Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has paid a fitting tribute to his one time arch nemesis Arsene Wenger, after the Frenchman announced his decision to step down as Arsenal manager at the end of this season.
Ferguson’s United and Wenger’s Gunners sides dominated English football during the late nineties and early noughties, playing out some epic games in the battle for domestic supremacy.
Although both managers were once arch enemies their relationship has improved over the years. Upon hearing of Wenger’s decision to leave the club he has managed for 22 years, Ferguson spoke glowingly about the Gunners boss.
“I’m really happy for Arsene Wenger,” Ferguson told ManUtd.com.
“I have great respect for him and the job he has done at Arsenal. It is great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination that has been able to dedicate 22 years of his life to a job that he loves.
“In an era where football managers sometimes only last one to two seasons, it shows what an achievement it is to serve that length of time at a club the size of Arsenal.
“I’m pleased he has announced he’s leaving at this stage of the season, as he can now have send-off he truly deserves.
“He is, without doubt, one of the greatest Premier League managers and I am proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man.”
Although Wenger’s 22 year stint at the Emirates has become somewhat soured over the last decade, amid poor performances on the pitch and growing fan unrest, it should not be forgotten that 68-year-old has had a huge impact on the Premier League.
Upon his arrival in England in 1996 he set about revolutionising the level of professionalism in terms of how players approached the game. Wenger was one of the first coaches in the Premier League to preach the importance of nutrition and recovery methods, which are now commonplace in the modern game.
His finest teams also played some of the most attractive football the English game has ever seen, and his 2002 ”Invincible,” team that went the whole season unbeaten will be forever remembered as one of the greatest ever.