Manuel Almunia has finally snapped at the latest round of verbals fired in his direction by Jens Lehmann.
Gunner shoots from the hip in verbal spat
Manuel Almunia has finally snapped at the latest round of verbals fired in his direction by Jens Lehmann, revealing the full extent of the rift between him and the German at Arsenal.
Following a start to the season characterised by less than assured goalkeeping displays, Lehmann found himself usurped as Arsene Wenger's first choice between the posts at Emirates Stadium.
Almunia's form in his team-mate's absence has seen him justify his selection as the club's recognised number one, but an outspoken Lehmann has failed to concur - often on record - with his manager's decision.
Lehmann's infamous spat on the international scene with Oliver Kahn has often made the headlines back in Germany, but this season his ire has been targeted a little closer to home; with Almunia regularly berated by his team-mate's candid comments.
This week Lehmann expressed his disdain at 'sitting on the bench behind somebody who only started to play when he was 30', and while Almunia has in the past has maintained a dignified silence, it would his patience has now run thin.
In an interview in the The Guardian
, Almunia has spoken of his disappointment that Lehmann feels the need to so openly, and so regularly, voice his criticism.
"I'm an easy-going person," he said. "I like to treat everyone with respect and I see everyone as equals. I treat people the way I would like to be treated myself.
"To have someone here who hates me is just amazing. I know he hates me.
"Every morning I wake up I know it is going to be the same. I've had to put up with it every day since he was out of the team and even before then. I wake up and I know what it is going to be like.
"But I don't care about him any more. He can say what he likes. I come into training and I work with Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone. They are better goalkeepers than him anyway."
While Almunia admits he has often felt exasperated by the situation, he is not prepared to engage in any kind of talks with his 38-year-old colleague, as he feels reconciliation is not now an option.
"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. I came into training this morning and one of the press officers told me he had been saying bad things about me in the newspapers again. It didn't surprise me.
"The truth is I have got used to reading these things from him. If he was someone important to me, I would try to talk to him and see what the problem is. But he's not. So we don't talk.
"I've never been in a situation like this before in my career. Normally we goalkeepers have so much respect for each other.
"Why he doesn't respect me, I don't know. But I don't want any relationship with him. I try not to let what he says enter my mind because it's not important to me what he says or what he thinks."