Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has sent his best wishes to long-term rival Arsene Wenger after the Frenchman announced that he will leave Arsenal at the end of the season after 22 years at the helm.
Despite signing a two-year contract extension at the Emirates Stadium last May, Wenger is to step down from his duties 12 months earlier than initially planned after another disappointing Premier League campaign where Arsenal now look set to miss out on Champions League football for a second successive year.
Throughout the North London club’s torrid spell, more and more fans have jumped on the ‘Wenger Out’ bandwagon which has led to mass protests, an empty stadium and a plummeting reputation, but in his press conference at Friday lunchtime, Mourinho insisted his counterpart has his good wishes.
Speaking to the press ahead of United’s crunch FA Cup Semi-Final clash with Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, Mourinho said: “If he’s happy, I’m happy. If he’s sad, I’m sad. I always wish the best for my opponents, so for me, that’s the point.
“If he’s happy with the decision he makes and looks forward to the next chapter of his career and his life, I’m really happy for him. If he’s sad, I’m sad.”
Arsene Wenger has had a long-standing rivalry with Manchester United over his 22-year stint at Arsenal and has also had his issues with the current United boss during their time in the top flight of English football, but Mourinho explained that respect has always been there.
He continued: “I’m pretty sure we as a club, and especially because Mr Wenger and Arsenal were for many, many years the biggest rivals of Sir Alex’s era, I’m pretty sure that we as a club will show Mr Wenger the respect he deserves.”
“It’s not about regretting [how both managers have treated one another in the past]. I think your question is a typical question from somebody that was not part of this side, you were not a manager, you were not a player, of course, you don’t know the way we respect each other, even when sometimes it doesn’t look like we don’t.”
Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger look set to face each other for the last time on April 29 when Arsenal visit Old Trafford in what will be a hotly anticipated affair.