The season is only one game old but already it looks set to be defined by a simmering feud between Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger following a Community Shield where afterwards, Wenger refused to shake hands.
Mourinho, who threw his loser’s medal to a young Arsenal fan, began the joust by suggesting Arsenal abandoned their attacking philosophy to clinch the 1-0 victory. “The best team lost, the defensive team won,” he said. “But I also have my opinion that the team which defends well — and the team that leaves its philosophy in the dressing room and changes that attitude and philosophy to accumulate ten players behind the ball and play all the second half with nine players in front of the box — this is very good tactical organisation.
“In this perspective they scored one goal and deserved to win. If you want to be pragmatic, like I normally am, then you can say in a simple way that they scored, didn’t concede — and so congratulations to them.”
The verdict, of course, was delivered with a sardonic tone; and Wenger was quick to strike back at any suggestion he had abandoned his principles.
“We abandoned nothing,” he said. “Our game is based on togetherness and team spirit — defending well and attacking well. Today, yes, we defended because it was a psychological hurdle to beat Chelsea; we were concerned to protect our lead. You have to accept that and that’s not giving up your philosophy. I’m quite proud of that.”
mourinho pirouettes to avoid shaking hands with wenger, throws losers' medal into crowd pic.twitter.com/oG5cShKaLp— Ken Early (@kenearlys) August 2, 2015
With so much history between them, all eyes were also on the traditional post-match handshake — which Wenger duly avoided.
Mourinho, who stood waiting for his rival, said: “I was doing what the status of my club and my status as a manager means I have to do— which is to be there for the winners, to wait for them in a point that you only miss me if you want to miss me. Every Arsenal player came in my direction which was the easiest thing to do because I was just there and if other people didn’t come in my direction that is not a problem, not a story and not the end of the world.”
Wenger said: “I shook a few hands. We have nothing special there. That’s it.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved