Five years away from English football must be the recovery time for tempers between fierce rivals to waiver as Jose Mourinho heaped praise on his old foe Sir Alex Ferguson.
The double Premier League winner left Chelsea in 2007 amid allegations of a huge rift between him and trigger-happy owner Roman Abramovich – Roberto Di Matteo is his sixth victim in the wake of Mourinho’s departure.
And he shared a rocky rapport with the Manchester United boss – that started during his time with FC Porto when Ferguson refused to shake his hand – but the man who is tipped to take over the Old Trafford hotseat is insisting they always maintain a healthy friendship.
"He's unique," said Mourinho. "Especially in the modern day.
"If you go back many years, then you will find somebody like him but [it's amazing] in the modern day at the highest level, where it is really difficult to survive in our job.
"He's absolutely incredible at what he does and we can't even imagine when he'll stop. He's unbelievable."
Mourinho’s men will line-up against Premier League leaders Manchester City – who finished 16th when the Portugal boss’ delivered the title in his first season with Chelsea – in the Champions League tonight.