When the dust settles on the Arsène Wenger saga, all of us would be left with thoughts like: Was it the “right” time (as if there ever is)? Life and Economic lessons (there were many)? Greatest matches and rivalries? Etc.
But what hits me the most is how everything in those thoughts can be summed by what Sir Alex (his greatest rival) said of him: “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.” Coming from him, it ain’t a sound bite.
Ferguson and Wenger were the two greatest managers ever (period!), leading clubs to glory in the most insanely way possible. Be it the Treble of 1999 or the Double of 1998, both of them exemplified as managers should be.
Their (contrasting) styles were quite obvious. The tactical switches (League, Cup and Champions League) vs. the fluid yet predictable formation, resilience and tenacity (not necessarily beautiful) vs. graceful and uneven (but always beautiful) etc.
Important than that were the unseen, and often ignored, traits. They both famously were great judges in the transfer market, advocates of “make champions and not buy them”, but the most essential of all, without which everything else would have been useless, : they were great motivators, diligent and hardworking personas, led by example and most essentially offered critical yet constructive observations. It’s no wonder the Beckhams, the Ronaldos and the van Persies and the Vieiras of the generation all played there.
Thinking about this, brings a smile on my face about the things that were and the things that are and the things that will be. Maybe we might not (ever) get a Ferguson or a Wenger but we sure as hell can become One. If not for us, then for the next generation!