Monday, 10 June 2019

'They were trying to kill each other' - Mannone speaks out on bitter Lehmann and Almunia feud

The battle for the No.1 spot at Arsenal in 2007-08 between the German and Spanish goalkeepers was a feisty one

Vito Mannone has revealed what it was like to be stuck in the middle of Jens Lehmann and Manuel Almunia during their bitter battle for the No.1 spot at Arsenal throughout the 2007-08 season.

The feud between the two goalkeepers has gone down in folklore in north London with their relationship having totally broken down following Arsene Wenger’s decision to replace Lehmann with Almunia following a series of high-profile errors from the experienced keeper.

Lehmann took Wenger’s decision very badly and reports of training ground bust-ups were common place throughout the season - with the German often taking swipes at the Spaniard in the press.

Things got so bad that in April, before a game at Manchester United, Almunia admitted that he couldn’t even face talking to his team-mate anymore.

"Every morning I wake up and I know it is going to be the same,” said Almunia. “I’ve had to put up with it every day since he was out of the team.

“But I don't care about him anymore. He can say what he likes. It's his problem, not mine, and I don't see why I should try to talk to him about it.

“The truth is I don't want to talk to him. If he was someone important, I would try, but he's not.”

Mannone had arrived at Arsenal as a teenager from Italy in 2006 and spent the 2007-08 season as part of Wenger’s first-team set-up at London Colney.

So he was always working with Almunia and Lehmann during training sessions and saw first-hand what the feud was like, even finding himself right in the middle of it at times.


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