News ID: 189371
Published: 0344 GMT March 14, 2017

Conte's feud with Mourinho boils over

Conte's feud with Mourinho boils over
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte (R) and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on the touchline at Stamford Bridge in London on March 13, 2017

Antonio Conte slammed Manchester United's attempts to "intimidate" Chelsea in his side's bitter FA Cup quarterfinal win but Jose Mourinho hit back at his rival by insisting he remains the Blues' best-ever manager.

While the Chelsea crowd taunted Mourinho as a "Judas", Chelsea boss Conte was furious with United's no-holds-barred approach, AFP reported.

Ander Herrera was sent off for two fouls on Eden Hazard in Monday's 1-0 victory and Marcos Rojo escaped a red card for a spiteful second-half stamp on Hazard. The United defender is likely to face a ban if the Football Association retrospectively look at the offence.

Video of the stamp erupted on social media as did images of Conte embroiled in a touchline row with United boss Mourinho that ended with the rivals being separated by the fourth official.

Asked what he made of United's tactics, Conte said, "My players want to play football, but for 25 minutes it was impossible.

"I think only that Eden got a lot of kicks. I don't think I'm crazy. He started the match receiving kicks and he finished it receiving kicks.

"This is the truth and I don't think one person can say this didn't happen. It's not football for me.

"It could be United's tactic. Sometimes when you play against players with great talent you try to intimidate them.


Match of jibes


"The referee must try to protect these type of players because they can go out with a bad injury."

It was a chastening return to west London for former Chelsea boss Mourinho, who endured his old club's fans calling him "Judas" and chanting "you're not special anymore".

Mourinho responded to the jibes by holding up three fingers to the crowd to remind them how many Premier League titles he won in his two spells with Chelsea.

And, determined to have the last word, Mourinho, sacked by the Blues last season, took the opportunity to remind Conte and Chelsea's supporters that they have a long way to go to match his achievements at the Bridge.

"They can call me what they want. I'm a professional," he said.

"I feel responsibilities on Chelsea's bad Premier League last season, but when I left we were in the Champions League, winning the Champions League group.

"Now they don't play in Europe. It's not my fault.

"Until the moment they have a manager that wins four Premier Leagues, I am number one.

"If a manager wins four I become number two. Until then, Judas is number one."


'Just a circus'


Although Conte and Mourinho did not shake hands at fulltime, the Italian insisted he had done nothing wrong in their touchline clash.

"It was hard work for the fourth official but I controlled my emotion very well today," Conte said.

"It's normal for the manager to push his players. What happens outside the pitch is just a circus."

Conte saluted Hazard for refusing to be intimidated by United's bullying as N'Golo Kante's superb second-half winner gave the Premier League leader a Wembley semifinal showdown with London rival Tottenham next month.

"For sure, he showed strong character. After the first 25 minutes, every player would have a fear of being kicked. It's very dangerous to receive a kick from the back," he said.

Inevitably, Mourinho refused to accept blame for his team's approach and turned the focus on referee Michael Oliver's decision to send off Herrera for what was one of the less vicious tackles on Hazard.

"Herrera's second yellow card, compare that with (Marcus) Rashford going to attack the ball in a counterattacking situation. He was fouled and the referee doesn't give a booking," Mourinho said.

"We all saw the game. We can all agree there was one match until Herrera saw the red card and another after that.

"I thought we were going to win because everything was under control, then with 10 men it was very difficult for us."


Pogba praised


After the match, Mourinho insisted Paul Pogba was the best player on the pitch in Manchester United's 1-0 defeat by Chelsea on Monday.

N'Golo Kante's second-half strike sent Chelsea to the FA Cup semifinal, following Ander Herrera's first-half sending off at Stamford Bridge, reported.

Mourinho, who signed Pogba for a world-record £89 million in the summer from Juventus, said the Frenchman was a "giant" on the pitch, despite Chelsea dominating the midfield battle.

"We have to be positive, the players were phenomenal but Pogba was by far the best player on the pitch," Mourinho said after the game.

"He was a giant on the pitch. After him, all my other boys were fantastic."

Many were comparing Kante and his compatriot Pogba going into the game, but the Chelsea man and match-winner came out on top.

Pogba made just 27 passes in a game where United was missing its talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic through suspension.

Kante had more passes, had a better passing accuracy, made four key passes to Pogba's zero, and also bettered Pogba in duel success, tackles won and lost the ball fewer times.

Mourinho, who answered back to Chelsea fans calling him Judas by saying he is still the Blues' No. 1 manager, also said there is a lot of envy surrounding the 23-year-old following his big-money move.

"The specialists will say a lot about him and it comes from envy. They will never ever earn 10 percent of what he does."

Man Utd had just 28 percent possession against Chelsea, its lowest figure in a match this season.

Pogba has seven goals and four assists for United this season.

Resource: AFP
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