Wenger slams Santos for swapping shirts with Van Persie midway through United defeat
18:09 GMT, 5 November 2012
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has let Andre Santos know that swapping shirts with Robin van Persie midway through Saturday's defeat to Manchester United was unacceptable.
The Brazilian left-back was team-mates with Van Persie until the striker's acrimonious departure to Old Trafford during the summer.
Santos endured a torrid time against United and also came under scrutiny for exchanging shirts with the Holland international at half-time of a game in which Arsenal slumped to a 2-1 defeat.
Slammed: Andre Santos (left) was criticised by fans and now his manager after trying to swap shirts with Robin van Persie at half-time during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Manchester United
Centre of attention: Santos was in training on Monday ahead of Arsenal's Champions League tie against Schalke
Reports suggested Santos could be dropped from Tuesday's Champions League tie at Schalke as a result but, while angry with the left-back, Wenger was keen to downplay the incident.
'I spoke about that but I don't want to make too much of a big story of that,' the Arsenal boss said.
'I believe that was not the right thing to do at all, but that is not an explanation for our bad performance on Saturday.'
Wenger was not the only one to hit out at Santos after the ill-advised shirt-swapping.
Arsenal fans were furious with the Brazilian's decision to pursue Van Persie, particularly after the defender had delivered a poor performance in the first 45 minutes in Manchester.
Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour blasted Santos for the incident, and for his defensive abilities.
Ill advised: Santos accosted Robin van Persie at half-time
Controversial: Van Persie left Arsenal for 24million to Manchester United in summer
'That's a joke. I wouldn't have that,' Parlour said in The Sun. 'At half-time he should be concentrating on his game and he was having a nightmare.
'He can't play in a back four as he gets caught out of position all the time.'
Incensed fans also took to Twitter to vent their fury with the left-back.
On Twitter, @LBFutbol wrote: 'Santos shouldn't be allowed to come back on the pitch after that,' while another added, 'Incredible demonstration after that shambles of a 45 minutes from the “defender”.'
Others, including @GoonerTalk, said, 'Unbelievable', @wilforiley added, 'Andre Santos… The single biggest joke to ever wear the Arsenal shirt', and @EddieBaby66 wrote, 'I present to you…. Andre Santos. Truly shocking'.
Unhappy: Arsene Wenger let Santos know that it was inappropriate to swap shirts with Van Persie before the game was up
Van Persie travelled north in the summer for 24million after refusing Arsenal's offers of a new contract.
The Dutchman took only three minutes to score in his first game against his former club, but refused to celebrate his goal out of respect.
Van Persie said: 'I played at Arsenal for eight years and had a fantastic time. It was out of respect for the fans, players, manager and the whole club.'
And the gesture seemingly resonated with the men in purple and black, with Wenger first shaking hands with the Dutchman at the break, before Santos bounded the length of the pitch to ask for his shirt.
Patrice Evra doubled United's lead after Wayne Rooney had missed a penalty and Santi Cazorla hit a consolation with the last kick of the ball.
Tough task: Arsenal now turn their attentions to Schalke in their bid to progress in the Champions League
Star man: Santi Cazorla scored Arsenal's consolation goal at Old Trafford on Saturday