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‘Specialist in failure’, ‘voyeur’ ― Mourinho, Wenger rivalry in quotes

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Long-serving Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had several clashes with Jose Mourinho during the Portuguese’s spells with Chelsea and Manchester United, but there has always been an element of underlying respect in their rivalry.

Both Wenger and Mourinho made barbs at one another in the press, while the duo also clashed on the touchline.

We’ve taken a look at some of the fieriest quotes from their rivalry.

Wenger’s autobiography

Despite their iconic rivalry, Mourinho’s name does not appear once in Wenger’s autobiography and the Portuguese manager thinks he knows why.

“Because he never beat me,” Mourinho said in October 2020. “You’re not going to do a chapter about 12 or 14 matches and never win one so why should he speak about me? A book is a thing to make you happy, make you proud so I understand perfectly.”

Foreign policy

After Arsenal were criticised for fielded an all-foreign line-up in 2005, Wenger raised a not-so-subtle eyebrow towards his west London rivals.

“I don’t see especially that Chelsea play more English players than we do. Who have they produced, homegrown? Just one, John Terry.”

Voyeur

A bit of a weird one from Ol’ Jose, this. But still quite good.

“I think he is one of these people who is a voyeur. He likes to watch other people. There are some guys who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to see what happens in other families. He speaks, speaks, speaks about Chelsea.”

Parking the bus

Those comments from Mourinho were sparked by a dig from Wenger at Chelsea’s tactics.

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“I know we live in a world where we have only winners and losers, but once a sport encourages teams who refuse to take the initiative, the sport is in danger.”

The Wenger files

As if to emphasis his “voyeur” point, Mourinho once said: “At Stamford Bridge, we have a file of quotes from Mr Wenger about Chelsea football club in the last 12 months – it is not a file of five pages. It is a file of 120 pages.”

Specialist in failure

After Wenger suggested Premier League managers were playing down their title chances as they “fear to fail”, Mourinho hit back quite spectacularly.

“If he is right and I am afraid of failure it is because I didn’t fail many times. Eight years without silverware, that’s failure.

“He’s a specialist in failure. If I do that in Chelsea, eight years, I leave and don’t come back.”

Winning record

Even when Mourinho had left England, he couldn’t refuse a jibe at his old adversary.

“The English like statistics a lot,” he said in 2008. “Do they know that Arsene Wenger has only 50% of wins in the English league?”

Young kids getting old

Following Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso’s controversial red cards for time-wasting in a Champions League group game against Ajax, Wenger criticised the ploy, saying: “It looks, frankly, horrible. It’s a pity to see that from a big club.”

And Mourinho wasn’t going to let that comment slide: “Instead of speaking about Real Madrid, Mr Wenger should speak about Arsenal and explain how he lost 2-0 against a team in the Champions League for the first time. The history about the young kids is getting old now. Sagna, Clichy, Walcott, Fabregas, Song, Nasri, Van Persie, Arshavin are not kids. They are all top players.”

Juan Mata

Once again, Wenger criticised a Mourinho decision after Chelsea sold Juan Mata to Manchester United having already played the Red Devils twice. “I think if you want to respect the fairness for everybody,” he said, “this should not happen.”

Unsurprisingly, this prompted a Mourinho response: “Wenger complaining is normal because he always does. Normally he should be happy that Chelsea sold a player like Juan Mata, but this is a little bit his nature. I think what is not fair is that his team always has the best days to play.”

You know who

Just a big, massive rant from Mourinho after the FA failed to punish Wenger for criticising referee Mike Dean’s performance after Arsenal were beaten at Stamford Bridge.

“In this country, only one manager is not under pressure. Every other manager is. We cannot be below par. We have to meet the objectives. There is one outside that list, but good for him. You know who.

“The one who can speak about the referees before the game, after the game, can push people in the technical area, can moan, can cry in the morning in the afternoon, nothing happens. He can not achieve, keep his job, still be the king.

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“In the rule book it says some managers can speak about the referees before and after games. Some others cannot. I am in the list of those who are punished if they speak about the referees.”

‘Disconnected with reality’

We can only doff our caps to this absolute zinger from Wenger in 2005: “He’s out of order, disconnected with reality and disrespectful. When you give success to stupid people, it makes them more stupid sometimes and not more intelligent.”

Respect

While tempers have boiled over between the two plenty of times, Mourinho recently made clear his admiration for Wenger.

Mourinho described Wenger as a “sweet enemy” and “a very intelligent person and one of the best football managers in the history of football.”

He told Laureus Sport: “I really enjoyed the competition but there were some episodes along the road that I don’t like to say I regret it or should Mr Wenger regret it too because this is really part of our history and we cannot go back and delete them and they were part of our history and our club’s history.

“But what I can say is that real respect is always there.”

Planet Football

Vanguard

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