Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger leads tributes to great rival Sir Alex Ferguson

Manchester United are to mark the Scot's phenomenally successful 26 years in charge at Old Trafford by unveiling a statue of the 70-year-old

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has led the tributes to great rival Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of the long-serving Manchester United manager's latest honour.

United are to mark the Scot's phenomenally successful 26 years in charge at Old Trafford by unveiling a statue of the 70-year-old outside the stand that already bears his name on Friday.

Wenger has had many close duels with Ferguson during his own remarkable 16 years with the Gunners but still holds his old adversary in the highest regard and expects United to struggle to replace him.

The Frenchman said: "I don't remember anybody else being at the top, top level for such a long time.

"In some ways it is scary as well because you think when this guy leaves the club, no matter of the quality of who comes in after him, it will be a huge hole.

"The club will be destabilised even if the guy who comes after him is top quality because the print of everything, the life of everything, revolves around Ferguson so much at Manchester United.

"He has to be immortal so the club doesn't suffer!

"His commitment is always there, you never feel that his commitment is weakened.

"What I admire maybe the most in him is his forward-thinking. He is always ready to move with the times and never speaks about what he has done before.

"He knows when to renew the team, when you have to make changes, and that is exceptional because you can sometimes be a little bit lazy when you have so much success.

"He's never been like that, he's always on his toes and he can renew what is needed, when it is needed.

"It is a job where you need to dedicate your life to football and Ferguson has done that and that deserves massive respect.

"He has won absolutely everything and, of course, that is something exceptional."

Ferguson won the first of his 12 Premier League titles with United in 1993 and has also overseen Champions League success twice. There have also been five FA Cup wins.

Veteran Ryan Giggs, who has been a key member of the first team for most of Ferguson's reign, has also been wholesome in his praise.

The 38-year-old said: "He's just a great man. Even though he is managing the greatest club in the world and the biggest club in the world, he still has time for any young player or any player with problems - both on and off the pitch.

"He's the biggest influence on my career so I can't speak highly enough about him."

England hero David Beckham found stardom under Ferguson and was a member of six title-winning sides before leaving for Real Madrid in 2003.

Beckham may have had his differences with Ferguson at times but the pair have long since been reconciled and the respect is evident.

Beckham said: "I think the manager has been so successful because he's passionate about Manchester United and he's a born winner.

"He knows how to win games, how to handle pressure and how to look after his team and his players.

"Playing under him for the years that I did, well - he was like a father figure to me.

"I moved up from London to Manchester and he always said to me, 'If you've got any worries, come and knock on my door - it's always open'.

"I was scared to go and knock on his door because of who he is but he always made me feel as if I was part of a family and that's how you feel when you're at Manchester United."

Another influential player was defender Gary Neville, who is now on the England coaching staff and forging a promising media career.

Neville said: "To be at this club for so long is staggering. You would never believe it could happen.

"I've said before, United had Sir Matt Busby, now they've got somebody who's replicated his longevity at the club and surpassed his success - you would just never believe it could be achieved.

"It's really not something you can put into words, what Sir Alex Ferguson has done for the club."

PA

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album