Premier League: Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte avoid war of words ahead of Manchester United-Chelsea clash
Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho played down their bitter war of words on Friday ahead of Manchester United's potentially feisty meeting with Chelsea at Old Trafford.
London: Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho played down their bitter war of words on Friday ahead of Manchester United's potentially feisty meeting with Chelsea at Old Trafford.
Blues boss Conte has clashed numerous times with United manager Mourinho since arriving at Stamford Bridge in 2016.
The feud deepened this season when the United boss said he did not need to "act like a clown" on the touchline, a comment perceived to be aimed at the animated Conte, who responded by claiming Mourinho must have "demenza senile" — senile dementia.
When Mourinho then appeared to allude to a suspension Conte served in relation to match-fixing, the Italian, who was later cleared of any wrongdoing on that issue, responded by accusing his rival of being "fake" and "a little man".
The recent row culminated in the pair saying they felt "contempt" for each other.
But Conte would not be drawn on questions about his relationship with his predecessor as Chelsea boss at his press conference ahead of Sunday's match.
"In the past, both of us said things. For me, it's OK," said Conte. "I'm not interested to speak about this topic."
Asked if he intended to shake Mourinho's hand this weekend, Conte replied: "I'm not interested in this. I'm not interested in this."
Mourinho was also anxious to move on from the row.
"I don't want to speak about it," he said. "I told you before I'm not going to speak about it. Not at all. That's not the point. Very good manager, fantastic team and that's what is important for me. Just that."
Sunday's match could have a significant bearing on the race for Champions League football.
Second-placed United are currently three points and two places above the Blues and Conte acknowledges that there is fierce competition to qualify for Europe.
"We have to look at ourselves and understand that, from now until the end, every game is very important," said the Italian.
The routine lateral flow testing saw some possible positive cases returned within the Manchester United camp.
The 23-year-old has long had shoulder trouble, nursing the injury for much of last season and during his involvement in Euro 2020, where Rashford was one of several England players who missed a penalty in a shootout loss to Italy in the final.
The move appears to form part of a rebuilding process at the north London side, with Belgium defender Alderweireld leaving despite having two years left on his contract.