Former Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone has opened up about his relationship with former boss Arsene Wenger. The Italian told Gazzetta dello Sport that he did not share a great human relationship with the legendary French manager.
Mannone, 32, spent seven years at Arsenal but managed only 15 league appearances between the sticks. He left North London in 2013 to join Sunderland to seek out more regular first team action.
Mannone stated that, With Wenger, he didn’t have a great human relationship. He said Wenger never believed in him.
He also mentioned how Wenger was forced to eat his words after he saved two penalties in the Capital One Cup semi-final against Manchester United in 2014. He recalled that the Wenger called him a great goalkeeper. He admitted the word of encouragement from Wenger did go a long way to boost his confidence.
However, the Italian admitted that his time at the Emirates stadium was a great learning curve for him, helping him to develop as a player, as well as living out some great first team experiences. He added that Arsenal gave him the teachings of a great club.
The departure of Jens Lehmann in the summer of 2008 mobed Mannone to Arsenal’s third-choice goalkeeper. He was behind Manuel Almunia and Łukasz Fabiański in the pecking order. He changed his jersey number from 40 to 24 in the beginning of the 2008-2009 season, after Manuel Almunia was given the number 1 shirt number vacated by Lehmann.
Mannone did not reach the peak at Arsenal as he continually played second fiddle to establish first choice goalkeepers in the team. He played understudy to Almunia and Fabiansky.
His most impressive run with Arsenal came due to injuries to first and second choice goalkeepers, Szczęsny and Fabiański. Mannone was the first-choice goalkeeper in a 0–0 draw against Stoke City. He kept another clean sheet a week later against Liverpool at Anfield.