• Premier League

Mourinho welcomes Wenger deal after trophy drought

ESPN staff
January 29, 2014
Wenger to land new contract

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho says it is "fantastic" that Arsenal are rewarding Arsene Wenger with a new contract despite their long-running failure to win trophies.

His club's chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, said this week that Wenger, whose current deal is due to expire at the end of the season, will extend his 17-year stay at the club.

Mourinho said: "I'm happy that a club like Arsenal trusts the manager so much, gives him a new contract even without knowing if they are going to win the title.

"I think it's fantastic to give that stability and that example. Maybe others will follow it. It's a good thing. I think he's one of the best managers in the game, and the fact that, in the last years, he couldn't win a trophy doesn't change what I think about him. I'm happy for him."

Taken on face value, Mourinho's comments reflect recent calls from the League Managers' Association for clubs to give their members more time and avoid knee-jerk reactions to short-term setbacks.

Arsenal have been very patient with Wenger, standing by him in the face of supporter criticism before this season about the failure to win a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup.

However, Mourinho and Wenger have a long history of hostility which was reignited last week after the Arsenal manager criticised Chelsea's sale of Juan Mata to Manchester United.

The animosity dates back to Mourinho's previous spell in charge of Chelsea.

In 2005, he memorably described Wenger as a "voyeur" after the latter had repeatedly spoken about Chelsea. In response to that remark, Wenger threatened legal action and said: "When you give success to stupid people, it makes them more stupid sometimes and not more intelligent."

Wenger's latest shot, after a period of calm, was to question the fairness of Chelsea's decision to sell Mata with Mourinho hitting back by accusing his counterpart of constantly complaining.

Mourinho also claimed that Arsenal, who could be overtaken as Premier League leaders on Wednesday night, "always" have the "best days to play" fixtures.

Wenger's reply was swift: "In the last five years, all the objective studies that have been made have shown that Arsenal have less rest than any other team at the top level in the top four. That's facts - nothing to do with my opinion.

"I don't live with opinions, I live with facts. The facts are not depending on me, not depending on Mourinho, just on objective analysis."

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