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Sep 19, 2008

Fergie and Wenger back walk away managers

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger have both backed Kevin Keegan and Alan Curbishley's decisions to quit their jobs after the duo rebelled against interference from their respective boards.

Curbishley was first to go at the start of the month after becoming disillusioned with West Ham United's transfer policy which, he claimed, undermined him.

Then, within the week, Keegan walked out of the job at Newcastle United pointing to similar interference from boardroom level. His departure caused chaos on Tyneside as fans protested against the board and embattled owner Mike Ashley later announced he had put the club up for sale.

Speaking at a dinner at the League Managers' Association, Ferguson said: "We need strong, capable managers who can stand up against those that try and change the principles of the game."

"The fear is that we have owners that will [make managers] become project managers or basically just fitness coaches who will determine who out of the 16 are the fittest on the day.

"I admire Kevin Keegan and I admire Alan Curbishley as they went on a matter of principle, the principle being they are not in control of their team any longer - players were trying to be sold over their heads and so therefore they walked because it is a matter of principle and I totally agree with them."

The Scot - in charge at Old Trafford since 1986 - said that he could never see the board interfering at Old Trafford and if they ever did he simply would not stand for it.

Ferguson said: "At no point in our history has the board ever overruled a manager. It won't happen in my time."

In a rare show of camaraderie Wenger, Arsenal boss for almost 12 years, agreed with his Premier League rival.

"The manager is a strong guide inside the club and has to establish his authority and demonstrate he is in complete control," Wenger said.

"If you have no control but are still responsible for the defeats then that is unbearable."

Wenger added: "The manager is the most important man at the club, if not why do you sack the manager if it isn't going well?

"I believe our [Wenger and Ferguson] luck is that we could work with our ideas, and I know if I lose a game I have to look inside as that is where I can find the solutions."

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