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DON'T STITCH ME UP!; Arsene Wenger talking to Mirror Sport.

Arsene Wenger has fired a blunt warning to his Arsenal paymasters after being slapped in the Highbury transfer handcuffs.

Manager Wenger told his directors: "Nobody signs for this club without my approval."

Wenger's ultimatum follows Arsenal's 400-day deadlock under his predecessor Bruce Rioch, when manager and directors were constantly at loggerheads over transfer policy.

And chairman Peter Hill-Wood had admitted that the Frenchman will have to work in the same transfer straitjacket as Rioch.

Hill-Wood said: "Arsene isn't used to dealing with transfers on a detailed basis. Clearly he will have to advise the board on how valuable a player is and have some input on that side of things.

"But he will remain in the background during the nitty-gritty of negotiations. In fact, I don't think he wants any part of all that.

"That's why we intend to conduct transfers along fairly similar lines to those we used under Bruce. It's the way Continentals work and we believe it's the way forward for Arsenal."

Wenger gave vice-chairman David Dein and managing director Ken Friar the go-ahead to land Frenchmen Patrick Vieira and Remi Garde in a pounds 4million double swoop last month.

But when he takes over officially at Highbury next Monday, the former Monaco coach will insist: "I call the shots on transfers now."

Wenger added: "I will give my advice on what a player is worth but I don't want to waste too much time arguing over wages and finances. What is important is that we choose the right players at the right time.

"But the most important thing of all is that no player can be engaged by Arsenal without my agreement. That is sacrosanct.

"I will have technical power over new signings but not complete financial power."

Rioch's failure to reach an accord with the Arsenal board over transfers was a major factor in his sacking.

And Wenger knows such dithering will not be tolerated by Arsenal fans to whom he is an unknown quantity.

He conceded: "Of course, I am conscious of the need to buy astutely, but I don't think people will reject me just because I am foreign or they don't recognise me in the street.

"They will reject me if I don't do a good job or adapt to the demands of Arsenal.

"Originally I wasn't aware of the club's great tradition and history, but when I stepped off the plane and read all the stories about my arrival, I suddenly became conscious of it.

"Arsenal's fortunes, and the way they go about their business, obviously matters to a lot of people."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Walters, Mike
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 25, 1996
Words:431
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