Former England boss Fabio Capello has warned Antonio Conte against picking a war of words with Jose Mourinho.
The Italian kicked off the feud by accusing Mourinho of having senile dementia – although he meant amnesia – after 54-year-old insisted he didn’t need to behave like a clown on the touchline.
Mourinho responded in lethal fashion, noting that, for all his faults, he would never be punished for match-fixing, promting Conte into labelling him as a “little man” and insisting that he wouldn’t forget what his rival said.
But Capello, when asked about the feud, noted that Conte was unwise to play Mourinho at his own game.
“Conte doesn’t know who he’s dealing with,” he said. “It’s the Chelsea jersey that agitates managers. Conte is doing what Mourinho used to do. I didn’t think it would come to this.”
“When you go after Mourinho, you’re dealing with someone very good at verbal interactions. He wants to take the focus away from his team, it’s important to know the right words in English.”
Perhaps it is worth noting that Conte hasn’t won a game – three straight draws – ever since Mourinho got into his head.
This is probably a coincidence but it does, at the same time, underline the way United’s boss has found a short fuse in Conte – more so than, say, Arsene Wenger, who clearly doesn’t have any interest in quarrels anymore – and exploited it to his heart’s content, making statements that don’t even mention his name but nonetheless draw him out of the woodwork.
Conte has been dragged down to Mourinho’s level of personalised spite and, just as the 54-year-old would have wanted, taken the conversation away from his own team.