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Fergie's retirement will tempt Wenger to walk away from Arsenal sooner rather than later

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has paid tribute to the soon-to-be retired Sir Alex Ferguson.

The moment Sir Alex Ferguson manages his last game for Manchester United in little over a weekend's time, it will be the end of an era for the Red Devils.

It will mean Arsene Wenger will take over the honour of becoming the longest serving manager in English football.

Wenger commented in his press conference on Friday morning, praising Ferguson for his years in charge at Old Trafford:

"I would just like to pay tribute to an unbelievable achievement and a fantastic career, basically the achievement is immaculate, when you look at the whole structure and consistency of the achievement. It is, of course, something exceptional.

"It is difficult to imagine English football without him, but it's now a reality and a fact."

And it is that stark reality which will soon cause Wenger to contemplate his own future sooner rather than later if his Arsenal tenure does not lead to silverware soon.

In the late 90s and early 2000s, Ferguson and Wenger were fierce rivals as Manchester United and Arsenal slugged it out year after year for the Premier League title.

In more recent years the pair had struck up quite a cordial relationship, built on respect generated in their early years, and while he considered it a possibility, it is very much likely that Wenger felt Sir Alex Ferguson would outlast him.

Now Wenger, already under pressure from Arsenal fans after their recent barren years, has to convince fans he is still an old master of the management arts, rather than one who now represents a dinosaur who is in danger of becoming extinct.

For the Frenchman soon will be the last of his era in English football, to remain with the same club since the 90s, and while that achievement should be heralded, he may just begin to feel more alone in his times of trouble than he previously did.

Wenger has a chance this summer to right the wrongs of seasons past. There will be no big name players outgoing, the squad's deadwood offloaded, and there is in the region of £70 million to spend on players.

But if despite all that Arsenal do not progress next season in their quest for silverware, the calls for Wenger's head will increase, with many feeling he is the problem rather than the solution.

Wenger has recently stated that the pressure of the past two seasons has caught up with him, but intends for now to stick it out.

His contract expires at the end of next season in June 2014, and Wenger would love to bow out on a high like Ferguson by winning a trophy.

Even if he can't, having seen his old friend and adversary walk away this week, the Frenchman will think better of dragging out his managerial career longer than he needs to.

Will Wenger stick it out beyond 2014? Who would replace him?

image: © dyobmit

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