• Premier League

Mourinho stands by Wenger attack

ESPN staff
March 21, 2014
Weighing up the Chelsea v Arsenal title tussle

Jose Mourinho has refused to offer bitter rival Arsene Wenger anything more than a back-handed compliment - or withdraw his comment that the French coach is a "specialist in failure" - as the manager approaches his 1,000th game in charge at Arsenal.

While the Chelsea manager said he admires Wenger, he added that he also admired his club for supporting the manager for so long, "especially when the bad moments were quite a lot".

"The tribute is to say that I believe that any one of us, we would love to have the same privilege with our clubs," Mourinho said.

How the rift reopened

Jose Mourinho has often been sniffy about Arsene Wenger's achievements © Getty Images

He was then asked whether he regretted the "specialist in failure" attack he made on Wenger last month. "You have to ask him if he regrets the comments he made," Mourinho said. "Then I'll answer you. Next question please.

"I admire him and I admire Arsenal, because it's not possible to have 1,000 matches unless the club is also a fantastic club in the way they support the manager, especially in the bad moments and especially when the bad moments were quite a lot. I admire the manager and the club."

The hostility between Mourinho and Wenger dates back to the Portuguese's first stint at Chelsea manager between 2004-7 and was renewed in earnest last month as the title race rivalry heated up.

Wenger then claimed Mourinho's "specialist in failure" comment was "embarrassing" and is unlikely to be impressed by the latest swipe.

Mourinho, like many managers this week, had been asked to provide message for Wenger before he reached the impressive landmark in Saturday's game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

However, it felt more like a message for Arsenal, who stood by him, as the self-proclaimed Special one said he would love to stay at a club as long Wenger but that 500 would be an achievement given the demands of modern football.

"I would like, but it's very, very difficult," Mourinho said. "It was always difficult. In modern football, it's even more difficult. If I accumulate my first three and a bit years with Chelsea and this one, I have a few. Let's see if I can reach, not 1,000, but 500 it would be fantastic."

Mourinho also insisted the Arsenal game was of no great significance to him, regardless of the landmark or the fact that it will be between two title rivals.

He said: "No more significant than the last game at [Aston Villa]. Exactly the same. Maybe a bit less because of what happened last weekend.

'Thanks for standing by me'

  • Read Arsene Wenger's own waspish take on his 999 games as Arsenal manager here

"I don't think about them. I think about us. We want to make the maximum points we can in the season, so if we can make another three points, that's good."

The Chelsea manager does not believe his unbeaten record against Wenger will have any bearing on the game, having never experienced defeat to the Arsenal manager in 10 games.

Mourinho said: "It doesn't matter. It's not against him. It's Chelsea against Arsenal. I didn't play Arsenal with Inter, Madrid or Porto, just Chelsea. It's Arsenal v Chelsea, not me against him. Records don't play any role: a match is a match. It's not coach against coach, it's team against team."

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