EPL

Mourinho to Roma: His feud with Conte in their own words

By Sports Desk May 04, 2021

Old rivals Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho will come face-to-face once more next season.

Mourinho did not stay out of the spotlight for long after his sacking by Tottenham and has been confirmed as the new Roma head coach.

He will join the club ahead of the 2021-22 season on a three-year deal to compete in a league where Conte and his former club Inter have just ended a historic run of Juventus domestic dominance.

A bitter war of words erupted between the high-profile bosses when they were at Manchester United and Chelsea respectively in the Premier League.

Tensions had simmered between the pair since Conte's appointment as Mourinho's long-term successor at Stamford Bridge in 2016.

The Portuguese's proximity as a direct rival at United was never likely to encourage detente.

Mourinho and Conte have met seven times before as managers.

After their first meeting was a draw in 2010 as Inter took on Atalanta, Conte has taken four victories from the six meetings to take place since 2016, with just two wins going to the new Roma boss.

Here we have a look back what both men said during their rivalry at Chelsea and United, reviewing how the row rapidly escalated.
 

Prelude - Defensive teams and Mourinho seasons

Initially, as Chelsea marched to the Premier League title and United collected the EFL Cup and Europa League to compensate for a sixth-place finish in the top flight, the jibes between the two amounted to a sparring session, as opposed to an all-out verbal scrap.

The seeds were sown when Mourinho complained to Conte about his animated celebrations on the touchine – more on those later – as Chelsea thrashed United 4-0 at Stamford Bridge in October 2016.

Mourinho's favoured method of damning with faint praise was to the fore in February 2017, when he labelled the Premier League's leading side "a very good defensive team", while Conte warned Chelsea to avoid "the Mourinho season" – a handy shorthand for the perils of a dreadful title defence, such as the one endured at Stamford Bridge in 2015-16.

In addition, Mourinho suggested Conte was one of his rivals who, "they cry, they cry, they cry when a player is injured". In the Italian's opinion, the United boss was overly concerned with matters at his former club. The stage was set.

"I don't behave as a clown on the touchline"

While offering assurances over his United future in January 2018, having appeared increasingly morose around matches, Mourinho identified an aspect of his behaviour he believes sets him apart from his colleagues.

"Because I don't behave as a clown on the touchline it means I lost my passion?" he said. "I prefer to behave the way I am doing it, much more mature, better for my team and myself.

"You don't have to behave like a crazy guy on the touchline to have that passion."

Mourinho could arguably have been referencing Conte, Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp. All three men were asked about his comments at the time; only one took the bait.

"Demenza Senile"

Speaking a day later, Conte was quick to accuse Mourinho of hypocrisy in a rather eye-catching manner.

"I think that he has to see himself in the past, maybe he was speaking about himself in the past, yeah?" he said.

"Maybe sometimes, I think that someone forgets his behaviour and sometimes I think there is, I don't know the name, 'demenza senile' when you are a bit... when you forget what you do in the past."

Despite the literal translation being "senile dementia", Chelsea were forced to clarify Conte had been searching for the Italian word for "amnesia".

Either way, this was now an argument in the gutter. Mourinho seemed happy with that state of affairs and was determined to hit Conte where it hurt most.

"I will never be suspended for match-fixing"

Responding after United's 2-0 FA Cup win over Derby later that day, Mourinho set Conte up with faux-sympathy and empathy – this is all the media's fault, you see – before concluding with a non-veiled dig

 "Look, I don't blame him. Honestly, I don't blame him," he began.

"I think the press should apologise to me and to him because the question that comes to him is completely wrong and because of that he had that out-of-control reaction. But I don't blame him at all."

There followed apparent contrition for past indiscretions. It was all an elaborate set-up.

"The only thing I want to say to end the story is that yes, I made mistakes in the past on the touchline," Mourinho added.

"Yes, I will make less, but I think I will still make a few. What never happened to me and will never happen is to be suspended for match-fixing. That never happened to me and will never happen."

