LONDON • Antonio Conte yesterday demanded that Jose Mourinho show him respect ahead of Chelsea's Premier League clash against Manchester United tomorrow.
The Italian succeeded Mourinho as the Blues' permanent manager. And on the Portuguese coach's first trip to Stamford Bridge with United last year, he got involved with Conte on the touchline and claimed the Italian "humiliated" him with his celebrations in Chelsea's 4-0 victory.
Conte told a press conference yesterday that his relationship with Mourinho is not key.
"It's not important, the relationship between the coaches," he said. "We have to respect the job of the other coach. I don't like to speak about the other situation.
"He is an opponent and I'm an opponent for him. After the game, it will be the same. I have respect for his job, he must have respect for mine. Then I stop."
He added that revenge is not on anyone's minds. "Don't forget that they won 2-0 in the second game at home," he said. "Every coach, every player, every team wants to win. Not for revenge, but because you need to win."
Chelsea certainly need to win if they want to retain their title. They are already nine points behind leaders Manchester City and defeat by United would leave them with an impossible-looking task.
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While the Blues turned the last Premier League race into a procession - losing five matches in the whole of last season - it has been a different story this time around, with three defeats already.
Conte admitted his side are struggling but backed them to fight through the adversity.
"We are struggling a lot because we are facing a lot of important problems," he said. "To solve these problems is not simple. In this moment, you can see if you are a winner or a loser.
"It's important to show our character, to be strong, to face the problem in the right way."
While Conte faced the media yesterday, Mourinho faced a judge in Spain over accusations of tax fraud of €3.3 million (S$5.29 million) during his time in charge of Real Madrid in 2011 and 2012.
In June, the 54-year-old released a statement through his agent Jorge Mendes in which he said he had settled the matter with Spain's tax authorities - a point he reiterated upon leaving court yesterday after a brief hearing.
"It's simple. I left Spain in 2013 with the information and conviction that my situation with the tax authorities was perfectly legal," said Mourinho. "A couple of years later, I was told that they opened an investigation and they told me that in order to normalise my situation, I had to pay X.
"I didn't reply, I didn't argue. I paid and I signed with the State that I'm in compliance and that the case is closed. For this, I was just here for five minute(s) to tell his excellency the judge exactly what I've told you. Nothing else."
The judge will decide whether or not the case will proceed to trial.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
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