Former Chelsea and Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho, has labeled former Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, ‘ a sweet enemy’ outlining how hard it was to dislodge the Arsenal manager from the throne of English football.
Mourinho and Wenger were involved in a number of heated exchanges with each other over the years, with Mourinho once labeling Wenger a ‘specialist in failure’ but Mourinho insists it has done nothing to diminish his respect for the 69-year-old.
Mourinho had a heated rivalry with Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson during his first stint as Chelsea manager in 2005, just after Arsenal lifted the EPL trophy without suffering defeat – an achievement that saw them labeled ‘the Invincibles’.
The rivalry continued during Mourinho’s second spell in Chelsea and during his spell in charge of Manchester United from 2016 to 2018.
“He is a very intelligent person and one of the best managers in the history of football,” he told @LaureusSport after Wenger was awarded the Laureus World Sports Awards’ Lifetime Achievement award.
“I arrived in England and I found ‘the Invincibles’ and I found Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson very much hurt by that Arsenal season.
“And we were like a third force coming. Chelsea had a great desire to be champions for the first time in so many years. So, of course, it was the confrontation of forces and you can imagine that Sir Alex, Wenger and myself we were fighting for the same. We were like, I like to say in football, ‘sweet enemies’.
“My feeling is where are the next ‘Invincibles’? Where are they? Who did it again? Who made people forget that he was the manager of the invincible team? Lots of philosophies, lots of talk, lots of PR. Football today is a lot about this, but [it is about] results, and who did better than him?”
He added: “I really enjoyed the competition but there were some episodes along the road that I don’t like to say I regret because this is really part of our history and we cannot go back and delete them.
“But what I can say is that the real respect is always there.”