Antonio Conte labelled Jose Mourinho “a little man” as the Chelsea manager’s feud with the Manchester United boss escalated following his team’s FA Cup goalless draw against Norwich on Saturday.
Conte and Mourinho have exchanged increasingly bitter barbs over the course of this season and their rivalry has reached boiling point over the last week.
Responding to Mourinho talking about Conte in relation to a past match-fixing scandal in Italy, the former Juventus boss said: “We all know him very well. But it’s always the same. This is his way. It’s not a surprise for me.
“I think when you try to hurt a person, especially if you know very well the truth of what happens, the court proved my innocence when you do this it means you are a little man.
“But this is the not the first time. He does this in the past and he continues to do this in the present and when you are in this way you will continue to be in this way.”
Mourinho had triggered the latest bad blood when he was asked about his recent solemn behaviour on the touchline and responded by saying he no longer acts “like a clown” in a comment that was perceived as being aimed at Conte and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
Conte hit back by suggesting that the United manager may be suffering from “demenza senile” — senile dementia — because he had clearly forgotten his past wild ways on the touchline.
Mourinho didn’t take that jibe well and after United’s win against Derby on Friday he said: “What has never happened to me and will never happen is to be suspended for match-fixing.”
The surprising reference to “match-fixing” drew a follow-up question as to whether it was directly aimed at Conte.
The Chelsea boss was acquitted of sporting fraud charges in 2016. Prosecutors had requested a six-month suspended sentence following accusations he failed to report episodes of match-fixing while in charge at Serie B side Siena in 2011.
The former Italy manager — who has always denied any wrongdoing — served a four-month ban in relation to the affair in 2012.
But when mention was made of the accusations against Conte, Mourinho said: “Did he? Not me.”