Jose Mourinho is at his usual self again as he takes on Antonio Conte in verbal assaults
Anyone who is a football fan will undoubtedly be no stranger to Jose Mourning’s so-called “mind games”. Far too many experienced managers have fallen victim to his off-field debauchery even though he vehemently denies it albeit with the now accustomed sly smile.
There is a long line of coaches who have been at the wrong end of the spectrum of insults of the Portuguese. Rafa Benitez, Pep Guardiola, Sir Alex Ferguson to name a few. It has been evident on numerous occasions that when things don’t go according to plan for the former Porto, Chelsea, Inter and Real boss he resorts to undermine his opposite number by firing metaphorical shots to the opposite man’s mind. Sometimes though if you are in his bad book a poke in the eye is not far away as was found out by the late Tito Vilanova
The latest victim to fall prey to his age-old scheme is Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who since being engaged with his United counterpart in a war of words which led to him labelling Jose as “senile” and a “little man” has seen his team fizzle out in the Premier League top 4 race. His Chelsea team who are looking to consolidate a top 4 finish has drawn four successive games on the trot and firing blanks in the last three, the latest being a drab 0-0 at home to Leicester on Saturday afternoon. Even though Conte might deny he is being affected by his taunting comments the on-field results speaks otherwise. If one remembers this recent exchange of derisions may have had a slow start last season.
Sparks started flowing during the Chelsea-United game last season at Stamford Bridge in which United were utterly humiliated by the eventual champions by 4-0 but the one that grabbed the headlines next morning was the final whistle exchange between Mourinho and Conte where Mourinho accused Conte of ‘over-celebrating’. There was clearly no love lost between the pair again this time around when Chelsea beat Manchester United at the Bridge and the Italian completely ignored him during his wild celebrations at the final whistle.
Jose’s attacks can sometimes become a nagging itch even to some veterans in the game none more so than Arsene Wenger who was publicly derided by Mourinho as “a specialist in failure”. The feud between these two reached to such boiling points that at one point it came to Arsene shoving Jose aside on the touchline. While it may not come to such antics (which I sincerely hope) between the now United and Chelsea bosses anything is up for grabs if one of these two does not simmer down the heat.
Conte is not alone in this targeted pokes by Jose. The United manager Mourinho attempted to provoke Guardiola a few weeks earlier after pointing to their rivals’ huge spending power by claiming “City buy full-backs for the price of strikers” and insisting that the €300 million he has spent since taking charge at Old Trafford 18 months ago as “not enough”. When asked about the comments made by the Portuguese Pep humbly replied that he just “Was not the right guy to give an answer”. Maybe Antonio should follow suit to the City gaffer and politely decline to comment on this now escalating oratory remarks to improve the performances on the pitch because the single most important aspect the Chelsea boss should be fearing is the proverbial axe in the hands of Roman Abramovich.