Mourinho v Conte: How the feud has unfolded
All eyes will be on the rivals this weekend following their recent public spat.
Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte will come head to head on the touchline at Old Trafford on Sunday for the first time since their bitter feud escalated.
Manchester United boss Mourinho and Conte, one of his successors at Chelsea, have traded barbs throughout the latter’s time in England.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at a timeline of their tiff.
The first meeting between the pair ended in embarrassment for Mourinho as Chelsea won 4-0. Conte’s touchline antics appeared to irk the Portuguese as he said something in his counterpart’s ear after the final whistle. Reports in the Italian media suggested Mourinho told Conte: “You don’t celebrate like that at 4-0, you can do it at 1-0, otherwise it’s humiliating for us.” Neither boss divulged what was said but Conte told Sky Italia: “I’ve been a player too and I know how to behave.”
Another spiky Stamford Bridge exchange between the two, who had to be separated after Marcos Alonso was fouled. Ander Herrera was dismissed for two yellow cards picked up in tackles made on Eden Hazard, and Blues boss Conte was livid. “A tactic to play and go to kick an opponent? It’s not football for me,” he said. Mourinho was called ‘Judas’ by a section of the home crowd. In response, Chelsea’s most successful manager said: “They can call me what they want. Until the moment they have a manager that wins four Premier Leagues for them, I’m the number one. When they have somebody that wins four Premier Leagues for them, I become number two. Until this moment Judas is number one.”
Conte aimed another dig at Mourinho and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola as his team closed on their title triumph. “This season it’s very important to understand that it’s not always about who spends more money who wins,” he said. “This season isn’t the only season both Manchester clubs have spent a lot of money. Look at the past. It’s right for them to do this, to reinforce their teams, if they think this is the right way to win the title. (But) every single club decides their own strategy.”
Chelsea entered the new campaign knowing the last time they tried to defend their title, under Mourinho, it ended in a disastrous 10th-placed finish. The Blues axed the Portuguese in December when they were just one point above the relegation zone. It was not lost on Conte, who said in quotes published on espn.co.uk: “We know the difficulty of the next season and for sure we want to avoid the Mourinho season with Chelsea.”
When that was put to Mourinho at a press conference after his team had beaten Valerenga 3-0, he responded with a curious turn of phrase. “I’m not going to lose my hair to speak about Antonio Conte,” he said. The Italian had a visibly receding hairline towards the end of his playing career but now boasts flowing locks.
Mourinho got under Conte’s skin when he remarked on his rivals bemoaning their lengthy injury lists. Without specifically stating who he was referring to, the United boss said: “Other managers, they cry, they cry, they cry when some player is injured. I don’t cry.” Conte was rubbed up the wrong way, and hit back by saying: “A lot of time Mourinho has to see what happens at Chelsea. A lot of time, also last season. I think he has to think about his team and stop… to look at himself, not the others.”
Mourinho’s claim he did not need to behave like “a clown” to show his passion was treated as a personal affront by Conte, who suggested Mourinho had “demenza senile”, which translates to senile dementia. In response, Mourinho appeared to make a pointed reference to match-fixing. “What never happened to me and will never happen to me is to be suspended for match-fixing,” he said. Conte served a four-month ban following accusations he failed to report his knowledge of an incident of attempted match-fixing in 2011 but was later acquitted of any wrongdoing.
Conte then called Mourinho a “little man”, vowed he “won’t forget” the “serious words” from his rival and insisted nobody should intervene in the feud. Mourinho’s last words on the matter were that he now regarded it with “contempt”.