Jose Mourinho has admitted regrets over the negative episodes which occurred between himself and Arsene Wenger during his time as Chelsea manager.
The pair have rarely seen eye to eye: Mourinho infamously branded Wenger as a “specialist in failure” back in 2014, and the Frenchman, normally a blissfully measured character, shoved Mourinho during a defeat at Stamford Bridge.
News of Wenger’s departure from the Emirates in the summer, however, has sparked a change of tone from Mourinho, who has since spoken of his unyielding respect for the Arsenal boss in press conferences.
Speaking ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Old Trafford this weekend, Mourinho admitted that, on reflection, he was regretful for the way “negative episodes” emerged between the pair at times.
“There are little things where it would be obviously be better without them, some gestures, some words would be better without it,” he said.
“I feel better now without it, no doubts about it, but again when I arrive in England 2004, Arsene was the champion and the famous Invincibles, and I arrive and for the next couple of years was with them.
“Bergkamp, Thierry, Campbell, amazing team, so again thank you very much for that. They pushed us to the limits.
“The two matches we played not at the Emirates but at an amazing old stadium, unforgettable, we had big matches, big fights, so thank you so much for that. Regret? Little negative episodes.”
It is often impossible to judge a particular event when you yourself are at its very epicentre, and such is very often the case with Mourinho – a man who invests himself in the theatre and minutiae of the beautiful game more than most.
Only when the dust settles and life moves on can we really, properly reflect and judge. Personally, the way I hit out at Wayne Rooney on this website for almost three years was something I now regret – not necessarily the content but rather the tone.
For Mourinho, the tone he set for his relationship with Wenger was particularly nasty. And now, as one of the greatest modern football pioneers leaves the Premier League, that notion clearly nags at the 55-year-old to some extent.
But it was necessary, and indeed effective. Wenger was sitting firmly on the top when Mourinho arrived. He will now leave the club having played second fiddle to the Portuguese for over a decade.