Football is a passion-filled sport that easily weaves relationships across genders, race and social class, but in some cases, create lasting hatred and jealousy between friends as is evident in Jose Mourinho’s regular spat with other coaches in the English Premier League, particularly Arsene Wenger.
Wenger’s recent decision to step down as Arsenal manager at the end of this season was inspired by pressures from the club management for their disappointing league performance.
While Arsenal finished in 5th place last season, they are yet to get close to lifting the Premier League trophy since their memorable he 2003-04 season.
Arsenal’s season target of finishing among the top four looks impossible with the current 6th position, a situation which prodded Wenger to announce his exit from the Emirates stadium. The 68-year-old’s decision attracted sympathy from Mourinho, who felt the Frenchman would be dearly missed.
“If he is happy, I am happy,” the Manchester United coach said on Friday during a press conference Carrington.
“If he’s sad, I’m sad. I always wish the best for my opponents,” he added.
“I’m pretty sure that we as a club and especially because Mr. Wenger and Arsenal were, for many many years, the biggest rivals of Sir Alex’s era, if you can say that, I’m pretty sure that we as a club will show Mr. Wenger the respect that he deserves.
“Three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups and not just that, what he did in Japan, in France, what he brought to French football, what he gave to Arsenal, even in the period without Premier League titles.
“So again, if he’s happy with the decision, I’m really happy and I hope he doesn’t retire from football.”
Arsenal will play host to West Ham United at The Emirates on Sunday before gearing up for the first leg of their Europa League semi-final clash against Atletico Madrid on Thursday night.
Image: Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger
Mourinho has been emotional since Wenger’s decision to quit his 22-year record as Arsenal’s longest-serving coach. However, the apparent change of heart attracted criticisms from football pundits who still hold fresh memories of the former Real Madrid and Barcelona coach calling his French counterpart a “specialist in failure” during his second spell at Chelsea. The pair have shoved and screamed at each other on the touchline in the past. Yet, United coach says those spats are insignificant.
The Portuguese coach insists he holds respect for Wenger despite their passion for football and hunger for victories, adding that quarrels and misunderstanding are good for the sport.
“It’s not about regretting,” the Special One said to newsmen on Friday. “I think your question is typical from somebody that was not on this side. You were not a manager, you were not a player, you don’t know the way we respect each other, even when sometimes it looks like in some moments we don’t.
“Players who get yellow or red cards by aggression, actions against each other, bad words during their career – a manager is the same thing. In the end, the ones that respect each other more are probably the ones that have the problems.
“It’s power against power, it’s quality against quality, it’s ambition against ambition, but in the end it’s people from the same business, it’s people that respect each other and respect each other’s careers, so it’s not about regretting.
“It happened – what matters for me is the way I respect the person, I respect the professional and their career. I always say that, for some, the memory is short, but real football people don’t have a short memory and I don’t have a short memory.”