English soccer's two longest serving and most successful managers expressed their respect for Jose Mourinho on Friday, saying they would miss the rivalry that had grown between them and the former Chelsea coach.
"It's a disappointment for the game," said Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson, adding that he enjoyed the competition and the "fresh" approach the outspoken Portuguese brought to the English game. "I think he was terrific for football and terrific for Chelsea." Arsenal's Arsene Wenger agreed. "It is basically sad because I feel Mourinho is a manager of quality. We didn't get on the best but … that does not hide the fact I respected what he did and the quality of his work." In three full seasons at Chelsea, Mourinho won two English Premier League titles (2005, 2006), two English League Cups (2005, 2007), the FA Cup (2007) and the FA Community Shield (2005). His departure from the club was met with shock by the media, his colleagues and his former players.
The club's director of soccer Avram Grant has now taken over as Chelsea manager, while Steve Clarke will remain assistant manager. Owner Roman Abramovich, with whom Mourinho always had a tenuous relationship, will now take on a more hands-on role with the club, a source close to the Russian billionaire told the Guardian. "It is the Russian way: they like to be the boss when they are paying for things.