Jose Mourinho has long been at loggerheads with Arsene Wenger, but now he wants to emulate him and manage into his late 60s. Wenger has had an extraordinary 22-year reign at Arsenal which Manchester United manager Mourinho does not believe he can match at Old Trafford because of pressure from the media.
He is, however, confident he can remain in his current job longer than any other he has had in management.
Mourinho will face Wenger, who is 13 years his senior at 68, for the last time in an Arsenal fixture at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon after the Frenchman announced he was stepping down at the end of the season.
The Portuguese’s longest managerial stint was the three years and three months he spent in his first spell at Chelsea, while he spent three years at Real Madrid and two years each at Porto, Inter Milan and his second spell at Stamford Bridge.
Asked if he could emulate Wenger’s longevity, Mourinho said: “For sure. I will have to change clubs because you [the media] don’t allow me to stay here!
“I would see myself doing it but the new concept of media, social media, the pundit industry, the way people can express and influence opinion, it is too much pressure – not just for the manager – but also for the club.
“It is impossible for someone to resist for a long time, especially without any kind of success.
“To stay a manager, to have four or five years to try to get a trophy and to improve the team, I don’t think you allow that any more.”
But Mourinho believes he can stay at United longer than his other clubs after confessing his days of getting itchy feet are over.
“I think so. At other clubs, I was already thinking ‘what next?’” he said. “I had things I really wanted to do – I had to go to Italy, I had to go to Spain. At this moment, there isn’t anything around the corner and I don’t want to do anything different to what I am doing now.”
Starting with Porto in his homeland, Mourinho has won trophies at all of his clubs – including two Champions Leagues – but he is convinced he is a better manager now than he was 10 years ago.
“Yes, until the point you lose your motivation, you keep improving,” he added. “So yes, in every way [I am better]. My passion for the job is the same and my sense of responsibility and emotional control [is better]. I am much more mature too.
“At every level – training, matches, relationships with players – it feels like everything is déjà vu. It is very rare now there is something in my professional life that I am surprised with or I don’t know how to react to. So, the more experience, the better you are.”
Mourinho points to the example of Jupp Heynckes to back up his “older is better” theory.
At 72, Heynckes is in his third spell in charge of Bayern Munich having ended a four-year “retirement” last October following 32 years in management.
“You have the example now of Mr Heynckes. He was retired, playing with his grandchildren, and suddenly he comes back and he is even better than before,” said Mourinho.
As for Wenger, Mourinho has had many run-ins with the Frenchman but admitted his rival’s “Invincibles” team from 2003-04, who were undefeated as they romped to the Premiership title, made him raise his game.
“I am going to remember him as a big opponent, as the manager of the Invincibles – the Invincibles I met when I arrived in the country in 2004, the Invincibles that made me a better coach. That is the way I would like to remember him,” he added.
Mourinho is also convinced that Wenger’s long career in management is not over.
“I don’t think he will end his career. Until I have different information, he is only going to end his career as Arsenal manager,” he said.