Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp have leapt to the defence of Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, after the striker was photographed in a drunken state earlier this week.
Rooney was pictured looking inebriated late on Saturday night after reportedly attending a wedding party held at the team hotel, according to The Sun.
Rooney later apologised for his actions, and the FA have said they will review their policy regarding free time given to players. However, both Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp have defended the England captain’s actions.
Arsene Wenger feels is confident that every player knows his responsibilities and that drinking is no longer a big problem in English football. “At the top level every player has to know what he can do and what he cannot do,” said the Frenchman, according to The Guardian.
“There is a lot of competition inside the club and if you don’t compete, you don’t play.”
Wenger is credited with revolutionising English football given that he was the first to ban alcohol from the players lounges, and insisted upon a strict diet for all his players. When Wenger took over in 1996, there was a very destructive alcohol culture that pervaded English football, and the Gunners boss started the change by educating his players on the effects alcohol could have on high-level athletes.
Arsenal legend Tony Adams struggled with alcoholism, but is now an important figure in combating the issue. Wenger feels that a lot has changed since then, and that alcohol abuse is no longer a big problem in English football.
“You have to accept you cannot control the players everywhere,” he said. “I don’t think it is a major problem now in English sport.”
Meanwhile, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has also defended Rooney, saying that footballers today are more professional than they have ever been.
“This generation is the most professional generation of footballers not only in England, but England too has ever had,” he said, according to the Daily Mail. “All the legends we love and admire they drank like devils and smoked like crazy. No one does it any more.
“I don’t know anyone now (who drinks). We had a Christmas party and I had to fill peoples’ glasses. I have no idea where Wayne was but I’m pretty sure it’s not really serious.”
Klopp went on to recount how he was also once pictured drunk when at Mainz, after wearing a mask so no one would know it was him and then taking it off once he was “a little bit drunk.”
Although this won’t do Rooney’s image any favours given he has already been widely criticised for his performances this season, there is no doubt that there is some truth to what Wenger and Klopp — both men with immense experience in the game — have said about the subject.