Wenger to leave Arsenal

Football: Tributes for 'man who changed face of game'

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and then Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho having a spat on the touchlines during a league game in October 2014. With Wenger leaving, their bitter feud is now water under the bridge.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and then Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho having a spat on the touchlines during a league game in October 2014. With Wenger leaving, their bitter feud is now water under the bridge.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Mourinho hopes Frenchman doesn't retire from management; Klopp hails 'influencer in football'

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has revealed that his long-standing feud with Arsene Wenger is an indication of how much he respects his counterpart.

On a day when rival managers and former Gunners united in paying tribute to the outgoing Arsenal boss, Mourinho said he hopes the 68-year-old will not retire from football.

The Portuguese labelled Wenger a "specialist in failure" in 2014 and a "voyeur" in 2005 during separate spells as Chelsea manager. But he acknowledged Wenger's trophy-laden career yesterday.

"The ones that respect each other (more) are the ones with the problems," said the Manchester United manager, who will go head-to-head with Wenger one more time when Arsenal visit Old Trafford next weekend. "It's power and ambition and quality against each other, but in the end, it's people from the same business and respect for each other's careers.

"I know what it means, three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, what he did in Japan and France, what he brought to French football and what he gave to Arsenal in the period without Premier League (titles), the transition from (Highbury) stadium to (Emirates) stadium.

"We know what he did. If he's happy with the decision, I'm really happy and I hope he doesn't retire from football."

Cardiff boss Neil Warnock, another who locked horns with Wenger on plenty of occasions in the past, was also generous in his praise of the Frenchman.



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"He's the man who changed the whole face of the game. We owe him so much, yet have given him so much stick," said the Briton.

"In a way, I'm glad he's going, I wouldn't want to see him get any more vitriol than he's had."

Wenger, who brought Arsenal's all-time record goalscorer Thierry Henry to the club in 1999, has been under increasing pressure to leave due to a 14-year drought without winning the Premier League and even failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time after 19 consecutive years last season.

Henry insisted a barren end to Wenger's 22-year reign at the helm should not tarnish his legacy.

"Recently people were always confusing what he is doing at the minute and his legacy," the former France striker told Sky Sports.

"Once you announce you are leaving, people are going to talk about your legacy and his legacy is untouchable."

Arsenal are on course for their lowest league finish under Wenger as they sit in sixth with just five league games of the term left.

But Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp still rates Wenger among the best football minds in the world.

"He was, and still is an influencer in football. He has had an outstanding career, an outstanding personality, a big player in the business," said the German.

"He always developed teams. I always admired his work."

While Wenger is widely regarded as the greatest manager in Arsenal's history, Gunners legend Bob Wilson revealed what the Strasbourg native is like as a man.

The former goalkeeper broke down in tears on BBC's Radio 5 Live show as he explained how Wenger helped him get through the ordeal of losing his daughter, who suffered from a rare form of cancer in 1998.

"He is without doubt one of the three greatest men I have ever met in my life," said the Englishman.

"I'm not just talking about his football knowledge, how he changed the game in this country, but outside as a human being and through difficult times, when my wife and I had when we lost our daughter."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2018, with the headline 'Tributes for 'man who changed face of game''. Print Edition | Subscribe