Arsene Wenger has admitted his relationship with Jose Mourinho has been “tense”, but insists they respect each other.
Wenger will travel to Old Trafford for the final time as Arsenal manager on Sunday to face Manchester United.
Both men have clashed over the years, with the former famously describing the latter as “a specialist in failure” in 2014, but the Arsenal boss says their relationship is more positive than people might expect.
“It has been, like with Ferguson, very tense like always when you fight together,” Wenger told Soccer Saturday.
“But overall it is respectful. I must say as well it is very difficult when you play against fellow managers, they get reported things that you have not necessarily said.
“In press conferences, they say ‘Wenger said that’ even if it is taken out of context and you then get people who are upset or vice versa.
“It is very difficult to keep it calm and quiet, but over the distance the respect always takes over. Do you know why? We all suffer defeats, we all suffer disappointment and we all know that we suffer a lot.
“You always have respect for people who suffer, unless you are completely not human at all. You have to feel empathy for people who are in the same job as you.”
Wenger also said his relationship with Mourinho, is similar to the tense rivalry he enjoyed with Sir Alex Ferguson, during the early years of his reign.
Either Manchester United or Arsenal won every Premier League title in Wenger’s first eight seasons.
“Between 1998 and 2005 it was an intense rivalry and the main rivalry was between the two clubs,” he added.
“After you had Chelsea – and Liverpool was always there – but we were the dominant teams and I just think every game had intensity, tension, rivalry and the challenges were always on the borderline.
“In the build-up to a game and after a game everything was absolutely tense. This game many times on the pitch and in the corridors was on the borderline.
“The rivalry between Alex Ferguson and myself was at a very high point and it was always very tense.”