23 Feb Antonio Conte refuses to pour fuel on feud with Jose Mourinho
Antonio Conte refused to speak about his bitter feud with rival Jose Mourinho ahead of Chelsea’s visit to Manchester United.
Blues boss Conte has clashed numerous times with United manager Mourinho since arriving at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2016.
Last month he called the Portuguese coach a little man and also suggested he had amnesia.
Mourinho, meanwhile, inferred Conte behaved like a clown on the touchline, as well as alluding to his suspension for failing to report match-fixing in Italy. Conte was later cleared of wrongdoing in court.
With Chelsea due at Old Trafford for a Premier League fixture on Sunday, Conte would not be drawn on questions about his relationship with former Blues boss Mourinho.
“In the past, both of us said things. For me, it’s OK,” said Conte.
“I’m not interested to speak about this topic.”
Asked if he intended to shake Mourinho’s hand this weekend, Conte replied: “I’m not interested in this. I’m not interested in this.”
Sunday’s match could have a significant bearing on the race for Champions League football.
Champions Chelsea and opponents United have each failed to challenge runaway leaders Manchester City for the title this season.
Along with Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal, both clubs are battling for a top-four finish.
Second-placed United are currently three points and two places above the Blues and Conte acknowledges that there is fierce competition to qualify for Europe.
“We have to look at ourselves and understand that, from now until the end, every game is very important,” the Italian said.
“Three points are very important for us, but also for United.
“The run for a place in the Champions League is open, so we must pay great attention.
“In this run there are many great teams, and someone will have to stay out of the next Champions League.”
Chelsea head to the north-west on the back of a morale-boosting European display against LaLiga leaders Barcelona in midweek.
Conte believes his players’ performances in the 1-1 draw showed their true potential following recent disappointing league losses to Bournemouth and Watford.
And he admits they will need to maintain that type of form to be successful against Mourinho’s men.
“United are always dangerous. Always dangerous, because their squad is very strong,” he added.
“When you play against United, you have to know that anything can happen.
“There is the risk of losing the game because, I repeat, you are playing a really strong team.
“But massive game for us, and we have to do the best we can and put 120 per cent, all our strength, into trying to get three points.”
Chelsea will remain without injured trio David Luiz, Ross Barkley and Tiemoue Bakayoko for the game.