Cobham, United Kingdom: Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has hit back in a bitter war of words with Arsene Wenger after branding the Arsenal boss a “specialist in failure”.
Mourinho was angry with Wenger’s comments on Friday that the Premier League title is current leaders Chelsea’s to lose because they are sitting at the summit of the division.
Wenger, whose side are one point behind their London rivals in the title race, also claimed that many of the teams at the top are afraid to back themselves due to a fear of failure, with Mourinho having labelled Chelsea the “little horse” behind Manchester City and Arsenal.
Yet, just hours later, ahead of the FA Cup fifth-round tie at Manchester City on Saturday, Blues manager Mourinho used his prematch press conference to offer a stinging rebuke to his French rival, who has gone eight years without winning a major trophy.
“He (Wenger) is a specialist in failure,” Mourinho told reporters at Chelsea’s training ground in Cobham, south of London. “I am not.
“If supposedly he (Wenger) is right and I am afraid of failure it is because I don’t fail many times.
‘Not used to failure’
“Maybe he’s right — I’m not used to failure,” added Mourinho, who boasts an impressive list of honours after winning the Premier League twice in his first spell as Chelsea manager between 2004 and 2007, as well as claiming the Champions League with Porto and Inter Milan and taking league titles in four countries.
“But the reality is he (Wenger) is a specialist because eight years without a piece of silverware, that’s failure,” the Portuguese added in a reference to Arsenal’s trophy “drought” since winning the 2005 FA Cup.
“If I do that with Chelsea, eight years, I leave London and I don’t come back. I’m not fearing anything in football,” said Mourinho, who nine years ago branded Wenger a “voyeur”.
Chelsea travel to Manchester aiming for a third win over City this season after completing a league double earlier this month courtesy of a solitary strike by Branislav Ivanovic.
Mourinho will be without centre-back pair John Terry and Gary Cahill through injury, but he has his sights set on booking a quarter-final spot in the competition that he won with Chelsea when they beat Manchester United in extra time in the 2007 final at Wembley.
“The FA Cup is big and beautiful,” said Mourinho. “It’s beautiful for everybody and the draw made it even more so, because two big teams will be knocked out.
“We are confident, but they (City) will be too. It is not easy to play consecutive matches against the same team … We know they are strong.”
He added: “Our priority is always the next match.
“There is no Champions League, there is no Premier League, there is only the FA Cup. Every game for us is a priority,” Mourinho insisted.
Earlier, Wenger — now the Premier League’s longest-serving manager after arriving at Arsenal in 1996, said of the title race: “We are in it, yes we will have a go for it, we will absolutely give everything to go for it.”
Asked why so many other managers were saying their teams were not contenders, Wenger replied: “It is [because of a] fear to fail.”
This week also saw Mourinho round on Manuel Pellegrini after the City manager, whose big-spending club are bankrolled by oil-rich Abu Dhabi-based owner Sheikh Mansour, questioned Chelsea’s recent forays into the transfer market.
“I think he [Pellegrini] is a fantastic coach … and on top of that he’s an engineer.
“I don’t think an engineer needs a calculator to do [Juan] Mata [sold for] £37 million [Dh227m or $61m] and [Kevin] de Bruyne [sold for] £18m, so that’s £55m. [Nemanja] Matic is £21m and [Mohammad] Salah is £11m. That’s £32m.
“Fifty-five minus thirty-two is 23. So Chelsea, in this transfer window, generated £23m.
“We are building a team for the next decade, if possible. They [City] have a team to win now because they don’t have a team for 10 years.”