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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 January, 2005, 17:01 GMT
The Wenger and Ferguson diaries
Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson
The build-up to the latest Premiership clash between Arsenal and Manchester United started even earlier than usual.

Sir Alex Ferguson kicked things off on 15 January when he gave an interview recalling the events surrounding the last fixture, in October.

The Manchester United manager said Arsene Wenger was "a disgrace" and owed him an apology for his behaviour.

BBC Sport keeps track of what happened next, as well as the latest news ahead of the 1 February game at Highbury.

23.01.05 NO-ONE TELLS ME WHAT TO DO

Arsene Wenger again keeps the simmering row in the public domain by responding to the Premier League's attempted 'gagging'.

"I don't even know the Premier League statement because I have not read it," says the Arsenal boss.

"I don't know why I cannot say what I think any more and I feel as free as before to say what I think.

"If I feel I have to say something I will say it. You know it well enough.

"I said last week after Bolton that I do not want to comment on that situation any more because there are more interesting things in football. "I haven't said anything and I just don't want to say anything but it is not because the Premier League tells me."

20.01.05 PEACE IN OUR TIME

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore releases a statement announcing a truce.

Scudamore met Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein and Manchester United chief executive David Gill at a meeting in the morning.

"Both clubs have agreed that public comments would be limited to pre-match and post-match analysis of the forthcoming fixture," said Scudamore.

Earlier in the day, Football Association chairman Geoff Thompson had been the latest to impose a gagging order on Wenger and Ferguson.

Thompson made it clear a peace pact had to be reached or punishment would follow.

"We're prepared to take whatever action is necessary," Thompson told The Sun newspaper.

19.01.05 THE POLICE STEP IN

Barry Norman, the commander of the Metropolitan Police in the borough of Islington, suggests that the row between Wenger and Ferguson could have damaging consequences.

The two teams meet at Highbury on 1 February and Norman, who is in charge of match-day security at the ground, expresses concern.

"Any activity in the build-up to the game which increases the intensity and hostility of the supporters is not responsible and should be stopped," said Norman.

Sports Minister Richard Caborn chips in, saying: "Let's get back to them doing what they do best and that's managing damn good football teams. We have had the pantomime."

18.01.05 WENGER CUTS LOOSE ... AGAIN

By now warming to the row, Wenger goes on French television to say: "Ferguson's out of order. He has lost all sense of reality."

The Arsenal boss adds: "He is going out looking for a confrontation, then asking the person he is confronting to apologise.

"He's pushed the cork in a bit far this time and lost a lot of credibility by saying what he said."

Ferguson appeared at a news conference but would only talk about their FA Cup replay at Exeter.

Meanwhile it is announced that Graham Poll is to be the referee entrusted with keeping the peace at Highbury on 1 February.

17.01.05 WENGER CUTS LOOSE

Despite insisting he would no longer rise to Ferguson's bait, Wenger now claims the United boss should be charged with bringing the game into disrepute.

"What I don't understand is that he does what he wants and you (the press) are all at his feet," Wenger tells a small group of reporters.

"The situation has been judged and there is a game going on in a month.

"The managers have a responsibility to protect the game before the game. But in England you are only punished for what you say after the game."

16.01.05 WENGER KEEPS HIS COUNSEL

Wenger's initial response to Ferguson's accusation that he was "a disgrace" is circumspect.

"I've always been consistent with that story and told you nothing happened," says the Arsenal boss in the wake of a 1-0 defeat at Bolton, which leaves the Gunners 10 points adrift of Chelsea.

"If he has to talk, he talks. If he wants to make a newspaper article, he makes a newspaper article.

"He doesn't interest me and doesn't matter to me at all. I will never answer to any provocation from him any more."

15.01.05 FERGUSON HITS THE HEADLINES

The Manchester United boss gives an interview to The Independent newspaper, in which he recalls the aftermath of his team's 2-0 win over Arsenal in October.

"In the tunnel Wenger was criticising my players, calling them cheats, so I told him to leave them alone and behave himself," said Ferguson.

"He ran at me with hands raised saying 'what do you want to do about it?'

"To not apologise for the behaviour of the players to another manager is unthinkable. It's a disgrace, but I don't expect Wenger to ever apologise, he's that type of person."


WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger



VOTE RESULTS
What's your reaction to the row between Wenger and Ferguson?
Entertaining and intriguing
35%
Damaging for them, their clubs and football in general
29%
Couldn't care less!
36%
49904 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

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SEE ALSO
Wenger fined over Ruud outburst
16 Dec 04 |  Arsenal
Ruthless Ruud's cutting edge
30 Oct 04 |  Man Utd
Van Nistelrooy pleads innocence
26 Oct 04 |  Premiership
Wenger denies 'cheat' accusation
26 Oct 04 |  Arsenal



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