Magnanimous Ranieri says Mourinho feud is 'prehistoric'

Despite being repeatedly ridiculed by Jose Mourinho in the past, Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri described his Manchester United counterpart as a "fantastic person" and said: ""I love red wine, and if he offers I will go and drink it with him"
Despite being repeatedly ridiculed by Jose Mourinho in the past, Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri described his Manchester United counterpart as a "fantastic person" and said: ""I love red wine, and if he offers I will go and drink it with him".PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Claudio Ranieri has insisted his feud with Jose Mourinho belongs in the past, describing the enmity that once existed between the two as "prehistoric".

The Leicester City manager said he would happily share a glass of wine with his opposite number after today's Premier League match at Old Trafford.

Although Ranieri talked about wanting to avenge Leicester's defeat at the hands of Manchester United in the Community Shield last month, the 64-year-old was keen to stress that he and Mourinho have moved on. A bitter war of words characterised their relationship at one time, especially during the period when they were working in Italy and some of the remarks became personal.

Highlighting how things have changed, Ranieri described Mourinho as a "fantastic person" and named the 53-year-old when asked to single out the most influential player at Old Trafford. Drawing on his own experience, he suggested that the United manager's controversial criticism of Luke Shaw after the defeat at Watford last Sunday may have been intended to motivate the left-back.

More than anything, though, Ranieri gave the impression that any bad blood is in the past. "I love red wine, and if he offers I will go and drink it with him," the Leicester manager said.

Some of the barbs exchanged in the past have been particularly disparaging, with Mourinho claiming that he replaced Ranieri as manager at Chelsea in 2004 because the Italian was considered a "loser".

The United manager also ridiculed Ranieri's command of English and, in 2008, described him as having "the mentality of someone who doesn't need to win".

Ranieri had previously said: "I am not like Mourinho. I don't have to win to be sure of myself."

On the pitch, however, the tables were turned dramatically last season, when Ranieri led Leicester to the Premier League title and oversaw the 2-1 victory against Chelsea in December that culminated in Mourinho being sacked the following day.

Although they have since crossed paths in the Community Shield, when United won 2-1, this will be the first time the two men have gone head to head in the Premier League since that game at the King Power Stadium.

Asked about the state of his relationship with Mourinho these days, Ranieri said it was "very good" and that there were "no problems", with mention of the history between the two of them prompting a dismissive response.

"Yes, but it's prehistoric," Ranieri said. "It was a long time ago. It's normal (now). He is a great manager, intelligent and a fantastic person."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2016, with the headline 'Magnanimous Ranieri says Mourinho feud is 'prehistoric''. Print Edition | Subscribe