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 pre-match 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.”
Mourinho 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.
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.
“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.”
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.”