• Chelsea manager once had fiery relationship with Wenger
• 'I respect him a lot – I wouldn't bet for one single problem'
José Mourinho and Arsène Wenger have repaired the relationship that disintegrated so acrimoniously during the Portuguese's first spell in English football, with the recently returned Chelsea manager claiming there would not be "one single problem" flaring between the pair over the campaign ahead.
Wenger's Arsenal side had just completed an unbeaten league campaign and were the reigning champions when Mourinho arrived in the Premier League in 2004, only for Chelsea to establish themselves as the dominant force over the next two seasons. Their rapid emergence prised apart the stranglehold imposed by Arsenal and Manchester United but while Mourinho's relations with Sir Alex Ferguson were generally cordial, his clashes with Wenger were frequent and public. Their verbal sniping prompted Mourinho's infamous accusation that the Frenchman was "a voyeur" in October 2005, adding: "There are some guys who, when they are at home, they have a big telescope to see what happens in other families … He's worried about us, he's always talking about us. It's Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea. I don't know if he wants my job. He loves Chelsea."
There seemed little prospect of a recovery in their dealings after that outburst, with Mourinho armed with a 120-page dossier of Wenger's comments about his rivals and the Arsenal manager threatening legal action, retorting: "When you give success to stupid people, it makes them more stupid sometimes.
Yet, with Mourinho having since spent time away from England at Internazionale and Real Madrid, a ceasefire has apparently been called. "He's a nice guy," Mourinho said. "I had a chance to meet him much, much better when I left England and I started meeting him in Uefa [coaching meetings], at the Euros, the World Cup. I think I met him a few times, we had dinner and so on. And when you are not in the same league and when you are not playing against each other, it is easier to get to know people, it is easier to go deeper. It is easy to speak about football, he's a very nice guy.
"I'm back in the Premier League, yes, but he's still a nice guy. I respect him a lot and I will show it always. In football, things like this happen. Sometimes, even if you are friends and respect each other, sometimes you say something the other doesn't like and you react, but at the end of the day I respect him a lot and I have the feeling that he is the same in relation to me. I wouldn't bet for one single problem between us."
Wenger and Mourinho, at 50, are the only two managers starting next season's Premier League campaign who have claimed the title and, as such, are effectively the elder statesmen of the division. They spoke at length about football at those Uefa meetings and, while the Portuguese has admitted he would not be able to contemplate going into a ninth season since last claiming silverware, a prospect awaiting Arsenal and Wenger, there is admiration for his opposite number's longevity.
"He has to teach me how (he has done it) because I want to be here 17 years," said Mourinho. "Our last conversation was that I want to be here 17 years. It wasn't uncomfortable talking because it was with other coaches, in Uefa, in Europe, so it was in a good, nice atmosphere and I enjoyed speaking with him about football. He is a person with a big culture, very open to give his opinion to things, very good."
Asked if he could go eight years without a trophy, Mourinho added: "No, because of my mentality. I would feel strange. But you can do very good work for a club without winning lots of trophies, you can. Memories in football are normally short, there is no long-term memory. People many times forget what people have done. I don't think he's affected by that. He's a big, experienced man, he has self-esteem, he knows what he did, he knows what he is doing.
"To have the respect like he has from his board is fundamental and it's not because of his nice face. It's because of the work he does and also because of the respect people have for him. So, for sure, he is happy to be there. As you know, he had all these chances to leave, all these good, important clubs interested in him, so when he refuses and he wants to stay at Arsenal it's because he loves it there. It's because he has expectations for the future."