Redknapp: Wenger has become one of the 'nutters'
Wenger was found guilty of improper conduct and fined £8,000 by the Football Association for confronting fourth official Martin Atkinson after Arsenal's 1-1 draw against Sunderland last weekend.
The Gunners boss was fuming at officials after they permitted play to exceed the allotted four minutes of added time, allowing Darren Bent to grab Sunderland's equaliser and bring Arsenal's four-match winning streak to a halt. The sight of a frustrated Wenger prodding officials on the touchline is in complete contrast to the cool, calm and reserved image which the Frenchman cast when he arrived in England from Japan to replace Bruce Rioch 14 years ago.
Wenger has had has run-ins with the FA before. Last season he was sent to the stands during Arsenal's match at Old Trafford and he was involved in a touchline spat with then West Ham manager Alan Pardew in 2006. Redknapp, who maintains he has a good relationship with his north London counterpart, believes that the intensity of the English game has caused the Wenger to change.
"When Arsene first came to England I remember reading articles and they said that he was like a professor watching the game,'' Redknapp said. "All the other nutters were jumping up and down shouting and screaming, hollering and hooting - and this man is not like those idiots. He just sits there and is studying every move that goes on on the pitch like chess. They didn't lose a game all season.
"Now he has joined the nutters, you know! In fact, he is one of the key nutters! That is the tension that you are under. It has affected him now. He is no longer sitting there now. He is up there arguing with everybody and gets into it all. I think he has changed. He was the quietest man of the lot at one point. I don't have any problems with him at all, he's always been good. Sometimes I go into his office at Arsenal.''
Redknapp takes Spurs to West Ham on Saturday as he looks to pick up another three points for his resurgent side.
West Ham and Tottenham came to blows this summer over the future of Hammers vice-captain Scott Parker, who was subject of a rejected £7million bid from the north London outfit. Hammers co-owner David Sullivan accused Spurs of unsettling Parker with the bid before the midfielder signed a new four-year contract this summer. Redknapp believes his former club also contacted his midfielder, Jamie O'Hara, about a move to Upton Park.
Redknapp claimed: "They were talking to Jamie O'Hara all through the summer. Jamie told me he'd been getting phone calls all summer.''
If true, the allegations would break Premier League rule K3, which states that the buying party in a transfer must contact the player's club before speaking to him directly. Redknapp has called for the scrapping of the rule, insisting that "tapping up'' players is widespread within the game.
"Listen, it (''tapping up") happens in the game,'' Redknapp said. "We're all kidding ourselves if we think it doesn't go on in the game. Every player that gets transferred, someone's ringing him. It doesn't just suddenly happen. An agent will speak to an agent for a player. He will speak to the player. The player says 'yeah, I'd like to go to that club' and that's how it happens. If people don't think it happens at almost 99% of transfers then they are in the wrong world.''
Redknapp made more than 170 appearances for West Ham before embarking on a successful spell as manager between 1994 and 2001. He admits that memories of Upton Park, and in particular the pie and mash shops which surround the ground, hold a firm place in his heart. Redknapp beams when reminiscing about Cassetari's, the infamous cafe where former manager Malcolm Allison used to take his players to discuss tactics in the late 1950s.
"Cassetari's was the place where we all grew up,'' Redknapp recalls. "That was where I think we all probably learnt about football. After training all the players, the senior players would go there, Malcolm Allison, John Bond, all those people, and Bobby Moore.
"And they'd sit there and Malcolm Allison, Noel Cantwell, would probably hold court. And all us young kids would sit over and we'd listen to them talking and moving pepper pots around and Malcolm would be talking about formations. That's how you used to spend the afternoons, in Cassetari's cafe.''