Arsene Wenger has lauded Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal following what has been a rocky first season in charge for the Dutchman, reports the Daily Star.
The 65-year-old's praise spells a change in the traditional rivalry between Arsenal and United managers, given the fierce relationship between the Frenchman and Sir Alex Ferguson when the Scotsman was at the helm.
The Gunners manager, though, whose side drew 1-1 to the 20-time league champions on Sunday, insisted that van Gaal deserves credit for leading the Red Devils back into the top-four.
A NEW ERA
He said: "I believe he has shown personality and character. He has shown that he has his own views and that he has made progress during the season. Overall, it wasn’t easy for him to come in."
As van Gaal's predecessor David Moyes soon discovered at the beginning of his turbulent tenure as United manager, starting afresh at a new club with the highest of expectations is no easy task, which Wenger appreciates and commends the former-Bayern Munich manager for overcoming.
"He had so many players to find the balance," he continued. "It takes time to get to know the players and to know what clicks and what will work together and not and he has done that well."
Similarly to Moyes, van Gaal suffered a tricky start to his career in Manchester, having won just ten of his first 20 Premier League games in charge and infamously losing 4-0 to MK Dons in the League Cup last August.
BACK FROM THE DEAD
Typical of his aggressive and determined attitude, though, the 63-year-old persisted, guiding United's up-and-down season to a top-four spot - an improvement on their unprecedented seventh-placed finish last season.
However, with the departure of star keeper David de Gea seemingly imminent, alongside the rumoured exits of expensive-flop Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie, Van Gaal will need to plunge into the summer transfer market in order to revamp and prepare his squad for next season.
PSV starlet Memphis Depay is already on his way to Old Trafford in a deal worth £25 million, while a new goalkeeper, centre-back, central midfielder and striker necessary additions to a United side desperate for fresh talent.