Nothing special about Mourinho invective when it comes to Arsenal visionary Wenger
The Chelsea boss is incapable of taking responsibility for failure, which is never his fault
A couple of weeks ago, Jose Mourinho had a little moan about Manchester City. Why, he wanted to know, did everybody love City and hate Chelsea, when they were both essentially the same?
The parallels between City and Chelsea are obvious. Both are medium-sized clubs that suddenly became big ones thanks to billions of foreign petrodollars. Both quickly assembled large squads of star players and won the title. Yet City, according to Mourinho, are still regarded benignly while his Chelsea side had to battle to their titles under the constant lash of public criticism.
Mourinho usually has all the answers but this mystery left him stumped. “I don’t know why. In my time we were accused of buying the title, no? Because our owner was Mr Abramovich, just arrived in the country. Maybe now people see City in a different way. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s taken them six years to get to this stage while we won straightaway. And I don’t care . . . Teams with success, people tend not to like them, no?”
Last Friday, Mourinho answered his own question. There is a simple reason why City are not yet as unpopular as Chelsea, and that is that they have never been managed by Mourinho.
His bizarre attack on Arsene Wenger – “a specialist in failure” – was a jolting reminder of the wildness that underlies Mourinho’s theatrical charisma.
Asked about Mourinho’s comments on Sunday evening, Wenger chose to remain above the fray. “I do not want to go into silly, disrespectful remarks,” he said. “I did not speak about him in my press conference and I won’t do so again tonight.”
Everybody knows that there are plenty of legitimate reasons to criticise Wenger.
For instance, it was curious to hear him say, on Friday: “The definition of stupidity is that they make always the same mistakes”, since that’s precisely what his critics would accuse him of over the last few seasons.
He’s always too cautious in the transfer market, he always buys the same type of players, he doesn’t address persistent, obvious defensive weaknesses.
As a winner of trophies, Wenger is only the second-most-successful manager in the Premier League, trailing well behind Mourinho. The Portuguese man has won two Champions Leagues, while Wenger has the distinction of being the only manager to lose in the final of all three European cup competitions.
But Wenger is also the visionary coach who created the team of Bergkamp, Henry, Pires and Vieira, and the club-builder who presided over Arsenal’s metamorphosis from regional power to European superclub.
Wenger could argue, if he was inclined, that he probably would have won more trophies if he’d hired himself out to oligarch teams around Europe. Would his legacy have been the better for it?