Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson presented departing Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger with a gift and the Manchester United crowd gave the Frenchman a loud round of applause and cheers for a fantastic career and rivalry.
“We did it fantastically well as a club,” Mourinho said. “I felt it would mean more if Sir Alex came down because as United managers I played against Mr. Wenger three or four times but the big rivalry in the history of both clubs was between them.”
WengWenger appreciated the gesture.
“Very nice,” he said. “It was classy and you enjoy it. Apart from that, I have come here for a long, long time and next year someone else will come here, sit on the bench and get a very hostile reception, don’t worry.”
Wenger was then asked about being flanked by Mourinho and Ferguson, something that wouldn’t have been seemed pleasant so many times in their histories.
“Life goes always on, and sometimes it gets better.”
The conditional part of that statement may sum up Arsenal’s future without Wenger.
United also released a video of Ferguson, one of his fiercest rivals turned friends, discussing Wenger’s massive career.
In it, Ferguson praised Wenger’s “absolutely fantastic” career and said the Arsenal-Manchester United rivalry defined the Premier League’s first stanza.
“I relished them in a certain way, but always with a bit of trepidation because you have to win those matches. I think it made the Premier League. It was the highlight for 7-8 years, head-to-head, toe-to-toe, and the feeling was whoever won that was gonna win the league.”
Ferguson relayed that Wenger and he now go to dinner every year at a coaching banquet, and are quite fond of each other.
He then reflected on learning about Wenger. Ferguson said he was always looking around for threats to United’s crown, and Wenger’s arrival was a bit different.
“Arsene just appeared from nowhere, came from Japan,” Ferguson said. “He brought a different way of managing his football club in terms of diet and training regimes he had. It raised the antennae of ourselves in the sense that I’ve got competition here. What are they doing that we maybe should do ourselves? It’s one of these things you should always try to progress whether it’s one degree, one percent or two percent. We had to do that because they were formidable sides.”
The first, and perhaps funnier one, came from a family visit to Manchester for the Christmas holiday, as Rojo set off a bunch of fireworks in his neighborhood, one he did not realize was shared with United legend Alex Ferguson.
Rojo said Ferguson saw him the next day and congratulated him on “the light show,” with the defender quipping that he thought he might be on his way out of the Old Trafford set-up.
But the more quotable translation comes from the Argentine learning that Chilean superstar and Premier League rival Alexis Sanchez was traded Arsenal red for the same hue at United.
“Every time we came up against one another, whether in internationals or when United played Arsenal, I would give him a good kicking – and he did the same to me.
“On top of that I used to insult him, and he would reply in kind. So when I learned that he was going to join United I said: ‘Oh, ******* hell, no, now this guy’s going to be here’.”
It likely happens more often than we know, given the competitive nature and furious tackling at the highest level. The old cliche “You’d love him if he was on your team” leaves out the fact that he’s also no longer on the opposition, beating you up.
Not to mention, there’s always that opening conversation, “Hey, that thing I said about your parents…”
“I just finished telling our team that this, my 17th season at Notre Dame, will be my last,” said Clark. “This has been possibly the hardest decision I have had to make in my time at Notre Dame. I have loved my time at this University and, although I have kept postponing retirement, with my 73rd birthday coming up next year I felt it was time to be in a position to spend quality time with Bette, my wife of almost 50 years, my children and importantly my seven grandchildren. I have always looked at my team as extended family, so the players will be greatly missed. If I stretch my collegiate coaching career back to when I began at Dartmouth back in 1985 then I really do have a lot of extended family.”
After 17 years & leading us to the 2013 National Championship, Bobby Clark says goodbye to the dear lads of @NDMenSoccer.