Mourinho demands respect as he resumes rivalry with Wenger
ABS-CBN Sports on Nov 19, 2016 10:45 AM
Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger, right, embraces Tottenham's manager Mauricio Pochettino after the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates stadium in London, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
STEVE DOUGLAS, AP Sports Writer
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Jose Mourinho resumes his rivalry with Arsene Wenger on Saturday on the back of a simple message: Give me some respect.
The biggest subplot to the high-profile Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal on Saturday at Old Trafford is the renewal of the often-spiky coaching relationship between Mourinho and Wenger.
The managers have clashed repeatedly over the years, either on the touchline — Wenger once shoved Mourinho in the chest following an argument in the technical area — or via verbal barbs in news conferences.
Mourinho is rarely short of an opinion when it comes to Wenger, having previously called the Frenchman a "voyeur" because of his regular comments about Mourinho's former club, Chelsea, and a "specialist in failure" during Arsenal's nine years without winning trophy (2005-14).
On Friday, Mourinho wondered out loud why, in his opinion, Wenger gets more credit for his achievements.
"Tomorrow is a match between the two managers with the best record in the Premier League, now Alex Ferguson isn't here anymore," Mourinho said, referring to his and Wenger's record of winning three league titles each.
"Does that mean we should be respected, even in periods where our results are not the best? I think Mr. Wenger has that respect, I don't think I have. Especially because my last Premier League title was 18 months ago, not 18 years ago. I don't think I get that respect."
Mourinho's most recent league title came in 2015, at the end of the second season of his second stint at Chelsea. Wenger hasn't won the league with Arsenal since 2004.
Yet, Mourinho feels he is targeted for criticism more than Wenger. United has struggled this season in Mourinho's first year in charge and goes into Saturday's game in sixth place, six points behind Arsenal and eight points behind first-place Liverpool after 11 games.
Some believe Mourinho is already losing his grip at United after a number of public outbursts toward his players and what some pundits believe to be his outdated playing style compared to some of the younger Premier League managers.
Mourinho said his track record of winning league titles at every top club he has managed — FC Porto, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan — demands that he gets more time. And, that word again, respect.
"When I was sacked at Chelsea, I was not in trouble. I had lots of offers," Mourinho said. "I could be working in some of the biggest cubs in Europe and I waited for the chance to work at a club where I wanted to be."
The arrival of Mourinho in English football in 2004 is one of the major reasons why Arsenal declined as a major force, damaging Wenger's reputation in the process. Fueled by Roman Abramovich's heavy spending, Chelsea became the best team in England the season after Arsenal won the championship by going through the 2003-04 campaign unbeaten.
That might be the reason why Wenger has had issues with Mourinho. In 13 competitive meetings with sides managed by Mourinho, Wenger's Arsenal has never triumphed, drawing six times and losing seven times.
"That's not important," Mourinho said. "I don't play against managers. It's my team that plays against another manager's team. Some records are better than others. But in the end, a football match is an isolated event."
Wenger's only success over Mourinho came in the 2015 Community Shield.
"You know, we didn't lose always," Wenger said. "We have beaten them and there was many draws as well. I think I have won against every manager in the world during my 20 years here and I do not make of this game a competition between two managers."