Once described by Jose Mourinho as a voyeur for seemingly always keeping a watchful eye at events transpiring at Stamford Bridge, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has attracted the commendation of a softening Special One as the Chelsea boss has remarked positively on the Frenchman, his longevity in the hot-seat at the North London club and the faith that the club's upper brass obviously have in him to perform.
From the dietary requirements he expects of his players, the exercise regimen and training ground routines he oversees, to the stadium move from Highbury to the Ashburton Grove plot, Wenger has revolutionised Arsenal yet there is one stick oft-used to beat the 64-year-old with.
Since beginning his tenure with the Gunners in 1996, Wenger has claimed three Premier League titles, four FA Cup wins, masterminded a route to the Champions League final and built an Invincibles side that will live long in football memory. But he has not lifted a trophy since 2005.
Regardless, Wenger has ensured his teams remain competitive as the club's switch to the Emirates Stadium only in recent years begins to reap dividends and, as Arsenal mount an offensive on three fronts in the current campaign - with eyes on the FA Cup, the league and in Europe - the board have been swift to tie Arsene down to an improved three year deal.
'It is fantastic he is staying,' commented Mourinho, 51, as quoted by The Express. 'I’m happy that a club like Arsenal trusts the manager so much, and gives him a new contract even without knowing if they are going to win the title. It’s fantastic to give that stability, and an example.'
The Jose praise may be a far cry from the spats the two giants of coaching in Britain engaged in during Mourinho's first stint in charge at SW6.
Since parting ways with the Blues in 2006, Mourinho has gone on to boss Internazionale, where he oversaw the most successful season in Nerazzurri history as the Milanese club claimed a never before achieved Italian treble (Serie A, Coppa Italia, Champions League), before moving on to Real Madrid in 2010, where he won La Liga in his second season.
Now that Mourinho is back at Chelsea, stability and longevity is something he hopes to achieve himself at West London and views Wenger as an example of that.
'The fact that in the last few years he couldn’t win a trophy doesn’t change what I think about him. I’m happy for him - he is one of the best managers in the game,' concluded Mourinho.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald