Tuesday 12 December 2017

Wenger leads Fergie tributes

Manchester United are set to unveil a statue of long-serving manager Sir Alex Ferguson
Manchester United are set to unveil a statue of long-serving manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has led the tributes to great rival Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of the long-serving Manchester United manager's latest honour.

United are to mark the Scot's phenomenally successful 26 years in charge at Old Trafford by unveiling a statue of the 70-year-old outside the stand that already bears his name on Friday.

Wenger has had many close duels with Ferguson during his own remarkable 16 years with the Gunners but still holds his old adversary in the highest regard. The Frenchman said: "I don't remember anybody else being at the top, top level for such a long time."

He added: "The club will be destabilised even if the guy who comes after him is top quality because the print of everything, the life of everything, revolves around Ferguson so much at Manchester United.

"What I admire maybe the most in him is his forward-thinking. He is always ready to move with the times and never speaks about what he has done before. It is a job where you need to dedicate your life to football and Ferguson has done that and that deserves massive respect."

Ferguson won the first of his 12 Premier League titles with United in 1993 and has also overseen Champions League success twice. There have also been five FA Cup wins.

England hero David Beckham found stardom under Ferguson and was a member of six title-winning sides before leaving for Real Madrid in 2003. Beckham may have had his differences with Ferguson at times but the pair have long since been reconciled and the respect is evident.

Beckham said: "I think the manager has been so successful because he's passionate about Manchester United and he's a born winner. He knows how to win games, how to handle pressure and how to look after his team and his players. Playing under him for the years that I did, well - he was like a father figure to me.

Another influential player was defender Gary Neville, who is now on the England coaching staff and forging a promising media career. Neville said: "To be at this club for so long is staggering. You would never believe it could happen.

"I've said before, United had Sir Matt Busby, now they've got somebody who's replicated his longevity at the club and surpassed his success - you would just never believe it could be achieved. It's really not something you can put into words, what Sir Alex Ferguson has done for the club."

Press Association

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