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Wenger and Pellegrini create unnecessary diversion

We live in a knee-jerk world where people love nothing more than to draw broad conclusions from tiny data samples.

David Silva was unable to stop Barcelona winning at the EtihadPhotograph: Getty
David Silva was unable to stop Barcelona winning at the EtihadPhotograph: Getty

Maybe Manuel Pellegrini and Arsene Wenger know that.

And so, to avoid ridicule or condemnation, they staged their post-match tantrums so the focus would shift away from performances and results to their thoughts, however silly. Like suggesting the referee was helping Barcelona against Manchester City to make up for mistakes he may have made two years earlier.

Or that a Swedish official was unsuited to a match of the magnitude of a Champions League last-16 tie because Swedish football isn't that important (whereas, presumably, a Chilean can manage Real Madrid no problem). Or, indeed, in Wenger's case, that a goalkeeper fouling an opponent to deny a goalscoring opportunity, conceding a penalty and then getting sent off was somehow some novel, new-fangled concept (when, in fact, it has been that way for years).

Pellegrini apologised for his out-of-character comments which sounded more like something out of the annals of Jose Mourinho. Wenger is probably still sulking today. But the point is that, in the cold light of day, they probably didn't need to deflect attention like this.

City fell to the La Liga leaders, Arsenal to the reigning European champions, Bayern Munich. City were without their best player (Sergio Aguero), their most mobile defender (Matija Nastasic) and had a half-fit Fernandinho in the middle of the park. At 11 v 11, they held their own.

Arsenal's absentees included Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta and Theo Walcott, while Olivier Giroud lost his place to Yaya Sanogo, a kid making only his second start. They created chances early on and missed a penalty that would have given them the lead.

In short, neither side was terrible. It's just that the opposition are better. Far better. At least for now. Sure, City have gleefully spent Sheikh Mansour's millions (or, rather, half a billion). And, yes, Arsenal have been the best team in the Premier League for much of the season. But, lest anyone forgot, Bayern and Barcelona both won their respective leagues with record points totals last season. And the former added Mario Goetze to their squad and Thiago Alcantara, while the latter picked up Neymar.

You can pick holes in Arsenal and City. Starting with squads that, frankly, could have been better assembled. The whole world argued that Arsenal missed a trick in not bringing in cover for Giroud. And it seemed pretty obvious that, perhaps, rather than spending £22 million on Stevan Jovetic to be the fourth striker, City could have spent that cash on a legitimate centre-back, someone who would keep Martin Demichelis and Joleon Lescott off the pitch.

But on the night, against two of the best sides in the world, they held their own as long as they could, before paying an outsized price for individual errors.

That's where the focus ought to be. Not on referees. And certainly not on doom-and-gloom declarations of the Premier League's supposed inferiority.

The only thing more predictable than the fact Wayne Rooney would sign a new contract with Manchester United was the reaction in some quarters, with talk of "obscenity" and "immorality" and how many nurses' wages it would take to equal his take-home pay. That's what happens when you have a nice, round headline number like "£300,000 a week".

So maybe a reality check is in order. For a start, it's not £300,000 a week. It's "up to £300,000 a week". My under- standing is that his basic wage is marginally more than what he earns now, but if he hits all his incentive and bonus targets (and some of them are tied to team performance, such as reaching the Champions League), he'll get close to £300,000.

Second, contrary to what some outlets (who still can't wrap their heads around the fact the Spanish media express figures in after-tax terms) have reported, Rooney's wages are still dwarfed by the likes of Lionel Messi (£480,000 a week) and Cristiano Ronaldo (£550,000). Which, doesn't necessarily mean he's a bargain, of course, but it does mean the figure, per se, isn't quite as eye-popping as some would have you believe.

Finally, there's United's rationale. It's not that hard to understand. Selling Rooney at the end of the season, with one year left on his deal, would not have fetched serious cash. Certainly not enough to buy a replacement of comparable quality.

Throw in the fact Ed Woodward and David Moyes will have enough on their plate - United will likely make half-a-dozen first-team- standard signings - and giving them one more target probably would not have been clever. Particularly given their track record.

So better the devil you know. Relative to a replacement, Rooney represents value. And, depending how bonus-laden his deal is, they might not even have to fork out that much more money.

Predictably, Barcelona have now been charged with tax evasion over the Neymar deal. That's what happens when, in addition, to the player's own wages (a relatively modest £145,000 a week) his dad - via his company - pockets north of £40m in various commissions, "scouting fees", image rights and something described in Barcelona's books simply as "compensation".

It is claimed that the huge payments to Neymar's father aren't actually costs associated with the transfer but rather covert wages ultimately making their way back to the player. Barcelona deny the charges.

Regardless of the outcome of the case, more heads will likely roll at the Camp Nou (President Sandro Rosell has already resigned and new elections will likely be called in the next few months). And rightly so.

Why a club in Barcelona's position would cook up such an absurd, hare-brained scheme - whether to save a few bob in taxes (as the court alleges) or simply to make the deal happen (as they contend) - is difficult to understand.

Just as it is incomprehensible that they could possibly believe - given the club's structure - that nobody would find out.

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