Jose Mourinho and Conte will renew their rivalry at Stamford Bridge on Sunday when Manchester United travel to the reigning Premier League champions.
Former Mourinho and Conte ‘s Chelsea has stuttered in defense of their title, with the Blues already nine points behind leaders Manchester City after 10 games.
United trail City by five points in the second spot, and Mourinho who has been sacked twice by Chelsea – has been aiming his usual barbs at Conte in the run-up to Sunday’s clash in an attempt to unsettle the Italian coach.
The first meeting between Mourinho and Conte ended in embarrassment for the former as Chelsea won 4-0.
The Italian’s touchline antics appeared to irk the Portuguese as he said something in Conte’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.”
Five months on and of the two managers chasing a league title in their first season, it was Conte whose team were riding highest. Mourinho had an explanation for that.
Speaking about their absence from European competitions, he said: “The reality is that he’s got in his hands a situation where they have time to work, time to rest, time to relax, time to disconnect, time to travel, time to have holidays, time to go to America and enjoy America for a couple of days.
“They have time for all of these things, so they are in a position of privilege, but I don’t want to say that they don’t deserve credit for it.
Conte aimed another dig in the direction of 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 disastrous fashion as they finished 10th having 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.
“Two years ago the team ended the league in 10th place and we want to try to avoid this.”
Mourinho got under Conte’s skin earlier this month when he made a remark about 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.”
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