The past weekend has seen a strange falling out taken place, aided by journalists in the press stirring, and Antonio Conte taking the bait.
Jose Mourinho was questioned about whether he had lost his passion, as he doesn’t celebrate goals on his knees, charge up the touchline or run on to the pitch anymore. Mourinho responded by claiming that he didn’t need to behave like a “clown”. Thoughts immediately jumped to managers like Antonio Conte and Jurgen Klopp who celebrate even the most meaningless goals like a man possessed.
At Conte’s next press conference, the press told him what he Mourinho had said. Instead of laughing it off and having the intelligence to distance himself from comments that didn’t even mention him by name, Conte latched on to it.
Bizarrely, Conte accused Mourinho of having “senile dementia”. Chelsea’s press officer has since tried to argue to Conte meant “amnesia”, given that making light of a serious illness for the sake of criticising a rival manager would be in poor taste. The words Conte used were “demenza senile”. To try and suggest that Conte was talking about “amnesia” and not “senile dementia” is, quite simply, a lie.
Let’s remember, Mourinho has mentioned no names. He hasn’t called Conte a clown, but Conte has personally insulted Mourinho.
At Mourinho’s next press conference, following United’s 2-0 win over Derby in the FA Cup, he was asked about Conte’s comments.
“I was asked about my passion and you know I was speaking about myself,” Mouriho explained. “I was speaking about myself saying I don’t need to behave like a clown to show passion. I control my emotions in a better way. Everybody knows, I don’t need the Chelsea manager to say I made mistakes in the past.”
Mourinho also claimed he didn’t blame Conte for reacting as the journalist had suggested that Conte had been called a clown. But he wasn’t finished there.
“What I was trying to say is that I behave bad a few times and this moment I control myself better,” he continued. “It doesn’t mean my passion is not the same. So wrong question and obviously a strong answer and I don’t blame. The only way I want to end the story is: yes, I made mistakes in the past on the touchline and yes, I will make less but I’ll still make a few. What has never happened to me and will never happen is to be suspended for match-fixing. That never happened to me and it will never happen.”
In 2012, Conte was banned for 10 months after being found guilty of failing to report the match-fixing that was going on when he was manager of Siena. Angelo Alessio, who was Conte’s assistant, who went with him to Juventus and is now the assistant manager of Chelsea, was also banned for eight months. This sentence was later reduced to four months and then in 2016 he was cleared of wrong-doing.
Conte’s reaction to this is nothing short of embarrassing. Think Kevin Keegan and Rafa Benitez. The meltdown from the Chelsea boss was a sight to behold.
“The truth is that I was banned for four months for failure to report. Then I asked for a real trial by court and they declared my innocence,” Conte said. “I think before you make this type of comment, to insult another person, you must pay great attention. You show you are a little man. A little man. You (Mourinho) don’t know very well what is the situation.”
It’s interesting that Conte, the one who started the insults by claiming Mourinho had senile dementia and tapping his temple when doing so, would claim that insulting people makes you a “little man”.
“I know him very well in the past,” Conte continued. “In the past he was a little man in many circumstances, he is a little man in the present and for sure he will be a little man in the future. Mourinho is this. You know him very well. The level is very low. I repeat: I think before you speak you have to know very well what happened. But this is not my problem. I consider him a little man, I consider him a man with a very low profile.”
Conte embarrassed himself by launching an attack on Mourinho on the say so of the press. He should have shown the intelligence and composure in listening to what Mourinho said before taking the bait dangling from the media.
After saying Mourinho had senile dementia, it’s very rich for Conte to then be so insulted because Mourinho says he will never be banned for match fixing. Mourinho was more than entitled to respond. Don’t give it out if you can’t take it back, little man. Maybe he should have spent more time worrying about how to beat Norwich, who are in the bottom half of the Championship, instead of getting all hot and bothered over Mourinho.