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Oct 26, 2012

Wenger wary of 'Rooney' rule

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has rejected suggestions that English football would benefit from the introduction of an initiative comparable to the American-style 'Rooney Rule', which forces NFL teams to consider black candidates for every vacant coaching position.

• Blog: Same answers; less patience
• Delaney: Deja vu dominates AGM
•  Brewin: Same old problems remain

Wenger dismissed claims that a breakaway black players union would help to calm racial tensions bubbling in English football earlier in the week, and he has now hit out at the suggestion that more black coaches should be welcomed into the Premier League in a structure that he suggests would be tantamount to a "quota" system.

"I have always been against discrimination, positive or negative," said Wenger. "Just to put a quota out, for me is exactly against what sport has to be. Sport is about competition and competence and you should be judged on whether you can do the job well.

"This rule would be a kind of racism and what we have all to fight for is competence, to put people who are good at their job. Whether they are white, black, red, no matter what colour, put guys who have a competence. That is worth fighting for.

"You measure people in sport by how well they play, not on the colour of their skin. You never leave any player out for a racial reason. You only field your best team and just look at the quality of the players."

Wenger moved on from his speech at the club's fractious AGM on Thursday morning to a press briefing with journalists who were quick to put more pressure on the Arsenal boss after defeats against Norwich last Saturday and Schalke in the Champions League on Wednesday night left him reeling.

While the Frenchman is convinced his side can bounce back with a Premier League victory against QPR on Saturday, he has hinted that he may be tempted to risk an early elimination from the Capital One Cup next Tuesday against Reading in bid to focus on his bigger goals.

After listing the League Cup as his fifth most important target for this season at the AGM on Thursday, Wenger looks prepared to sacrifice what many see as his best hope of silverware this season in a bid to revive his Premier League and European ambitions.

"Ask any club, do you want to win the League Cup or be in the Champions League next season and they will all give you the same answer," said. "Of course we want both, but sometimes we are in positions where you cannot do both, when you have a short squad, you have to make a choice.

"We play Saturday against QPR, then Tuesday at Reading, then Man United on Saturday before going to Schalke. At some stage you have to make a choice and sometimes you have to put priorities in."

Wenger is refusing to look for the panic button ahead of his side's clash with Mark Hughes's struggling side this weekend, as he insists only "small fractions" of improvement are required for his side to return to winning ways.

"It is important for us to bounce back and have a good result in the Premier League," he concluded. "We are still in a strong position in the Champions League and I feel it is only small fractions that need to improve.

"The performance against Schalke was a bit flat and of course that is frustrating. For us not to create many chances is surprising and the regret is that we would not find a way to make a 0-0 draw. That would have been a good result considering our performance."