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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 November, 2004, 07:42 GMT
Arsenal back Wenger to speak mind
Arsene Wenger
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has been backed to speak his mind by Gunners chairman Peter Hill-Wood.

Wenger faces a Football Association charge for accusing Manchester United's Ruud van Nistelrooy of cheating.

"Wenger is a very intelligent man and he says exactly what he thinks," Hill-Wood told the Daily Express.

"It was a silly, stupid spat but if Wenger believes Van Nistelrooy is a cheat he is going to say so, and if the FA don't like it that's up to them."

The FA also wants both Arsenal and Manchester United to get together for peace talks after a string of contentious matches.

But Hill-Wood said: "Can you see them over a cosy dinner date? I can't and I wouldn't insist that our manager does anything like that if he does not want to.

"I've not said to him 'stop insulting Ferguson' and I've no intention of doing so."

Wenger was charged with improper conduct for his remarks about Van Nistelrooy after the game at Old Trafford on 24 October.

The Frenchman has been given until 23 November to respond to the charge.

The FA will not take formal disciplinary action on any other matters related to the match.

United's win ended Arsenal's English top-flight record of 49 consecutive league games unbeaten.

Wenger was also highly critical of referee Mike Riley, who awarded a penalty to United after Wayne Rooney went down under a challenge from Sol Campbell.

Wenger's comments and an incident in the tunnel, which led to United boss Alex Ferguson allegedly being hit with food thrown by an Arsenal player, were subjects of FA investigations.

Van Nistelrooy's tackle on Ashley Cole was also studied by the FA, with the result being a three-match ban for the Dutchman.

The FA has also written to both Arsenal and United, requesting a meeting with their representatives and the Premier League.

The moved is designed to try to avoid any repeat of the adverse publicity that surrounded the game.

Interview: Arsene Wenger directly after Man Utd game

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