Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has waxed lyrical about Tottenham Hotspur counterpart Jose Mourinho ahead of Sunday’s North London derby.
In November last year, Tottenham parted company with Mauricio Pochettino and, within less than a day, announced that Mourinho had been handed the Spurs reins.
His appointment prompted a mixed reaction by the fanbase, some delighted by the arrival of a world-renowned manager with a stellar CV, others unsure he’d be able to build on Pochettino’s work.
One year on and Tottenham are in a superb place, a much-improved squad sitting top of the Premier League with 21 goals scored from 10 games and just nine conceded, and also doing well in the Europa League and still in the League Cup.
Arteta and Mourinho worked together at Barcelona, the Spaniard coming through the ranks at La Masia and Mourinho in charge of the B team, and the two will renew acquaintances on Sunday.
“I know him well,” Arteta told the Arsenal website.
“We spent some time together in Barcelona and obviously we’ve played against each other a million times. I admire him, I think what he’s done in the game is incredible, it’s remarkable.
“He has a unique character and personality. He’s someone that I think in football we have to appreciate and admire.
Me, as a young coach, I know what it takes to be sitting where we are and the way he’s done it in different countries takes a lot of guts.
“He’s brave and then he has an edge to be able to transmit a mentality to everyone to keep winning. That mentality for me is what makes him really special.”
Mourinho is one of the most esteemed managers in world football with a remarkable CV, and he continues to prove critics wrong, having impressed at Spurs this past year.
Arteta is at the start of his managerial journey and has done well so far, even if it’s not been smooth sailing, and a win over one of his former coaches will be a huge boost.