Tottenham Hotspur boss Jose Mourinho has responded kindly to Mikel Arteta’s praise ahead of the clash with Arsenal. The Portuguese manager has revealed he has known the former midfielder since he was a schoolboy at Barcelona. The two coaches will go head-to-head on Sunday, but they have known each other for decades.
Mourinho told reporters he has a lot of respect for Arteta and the respect was clearly mutual with Arteta describing Mourinho as ‘world-class’, backing the Portuguese to start winning trophies again. Mourinho said he was grateful for the comments, being very kind on his Arsenal rival stating he has a difficult job at the Gunners while also building a squad for the future.
“Look I met Mikel when Mikel was a kid in Barcelona. I was there with Mr Van Gaal, Mikel was a kid. Really, really a kid”, Mourinho said. “So I know him from there and when you know these kids at this age, time flies but in the end you always look at them as the kid that you have a great feeling for. When he became Pep’s assistant, in a funny way I started calling him, every time we met, ‘Mister’, not Mikel anymore. ‘Mister’. So we had always a laugh on this.”
“And of course I like him very, very much. I hope everything goes well for him in his career, but I have to admit in this moment he is at a rival club, a club that fights in this moment for the same things we fight – which is a European position. And I cannot wish him good in this situation.”
“The nature of his job is quite similar to mine, is quite similar to Carlo [Ancelotti], which is that you arrive in the middle of the season and then it’s a double focus, which is not easy, which is by one side you want to try and get the best results immediately, but by another side you have an eye on the future.”
“What you want is to build your own team. What you want is to start the new season. So for me, for Carlo, for Mikel, it’s this kind of job. When you are in a relegation fight, I would say for example Neil Warnock going there, he knows that he needs a certain number of points to keep his club in the division. He knows exactly what he has to do to do that.”
“In our cases I think it’s different, because we are speaking about very important clubs, clubs that want to do better in the future, and this is half now, and half in the future. So I think we all are desperate to have end of season, holiday, preparation, pre-season and then the new season. But the reality is that we have to fight for points and in this case points mean a Europa competition position and points means also a special rival feeling between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.”