Sir Alex Ferguson claims Thierry Henry’s arrival at Arsenal turned his rivalry with Arsene Wenger ‘toxic’… but pays tribute to the ex-Gunners boss in a new documentary and admits the Invincibles season ‘stands above everything else’
- Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson once had a notoriously fierce rivalry
- The Arsenal and United bosses oversaw some mega clashes with the two sides
- Ferguson has paid tribute to Wenger’s work at Arsenal in a new documentary
Sir Alex Ferguson has reflected on the ferocity of his rivalry with Arsene Wenger while they led Manchester United and Arsenal, with the Scot underlining the influence on Thierry Henry on how much respect he gave the Gunners.
Clashes between United and Arsenal were always fiercely fought contests between the two sides that dominated English football around the turn of the century.
There is a respect between the two managers now – as demonstrated in Ferguson’s appearance in a documentary about Wenger titled ‘Arsene Wenger: Invincible’.
Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson had an angry rivalry during their years managing Arsenal and Manchester United respectively
Ferguson said that things went up a notch once Thierry Henry arrived at Arsenal
Henry (left) and Arsenal were the leading side in the Premier League along with United
Ferguson spoke not only of Wenger’s influence on English football as a coach but particularly the moves he made to compete with United – particularly with the signing of Thierry Henry.
Henry arrived at Arsenal in 1999 from Juventus having struggled to make an impression for the Italian giants as a winger. Wenger deployed him as a striker and Henry hit new heights, scoring 175 Premier League goals in 258 games.
‘It became toxic for a while,’ Ferguson admitted, according to The Mirror. ‘The big change that made Arsenal was reinventing [Thierry] Henry. And the goals… he was fantastic.
‘You’re always looking in the rear-view mirror to see who’s coming up behind you, and when you see someone you accelerate.
‘Arsenal were catching us up, and their team was good enough to go above us, there’s no question about that.’
Ferguson won the league 13 times but now reflects more positively on his Arsenal rivalry
Ferguson paid tribute to his old foe Wenger for getting the best out of striker Henry
He said that Wenger’s unbeaten season in 2003-04 at Arsenal ‘stands above everything else’
Ferguson won 13 league titles in his time as United manager but even he still tips his hat to Wenger’s side going unbeaten across the 2003-04 season.
‘I won 13 leagues but I was never near going through a season undefeated,’ Ferguson told the documentary. ‘The achievement stands above everything else, and it was Arsene’s.’
Ferguson stepped aside at United in 2013, with Wenger departing Arsenal in 2018.
He now works for FIFA as head of global football development and is pushing to introduce a World Cup once every two years.