Sports

Jose Mourinho showed he's a 'little man' - Chelsea boss Antonio Conte

Jose Mourinho showed he's a 'little man' - Chelsea boss Antonio Conte

The fact that in his postmatch news conference an irate-looking Conte was soon sucked back into the Mourinho maelstrom was evidence enough that the increasingly combustible Italian's train of thought is being severely distracted by the ever-abrasive Portuguese.

Some insist that this is all an error on Conte's part, that he has fallen for the prank of the master troll Mourinho, and that it would have shown sounder judgement to stay schtum. When he finally took his leave after labelling Mourinho a "little man" and a "fake" the question hanging in the air was how much further such an extraordinary set-to can possibly run from here, a long-simmering feud having exploded with barely precedented venom from relatively innocuous beginnings. A gust of discontent seemed more likely, though, than the storm he eventually unleashed.

But, no. Conte, calm as anything in putting the boot in, clearly feels he is fighting a fight not just for his own name - but for right, against a manager who repeatedly proves that he is unwilling to play by everybody else's rules.

The affair reflects woefully on both managers but Conte's unwillingness to let the latest jibe go can be explained.

Conte's suspension was reduced to four months upon appeal, and a judge formally cleared him of any wrongdoing during a match-fixing trial in May 2016.

Asked if he is annoyed by Mourinho's comments, Conte replied: 'No, but this is his way, it's not a surprise for me, when you insult or offend another person you're a little man, and I think he's a little man. It was a matter of correcting innuendo with fact and that is why the discussion was allowed to take the turn it did.

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In truth it is a squalid state of events and there is no halo above Conte either. His interactions with media have been gracious: direct eye contact, handshakes and respectful nods.

Hytner noted the phrase "demenza senile" would translate from Italian to senile dementia.

In 2008, while Mourinho was in Italy with Inter Milan he criticised then Juventus coach Ranieri for his poor English despite living in England for five years.

Anything left unsaid in the meantime is coming out in the open now. "At the end Norwich deserved to have a replay at Stamford Bridge".

In March 2017, a brutish FA Cup encounter between the sides saw Conte and Mourinho having to be separated as matters on the pitch became heated.

Chelsea stormed to the Premier League title after finishing seven points clear of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur in the title race. "In the past he was a little man in many circumstances, is a little man in the present and for sure he will be a little man in the future".


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