Despite reports to the contrary, Arsène Wenger has NOT tied his colours to one particular mast in the race for the Manager of the Year award.
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson had apparently received the backing of his Arsenal counterpart but Wenger sought to clarify his earlier quotes on the matter at his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon.
"At the time I spoke Man United were six [points clear]," explained the Frenchman. "This interview was two months ago - now I think that [Jose] Mourinho or Ferguson deserve to be manager of the year because they have made the difference for me with [Steve] Coppell.
"They are in so many trophies that the one who wins the most you give him manager of the year and say 'well done'. Is it Ferguson or Mourinho? You have to wait until the end of the season, but it will be one of the two because they deserve it."
Wenger has made no secret of his admiration for Coppell. The Reading manager has guided his team to within touching distance of a European place in their first season in the Premiership. And, as far as Wenger is concerned, Coppell has done it all with style.
"I rate extremely highly what Steve Coppell has done - it's a little bit similar to [Wigan manager] Paul Jewell last year," he said.
"When you see Reading they come to play football. They do not stand in their half and wait until you make a mistake and counter-attack. I have big respect for what Reading has done this year. No matter where they went - Man United or Chelsea - they did not hide, they played. Not many teams have done that.
"Nine times out of 10 any teams who come to Emirates - it's 4-5-1, middle of the park. Reading played so he [Coppell] deserves a lot of credit.
"At the end of the day, people judge a manager by what he has won and Coppell has not won a trophy. That is why it is very difficult to judge what a good manager he is. Basically that is what a manager is good at - he takes the maximum of the potential he has. How do you judge that?"
Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 27 Apr 2007