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Arsene Wenger pinpoints Alex Ferguson’s greatest strength as Man United manager


The pair shared an intense rivalry during their managerial careers.

When it came to fiery touchline rivalries, few managers could match Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.

Under Fergie, Manchester United ruled the Premier League in the 1990s, winning four titles in five years between 1993 and 1997.

Blackburn Rovers, led by Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish and powered by Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton’s partnership in attack, dethroned United in 1995.

However, while Rovers were unable to sustain their challenge to United’s supremacy, Wenger’s Arsenal proved much worthier adversaries.

Wenger was appointed Arsenal boss in September 1996. Less than two years later, the Gunners were champions, denying United a third successive crown in the 1997/98 season.

United, however, were not to be outdone, responding by winning the Treble in ’99, edging out Arsenal for the league after having knocked them out of the FA Cup semi-final.


For years, games involving the two teams became essential viewing – and they rarely disappointed.

There was the infamous Fabien Barthez blunder-filled Arsenal win at Highbury in November 2001, which was Arsenal’s revenge after losing 6-1 at Old Trafford the previous season.

‘Pizzagate’ fuels rivalry 

Then, of course, there was ‘Pizzagate’ in October 2004 when Cesc Fabregas responded to United ending Arsenal’s 49-match unbeaten run by chucking a slice of pizza at Ferguson.

Wenger had little interest in calming the storm when he called Ruud van Nistelrooy a cheat for what he perceived to be a dive from the Dutchman that earned United a penalty.

Back then, Wenger would have had few nice things to say about Ferguson, and vice versa.

Over the years, though, their mutual antipathy gave way to a budding sense of respect with Ferguson presenting Wenger with a special gift prior to the Frenchman’s last visit to Old Trafford as Arsenal boss in April 2018.

And Wenger – who has been doing the promotional rounds in recent weeks for his new book – clearly holds the utmost respect for Ferguson’s managerial prowess.

Earlier this year in an interview with beIN Sports, he offered this nice summation of what made Ferguson such a formidable managerial figure.

“He was a sensational manager but I give him credit as well as he always knew how to move forward, he was not a guy that stood still on his success and took decisions to move forward at the right moment, he was never scared to make changes when he felt it was needed,” said Wenger.

“He was a very efficient guy but a very modern one because he did accept the evolution.”


Wenger’s right. When United relinquished their title in 1995, he knew it was time for a change with his side at a crossroads.

He sold key players such as Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis and decided to focus on developing the club’s fabled Class of ’92, who became the core of arguably United’s greatest team (there is a strong argument for the 2007/08 side).

Wenger also admitted that the ‘Battle of the Buffet’ in 2004 was the pinnacle of his rivalry with Ferguson.

“I think the day would make a nice film for a guy who wants to make a nice movie,” he said.

“One day, certainly the truth will all come out about that but it was a special day because I think it was on the day where we were beaten and emotions were flying high.

“It was chaos in the dressing room and in the tunnel. It was certainly the peak point of the controversy we had with each other in that day.”

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