Sir Alex Ferguson autobiography: What happened during the 'Battle of the Buffet' after ending Arsenal's unbeaten run

Incident featured manager being covered in pizza, but does he know the culprit?

Jack de Menezes
Tuesday 22 October 2013 18:04 BST
Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates the 2-0 victory over Arsenal in October 2004, he was hit by a flying pizza
Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates the 2-0 victory over Arsenal in October 2004, he was hit by a flying pizza (GETTY IMAGES)

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.”

Further reading...

Further reading...

Sir Alex on...the end of his relationship with David Beckham

Sir Alex on...Beckham and that flying boot

Sir Alex on... Rock Of Gibraltar 'misunderstanding'

Sir Alex’s reign in pictures

My Autobiography: the key observations

Sir Alex on…turning down the England job twice

Sir Alex on…Cristiano Ronaldo, the greatest player he worked with

Sir Alex on… Rafa Benitez turning their rivalry personal

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