Antonio Conte has suggested Jose Mourinho has senile dementia, as the Chelsea head coach told the Manchester United boss: “I’m ready to fight”.
Mourinho, who has had two spells as Chelsea boss and is Conte’s immediate predecessor, appeared to take a swipe at the Italian — and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp — for their antics in the technical area at his United press conference on Thursday when he said he did not feel the need to behave like “a clown” on the touchline.
Asked about Mourinho’s comments, Conte yesterday used the Italian phrase “demenza senile”, which translates as senile dementia, before saying he was ready to respond in kind to any taunts thrown in his direction.
Conte said: “Maybe he was speaking about himself in the past. I think that someone forgets what’s said in the past, which is his behaviour.
“Sometimes I think there is, I don’t know the name, but demenza senile... when you forget what you do in the past.”
Conte is in his second season as Chelsea head coach, like Mourinho is at United.
Mourinho was sacked by Chelsea for a second time in December 2015 and the Blues finished 10th, with Conte guiding them to the title in his first season as boss.
Conte added: “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. I am improving a bit my English, because this is the real problem for me, otherwise we can go, we can go to fight.
“I’m ready to fight for me, for my players, for the club, with everyone. I have no problem.”
It is the latest run-in between the Italian, whose side play at Norwich in the FA Cup third round today, and Mourinho, who took exception to Conte rousing the Stamford Bridge crowd when Chelsea beat United 4-0 last season.
Conte insisted his comments were not pre-meditated, suggesting Mourinho’s are.
“I am not prepared, like other persons, to make a cinema,” he added.
“I’m not this type of person. At the same time, when I start to listen with regularity to this situation it is right to answer because it is funny and I laugh a lot.”
Asked if Mourinho was resorting to “cinema” to distract from performances and results, Conte added: “I don’t know. Now it is very difficult to do only cinema. Maybe in the past with the cinema it was enough.
“Now you have to show football knowledge and the cinema is not enough for the coach.”
Conte described the verbal sparring between Premier League bosses as “very strange”, but he also responded to comments from Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. Wenger accused Eden Hazard of diving to earn a penalty in Wednesday’s 2-2 Premier League draw, but Conte thinks other decisions went the Gunners’ way.
Conte said: “I think if Arsene Wenger watched the game again, (he would) understand he was very lucky during the game with the referee’s decisions. I think Wenger has to accept the decisions.”
The Italian was pleased to add Everton midfielder Ross Barkley to his squad, for a fee of around £15m.
Conte said: “‘We are talking about an English player, a young player. He has good prospects for Chelsea.”
The 24-year-old’s contract at Goodison Park was due to expire at the end of the season after he rejected a new deal with the Toffees. A move to Chelsea on transfer deadline day in August did not materialise, but Barkley has now moved to Stamford Bridge for a cut-price fee.
Twenty-four-year-old Barkley has signed a five-and-a-half-year contract, which runs until 2023.
“I’m overwhelmed, I’m looking forward to it and I’m really excited to get started,” Barkley told Chelsea’s website.
“To be given a fresh start at a new club like Chelsea, it’s unbelievable for me. I’m looking forward to continuing where I left off at the end of last season and hoping to improve and add more goals to my game.”
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