Antonio Conte has made it clear that no bad blood exists between himself and Jose Mourinho ahead of Chelsea’s meeting with Manchester United in the FA Cup final.
The pair came to blows back in January when the Italian accused Mourinho of having ‘senile dementia’, to which the 55-year-old replied by mentioning a match-fixing scandal Conte was involved in during his time at Juventus.
Man United and Chelsea will meet on the final day of the English football calendar at Wembley for the FA Cup final next month after dismissing Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton respectively over the weekend.
Speaking after the game, Conte was quick to emphasise that he had no problem with the Portuguese boss whatsoever.
“With Jose we have clarified the situation, there is not a problem between him and I,” he said.
“For sure we are talking about two managers with strong characters, and two winners, when in your mind, your heart and your blood there is the will to win. For sure we want to try to win this trophy, the same way Manchester United will want to.
“This final is a game between two great teams. In my mind I can tell you that we played the final last season as favourites [against Arsenal] and this season we will not be favourites, but last season we lost the final.
“I have great respect for United’s story and Mourinho’s story and I think they have the same respect for Chelsea’s story and my story.”
Mourinho threw out some bait, noting how he was no longer a ‘clown’ on the touchline, and Conte did the rest. Jose didn’t even need to say his name.
It was a confrontation that had the whole football world talking, and is therefore worth recounting here: Mourinho made a comment about clowns, Conte lashed out for no good reason, Mourinho dropped the match-fixing bomb, Conte called him a little man, and then Mourinho ended it by saying he had contempt – not hate – for Conte, stressing that with contempt comes silence – no need to say anything more.
And, of course, he didn’t need to say anything else. The conclusion to this feud, to Conte picking a fight with the king of mind games, was managing to win just nine of the 22 games since, which will, regardless of what happens on May 19, lead to the Italian’s dismissal just a year after delivering the Premier League title.
It was textbook Jose, and supporters will be desperate to see him land the final decisive blow at Wembley.