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 By Kevin Palmer

Arsene Wenger: Sir Alex Ferguson not to blame for United slump

LONDON -- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has insisted that Sir Alex Ferguson should not be blamed for Manchester United's decline since his retirement.

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The Scot stood down in 2013 after winning his 13th league title but they struggled under his successor, David Moyes, and only came seventh last season.

Now the proposed signing of Ajax's Netherlands international Daley Blind will take their summer spending towards 150 million pounds as their attempts to return to the summit of the game prove costly.

But Wenger, who expects United to bounce back under new manager Louis van Gaal, does not think his old adversary Ferguson should shoulder the responsibility for United's recent problems.

He said in a news conference: "What you want is once you leave the club is that it goes as well as possible, but if it is not working as much as well at the start then it is expected and it is not Ferguson's fault.

"You do well for as long as you can and when you leave, you want the club to be in a good position. "I don't worry too much for them because they made us suffer enough down the years.

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"I am sure they will come back. If you look at the names they have, once that works altogether they will be a force once again in the Premier League. "Let's be a little bit patient because Manchester United just started the season like we did.

"It's cyclical as well, which is human nature. Anyway, what makes me focused is just to win my next game. Man United, I don't worry too much for them."

Wenger went on to defend his decision to hand Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski an extended summer break after their World Cup victory with Germany in Brazil, even though many of their teammates were back in action for their clubs a week earlier.

Chelsea's Germany World Cup hero Andre Schurrle scored in the first round of Premier League matches at a time when Ozil, Mertesacker and Podolski had only just returned to training at Arsenal, but Wenger is convinced he made the right decision to rest his stars.

"I gave them four weeks' break," says Wenger. "The final of the World Cup was on July 13 and initially they had to come back on Aug. 5.

"So I text them and said stay out until Aug. 11 and come back then, because I knew it was impossible to come back three weeks later. When you come back from the World Cup and winning it, they had three or four days to parade the trophy in Germany so I gave them four weeks and I think it was the right decision.

"It takes you a while to refocus again, but once the Premier League starts and you see what is needed, you adapt. The hunger comes back by competing and refusing to lose the games. These guys are winners, as they have proved in the last few months."


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