ALEX FERGUSON has launched an impassioned defence of arch-rival Arsene Wenger.
Arsenal boss Wenger takes his side to Old Trafford tomorrow having picked up just one point from their opening two Premier League games.
And the Gunners chief is also under fire after failing to bolster his squad with big names this summer as the club's six-year trophy drought continues.
But Ferguson insists the Frenchman has been treated unfairly.
The Manchester United manager said: "The hounds are in full cry and they are after Arsene Wenger.
"I have every sympathy for the Arsenal boss because current criticisms take us beyond the normal competitive nature of football.
"All managers live in a world of intense rivalry because it is what the game is all about.
"But sometimes I despair at the way fans and the media focus on a manager who obviously has problems but who is treated in such a cavalier fashion.
"It is fair to say that United and Arsenal have had their battles over the years, both on and off the pitch.
"But I have never lost my respect for a man who is an accomplished manager and has served the Gunners well. I think all managers would echo that view.
"But supporters are much more critical and demanding these days, encouraged by phone-ins and the like on radio."
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