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Wenger, Ferguson offer ‘united unease’
London, Sept 19 (Agencies):
Published on 20 Sep. 2008 12:05 AM IST
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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Manchester United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson have expressed their united unease at the growing level of owners interfering with managers. The pair, not usually in agreement, put their dugout differences aside and warned about the peril over the future roles some club managers face following the departures of two high-profile adversaries earlier this month: Alan Curbishley and Kevin Keegan, who left West Ham and Newcastle respectively after being grossly undermined by their boards before tendering their resignation. Speaking at the black-tie League Managers’ Association dinner for their Benevolent Trust and Community Fund at Wembley last night, where England manager Fabio Capello was also in attendance, the Premier League’s longest serving managers said that autonomy is essential if a club is to prosper, as their sides have done so successfully as a result in recent years. “The quality of manager is determined by the quality of control,” said Wenger, speaking with 12 years experience as Arsenal manager. “The manager is a strong guide inside the club and has to establish his authority and demonstrate he is in complete control. “If you have no control but are still responsible for the defeats then that is unbearable.” Ferguson, who has been in charge at Old Trafford since 1986, agreed: “We need strong, capable managers who can stand up against those that try and change the principles of the game.” “At no point in our history has the board ever overruled a manager. “But the fear is that we have owners that will (make managers) become project managers or basically just fitness coaches who will determine who out of the 16 are the fittest on the day.” In a thinly veiled attack on his Manchester rivals, City who now pose a threat to the dominance of the Premier League’s ‘Big Four’ with their new-found billions from owners Abu Dhabi United Group, Ferguson insisted that money can’t instantly buy success. He said: “You can have as much money as you like but you can’t buy every player. There is no guarantee that money gives you the best team.” And Wenger added his concern: “To have more money in the League is a good thing. But the inflationary pressure of having too much money is destabilising for other clubs, it puts a huge pressure on their resources.” Reflecting on their own celebrated rivalry, both claimed it was a matter of the past. “There is a much better understanding and mutual respect now,” revealed the Arsenal manager as Ferguson continued: “We’ve sat and shared a glass of wine and a meal on many occasions on coaching conferences in Geneva. “We’ve both (got) great teams and have had incredible competition over the last decade.”

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