Wenger deserves better than Jose's barbed tribute

Wenger deserves better than Jose's barbed tribute
Under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal won their second Premier League-FA Cup Double in 2001-02.

Fate is indeed perverse. Why else would Arsene Wenger's 1,000th game in English football take him to the stadium of the one opponent guaranteed to treat the occasion like a dog fouling a pavement?

You will know by now the outcome of last Saturday's match.

Whether you watched it through blue, red or neutral eyes, it was one important fixture in a Premier League title race that is boiling up nicely this season.

Just as important will be Tuesday night's Mancunian derby at Old Trafford.

And, before this season is done, Chelsea might have a trophy in the Premier League or the Champions League - and Arsenal in the FA Cup.

There are trophies to share round and it would be nice if the managers could stick to their job on the sidelines and treat this as a sport.

Most men, including Alex Ferguson who has had his duels with Monsieur Wenger, recognised this weekend what a feat it is to clock up 1,000 games at the same club.

"It's a momentous landmark," Ferguson said. "I cannot emphasise enough the level of dedication, resilience as well as sacrifice required. And, for that, I have the utmost admiration."

Fergie and Wenger have had their fiery touchline meltdowns.

Only four men have served a single club (in all divisions of English football) for a thousand games.

Matt Busby at United from 1945 to 1971 and Dario Gradi at Crewe Alexandria between 1983 and 2011 achieved it, apart from Ferguson and Wenger.

But you could argue that Wenger's achievement is even more profound. He changed the culture of Arsenal from a team who were pragmatic to one that, at their finest, have been close to an art form.

He is a foreigner in the English league. He employed players from 42 different countries, players of all cultures, colours and creed.

He built, rebuilt, and is trying to rebuild again, teams with style at their core. And though he didn't actually get his hands dirty, he also helped to take Arsenal out of their ancient Highbury home into the "new" Emirates Stadium.

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