The distinctness from the present makes the past look beautiful, and leaves us with the sense of amazement. If the history of football is written ever, the managerial rivalries of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger will have a different chapter written on them. They would attract the degree of marvelousness which the Egyptian pyramids attract.
We can say that football is all about rivalries. It may be about the rivalries between the clubs, rivalries between the players and could also include rivalries between the managers. There have been very few managerial rivalries which have gained more attraction than the rivalry between Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.
“The Professor lands in England”
Manchester United were doing great in Europe and were dominating English football. However, Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t expect to find a rival and opposition in the form of Arsene Wenger who flew from Japan to England. To be precise, Arsene Wenger revolutionised the way of football being played during that time.
Arsene Wenger shell shocked the Scottish international when he achieved the double over Sir Alex Ferguson in his first season itself. Moreover, the Gunners manager had introduced new dietary measures and methods to give a different touch to the Arsenal squad.
This not only gained bad attention from Sir Alex Ferguson but also gained praise from the media. The methods made Sir Alex go lengths and bounds to get the North London club.
Arsene Wenger brought the French Armada and the flair with him that helped France to win the 1998 World Cup. Despite the mounting challenges, Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t shy away from it and ensured his strong leadership skill. He was always up to it and never rested until he made Manchester United capable of it.
“The Knife between their teeth rivalry”
The first noticeable moment in the rivalry came when both the sides clashed in 1998-99 season. The fixture was a FA Cup knockout fixture and both were raring to go out. If Arsenal had won the FA Cup semifinals, they would land on a double and if Manchester United get on top of Arsenal, they were very near to the historic treble.
There were two crucial moments in the game. Peter Schmeichel’s penalty save and Ryan Giggs set the precedence for Manchester United’s historic treble. However, it sparked the flash of rivalry between the two.
Both the managers fought hard for the titles and the clashes were highly intense in nature. However, everything has an end. The final chapter of the historic rivalry came in 2004-05 when Manchester United faced Arsenal. The game is also known for the “Pizza slice gate” or also known as ” Battle of the Buffet”.
Sir Alex Ferguson was highly undone by Arsenal’s achievement of being “Invincibles” in 2003-04 season and winning the title. Moreover, if Arsenal hadn’t met Red Devils since then in the Premier League. It was October of 2004-05. The Scottish manager was determined to plot the victory at Highbury. Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney scripted the victory for Manchester United and ended the 49 games unbeaten run of Arsenal.
Frustrated from the game, Cesc Fabregas threw the Pizza Slice on Sir Alex Ferguson when all were returning in the tunnel. This marked the end of the iconic rivalry.
“The twilight of the rivalry”
Fighting over six seasons for the trophies, league titles and domestic dominance, Arsenal couldn’t match the ruthlessness of Manchester United. Moreover, the arrival of Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge changed the complexion of the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho mounted challenges on Sir Alex after he won the title with Chelsea. On the other hand, Arsene Wenger had to struggle with the finance after Arsenal decided to move to Emirates from Highbury. Moreover, Wenger’s failure to adapt to new style of football cost dearly.
Sir Alex aged like a fine wine while his tenure at Old Trafford and became the expert of playing mind games. Though Wenger tried to remain out of these things, the Frenchman fell to tactics of Sir Alex. However, “The Professor” gave the run for the money for Manchester United’s legendary manager with his tactics and discipline.
Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger share a different kind of rivalry which is unparalleled in the history of football. Moreover, they both respect each other for what they have achieved. The passion, loyalty and hunger to excel are the things which drove them ahead.
Which is your favourite moment in the iconic managerial rivalry between Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger? Comment down.
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