Ahead of Arsenal’s Premier League clash against Crystal Palace and Big Sam’s first trip to the Emirates as the new manager, we looked back at Arsene Wenger’s top five managerial rivalries.
When we originally planned to write this, we obviously had Alan Pardew in mind and just because he’s been sacked doesn’t make a slight bit of difference.
#5 Alan Pardew
Back in 2006, West Ham went 1-0 ahead against Arsenal with just two minutes left on the clock. The Hammers, including their manager at the time, good ol’ Pards, were jubilant but Wenger took exception to the opposition coach’s celebrations.
They gave each other a bit of a shove and refused to shake hands, with Pardew saying after the game, “I apologise if I offended Arsene. It was nothing personal, I was celebrating the goal.”
Although there haven’t been any huge public bust-ups between the two managers since, they’re still never going to be best buds.
#4 Sam Allardyce
Former West Ham and England (kind of) manager, Allardyce, has now taken charge of the Eagles but, before this, ‘Big Sam’ had some pretty odd things to say about Arsene.
In fact, in his autobiography, he described the Frenchman as arrogant.
“He takes it all very personally and has an air of arrogance. He’s not one for inviting you into his office for a drink after games,” said Allardyce.
He also added, “I got under his skin but those were the early days. Our meetings have been much more amicable since, on and off the field.”
Allardyce was obviously talking about when he was Bolton Wanderers boss. A time when his side beat Arsenal three times, drew four and lost once. However, since, it’s been a different story and everything does indeed seem amicable.
#3 Tony Pulis
Wenger v Pulis appeared to originally stem from the Welshman’s time as Stoke manager. Pulis was in charge when Ryan Shawcross broke Aaron Ramsey’s leg and the venom between the two sets of fans seemed to spill out into the dugout, although even before that there was a certain bitterness mainly directed from Pulis towards Wenger.
Before the incident even happened, Wenger accused Shawcross and Rory Delap of deliberately trying to hurt Arsenal players in 2008, to which Pulis retorted, “His comments about my team are there for everybody to read and certainly made me smile, along with I’m sure 27,000 supporters at the game and millions of TV viewers and the massed press who interviewed him after the game.
“Remember, there was only one red card on Saturday and the last time I watched the game it certainly was not a Stoke City player who received it.”
The next year, he accused Wenger of ‘moaning like a drain’ over the Christmas fixture list before Shawcross broke Ramsey’s leg and our boss was rightfully outraged.
“Wenger is perceived to be a genius, but he hasn’t delivered a trophy in six years,” Pulis said.
“I don’t think we need foreign managers running the national sides.
“I’ve got nothing against foreign managers, they are very nice people. Apart from Arsene Wenger.”
Pulis continued to have digs at Wenger in the press over time, which have eventually fizzled out, despite a strange period in 2015 when we loaned Serge Gnabry to Pulis’ team at the time, West Brom, and he wasn’t played.
#3 Sir Alex Ferguson
Fergie v Wenger is one of the most historical rivalries in world football.
Fierce on and off the pitch, when Fergie was in charge of Manchester United, there were rarely any niceties exchanged.
Tellingly, however, after the Scotsman stood down as United boss, the two seem to be – if not friends – on very good terms. Their mutual admiration and respect is clear to see and shows that even the biggest rivalries can be kept classy.
The same cannot be said for the next manager…
#1 Jose Mourinho
Jose v Wenger has quickly blown up into something that’s bigger than Chelsea v Arsenal or Manchester United v Arsenal. It’s become about the managers, which I’m sure is something Wenger never intended for or wanted for that matter.
From Jose referring to Wenger as a voyeur back in 2005, to the boss calling Jose stupid, to the ‘specialist in failure’ debacle and touchline spats, the rivalry between these two has become toxic and awkward to witness.