One of a kind, one Arsene Wenger - A tribute to Wenger from a Manchester United fan
"Arsene Wenger has stepped down," this headline, despite being a United fan, tripped me out. After long contemplation, I felt "Oh yes, this is a bad day for English Football".
Manchester United and Arsenal have produced some mind-boggling encounters in the last two decades. These are two ferocious adversaries who have provided moments which will be cherished for as long as the sport lives on.
I'd love to thank two people at this moment for turning this fairytale into reality. Thes two are absolute legends and probably two of the most influential personalities the beautiful game has ever seen.
One was Sir Alex Ferguson, who with his indomitable spirit and unflappable hunger for success, played a crucial role in intensifying this rivalry over the years.
The other one is Arsene Wenger, who built a superhuman team and championed a unique way of playing football. Wenger even made other managers change their way of playing because outsmarting this Frenchman was always a big ask.
Interestingly, even Sir Alex had to tweak his setup sometimes when he locked horns with Wenger. Arsene Wenger made some masterminds doubt their instincts and some prodigious tacticians alter their ideas out of uncertainty.
Sir Alex, as many know, "Never plays for a draw!" But on occasions against the famous Arsenal side in the early 2000s which terrorized defences profusely, he gleefully accepted a solitary point.
Patrick Vieira, one of the greatest graduates from the Wenger school of Football, often rated Manchester United as his "Greatest enemy" and those were not mere words.
The inimitable clashes between the clubs, from the battle where Arsenal's 49-match unbeaten streak was put to bed in 2004 or that incredible 3-1 win for Arsenal in 2001, these games would live freshly in the memories of fans for a long time to come.
It'd be fair to recall that Wenger was one of the few managers to have triumphed at the Old Trafford in his first full season, all those years ago in 1998.
United were unbeaten in 19 games that season and had 9 successive wins before this epic clash, where Marc Overmars solo goal proved to be the difference between both sides.
But my all-time favourite battle between these two would be the 8-2 victory at Old Trafford for the Red Devils in 2011. After all those close hard-fought contests and painful defeats against the Gunners, that victory was more satisfactory than anything else. That probably was United's most complete performance against Wenger.
Yes, we trolled Wenger as the old stubborn man who just won't leave! Yes, we ridiculed him whenever the Red Devils tore the Gunners apart! Yes, we sarcastically thanked him for every point he gifted us!
But one thing which struck me hard when I saw the hashtag "Merci Arsene" was the sight of Sir Alex getting a guard of honour on his final appearance as a United manager.
One thing Manchester United and Arsenal share in common is that they had two immortals at the helm, who stood firmly in their positions for decades, took every breath for the club and till their final moments, their ultimate target was putting a smile on the faces of fans.
Only a United fan can understand the pain all the Gooners are suffering right now. The day Sir Alex departed, we just wanted someone to wake us up from this horrendous dream.
Manchester was flooding with tears that day and for the next few days, something similar will happen in North London.
Wenger was a man who was frank and unambiguous. He held the fort named Arsenal for very long, despite every attempt made by haters to break the walls.
He didn't give up his position because Arsenal was his life and he wanted to leave with dignity, or in footballing terms, with a Premier League trophy.
"Count on your blessings instead of your troubles," they say and he did exactly that! Unfortunately, the blessings were turning into curses and all people wanted was #WengerOut.
So there we go, the sun has set, the era has ended. Not the most glorious way to bid adieu, but for everything he's done for the betterment of the club, he deserves a sensational send-off.
Wenger, for all Manchester United fans, was Sir Alex's fiercest and closest competitors with due respect to the other legendary managers. A win against Wenger's Arsenal meant an awful lot for the fans and I'm sure the Gooners feel the same.
I'd still rate Sir Alex as the greatest in the history of English Football, but I can't see anyone coming as close to him as Wenger did. The Mourinhos and Guardiolas will come and go, but Wenger and Ferguson will remain the greatest ever.
Henceforth, I want to see Wenger getting a guard of honour when he will walk into the Old Trafford for the last and final time as an Arsenal manager on 29th this month.
He was a rival par excellence and it'd be fitting if the Red Devils faithful realize how important his role was in glorifying this incredible league.
Thank you, Wenger, for the extraordinary, spine-chilling and legendary memories. Not just Arsenal, even English Football will never be the same without your presence.
The legacy you're leaving behind is unrivalled and the party which begins today to celebrate your career would be everlasting and irrepressible.
Farewell Champion, you will be missed!