Jose Mourinho's patronising rant at Arsene Wenger and Arsenal overshadows tales of failure
In the end, Jose Mourinho had the last word. He always has to have the last word.
After Arsene Wenger ended a 13-year and 13-game wait for a Premier League victory against the manager who has tormented him on and off the field for as long as he can remember, the Arsenal manager was on the receiving end of another patronising verbal torrent from Manchester United boss Mourinho.
“The Arsenal fans, they are happy,” stated a smiling Mourinho.
“I am happy for them, it is the first time I leave Highbury or Emirates and they are happy. I left Highbury, they were crying, I left Emirates, they were crying.
“They were walking the streets with their heads low. So finally today they sing, they swing the scarves - it’s nice for them.
“It’s a big club. You think I enjoy a big club like Arsenal not winning big trophies? I am not enjoying that, honestly.”
This was Mourinho in devious mode, as he argues - with some justification - that the only reason he had lost to Wenger for the first time was due to his decision to rest eight of his first choice players ahead of United’s Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo on Thursday.
It was comical stuff, in many ways, yet he knew he was hitting a raw nerve with the manager he has had a relentless desire to patronize during their bitter rivalry.
This was Mourinho playing his favourite game of Wenger-goading once again and you don't have to scratch too far under the surface of this never ended battle to appreciate why one of the combatants feels the need to rise to the challenge every time.
Why has he continued to poke fun at Wenger time and again down the years? There is a very simple answer to that question.
Mourinho just cannot comprehend how a manager who has won two FA Cups since 2005 is still afford the kind of respect he feels never comes his way, despite his relentless trophy triumphs at Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid that have included domestic and European titles aplenty.
Mourinho has stated for years that Wenger is lucky to still be in a job and he would argue that his barbs have been justified by the unraveling of the Frenchman’s Arsenal empire in the last few years, yet his critics would argue that must be that he is also something of a specialist in failure - to pinch a line he famously used to attack Wenger - in his first season at United.
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal have been sacked by Manchester United in recent years after they failed to secure top four finishes in the Premier League.
Now in a season when so many of the sides at the top of the table have shown real fragility on a weekly basis, Mourinho can have no excuses for his failure to seal entry to next season’s Champions League without the need to fall back on a Europa League win to seal a ticket to Europe’s elite competition.
If he adds Europa League glory to the League Cup he won in February, Mourinho will get away with his most disappointing full season as a Premier League manager.
Anything less and he will be hailed as Wenger’s natural successor in the failure stakes.