WTTGT Writer: Khalid Sunbol
Arsene Wenger completed 15 years as manager of Arsenal a fortnight ago. And, in those 15 years, he has had several interesting battles with various managers. While very few of those have been on personal fronts, he fought with fellow managers over trophies, tactics, refereeing and approach to football. So let us take a look at what I consider his greatest five rivals.
Sir Alex Ferguson:
If we want to talk about the greatest rival Wenger had/has, that would be certainly be Sir Alex. This rivalry has been going on since Wenger was appointed as manager of Arsenal Football club fifteen years ago.
It is fair to say that the rivalry began because Arsenal became one of the major title contenders after the arrival of the Frenchman. As the years past the rivalry between the two managers became more intense and was evident both on the pitch and off. Sir Alex is one of the best football managers out there, his vision and tactics are the reason why Manchester United are a top class side. Both managers have different approaches, For example, Wenger has a particular style of play that he likes to impose during a match. On the other hand, Ferguson tries to play a more direct and attacking football and would not mind adjusting his game plan depending on his opponents. This rivalry looks far from over and I think it will last as long as these two are in charge of their respective teams.
The Portuguese coach arrived at Chelsea in June 2004 and quickly made an impact on the Premier league. He became one of the highest paid managers in the world and was offered a huge budget to bring in world class players. So, he obviously he made a lot of enemies and one of them was Arsene Wenger. You could feel the tension between these two when they shook hands before and after a game. Mourinho’s conduct on and off the field made it easy for people to hate him.
I must say that he is one of the greatest coaches in the world of football and his achievements are a proof for that. Following Jose’s departed from England to join the Italian giants Inter and his rivalry with Wenger faded away.
This is a strong rivalry that began after Harry was appointed head coach of rivals Tottenham. Harry has taken Tottenham to another level and since then his rivalry with the Gunner’s boss has become stronger.
Each manager has had a lot to say about his counterpart over the last couple of seasons and in the beginning of this season Harry even said that Tottenham is now stronger than Arsenal, and that power in North London had shifted towards Spurs. It was evident following Arsenal’s loss to Spurs in the derby that things had become personal between these two.
He is probably Wenger’s biggest rival among clubs outside the top six. Ever since Stoke were promoted four years ago, they have imposed their physical style on the Premier League, especially at The Britannia Stadium.
Arsenal have never really been able to master the Potters and Wenger even went to the extent of saying that Stoke don’t play football. Ever since Ramsey had his foot snapped by Ryan Shawcross, there has always been an air of tension when these two teams meet both on the pitch and on the touchline.
I think that this is one of the recent rivalries. With the appointment of “King Kenny” as Liverpool’s coach, the media started speculating that Liverpool are coming back to claim their place as one of the big four team’s in the Premier League, and that Arsenal are going to be the team that is set aside. With that said, a strong rivalry has started between the two managers and that was evident as the two had a bust up following the draw between both teams last year at the Emirates, when a controversial penalty was awarded to Liverpool in the last minute of stoppage time. Following the game, both managers had a few words to say about it.
There are several other managers Wenger has fought with likesd of Martin Jol, Rafa Benitez, David Moyes, Mark Hughes to name just a few. But, I don’t think those were as intense as the five above. And, notably, I am sure he’ll pick up a few more before he leaves us!
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