Having finally ended Arsenal’s 49-game unbeaten streak – and ending the ‘Invincibles’ tag once and for all, you would have forgiven Sir Alex Ferguson and his Manchester United side for celebrating their 2-0 Premier League victory.
However, after an incident which ended with the Manchester United manager covered in pizza and left the game labelled ‘The Battle of the Buffet’, Ferguson to this day still doesn’t know the perpetrator that felt it necessary to throw the Italian meal in his direction.
“My recollection of that fabled incident is that when Ruud van Nistelrooy came into the dressing room, he complained that Arsene Wenger had been giving him stick as he left the pitch,” Ferguson explained in his biography.
“Right away I rushed out to say to Arsene: 'You leave my players alone.' He was incensed at losing the game. That was the reason for his combative behaviour.
”The next thing I knew I had pizza all over me. They say it was Cesc Fabregas who threw the pizza at me but, to this day, I have no idea who the culprit was.”
The incident happened when Arsenal and Manchester United had been at the top of English football for a number of years, although a Jose Mourinho-led Chelsea were emerging as genuine title contenders.
Ferguson and Wenger had been locked in a rivalry for years previously, but it was the events on that day that escalated the divide between the two camps until the latter stages of the Scots career, when the two appeared to respect each other’s achievements and form a friendship unseen in the early years when they went head-to-head.
“That day created a division between us. The wound was not fully healed until the Champions League semi-final in 2009, when Arsene invited us into his room after the game and congratulated us.”
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