LONDON — Arsene Wenger said he was as shocked as everybody else to hear about Sir Alex Ferguson’s health problems and that the former Manchester United manager “looked in perfect shape” when they met last week.
United confirmed that Ferguson underwent emergency surgery for a brain haemorrhage and is recovering in hospital, just a week after presenting Wenger with a special award on his final visit to Old Trafford as Arsenal manager.
Wenger said after Arsenal’s 5-0 win over Burnley on Sunday that he was stunned to hear the news and wished the 13-time Premier League winner a speedy recovery.
“I was with him on the pitch last week, I went to see him in the box after the game on Sunday and when we played there he looked in perfect shape,” said Wenger, who joined Ferguson for a glass of wine after last Sunday’s 2-1 loss to United.
“He told me he’s doing a lot of exercise and he looked very happy. But that kind of accident can happen, so we wish him all well and to recover very quickly.
“He’s a strong man and he’s an optimistic man. But nobody knows exactly [what’s wrong], I got calls last night from Manchester, nobody knew exactly what it is.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admitted he could not believe the news which emerged on Saturday evening after bumping into Ferguson recently.
“I met Sir Alex after the first game against Roma [in the Champions League semifinals],” Klopp said after his side’s 1-0 defeat at Chelsea. “He passed my way. I had a few words with him.
“When I heard it yesterday on the way to London, I really couldn’t believe it. It can happen to all of us. He is absolutely — he was last night and will be — in my prayers 100 percent. I wish him and his family all the best.
“He will be in a good shape again. I’m 100 percent sure. I’m looking forward to seeing him again.”
There was no further update on Ferguson’s condition on Sunday evening, although United thanked the football community for its expressions of concern via their official Twitter account.
The post said: “Manchester United would like to thank the wider football world for the messages of support following the news that Sir Alex Ferguson underwent emergency surgery on Saturday evening.”
Sunday marked Wenger’s last home game as Arsenal manager, and he also began his farewell speech to the Emirates crowd after the final whistle by wishing Ferguson well in his recovery.
Information from Press Association Sport was used in this story.
Mattias is ESPN FC’s Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.