As we’ve already seen, the recognition and gratitude has been positively cascading in for Arsene Wenger since the Frenchman announced his intentions to stand down as Arsenal manager at the end of the current season.
However, while many allies and rivals have come and gone during his 22-year stint at the mill, Wenger’s Premier League career will forever be entwined with that of Sir Alex Ferguson thanks to Arsenal and Manchester United being at each other’s throats for long periods of it/them.
While there was a point not so very long ago that the pair seemed to be baying for blood, the heavyweight tensions eventually thawed and even transmogrified into a healthy mutual respect, especially in the years after Ferguson’s retirement.
So, understandably, Sir Alex’s farewell note to his former bête noire carries a little more gravitas than most we’ve heard today.
Indeed, speaking to United’s official club website, Fergie heralded his one-time nemesis in terms nothing short of luminescent:
I am really happy for Arsene Wenger. I have great respect for him and for the job he has done at Arsenal.
It is great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination that he 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 or two seasons, it shows what an achievement it is to serve that length of time at a club the size of Arsenal.
I am pleased that he has announced he is leaving at this stage of the season, as he can now have the send-off that 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.
Aww. How sweet.
One thing’s for sure, the relationship between Ferguson and Wenger has come an awful long way since 1996.