Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson and ex-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Wednesday became the first managers to be inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame.The two men locked horns during a period of intense rivalry starting in the 1990s, winning 16 English top-flight titles between them.
Ferguson, 81, is the most successful manager in Premier League history, guiding Manchester United to 13 titles, while Wenger won the competition three times with Arsenal, including going unbeaten in the 2003/04 season.
Ferguson, who managed United for more than 26 years, won the inaugural Premier League title in 1992/93 to deliver the Red Devils’ first league success since 1967.
Six players managed by Ferguson have already been inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame — David Beckham, Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Wayne Rooney, Peter Schmeichel and Paul Scholes.
“It’s an honour when you receive recognition like this,” said Ferguson, who retired in 2013 after winning his 13th title.
“However, it’s not just about me as a person. It’s about the job at Manchester United and the bond we had over many years, so I’m also proud for the club, the staff and my players.”
Wenger arrived at Arsenal in 1996 as one of the first foreign managers in the Premier League, staying at the club until 2018.
The Frenchman implemented a revolutionary football philosophy, bringing a focus on nutrition and sports science to the English game.
He was committed to playing attractive, attacking football, winning the title in 1997/98, his first full season with the club.
Wenger oversaw an astute transfer strategy, including scouting abroad for talent — fellow Hall of Fame members Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira were two of his key players.
“To share this with Sir Alex is a great honour for me,” said the 73-year-old, who is currently FIFA’s football development chief.
“It’s like two boxers — you fight like mad and go the distance together. At the end of the day, you have respect and it will be a great opportunity to meet with him, share a good bottle of wine and memories of our old battles.”
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said the two managers brought “unparalleled levels of success” to their clubs.
“The dominance of Manchester United under Sir Alex remains unmatched after he guided them to an incredible 13 titles across 21 Premier League seasons,” he said.
Masters added: “Arsene was an innovator who was well ahead of his time… and the Invincibles season is not only one of the greatest accomplishments in English football, but sport in general.”