Arsene Wenger has expressed sympathy for Tottenham’s medical team after defender Jan Vertonghen didn’t immediately leave the field after suffering concussion during Tuesday night’s Champions League semi-final.
The Tottenham defender went up for a header with team-mate Toby Alderweireld and Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana midway through the first half. He was left lying on the ground in an awkward position, with blood pouring from a cut on his nose.
Vertonghen received medical treatment first in the Ajax penalty area and then on the sidelines before changing his bloodied shirt and being allowed to continue. But almost straight away, Vertonghen signalled to the Spurs bench that he needed to be replaced.
He appeared dizzy and even appeared to retch as he was helped from the field by two physios as it became apparent he may be suffering from concussion. It sparked a debate over whether Tottenham’s medical team had followed the correct procedure for when players suffer concussion.
But former Arsenal manager Wenger, speaking on beINSPORTS, offered insight into the often difficult decisions medical teams have to make.
He said: “I have spoken a lot about that with my doctor before. They can be suspended, they can be sued. Don’t think that is superficial, it is a really important thing. It’s really strict rules and they are scared to be banned from doing their job, you know, when they make a wrong decision like that. They can be sued.”
“I don’t take that lightly at all but I think the doctors, today, are really well-educated to deal with head problems. They have tests, they have conferences, they are told the protocol. It is really strict rules and they are scared to be banned from doing their job when they make the wrong decision like that.”
“I don’t take that lightly at all, the doctors are today really well educated to deal with head problems.”
After the final whistle of Ajax’s 1-0 win, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino was adamant everything was above board.
“I wasn’t involved in the decision (to let him play on) that was the doctor’s decision,” the manager said. “The medical staff followed the protocol and I was never involved.” There was a lengthy delay at Tottenham’s new stadium as Vertonghen received treatment +8
“But now he is okay he is walking away and more relaxed. I hope it is not a big issue, we will keep watching him because it was a big knock. We must protect the player. I worried for him – that’s normal. Your priority is the health of the player.”
Vertonghen was given two stitches to his nose and was allowed to travel home with his family as the club insisted he passed the concussion tests and showed no loss of consciousness.