Arsene Wenger has opened up on what he really thought about his fiercest rivals in an interview with BBC Sport.

The Frenchman enjoyed 22 years as Arsenal manager, winning three Premier Leagues and seven FA Cups in that time.

But as much as he is remembered for what his teams did on the pitch, the rivalries he had with other managers off it are just as much a part of Premier League folklore.

Wenger’s fiercest rivals

The two men who were probably Wenger’s most bitter competitors were Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho.

His clashes with the former Manchester United boss were a Premier League staple in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The peak of their duel came in the infamous ‘pizzagate’ scandal, where Cesc Fabregas threw pizza at Ferguson in the tunnel at Old Trafford during a post-match altercation between the sides.

Wenger also had some fallings out with Jose Mourinho during his time as Manchester United boss. But it’s across the Portuguese’s two spells at Chelsea that their rivalry was at its fiercest.

 

Their war of words was one for the ages, with Wenger labelling his counterpart “stupid” and Mourinho referring to the Arsenal manager as a “specialist in failure”.

The two even ended up in a physical altercation during a match between the clubs in 2015.

Relationship of respect

That all seems to be water under the bridge for Wenger now though.

He admitted no matter how antagonistic the clashes got, his relationships with rival managers were always built on respect.

“I respect them,” he said. “When you’re in the competition it’s you or them so it’s always a bit aggressive. But after, when you meet people outside the competition, it’s not so.

“You both suffer, you both have difficulties with your team. But you have to defend your club when you’re in there at any cost – and that’s why sometimes it gets a bit out of control. Overall, there is a respect to always talk things over.”

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