Everyone knows about the intense rivalry between Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger.
But of late, the rivalry seems to have been replaced with mutual respect and admiration for each other’s efforts—at least off the field—as one got the impression at Wembley’s Great Hall last Friday.
Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger shared the stage at the League Managers Association (LMA) evening in aid of the LMA’s Benevolent Trust and Community Fund.
Special guests including Fabio Capello, Sir Trevor Brooking and Alan Curbishley were there, with many other past and present football greats in attendance.
Both managers aired their views on future managers and management issues, as well as on foreign investments and managerial sackings.
Both managers agreed on the need for strong, capable, and responsible managers ready to stand up against change in principles of the game, to maintain complete control over their team and be responsible for the outcomes, since the quality of the manager is always determined by the quality of his control of team affairs.
While Sir Alex maintained that money can’t buy every player and certainly not the best team, Wenger held out that too much money is exercising inflationary pressure and destabilizing teams by putting undue stress on their resources; and questioned the nature of interests of foreign investments.
Both managers stressed the importance of robust and comprehensive contracts, regarding managerial sackings. They both echoed sentiments in agreement with Kevin Keegan and Alan Curbishley over the Newcastle debacle.
On a lighter note, they were seen sharing a few laughs and drinks as well—a rare sight!
While Wenger stressed mutual admiration and respect between them, Ferguson broke the ice revealing the pair have shared and enjoyed many glasses of wine and meals during coaching conferences.
As the evening drew to a close, the shock and euphoria of watching these two great managers share not only views but also laughs, is yet to pass though.
It remains to see how they treat each other on field.