War Not Peace. The Arsene Wenger-Jose Mourinho Rivalry

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Arsenal and Manchester United reignite their rivalry on Sunday afternoon as they both chase a top four spot. The intensity has cooled since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsenal’s continued league title drought. With Jose Mourinho taking charge of the Old Trafford side this season, there is a new wrinkle to this clash. It is safe to assume that The Special One and Arsene Wenger will not share a bottle of wine after this weekend’s match, but the French manager has opened the lines for a potential peace between the two stubborn tacticians.


The war started in 2005 when Arsene accused Mourinho’s Chelsea of parking the bus too often, which unofficially coined the term that all the twitter users tweet to this day. The Portuguese manager did not take too kindly to those words and called the Arsenal man a ‘voyeur’, which inflamed the war of words in a way that caused Wenger to consider legal action. They continued to chirp off and on for the next nine years and the rivalry reached its peak in October of 2014. During a hotly contested match, Arsene Wenger put his hands on the then Chelsea manager and gave him a nice shove. Since that point, there have been subtle jabs until recently when Wenger considered a peace offering to Jose before Sunday’s match.

Will Jose accept?

That is tough to tell. The man continues to be harden with stubbornness that he is criticizing players more in public than he ever has in his career. There seems to be a lack of respect from Jose’s end towards Wenger, because of the jealously of seeing a manager continuing to ride on while not winning major titles as Mourinho continues to roam without the stability and the love that he feels is deserved.

With his rivalry of Pep, it was more of trying to ruffle the feathers of their Clasico rivals. Over time, the mutual respect has taken over with the two as they nomad from team to team trying to find the next challenge.

Not only does the problem with Wenger stems from his continued stay, it also focuses on the perceived complacency of the Frenchman. Wenger does enough to keep his superiors content but does not strive to go further. Winning FA Cups is not the hotness that it once was back in the day, but Wenger hangs his hat on that and the constant top four finishes. Jose is offended with that notion, because he knows about the pressure-cookers that demand him to win at all cost. Roman’s Chelsea, Inter Milan, and Real Madrid all expected him to win the bigger prizes and anything less is a disappointment. Seeing a guy who continues to be rewarded for mediocrity, while the weight of the world (by his own doing) is on Jose’s shoulders, it has to grind on him to see the other side.

Do we want peace?

The answer is a resounding NO. As spectators, we enjoy the story-line of matches, movies, shows, etc. There is nothing that excites the viewer more than strife between two adversaries. Every day on social media, we look to find free entertainment in hotly contested debates so we can soak it in. There is no fun in Mourinho and Wenger burying the hatchet. We need to be able to cut the tension with a knife between the two in their coaching boxes.

When Pep and Mourinho started acting chummy once Guardiola arrived on the British Isles, there was a frown on my face as was on everyone else’s. The agendas continue on social media, but the feud story-line ended, and the matches didn’t have that same heated excitement factor.

And even as other managerial rivalries start their beginnings, this long standing one is currently the best in football because there is genuine dislike and a lack of respect between the two, at least from one side. They cannot take this rivalry away from us. If they do, what’s the point in living anymore?

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Andre Sherard

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