Jermaine Pennant has released his autobiography, entitled Mental: Bad Behaviour, Ugly Truths, and The Beautiful Game. There are some fairly remarkable of his tales of off-field antics in the book, but, having played at a high level for years, he does offer some good insight into some of the Premier League's biggest characters. Tony Pulis doesn't emerge from the book with much credit, while Pennant reveals that Steven Gerrard was instructed to tap him up during a game.
It emerged years ago that such was the desperation of Liverpool's transfer strategy, Gerrard was instructed to text Toni Kroos to ask him to come to Liverpool. According to Pennant, this wasn't the first time Gerrard was enlisted on this basis, with Pennant claiming that Gerrard asked him the name of his agent during a game between Liverpool and Birmingham.
Pennant also offers a reasonable insight into two of Arsenal's totemic figures: Arsene Wenger and Thierry Henry.
Wenger, he reveals, did not enjoy conflict. "He wasn't always a great communicator. He doesn't like confrontation, not at all. He rarely gets angry. If he gets angry in the changing room, it's for a big reason. He will say a few words and that's it. He will shout, 'This is not right - stop it!' There's no effing and blinding, just a few words, a little explosion, and that's it".
Such an aversion to conflict gave Thierry Henry plenty of room for petulance, as Pennant reveals.
I remember once in training that Thierry Henry was playing in a small-sided game. It happens a lot when the ref or the coach calls it out. Someone keeps missing, someone has three touches in a two-touch game. With Thierry, he was having one of those days.
Someone had annoyed him, or the training kept breaking down. Theirry then got so annoyed that, when the ball came to him, he just booted it into another field. Thierry could sulk if things weren't going his way, but what could you say to him? After all, it's Thierry Henry.
I remember Arsene turning to him after he'd booted the ball into another field and shouting, 'Thierry, stop being a baby!'. Thierry just shouted straight back at him, 'Fuck off!'. Then he just marched straight in.
I was thinking, 'Fucking hell!', he's just told Arsene Wenger to fuck off - and then he walked in! I felt scared around Thierry sometimes. If you didn't give him the ball then he would moan at you, shout at you, and if you went long, he would go absolutely mental! He could sulk. My God, he could sulk!
Wenger didn't pull him up on it. He just got on with the job. No way did he do anything about being told to fuck off. Next day, training as usual.
Saturday, Thierry scored two goals.
The book is available now.