| 10.5°C Dublin

'Wenger a specialist in failure' claims Mourinho as old bitterness resurfaces

Jose Mourinho launched an unequivocal verbal assault on Arsene Wenger yesterday, branding the Arsenal manager "a specialist in failure".

In a renewal of hostilities that stretch back to his first spell as a manager in England, Mourinho was responding to Wenger's comments earlier in the day about Chelsea's title credentials.

The Frenchman had suggested that Mourinho's endless public insistence that his side were not title favourites was born out of a "fear to fail."

"If you declare yourself not in the race, you cannot lose it, simple as that," Wenger added.

Mourinho, clearly irritated, used the press conference ahead of his team's FA Cup tie with Manchester City to react in the most robust fashion.

"He is a specialist in failure. I'm not," he said. "So, if supposing he's right and I'm afraid of failure, it's because I don't fail many times. So, maybe he's right. I'm not used to failing. But the reality is he's a specialist, because, eight years without a piece of silverware, that's failure. If I did that in Chelsea I'd leave and not come back."

He was not finished there. More than aware that his remarks were, even as he said them, being tweeted and transmitted around the world, Mourinho revisited an analysis of his rival manager that he had first made back in 2005.

"He loves to look at this football club," he said of Wenger.

"I thought between 2007 and 2013 was enough time for him to forget this. But it looks like he always likes to look at this.

"Am I afraid of failure? What is that. I believe, at the end of the day, I'll be (represented as) the unpolite guy, the one who's aggressive in his words. But of course not: he is saying we're not candidates because we're afraid of failure.

"Failure of what? Not winning a title this year? Or in two years?

"I have a lot of respect for him. But failure is not winning a title in seven or eight years. That's failure. Am I aggressive in my words? I don't know."


Indeed, when prompted, Mourinho was reluctant to revisit the aggressive language of previous spats between the pair. He apologised profusely for once having called Wenger a "voyeur," saying: "I'm sorry for that. So sorry for that."

Instead, when asked why he thought the Frenchman was obsessed with Chelsea he replied with a terse: "Ask him."

When the questioning turned to why he thought Arsenal had not won anything in eight years he was equally brusque. "Ask him. Not me."

He was, however, more expansive when insisting that he would not hang around at a club if he was not accumulating silverware.

"If I don't win a trophy in four years, I don't want a new contract. It's as simple as that," he said, of his terms of employment at Chelsea.

"I don't think a manager should be embarrassed when he gives everything, tries everything, dedicates himself to the club, the project and the collective dream.

"If you don't get results, that's football. But for my mentality, there is a limit.

"And you have to be strong enough and proud enough to admit when it's enough."

His pursuit of a trophy this season continues in the FA Cup, a competition he calls "beautiful." Today's tie pitches him against another manager with whom he has not enjoyed the most cordial of relations, Manuel Pellegrini.

Given the manner of his recent victory in the Premier League fixture at the Etihad, Mourinho was asked whether he could inflict further – possibly critical – psychological damage on his main title rivals today.

"If Chelsea win, they (City) can't win four trophies, which their manager said was their target for the season," he said.

"Just that. But if you can't win four, but win three, that's a lot. I don't think it will affect their confidence.

"Big teams know they can lose against big teams."

The Chilean, however, approaches the tie with a particularly unwanted track record – in matches against teams coached by Mourinho he has managed only one victory in nine attempts.

"I don't like this history of records between managers," Mourinho insisted.

"It's between teams, not managers. I don't like it. If I have a record in favour or against, I don't like it either way. I don't look at it in any aspect."

Pellegrini refused to take any questions about Mourinho. Did that suggest he was running scared?

"If he doesn't like to speak about me, perfect.

"I hope he does what he says and doesn't speak," said Mourinho, before adding, without apparent irony: "I also don't like a lot to speak about other managers. I think he's right.

"So, if he doesn't want to speak about me, that's perfect."

The Portuguese added that he did not think the Cup game would follow the same tactical pattern as the league meeting, which Chelsea won 1-0.

Not least because the personnel will be different.

Shorn of both John Terry and Gary Cahill, Mourinho is likely to play Branislav Ivanovic at centre-back and – to the relief of England manager Roy Hodgson – give a run out to Ashley Cole.

Asked if, whoever played, he would once again be instructing his players to negate City's attacks by man-marking Yaya Toure, he insisted stopping Pellegrini's team was not as simple as that.

"They are good all over. You close the right side and (Aleksandar) Kolarov makes fantastic crosses the other side. They are good at everything – in set pieces and every aspect of the game."

But just in case anyone might confuse him for someone keen to issue unqualified compliments to opponents, he added a final barb.

Recalling his recommendation that the Football Association suspend Yaya Toure for his retaliatory kick aimed at Norwich's Ricky van Wolfswinkel, he finished with a dig at City's midfielder: "Is Yaya Toure important?

"Yes. He's so important that the FA decided he has to play this game." (©Daily Telegraph, London)


Irish Independent