Conte was implicated in a 2011 scandal while in charge of Siena and later served a four-month ban, but always denied any wrongdoing and was acquitted by an Italian judge in May 2016. 

"A little man with a very low profile"

Conte had spoken previously about his personal ordeal throughout the match-fixing affair. Following a 0-0 FA Cup draw for Chelsea at Norwich City, he was understandably in a barely concealed fury.

"I consider him a little man, I consider him a man with a very low profile," Conte said of Mourinho, before airing a recently learned word.

"You have to know the story very well before hurting another person. In the last period, he's suffering a bit of amnesia."

Conte went on to lambast Mourinho for his criticism of Claudio Ranieri before last season seeking to show solidarity with the deposed Leicester City boss.

"I remember for example, a stupid example with Ranieri, when he offended Ranieri for [the standard of] his English," Conte seethed.

"Then when Ranieri was sacked he put on a shirt for Ranieri. You are a fake.

"If you want to fight a person, you try to kill the person, and then after two years you try to help this person, because maybe it's good for you, your profile."

Contempt and no regrets

In the days following that year's FA Cup third-round weekend, Conte underlined that he had "no regrets" over the episode. "He said serious words and used serious words. I won't forget this," he said.

Mourinho then told reporters in no uncertain terms that he had "contempt" for Conte, as a dubious means to draw a line under the issue.

All eyes were on the dugout, then, when the foes met at Old Trafford – a prospect Conte was already eyeing as he glowered at Carrow Road.

"Me and him, face to face," he said of the Premier League match at the Theatre of Dreams. "I'm ready. I don't know if he is ready."

United came from behind to win 2-1, with Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard getting the goals.

The two managers were heavily scrutinised - Mourinho was the first to emerge from the tunnel and the pair did shake hands even after a wait for Conte to make his appearance.

Mourinho and Conte again shook hands after the match and the mood seemed conciliatory.

A truce?

In the months after the match and shortly before the FA Cup final between United and Chelsea in 2018, Mourinho revealed a truce had broken out between the pair.

"He [Conte] stretched out, I stretched, we got bored [arguing]," Mourinho said to Record.

"After the game here in Manchester, I invited him to come to my office. We talked, nothing is wrong."

Conte would go on to have the last laugh in their final meeting in England, beating Mourinho and United 1-0 to lift the FA Cup in his last match in charge of Chelsea before a bitter exit from Stamford Bridge.

Will the truce last? We'll find out next season and potentially for many years to come in Italy.

Related items

  • Capello labels Pioli and Mourinho Serie A's finest, calls Inter's Lukaku move a 'blow' for rivals Capello labels Pioli and Mourinho Serie A's finest, calls Inter's Lukaku move a 'blow' for rivals

    Stefano Pioli and Jose Mourinho confirmed their status as Serie A's best coaches by leading Milan and Roma to silverware last season, according to former Rossoneri and Giallorossi boss Fabio Capello.

    Capello also claimed Inter's prospective move for Romelu Lukaku represents a "blow" for the rest of the Italian top flight, given his dominant displays during his successful first spell with the Nerazzurri. 

    While Pioli became the first Milan boss to win the Scudetto since Massimiliano Allegri in 2010-11 last month, Mourinho ended Roma's 14-year trophy drought by winning the Europa Conference League in his first season with the club.

    Capello, who led Milan to four Serie A titles in five seasons between 1991 and 1996 before masterminding Roma's most recent Scudetto triumph in 2000-01, hailed the duo's achievements as he declared next season will be make-or-break for many of the division's other top coaches. 

    "The best? Pioli and Mourinho," he told Il Messaggero. 

    "The first brought Milan back to success, the second confirmed himself as an international coach. Jose achieved a very important success. 

    "[Juventus coach] Allegri, [Lazio's Maurizio] Sarri and [Napoli's Luciano] Spalletti paid for their return to Serie A. They were granted a transitional season. Now will be the moment of truth."

    Meanwhile, with Inter reportedly set to re-sign Lukaku less than a year after his club-record £97.5million move to Chelsea, a series of Italian football's biggest names have spoken about his expected impact.

