Arsene Wenger has paid tribute to Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
The Scot announced earlier this week that he was finally stepping down from the Old Trafford hotseat, after a remarkable 26 years in charge. During this time, his trophy haul includes 13 Premier League titles, two UEFA Champions Leagues, five FA Cups, and four League Cups, making him the most successful manager in history.
At one point Wenger’s Arsenal were Ferguson’s biggest rivals, having wrestled the title from the Reds in 1998, 2002 and 2004, as well as beating them in the FA Cup final of 2005. Indeed, their personal rivalry was the biggest in England during this era, but it is fair to say this has thawed in recent years as the Gunners have failed to challenge.
Speaking ahead of his side’s trip to Queens Park Rangers on Sunday, a match in which they hope to take another step towards a top-four finish, Wenger has paid tribute to his old foe, who will be succeeded by Everton’s David Moyes from next season onwards.
“I would just like to pay tribute to an unbelievable achievement and a fantastic career,” the Frenchman told the official Arsenal website. “Basically the achievement is immaculate, when you look at the whole structure and consistency of the achievement.
“It is, of course, something exceptional. It is difficult to imagine English football without him, but it’s now a reality and a fact. Of course the next manager has to fill in and show he has the dimension to do that. It is a big task for the guy who comes in.”
Meanwhile Roberto Mancini, who’s Manchester City pipped United to the title on goal difference last season, has also paid tribute to the Scot. The Italian is currently preparing his team for an FA Cup final date against Wigan Athletic on Saturday afternoon, but he found time to honour the manager he claims to be the best of the past 27 years.
“For me, it has been a great honour and pleasure to compete against Sir Alex for three years,” he said. “I wish him good luck for his future. I don’t know for which reasons (he is retiring). He’s a top manager but he took this decision and we should respect it.
“One manager who stays for 27 years in the same club and won every trophy for 27 years is an incredible situation. I don’t think there will be another manager like him, In Europe, there are other good managers. Sir Alex is the best in the last 27 years.”
Ferguson once famously said his biggest achievement was knocking Liverpool off their perch, something he did when his United overtook the Anfield club’s record of 18 league titles. So there may have been celebrations particularly in the red half of Merseyside this week, but Brendan Rodgers was keen to share his thoughts on the 71-year-old.
“It (United) has been a machine which has been working for over 25 years,” said the Liverpool coach. “Sir Alex has really put his identity on the club and that has led to success. There is no doubt he will be a big miss there because he has been there so many years and been part of the furniture, making the club what it is today.”