By Chris Harris

There was a time when Arsène Wenger’s fractious relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson dominated the build-up to games between Arsenal and Manchester United.

Journalists would sharpen their pencils in anticipation of a verbal broadside from one or the other as their managerial spats made headlines and sold papers.

Not any more. Time has taken the edge off Wenger’s rivalry with Ferguson and, try as they might, journalists can no longer get a rise out of either man when the subject of their old adversary crops up.

So why has their animosity faded? The question was put to Wenger as he prepared for the first leg of a Champions League Semi-Final against Ferguson and United.

The Frenchman, a rival of the Scot for 13 years, believes that he and Ferguson share a common virtue – survival instinct.

“I don’t know [why the relationship is better] but we are survivors, so there is respect there,” said Wenger.

“When you are a long time in this job you know everybody has to go through different times. There is respect there, yes.

“I’m sorry you were disappointed [that we don’t argue anymore]!

“I believe we have better relations now than before but it’s not what happens in the press conference but how positive the attitude of the teams will be on the pitch.

“I’m confident that both teams will really go for it. If you are disappointed by the press conference I’m sure you won’t be disappointed by the game!”

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 28 Apr 2009