Antonio Conte has been discussing his relationship with Jose Mourinho ahead of his side’s Premier League clash with Manchester United on Sunday.
The two managers had a fiery confrontation during Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Man United in the FA Cup quarter final last month.
Jose Mourinho’s men can close the gap with fourth-placed Manchester City to one point with a win on Sunday – anything less could see them once again drop to sixth.
And Conte, speaking at a press conference, made it clear that – in spite of their recent bust-up – he had great respect for Mourinho.
“I don’t see the problem, it is a sporting competition,” said Conte. “He wants to win with his team, me with mine. It is only a sporting conflict.”
“He won a lot with this team, this club has always shown him great respect for his past. If you remember I thought the same and it doesn’t change.
“I have great respect for his history of this club.”
The Italian deserves praise for his seamless ascension to the pinnacle of English football in his first season. Comparisons with a younger, more emotional Mourinho are hard to avoid.
One notable difference between the two, however, as shown here, is that Conte places complete emphasis on his side and what they do on the pitch. Beneath the cabaret of touchline emotion is a rabid desire to see his team win, win and win again. Even his confrontation with Mourinho was passed off as just another feature of two men doing everything in the pursuit of victory.
Mourinho, on the other hand, will always seek to do more than that: his managerial style may have evolved over the years but his tendency to place himself at the centre of the game’s narrative remains unchanged. Make no mistake, Sunday’s clash with Chelsea promises to be a tantalising mixture of craft emanating from both corners.