Thursday 14 November 2019

Jose Mourinho v Antonio Conte - head to head

Jose Mourinho, left, and Antonio Conte, right, have a growing rivalry
Jose Mourinho, left, and Antonio Conte, right, have a growing rivalry

Manchester United's Easter Sunday match with Chelsea could see an intriguing battle on the touchline as Jose Mourinho faces Antonio Conte.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at the clash between the two managers.


Mourinho has picked fights with Arsene Wenger, Rafael Benitez, Pep Guardiola and Manuel Pellegrini in the past and if this season's meetings with Conte are anything to go by, a new rivalry may have been born. Mourinho complained that Conte's touchline celebrations were over the top when Chelsea won 4-0 at Stamford Bridge in October and made his point over a prolonged handshake. The pair then clashed during an FA Cup tie in March as Conte reacted angrily to some challenges by United players.


Adding spice to the rivalry is Mourinho's history with Chelsea. Mourinho led the Londoners to three Premier League titles in two spells at Stamford Bridge before being sacked after a dismal and rancorous start to last season. Conte's subsequent achievement of reuniting Mourinho's disjointed squad and leading them back towards honours has increased negativity towards the Portuguese. Typically, Mourinho has lapped that up, turning fire back on Chelsea fans who chanted "Judas" and "You're not special anymore" at him. "For this moment, Judas is number one," he said.


Conte's impact at Stamford Bridge has been impressive. The Italian has rejuvenated the squad with his charisma and energy while his tactical nous has produced a formidable winning formula. The Blues are well on course for the Premier League title in his first season. There were back-to-back defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal in September but that prompted a reshaping of the team and the results since have been spectacular. By contrast, Mourinho's first season at United has been underwhelming. It is certainly no write-off with EFL Cup success, continuning interest in the Europa League and a good chance of Champions League qualification, but Old Trafford has high expectations.


Diego Costa and Eden Hazard have been reborn at Chelsea this term while N'Golo Kante has been an inspired signing. Chelsea are once again the real deal and a much more cohesive unit than they were in Mourinho's latter days. They are tough to beat and clinical in their execution with a sharp cutting edge. United are still some way short of those standards. The tempo has definitely picked up from the ponderous pace played under Louis van Gaal, but the team still lacks dynamism and is vulnerable in defence. The signing of the outstanding Zlatan Ibrahimovic has papered over a number of cracks and further work on the squad is likely in the summer.

PA Media

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