Pressure can do strange things to football managers and with his Arsenal team being sucked into a relegation battle it seemed to catch up with Mikel Arteta on Monday.
The Gunners boss reeled off a list of statistics to try and prove that his players’ failure to convert chances into goals was behind a sequence of no wins in seven Premier League games.
Arteta went on to speak about his team’s percentage chance of winning and losing in an effort to explain why things are going so badly.
Mikel Arteta bizarrely reeled off a load of statistics to try and explain Arsenal’s struggles
‘Last year against Everton we won the game with 25 per cent chance of winning supported by the stats. You win 3-2,’ he said.
‘Last weekend, it’s a 67 per ent chance of winning and nine per cent of losing, and you lose. Three per cent against Burnley and you lose. Seven per cent against Spurs and you lose.’
His ramblings were dismissed as ‘nonsensical’ by some Arsenal fans, who joked that next time ‘we’ll play the game on an excel sheet as opposed to a football field.’
The Gunners boss went on about win percentages to explain recent Arsenal defeats
But Arteta is in good company among managers in the English leagues who’ve left everyone baffled after a press conference.
In fact, from Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger to Ian Holloway and Joe Kinnear, there have been some absolute gems over the years.
Rafa Benitez brings the ‘facts’
Midway through the 2008-09 Premier League season and old rivals Liverpool and Manchester United are neck-and-neck in the title race.
In what becomes a personal battle between the respective managers, Rafael Benitez and Sir Alex Ferguson, the Scot deploys his old ‘mind games’ trick with some comments about the fixture list.
Unfortunately, Benitez fell right into the trap. ‘I have to talk about facts because I think it’s important…’
Rafa Benitez embarks on his epic ‘facts’ rant against Sir Alex Ferguson and Man United
The managers clashed as Liverpool and Man United challenged for the title in 2008-09
The Spaniard went on for almost five minutes, interspersing his words with ‘it’s a fact’, and also complaining that Ferguson received favourable treatment from referees and the authorities.
He was ‘the only manager who will not be punished’ for outspoken attacks on match officials.
Benitez went on to accuse Ferguson of ‘killing referees’, claimed the Premier League fixture list was drawn up in Fergie’s office and said United coaching staff ‘man mark’ officials on the touchline.
It failed to land much of a blow on Ferguson and United as they ultimately went on to retain their title.
‘I read that was already sacked’: Van Gaal’s festive cheer
It wasn’t the happiest of Christmases for Louis van Gaal and Manchester United in 2015. Poor results had led to speculation that the Dutchman would be sacked and replaced by Jose Mourinho.
But in a press conference held two days before Christmas, Van Gaal came out fighting in an extraordinary press conference that lasted only four minutes and 58 seconds before he stormed out.
‘I think I was already sacked, I read,’ Van Gaal fumed. ‘My colleague [Mourinho] was here already.
Louis van Gaal storms out of a Manchester United press conference in December 2015 amid speculation he would be sacked and replaced by Jose Mourinho
Van Gaal wished the media a Merry Christmas before walking out of the press conference
‘What do you think happens with my wife or with my kids or with my grandchildren or with the fans of Manchester United or my friends? They have called me a lot of times.
‘Has anybody in this room not a feeling to apologise to me? That’s what I’m wondering.
‘So you think that I want to talk with the media now? I am here only because of the Premier League rules.’
Van Gaal rounded off the press conference by wishing journalists a Merry Christmas and telling them to ‘enjoy the wine and a mince pie’ before walking off.
He would be sacked and replaced by Mourinho – but only six months later.
‘Any knocks, Joe?’
Joe Kinnear had just been appointed interim manager of Newcastle United in October 2008 following the shock resignation of Kevin Keegan.
In one of his first press conferences, Kinnear took offence to reports that he’d not taken training on his first day in the job. Well, took offence is putting it mildly.
