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By ESPN Staff
Sep 21, 2007

Wenger pays tribute to departing Mourinho

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has paid tribute to the impact former Chelsea rival Jose Mourinho has had on English football, although he expressed surprise the Portuguese did not see his job at Stamford Bridge as a long-term project.

Mourinho's departure from the two-time Premier League champions left Wenger no less shocked than the rest of the footballing world.

The pair have had major disputes during the former Blues boss' three-year stay in England but there were no hard feelings from the Frenchman.

'It is basically sad because I feel Mourinho is a manager of quality,' said the Arsenal manager.

'I am a great believer in technical stability and therefore I don't think it is good news for football.'

On their fractious relationship Wenger added: 'We didn't get on the best but recently it has become better.

'That does not hide the fact I respected what he did and the quality of his work.

'Of course he is a great manager. He arrived when Chelsea were on the way up; they had a good side already and he did something more and made them winners.

'He deserves a lot of credit for that because it is never easy to win and in England it is maybe more difficult.

'I thought for a while, when he extended his contract, he was on the same way of thinking as I or Ferguson, where we try to impart something over a longer period at the club.'

Former Israel coach Avram Grant, Chelsea's director of football, has taken charge at Stamford Bridge along with assistant manager Steve Clarke and Wenger revealed he has more in common with the new boss.

'I know him very well from Israel. I have very good relations with Avram,' Wenger told Arsenal TV Online.

'When he was manager of Israel he visited some clubs and he came here through some common connections we had and since we have had very good relations.

'He is a very talented coach. I don't know if he is just filling in or will take over for the longer term but we will see what kind of changes he makes.'