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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 23, 2007

Jose admits: Wenger is a great manager too

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho admits he does not see eye to eye with his Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger on many subjects, but when it comes to being great managers the pair are, for once, in full accord.

The duo have never missed an opportunity to snipe at each other and have been involved in another unsavoury bout of verbal sparring in the run-up to Sunday's Carling Cup final in Cardiff.

In Porto, Mourinho appeared to taunt Wenger over his failure to win the Champions League after Arsenal lost out to Barcelona in the final last season.

It was a comment which forced the Arsenal boss to respond by claiming that a coach does not have to win Europe's top competition to be acknowledged as a great manager.

Wenger's words appear to have paved the way for a spell of harmony between two managers who once fell out over Christmas cards.

Mourinho said: 'I agree with him totally. He has never won it but he is a great manager.

'We don't agree on many things but on this we agree completely. In Porto I said to win the Champions League does not make you a great manager.

'A great manager can be a great manager without winning the Champions League and because I won it once, I feel very privileged. This time we are of the same opinion.'

One thing they appear not to agree on is the footballing philosophy. Under Wenger, Arsenal are regarded as purveyors of the romantic side of the game - attacking, free-flowing and easy on the eye.

Wenger's side has been built around young players who are now proving their worth both at home and in Europe.

Chelsea, on the other hand, are physical, direct, powerful and clinical and have sacrificed youth for big-money signings.

Mourinho will point out that he did not have five years to produce a team from scratch but he maintains Chelsea have not entirely pinned their colours to the cash ethic either.

Mourinho declared: 'It is his job, it is his team, his work.

'He chooses what he has to do, he chooses what he thinks is correct. Their scouting of young players must be good, especially abroad, they bring always good young talent and he is a good coach. He works well with young boys.

'The young boys become good players. He has a lot of young players and we have only three - Mikel Jon Obi, Salomon Kalou and Lassana Diarra.

'But the process is mainly the same. We give them chances, we try to improve the boys and we wait for right time for them to be in the team.

'I think Diarra is a great example of that. One year his agent is not happy because the player is not playing, blah blah.

'Is it better for Diarra to stay or to go? But Diarra decides to stay and wait and the process goes on and on and now he is first choice. It is a normal process.'

Mourinho though does not believe it matters whether a player is young or old - it is the quality he is more interested in.

'In football there are no boys,' declared Mourinho. 'No boys and no old people. Claude Makelele is not old and you can find a lot of players like that. Ryan Giggs is not old. They are not old, they are top.

'So are the young boys - they are top. Referees have an age limit but players don't have an age limit, they play until they are not top. There is not a low limit age either, so they are good players.'