Conte won't subdue touchline dramatics if he wins

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte celebrates after his team's victory over West Ham United in their Premier League match.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte celebrates after his team's victory over West Ham United in their Premier League match. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Antonio Conte will not tone down his celebrations if Chelsea knock Manchester United out of the FA Cup tomorrow.

Jose Mourinho accused the Chelsea manager of trying to humiliate him with his attempts to rouse the Stamford Bridge crowd during the previous meeting between the two sides in the English Premier League in October.

Conte's rallying cry followed N'Golo Kante's 70th-minute goal, Chelsea's fourth of the match that sealed a 4-0 victory that ranks as Mourinho's heaviest defeat in English football.

Before the United manager left the dugout after the match, he was seen telling Conte: "You don't do that at 4-0. You can at 1-0, but at 4-0 it's humiliation."

On Friday, Conte dismissed his actions as natural and suggested that he would not act differently tomorrow.

"I think I've shown in my period in Chelsea - also everywhere I have managed - that I live the game with great passion," the Italian said.

"Sometimes I want to share my enthusiasm and passion with my players and staff and fans.

"It's normal. But for me the most important thing is to try and win. Have I spoken to him (Mourinho) since? No, there is nothing we have to clarify with him."

Conte has steered clear of any mind games with Mourinho since and prefers to be focused on events on the pitch.

"That's what is most important, to prepare the team in the right way, with good organisation. To talk football, to think about my team, to try to improve my players - these are the most important things for me," he said.

Asked whether he believes that the mind games can be distracting for players, Conte added: "The mind games, they are strange, no? I'm very focused on the pitch. The mind games don't help you to win. A person who is focused on the pitch trusts his work."

United have not been beaten in the league since that defeat at Stamford Bridge and Conte expects a tough quarter-final tomorrow because he thinks that Man United have one of the league's best squads.

"I think along with Manchester City, United have the best squad in the league. They have a number of great players with great talent and great experience to win," he said.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 12, 2017, with the headline 'Conte won't subdue touchline dramatics if he wins'. Print Edition | Subscribe