After calling Daily Mirror journalist Simon Bird a ‘c***’ and telling Daily Express writer Niall Hickman he was ‘absolutely f**king out of order’, Kinnear embarked on an exchange with the gathered press in which he swore 52 times.
Joe Kinnear wasted little time making his feeling known to the media after being appointed interim manager of Newcastle United in October 2008
WARNING: OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE IN THE BELOW VIDEO
Among the many great lines was: ‘It is going to my f**king lawyers. I am not f**king about. I don’t talk to f**king anybody. It is raking up stories. You are f**king so f**king slimy you are taking up players I got rid of.’
Hilariously, Newcastle’s press officer tries to make the tirade off the record but Kinnear then said: ‘Write what you like. Makes no difference to me. Don’t affect me I assure you.’
Kinnear then claimed he wouldn’t speak to the national press again during his time at St James’ Park. As silence hung heavy in the room, one reporter uttered the immortal question about team news… ‘Any knocks?’
‘Are you an ostrich?’
In one of the most bizarre press conference exchanges of the Premier League era, Leicester manager Nigel Pearson asked journalist Ian Baker if he was an ostrich following a 3-1 defeat to Chelsea in 2015.
Pearson spoke of ‘the amount of criticism and negativity [his players] have had to endure over the course of a season’, leading Baker to ask him to be more specific.
Pearson replied: ‘Have you been on holiday for six months? Have you been away for six months?
Leicester manager Nigel Pearson infamously called a journalist an ‘ostrich’ in a bizarre answer
‘I think you must have either head in the clouds, or away on holiday or reporting on a different team because if you don’t know the answer to that question, your question is absolutely unbelievable the fact you do not understand where I am coming from.
‘If you don’t know the answer to that question then I think you are an ostrich. Your head must be in the sand. Is your head in the sand? Are you flexible enough to get your head in the sand? My suspicion would be no.’
The Leicester boss went on to belittle Baker as ‘absolutely stupid’ and ‘daft’, adding: ‘Please don’t give that c**p with me.’
‘Are you going to turn it off?’
Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of Roy Keane’s withering death stare.
Keane was giving a press conference as Ipswich Town manager in 2009 when a journalists’ phone went off while he was answering a question about cheating in the game.
And, even worse for the culprit, it was the second time it had rung. Just to dig themselves in deeper, the journalists allowed it to continue ringing even when being reprimanded.
Roy Keane gives a journalist a dressing down for allowing their phone to ring in a presser
‘That’s the second time it’s gone off, why didn’t you turn it off? It’s the second time it’s gone off? Why didn’t you put it on silent? Why didn’t you turn it off?
‘Are you just going to let it ring? Oh right, that’s good manners.’
‘RESPECT, RESPECT, RESPECT’
It’s the start of Jose Mourinho’s third season as Manchester United manager and it hasn’t taken long for things to fall apart.
Following a 3-0 home defeat to Tottenham in August, Mourinho felt in the post-match press conference he wasn’t being shown enough respect.
Holding up three fingers, he asked a journalist what the score was before turning it into a point about how many Premier League titles he’d won in the past.
Jose Mourinho holds up three fingers to illustrate how many Premier League titles he’s won
The angry Manchester United manager then stormed out the room shouting ‘respect, respect’
‘I won more Premierships alone than the other 19 managers together,’ Mourinho said. ‘Three for me and two for them.’
Walking out the room, he shouts at the assembled media: ‘Respect, respect, respect man’.
Mourinho won two Premier League titles during his first spell as Chelsea manager and another during his second spell.
But his time at Old Trafford would only last a few months longer – he was sacked in December 2018 amid poor results and split in the dressing room.
‘Football should look at itself’
Ian Holloway can usually be relied upon to make his true feeling plain and that was certainly the case during his time as Blackpool manager back in 2010.
He was asked about the situation at Man United, where Wayne Rooney had told the club he wasn’t signing a new contract, meaning he could walk away for nothing when his contract expired in 2012.
