Jose Mourinho insists his long-running spat with Arsene Wenger was proof of his respect for the Arsenal manager and has wished him well for his future away from the club.
The Gunners confirmed on Friday that Wenger will step down at the end of the season, bringing to an end his 22-year spell in north London.
Mourinho has had something of a feud with the Frenchman since moving to England in 2004, which culminated in his infamous description of the 68-year-old as "a specialist in failure" back in 2014.
However, the Manchester United manager says any disputes between himself and Wenger simply underlines their mutual respect – and claims anyone who disagrees is not among "the real football people".
Asked for his reaction to the Wenger news, he told a media conference: "If he's happy, I'm happy. If he's sad, I'm sad.
"I always wish the best for my opponents so for me that's the point: if he is happy with the decision, if he looks forward to the next chapter of his career and his life, I'm really happy for him; if he is sad, I'm sad.
"Mr Wenger and Arsenal were for many, many years the biggest rivals of the Sir Alex era. I'm pretty sure we will show Mr Wenger the respect he deserves."
Congratulations on an incredible 22-year career at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, and best of luck for the rest of the season… apart from on your 60th game against us next Sunday— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 20, 2018
When pressed on whether he regretted some of his comments about Wenger, he replied: "It's not about regretting. I think your question is a typical question from somebody who was not on this side: not a manager, not a player. You don't know the way we respect each other, even though sometimes in some moments it looks like we don't.
"Players that get yellow cards, get red cards by aggression, actions against each other, bad words during their career, for managers [it's] the same thing: in the end, they are probably the ones that respect each other more.
"It's power against power, quality against quality, ambition against ambition, but in the end it's people from the same business that respect each other's career. It's not about regretting it happened.
"What matters for me is the way I respect the person, the professional, the career. I always say that, for some, the memory is short but for us, the real football people, the ones inside the four lines playing or the managers or the referees, we are the football people.
"The football people don't have short memories. I know what it means: three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups, but not just that – what he did in Japan, France, what he did to French football, what he gave to Arsenal even in the period without Premier Leagues, the transition from stadium to stadium.
"If he is happy with the decision, I am really happy and I hope he doesn't retire from football."
16. Januar 2019
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