Evening all. I think it’s probably fair to say that Jose Mourinho and the man he’d secretly love to be, our very own Arsene Wenger, don’t see eye to eye – and not just because the Portuguese manager is comfortably smaller in stature.
The pair harbour a rivalry not borne so much of on-pitch battle royales, tied by a mutual, albeit grudging, respect for one another, as Arsene shared for so long with Sir Alex Ferguson, and not least because Mourinho’s Chelsea have never lost to Wenger’s Arsenal.
But more one rooted in political and ideological differences which have often descended, thanks
mainly entirely to the Blues’ boss, into distasteful and juvenile name-calling contests, and on one memorable occasion, into physical, touch-line jostling.
Yet as their respective sides prepare to face off once more on Sunday for the Community Shield at Wembley, both have focused on the importance of improvement in their existing playing staff, as being vital in what is currently an ultra-competitive and cash rich top portion of the Premier League.
Forget for a minute the duplicitous drivel spouted by Mourinho yesterday regarding Arsenal’s recent transfer net spend in comparison with his own side, and his calculator quote, because it is, frankly, embarrassingly easy to expose as bullshit, and instead look at what Mourinho said over a week ago about his own squad:
It’s a big challenge. To be better with the same people, the players have to be better individually than they were last year. So when they think: ‘Oh last season I did great’, this season it is not enough.
Which is the same message in essence, that Arsene often conveys when talking to the press – that developing and improving players internally, can sometimes be as good as, or better even, than external recruitment. Speaking at his pre Community Shield press conference today, he said:
We want to improve. We know we will be better and we work very hard to be better. It’s difficult to know how much better our opponents will be. Everybody tries to be better. We want to do well and we enjoy to play together. I think what you want is not to listen too much to what people say, because sometimes in the same week I get two different reproaches: one I don’t spend enough and one too much. I believe if you want to create success, which we want desperately, is to focus on inside and try to do as well as we can, believe in the football we want to play, play it as well as we can and let other people talk.
The main difference between the two though, is that you sense Mourinho is playing the poverty card nice and early because he’s unaccustomed to not being the dominant force in the transfer market, whereas not only has Wenger worked for years with severe financial restrictions, I’m sure he actually gets as much satisfaction from developing a Francis Coquelin as he does by landing a world star like Mesut Ozil. Maybe more so even.
Mourinho on the hand, might talk of blooding say, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, but has seldom selected unproven, but promising and experience-hungry talent, anywhere he’s been. Mainly because youth development inevitably entails a learning curve which is often costly in terms of points and competitions.
And for a short-term specialist, as he’s been throughout his career so far, he’s had no real need or desire to develop players. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how he gets on on that front, if Roman Abramovich can stand him for more than a few years this time, and he gets his wish of a truly long-term stay at a club like Arsene and Sir Alex have managed.
Right, moving on from route-one bus drivers and focusing solely on a specialist in winning trophies, developing players and elevating an entire club to the upper echelons of the European club game organically, the boss explained today how new signing Petr Cech can still improve, even at 33 years of age.
Petr Cech was already at the top but I believe that you can never deny that you can improve. He’s at the stage of his career, between 33 and 37, where a goalkeeper can be at his peak and he has the desire. As long as you have the right attitude you can always improve in life. I don’t think it’s down to different training methods, it’s just down to him to keep at the top physically and with his experience he will always improve.
Arsene also denied reports of a bid from Southampton to take their former player Calum Chambers back to St Mary’s on loan next season, saying:
They [Southampton] didn’t try to get him back on loan and I will not consider it. Not at the moment. I want to develop [Chambers] as a centre back and at the moment we have just the right number. He will get games here.
And responded to questions regarding the likelihood of Arsenal dipping back into the transfer market before the end of the transfer window, saying:
I don’t rule it out and I don’t promise it. As I said recently in the press conferences, if we can still strengthen, we will do it. We spend when we think we have to spend and do not listen too much to what people think or say. We just try to make the right decisions.
Finally, the boss provided the following update in terms of team news ahead of Sunday’s traditional season curtain-raiser at Wembley:
Ospina has just come back to training today. Alexis is coming back next weekend. Everybody else should be available apart from Welbeck.
And that’s your lot for today folks.