A Managerial Rivalry Brewing

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We sense a managerial rivalry brewing in England. A new kind of rivalry between two seemingly feisty managers who got assigned to new jobs in the Premier League. A rivalry between Antonio Conte the Chelsea manager and Jose Mourinho the Manchester United manager.  Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea suffered a woeful run last season a few months after he won an impressive double with the side, which ultimately resulted in his sack in unpleasant circumstances, with reports of rifts between manager and players.

Antonio Conte was hired by Chelsea this season and his strategies have since restored belief to the side as they sit pretty comfortable at the top of the table. However, a rivalry seems to be brewing between the two managers and was evident in scenes after their first leg meeting in the PL, as Mourinho was reported to have whispered to Conte, asking him to stop his touchline antics, describing them as disrespectful to the opponent.

Antonio Conte seemed to have taken the advice in good faith as there were no negative reactions or remarks. But yesterday’s touchline bust up in the FA cup quarter finals, between both managers in the touchlines which had to be resolved by match officials, showed there was more to it between both managers. There were pictures and video of Mourinho appearing to have kicked the ball towards Conte after Herrera’s red card. This appeared to have enraged Conte to react.




‘My team is playing very well but for many, many years in my career, especially in this country, when my teams were ruthless and phenomenal defensively, and very good in the counter attack, I listen week after week that it was not enough in spite of winning the title three times,’ It looks like this season to be phenomenal defensively and good in counter attack is art, so it was a big change in England.  – Jose Mourinho reacts to Conte’s Chelsea praises

‘Chelsea are a very good defensive team. They defend very well and with lots of players and I think in this situation a very defensive team wins the title with counter-attack goals and set pieces goals so I don’t think they will let it slip but football is football.’  – Mourinho after 2 nil win against Watford

“I don’t understand what he [Mourinho] means by defensive. If you look at the stats we have the best defence. But we also have the second best attack in the league.”  – Conte before FA cup quarters against Man United

“The busy period is for some clubs, not for everyone. If you analyse the fixtures there is no congestion for them. It looks like the fixtures are chosen to give rest for some and to create problems to others.”  – Mourinho

To watch Wednesday and Thursday is not good. We have this situation because of last season, not because someone invented it. Last season was very bad.”  – Conte

Don’t know about you, but I smell digs from Mourinho to Conte and retaliatory digs from Conte to Mourinho

After yesterday’s tough encounter, Conte had this to say.

“For Hazard, (for) 20, 25 minutes it was impossible to play football, because he received only kicks, A TACTIC TO PLAY AND GO TO KICK AN OPPONENT? IT’S NOT FOOTBALL FOR ME. I don’t think that I’m crazy and I see only him in this situation. Sometimes when you play against players with great talent, you try to intimidate those players. The referee must protect these type of players. When they go out with a bad injury. It’s very dangerous to receive a kick from the back.” – Conte

Is it just me, or did Conte basically and stylishly tell Mourinho he had no reasonable tactic in place for the game? Well, it’s open to various interpretations. The events in yesterday’s game also highlighted a strain in the relationship between Jose Mourinho and the Chelsea fans as there were shouts of Judas against him and he responded by raising three fingers in a gesture indicating the number of league titles he won with Chelsea.  He even hit back later with:

”They can call me what they want. I am a professional. I defend my club. Until they have a manager who wins four PL titles for them, I am number one.”  – Jose Mourinho

We await the encounter between the two teams in the PL at Old Trafford. That should definitely be a cracker. I bet it will produce more talking points.

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