Monday 23 September 2019

Mourinho's 'contempt' for Conte as feud continues

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: PA
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: PA

James Ducker and Matt Law

Jose Mourinho has hit back in his bitter war of words with Antonio Conte after admitting he now holds the Chelsea manager in "contempt" as the ugly row took another twist.

Conte continued his feud with Mourinho last Saturday when he branded the United manager a "little man" and a "fake" after reacting angrily to the Portuguese's reference to a match-fixing scandal in which the Italian was involved but cleared. And Mourinho responded to the Chelsea manager's taunts by issuing a withering put-down.

"I think when a person insults another, you can expect a response. Or you can expect contempt, silence," said Mourinho.

"The first time he insulted me, I had a response, a response that I know that touched the point where he really feels hurt. Then he insulted me for a second time, but now I change, and now contempt and, for me, contempt means end of the story."

The spat had started when Mourinho, defending accusations that he was unhappy at Old Trafford, said he did not need to behave like a "clown" on the touchline to show his passion.

Mourinho denied that he was referring to any of his counterparts, but Conte, known for his exuberant manner on the touchline, took exception to the Portuguese's comments and called him "senile".

Mourinho - who was sacked as Chelsea manager in December 2015, six months before Conte took over at Stamford Bridge - then hit back by referencing the match-fixing scandal in which Conte was implicated during his time as manager of Serie B club Siena.

Conte was suspended for four months while at Juventus for failing to report match-fixing at Siena but was cleared of wrongdoing in 2016.

Mourinho's claim further incensed Conte, who accused his rival of being a "little man". "I consider him a man with a very low profile," Conte said.

"In the past, he was a little man in many circumstances, is a little man in the present and, for sure, he will be a little man in the future."

Asked which events he was referring to that showed Mourinho to be a "little man", Conte pointed out that the United manager had last year worn a shirt with the initials 'CR' in tribute to sacked Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri, despite previously attacking Ranieri's command of English.

On a different topic, Conte insisted Chelsea would have to sack him if he was to leave this summer while doing little to disguise where the differences between himself and his club lay.

The countdown on Conte's reign at Stamford Bridge started in earnest the moment he signed a new contract last summer without extending it.

That deal has another year to run after this, but there is an expectation Conte and Chelsea will part at the end of this season.

Chelsea's policy is to pay sacked managers until they get a new job, meaning Conte could earn about £9 million (€7.38m) if he is dismissed and does not work for a year.

"Everything is possible," said Conte, whose Chelsea team entertain Leicester City today.

"But I have another year of contract and in this case I think the club has to decide to send me away."

Asked whether there was any chance he would walk away at the end of the season, Conte replied: "No. I am fully committed to Chelsea, to work with my players to try also to improve the club in the football aspect."

Conte may be happy with his own work, but he continues to give the impression that he is far from satisfied with the efforts of those responsible for signing players.

The Italian wanted to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal last summer and has recommended the Chilean once again, but admits he does not know why Chelsea appear to be letting the opportunity pass.

"I think it is a good investment," said Conte. "We are talking about a top player and you can buy him for a price not so high."

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