Football: Silence is contempt as Jose Mourinho ends feud

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho (left) has decided to end his long-running war of words with his Chelsea counterpart Antonio Conte.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho (left) has decided to end his long-running war of words with his Chelsea counterpart Antonio Conte.PHOTO: AFP

Spat with Conte over, United boss casts eye on 'phenomenal' Sanchez as Zlatan's still out

LONDON • Jose Mourinho revealed he now feels "contempt" for Antonio Conte, with Manchester United's manager intent on finally drawing a line under the insults he and his Chelsea counterpart have been trading.

"I think when a person insults another, you can expect a response. Or you can expect contempt, silence," said the Portuguese.

"The first time he insulted me I had a response, a response that I know that touched the point where he really feels hurt. Then he insulted me for a second time, but now I change and now (I feel) contempt and for me, contempt means: end of the story."

Last week, Conte accused the Portuguese of having "demenza senile" after believing Mourinho had referenced him when discussing a "clown on the touchline".

While Mourinho denied he meant Conte, the 54-year-old then spoke of the Italian's four-month ban for failing to report alleged match-fixing, which prompted the Italian to brand Mourinho a "little man".

Just as Mourinho did little to hide his disdain for Conte on Friday, he made clear his interest in Alexis Sanchez, saying that the Arsenal forward was a "phenomenal player" who United would consider signing at any time of the season.

Mourinho had said that he did not like to sign players in the January window, but the availability of Sanchez has changed his mind.

  • The best and worst of Mourinho (JM) versus Conte (AC)

  • JM - YOU’RE HUMILIATING US

    October 2016: Jose Mourinho endured
    a nightmare return to Stamford
    Bridge as Chelsea won 4-0,
    with Blues manager Antonio Conte
    celebrating passionately.
    Italian TV reported that the Manchester
    United manager told his
    counterpart at the final whistle:
    “You don’t celebrate like that at
    4-0, you can do it at 1-0, otherwise
    it’s humiliating for us.”

  • AC - RESURRECTING MOSES

    November 2016: With Victor Moses
    thriving at right wing-back, Conte
    wondered aloud why the Nigerian
    was overlooked by Mourinho who
    sent him out on loan thrice: “I find it
    incredible that someone like him
    has been overlooked.”

  • JM - A VERY GOOD DEFENSIVE TEAM

    February 2017: Mourinho tipped
    Chelsea to win the Premier League,
    but not without calling them “a very
    defensive team who win the title
    with counter-attack and set-piece
    goals, so I don’t think they will let it
    slip but football is football”.

    SEEING RED

    March 2017: The managers had to
    be separated after Marcos Alonso
    was fouled in the Blues’ 1-0 FA Cup
    quarter-final win. United’s Ander
    Herrera picked up two yellow cards
    for challenges on Eden Hazard.
    Mourinho bemoaned the red card
    while Conte suggested United targeted
    Hazard. “A tactic to play and
    go to kick an opponent? It’s not football
    for me,” the Blues boss said.

  • AC - MONEY CANNOT BUY TITLE

    April 2017: As Chelsea closed in on
    the title, Conte offered Mourinho,
    who spent over £150 million
    (S$272.3 million)on new signings, a
    reminder: “This season it’s very important
    to understand that it’s not
    always who spends more money
    who wins... This season isn’t the
    only season the Manchester clubs
    have spent a lot of money... Look at
    the past. It’s normal.”

    THINGS ARE GETTING HAIRY

    July 2017: After Chelsea won the title,
    Conte said: “Two years ago
    Chelsea finished 10th... For sure we
    want to avoid the Mourinho season.”
    The Portuguese responded by
    alluding to Conte’s hair transplant:
    “I’m not going to lose my hair to
    speak about Antonio Conte.”

    WHO IS THE CRYBABY?

    October 2017: After United beat
    Benfica in the Champions League,
    Mourinho aimed a jibe at Conte: “I
    never speak about injuries. Other
    managers, they cry, they cry, they
    cry when a player is injured.” The
    Italian hit back: “He has to start
    looking at himself.”

  • JM - TOUCHLINE CLOWN

    Jan 4, 2018: Mourinho suggested
    that he has mellowed over the
    years, unlike the likes of Conte.
    “Because I don’t behave like a
    clown on the touchline, it does not
    mean that I lost my passion,” he
    said. “I prefer to (be) more mature,
    better for my team and myself.”

  • AC - SENILE DEMENTIA

    Jan 5: Conte said: “Sometimes,
    someone forgets what’s said in the
    past, which is his behaviour. Sometimes
    there is, I don’t know the
    name, but demenza senile... when
    you forget what you do in the past.”

  • JM - I‘M NO FIXER

    Jan 6: Mourinho acknowledged he
    made mistakes but declared that he
    would never be banned for matchfixing.
    Conte received a fourmonth
    ban in 2012 for failing to report
    alleged match-fixing while at
    Siena but was acquitted in 2016.

  • AC - LITTLE MAN

    Jan 7: Conte said: “When there are
    comments where you try to offend
    the person and don’t know the
    truth, then you are a little man. In
    the past he was a little man in many
    circumstances, he’s a little man in
    the present and for sure he will be a
    little man in the future.”

United recently emerged as rivals to Manchester City for Sanchez's signature and could even become the front runners for the 29-year-old's signature even though the forward prefers a move to the Etihad Stadium.

Their position has strengthened because, unlike City who do not want to offer more than £20 million (S$36.3 million), they are willing to pay nearer to the £35 million asking price for the Chile international.

City are also reluctant to pay Fernando Felicevich, Sanchez's agent, a fee of about £5 million and are happy to wait until the summer - when the player is available on a free transfer - or risk the forward joining United this month instead.

"We don't believe a lot in the January market," Mourinho said. "We don't believe in signing a player just to sign a player. What we believe is there are some players in world football that if you have the chance to sign them in January, March or July, you have to try.

"In relation to Alexis Sanchez, he is a phenomenal player, apart from that he is an Arsenal player and I feel I shouldn't say much more."

His desire to sign a forward in the January transfer window has been strengthened by Zlatan Ibrahimovic's relapse in his recovery from his serious knee injury.

Ibrahimovic is out of tomorrow's Premier League game against Stoke City and Mourinho could not give a definitive date for his expected return.

"Zlatan is injured or is not totally happy with his condition," said Mourinho, whose squad has just returned from a warm-weather training camp in Dubai.

"He consulted other doctors, other opinions and we all make the decision to stop, let him have treatment and, when he's feeling really good, come back to work.

"The date for him to be back to training with the team was around end of January beginning of February. So let's hope his feelings are better and we have him with us as soon as possible."

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 14, 2018, with the headline 'Silence is contempt as Jose ends feud'. Print Edition | Subscribe