Jose Mourinho has launched a dig at Chelsea manager Antonio Conte after the Italian, for no apparent reason, cited the Portuguese’s poor 2015/16 campaign at Stamford Bridge during a press conference.
Conte and Mourinho came to blows last season during an FA Cup tie in March after the former eventually lost his cool with how Manchester United’s players were dealing with Eden Hazard.
And the 47-year-old, speaking after his side’s 1-2 defeat to Inter Milan, felt the need to once again bring up the Man United manager.
“It’s a very important period for us because we are working very hard,” he said.
“We are very tired because we played three games with the same players.
“We know it will be difficult next season. We want to try to avoid a Mourinho season. Two years ago the team ended the league in 10th place and we want to try to avoid this.”
Mourinho’s response – delivered in a tone not too dissimilar to how a parent reacts to a child continually misbehaving – was subtle but potent.
“I don’t know. I could answer in many different ways but I’m not willing to lose my hair to speak about Antonio Conte.”
The 54-year-old has Conte riled: he hasn’t just pinched Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea’s main target, from under his nose; he has also taken under his wing Nemanja Matic – an integral component to their title success last season.
Conte is kind of like 2004 Mourinho’s more irascible younger brother: talented at what he does, enigmatic, but occasionally prone to becoming so embroiled in mind games and spats that, eventually, his head just explodes.
Mourinho, on the other hand, is a veteran when it comes to the art of cage rattling. Nobody has a more extensive and effective record of pushing rival managers over the edge than the Portuguese. This is his arena, and he will, I’m sure, take great pleasure from seeing Conte losing his cool before the Premier League has even started.