys can't win the league.
- Neil Humphreys will launch his new book Saving A Sexier Island: Notes From An Old Singapore at Kinokuniya, Ngee Ann City at 4pm today.