    Milan legend Alessandro Costacurta said on Sunday the deal would make Inter title favourites, while Gianfranco Zola claimed the Belgian will make a "huge impact" for Simone Inzaghi's men after he scored 30 goals for the Nerazzurri in the 2020-21 campaign.

    Capello concurred with those views, adding: "Lukaku is a great blow because in Italy, no one is able to mark him because of his excessive physical power."

    However, while Milan are expected to work with a smaller budget than their rivals as they look to defend their crown, Capello hailed their recruitment policy and revealed his confidence that they can compete once more.

    "I don't put my mouth on the market because these topics are the responsibility of the coaches," he added. 

    "The experience of recent years leads me, however, to say that we must have confidence. At Milan, they have learned how to handle things, and they know how to choose [players]."

  • Courtois celebrates Champions League final heroics with brick wall tattoo Courtois celebrates Champions League final heroics with brick wall tattoo

    Thibaut Courtois has commemorated his man-of-the-match performance in the Champions League final after unveiling a tattoo of a brick wall on his arm.

    The Belgium international produced an inspired display between the sticks as Real Madrid edged out Liverpool 1-0 at Stade de France to claim their 14th continental crown.

    Courtois' nine saves during the match made up the highest tally in a single Champions League final since at least 2003-04, surpassing Liverpool's Allison (in 2019) and Manchester United's Edwin Van der Sar (in 2011), both with eight.

    He also set a new benchmark with the number of saves he made during Madrid's run (59)

    The Reds finished the final having attempted 24 shots, the most on record from a team who failed to score in European football's showpiece match.

    It stands to reason then that Courtois should want something to remember the final by, and he has settled on a new tattoo, revealed to his 10.5 million Instagram followers.

    The design has Courtois' initials and shirt number set against a brick wall next to the Champions League trophy.

  • 'I've never seen real leadership from him' – Legrottaglie questions whether Juventus should fight for De Ligt 'I've never seen real leadership from him' – Legrottaglie questions whether Juventus should fight for De Ligt

    Matthijs de Ligt has never shown "real leadership" with Juventus and the club might do well to offload him, according to former Bianconeri defender Nicola Legrottaglie.

    The Netherlands centre-back is under contract at the Allianz Stadium until June 2024, but could soon be on the move after three years in Italy.

    Chelsea have been linked with a move for the 22-year-old, who has been a regular in the heart of the Juventus defence since arriving from Ajax for €85.5million in July 2019.

    The centre-half has racked up 117 appearances across all competitions, scoring eight goals, and winning the Serie A title during his first season.

    In 87 Serie A games, he has committed just one error leading to a goal, yet Legrottaglie has not been wholly convinced by De Ligt.

    With the Chelsea rumour now circling, Legrottaglie said: "If the boy was really convinced he wanted to leave, I don't know how much it would be better for Juventus to keep him at home against his will."

    Legrottaglie, who also played for Italy, believes there are plenty of admirable elements about De Ligt's game.

    "In terms of characteristics, I have always liked the player," Legrottaglie told Tuttojuve.com. "I believe, however, that he has never really immersed himself into the environment.

    "I have never seen real leadership from him; from the outside, he has been perceived as a bit separate from the group. Let's say he didn't do everything to make himself loved."

    De Ligt remarked that Torino centre-back Gleison Bremer and Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly might have the attributes to bolster the Juventus defence, after back-to-back fourth-placed finishes in Serie A.

    He also pointed to the likely high cost of such players, and said: "It is not certain that with a great champion you necessarily do better, especially in defence. What counts is the work of the department, which often makes up for the quality of the individual."

    Speaking in early June to Dutch outlet NOS, De Ligt said talks about his Juventus future had been taking place, adding: "When the time comes, I will decide whether I will extend or whether I want to look further.

    "I always look at what is best for myself in terms of the sporting project. Fourth place twice in a row is not good enough; we will have to make steps in that direction."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.