In an impersonated three-minute monologue, Holloway told the powers that be in the game they were ‘wrong’ and told those who make the rules on contracts to ‘sort their life out.’
Ian Holloway always could be relied upon to make his true opinions on the game clear
‘If Alex Ferguson is being bullied by a player and his agent, how wrong is this game?’ When are you [FIFA and UEFA] going to listen to the people who are involved in the game?
‘They say it’s not fair on the player. Rubbish. The player has had his wages every week. They bought him, they worked with him, he belongs to them. It’s so obvious.
‘The world should change if it’s wrong and football should look at itself.’
Wenger hits out at ‘wrong information’
Arsene Wenger was considered in his responses to questions the vast majority of the time but occasionally the former Arsenal manager did snap when he felt he’d been wronged.
Before a Champions League tie with Bayern Munich in February 2013, Wenger turned on a journalist after stories had emerged saying he was already in negotiations with the club over a new contract despite several seasons without a trophy.
‘That is the wrong information,’ he snapped. ‘I work for 16 years in England and I think I deserve a bit more credit than wrong information that has only one intention: to harm.
Arsene Wenger wasn’t happy about stories concerning his future at Arsenal back in 2013
‘If it is good information which comes from nowhere it is all right but this is wrong information that comes from nowhere and it is completely wrong.
‘I look at you not because you give information, I do not know if it is you, I do not know where the information comes from.’
Wenger then says ‘why do you look at me?’ To which the reporter responds: ‘Because it’s your press conference.’
Fergie vs the world
Alex Ferguson turned confrontation with the press into an art form during 26 years as Manchester United manager. There were countless run-ins, with various journalists banned, but he also cleverly brought the journalists onside when something needed to be said.
A classic exchange came during the 2001-02 season when £28million signing Juan Sebastian Veron was struggling to make much of an impact at the club.
‘He’s a f**king great player,’ Fergie snapped when a journalist questioned the Argentine’s form. ‘Youse are all f**king idiots.’ He then ordered everyone to ‘get out.’
Alex Ferguson was more than happy to stand up for his £28m signing Juan Sebastian Veron even though his performances in the United midfield were a big disappointment
There was a classic of the genre in 2011 when Ferguson accused the Football Association of treating United like ‘s***’ and not showing enough gratitude for his role in producing players for the England national team.
‘The FA may realise who has produced more players for their country than any club in the world. Maybe they will realise how important we are to England instead of treating us like s***’
A few months earlier, Ferguson had been slapped with a five-match touchline ban and a £30,000 fine by the FA for criticising referee Martin Atkinson. Clearly, he wasn’t going to let it drop.
‘Is my English that bad?’
We’ve seen a few Jurgen Klopp rants this season, mostly about what he perceives as unfair fixture scheduling dictated by the broadcasters.
But it isn’t the first time the Liverpool manager has taken exception to a question. Talking in the aftermath of Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham in February 2018, Klopp had suggested Erik Lamela had gone down too easily to win a penalty after ‘the softest touch of the whole game’ from Virgil van Dijk.
A few days later, a journalist asked for clarification on something Klopp had said on the subject of players going down and got a blast back from the German.
Jurgen Klopp wasn’t happy about the way Erik Lamela won a penalty at Anfield in 2018
The German accused the press of ‘writing what you want’ in his next press conference
‘Look, I really don’t like this… I know exactly what you want to do. I said what I said, do with it what you want.
‘You try nothing to clarify, you write at the end what you want anyway. It’s a situation when I say now it was not a dive. It’s a normal reaction I said, it’s a normal reaction.
‘It’s not clear, ball is in the air and players go down, that’s how it is, but you don’t give a penalty in a situation like this.
‘Make your story about that, I really would love to see it. And I won’t read it by the way, but make it. Exactly like that.
‘I said Lamela made a dive… Wow. And now you look like I really said that. Is my English that bad. I didn’t want to say it in the first place but you were waiting for is.’