• Premier League

Wenger denies Mourinho feud

ESPN staff
December 20, 2013
Wenger and Mourinho watch on during a clash in 2005 © PA Photos

Arsene Wenger has said he now has a "respectful" relationship with Jose Mourinho ahead of Monday's Arsenal-Chelsea clash, and that there is no "personal battle" despite exchanging barbs in the past.

The Arsenal coach has previously had a complicated relationship with Mourinho, with the Chelsea boss notoriously labelling him as a "voyeur" in 2005, but Wenger said there is now respect.

"Look, it's not a personal battle," he said.

"Honestly, we had some big games in the past, but what is important for me is that I am completely focused on Arsenal Football Club and on my team and doing well in the team. Whether we play Monday night against Chelsea or anybody else, for me it's exactly the same, because what is at stake for us is to get back to winning habits, whether it's Chelsea or anyone else.

"We spent time [together] at Geneva at the managers' meeting. Once you are in competition it is different. Once you are out of competition, everybody is different. Here is competition time so everybody fights for his team and his club."

Wenger also offered support to managers under pressure, and stated his "surprise" at the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas at Tottenham Hotspur and the pressure Malky Mackay finds himself under at Cardiff City from chairman Vincent Tan.

Wenger said he is not necessarily "friends" with the rest of the Premier League managers, but that it disappoints him when he sees so many unfairly under pressure.

The Arsenal boss said the Cardiff situation seemed "strange" and expressed some sympathy for Villas-Boas.

"It [Cardiff] looks strange to me but honestly I don't know well what's going on there. I have only superficially followed that. But from outside I think the manager is doing a very good job there."

As regards Villas-Boas's sacking, Wenger said it illustrated the problem of managers being given so little time.

"Look, if you look purely at the mathematical problem, yes. Because he [AVB] has the highest percentage rate of wins historically at the club.

"Is it an internal problem with relationship with his chairman or with the board? I don't know. Is it an emotional reaction to a big defeat at home? I hope not because that would not be a good sign. I don't know but I was surprised, yes.

"I sympathise with everyone because you need to be a manager to know how much you suffer. How many sleepless nights are behind every manager and now much everybody wants to win. Of course you feel sympathy for people who lose their job.

"[We are] not necessarily friends because I do not speak specially with them but in an ideal world you want everybody to be happy. When the manager is sacked he's an unhappy person who feels somewhere that he failed, and thinks just about 'what have I done wrong to deserve that?' That is how it is." "To be given time is important first of all when you're a young manager you need to learn the job."

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