April 20 (Reuters) - Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho said he always had great respect for Arsene Wenger despite their long-running feud and urged the outgoing Arsenal manager not to retire from the game.
Wenger announced on Friday that he will step down as Arsenal manager at the end of the season, ending a near 22-year reign at the north London club.
“If he’s happy I’m happy, if he’s sad, I’m sad,” Mourinho told reporters. “I always wish the best for my opponents.
“Mr Wenger and Arsenal were for many, many years the biggest rivals of Sir Alex’s (Ferguson) era, I’m pretty sure that we as a club will show Mr Wenger the respect he deserves.
Mourinho has been critical of Wenger in the past, labelling him a “specialist in failure”, but the Portuguese said those previous remarks are now irrelevant as the pair share mutual respect off the field.
“Players that get yellow cards and red cards by aggressive actions against each other — the manager is the same thing but the ones that respect more each other are the ones with the problems,” Mourinho added.
“It’s power and ambition and quality against each other but in the end it’s people from the same business and we respect each others’ careers.”
Wenger, 68, won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, including domestic doubles in 1998 and 2002.
He took Arsenal into the Champions League for 20 years in a row despite the club having to operate on a tighter budget to finance their move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium.
“I always say that for some the memories are short, but for us football people, the real football people, who are the ones inside the four lines, playing, or the managers... the football people don’t have short memories,” Mourinho said.
“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 Leagues, the transition from stadium to stadium, we know what he did.
“I hope he doesn’t retire from football.” (Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru Editing by Toby Davis)