Jose Mourinho’s feud with Antonio Conte has intensified after Manchester United’s boss seemingly alluded to the Italian’s connection to a previous match-fixing scandal.
The war of words between the pair was reignited when Chelsea boss Conte, known for his touchline exuberance, took umbrage at Mourinho’s suggestion he did not need to act like “a clown” during games to prove he was passionate about the United job.
Quizzed on those comments, the current Blues boss bit back, suggesting one of his predecessors at Stamford Bridge had “demenza senile”, which translates as senile dementia.
Hours later, after United’s 2-0 FA Cup win over Derby, Mourinho got his chance to respond and after initially blaming the media rather than Conte, the Portuguese signed off with a reference to match-fixing.
Conte had been accused of failing to report his knowledge of an incident of attempted match-fixing during his time as Siena boss in 2011 and he duly served a four-month touchline ban in 2012.
He was acquitted of any wrongdoing over the matter in 2016, shortly before taking over at Chelsea.
Mourinho said of his comments: “A wrong question and obviously a strong answer but I don’t blame (Conte).
“The only thing I want to say to end the story is yes, I made mistakes in the past on the touchline. Yes, I will make less but I think I will still make a few.
“What never happened to me and will never happen to me is to be suspended for match-fixing, that never happened to me and will never happen.”
When later pressed on whether he was directly referencing Conte having previously been charged, Mourinho replied: “Did he? Not me.”
The United boss had started his answer by defending Conte’s earlier response, suggesting journalists were to blame for the way in which they framed the question.
“I don’t blame him,” he had said.
“Honestly. I don’t blame him, I think the press should apologise to me and 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.
“I was asked about my passion and you know I was speaking about myself and then the question to the Chelsea manager was that I said he behaved like a clown. Probably the journalist wanted to say that but didn’t have the courage so he said, ‘Mourinho said you behaved like a clown’.
“I don’t blame the Chelsea manager at all and I understand his reaction. I was speaking about myself saying I don’t need to behave like a clown to show passion.”
— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) January 5, 2018
Conte had earlier taken aim at former Blues boss Mourinho, who was sacked from a second stint in December 2015, with Chelsea’s current manager arriving the following summer.
“Maybe he was speaking about himself in the past. I think that someone forgets what’s said in the past, which is his behaviour,” Conte said of Mourinho’s ‘clown’ remark.
“Sometimes I think there is, I don’t know the name, but demenza senile… when you forget what you do in the past.
“There is a person that continues to look here. You understand? He went away, but he continued to look here. I am starting to be a bit annoyed. If you want to go to fight with me I am ready.”