LONDON • Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho accused Antonio Conte of trying to humiliate him after the 4-0 Premier League defeat by Chelsea, and tensions spilled over into the tunnel post-match as back-room staff members of both clubs clashed.
United conceded goals scored by Pedro Rodriguez after just 30 seconds, Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and N'Golo Kante.
Mourinho berated his team's "incredible mistakes" at the back and was infuriated by Conte's attempts to whip up the home support after Kante scored Chelsea's fourth goal, and confronted his opposite number as they shook hands at the final whistle.
Mourinho, speaking in Italian, cupped Conte's head and whispered into his left ear.
Pitch-side microphones picked up the Portuguese telling Conte he should behave like that "at 1-0, not at 4-0", and suggested he had actually been seeking to humiliate him in front of his former fans.
LASHING OUT AT HIS PLAYERS
We made an incredible defensive mistake, I say incredible in capitals, in the first minute and then the game is different. It is one of those days when you give the advantage to opponents by doing nothing.
JOSE MOURINHO, Man United manager, on their early defensive lapse which led to Chelsea's opening goal.
Conte denied that had been his motivation, explaining post-match that he had simply been seeking to generate a positive reaction from the crowd after his team's most impressive performance to date under his stewardship.
However, when a member of the United coaching staff ignored Conte's outstretched hand as they turned to retreat down the tunnel, it provoked a heated argument with a member of the Italian's own back-room team.
Both managers refused to divulge the content of their terse touchline exchange, but neither denied the version of events picked up on Italian television.
"You know me. I spoke to Conte, not to you," Mourinho told his post-match press conference.
"What is between me and Antonio is for us, or up to him to talk if he wants to. That is his problem. I have no comment."
Conte was also reluctant to discuss the matter, although he did defend himself for rousing the crowd after their fourth goal. "I think that a private conversation must remain private," the Italian said.
"I think that, today, it was right to call on our fans in a moment when I could only hear the supporters of Manchester United singing at 4-0.
"So I called the fans to give the players a great clap after this kind of performance. The players deserved that.
"We live with emotions. If you want to cut the emotions, we can stay at home and I will change jobs."
The result left United five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and six points below leaders Manchester City in seventh place, and Mourinho bemoaned his side's defensive errors.
"I'm not disappointed with the performance, but with the mistakes," the United manager said. "If we could delete the defensive mistakes, the performance was good.
"We made an incredible defensive mistake, I say incredible in capitals, in the first minute and then the game is different. It is one of those days when you give the advantage to opponents by doing nothing."
United next face City in the League Cup at Old Trafford tomorrow, while Chelsea are also involved in a derby when they travel to West Ham United.
"Now we must be focused on Wednesday because there is another important, tough game against West Ham. It's important to celebrate this evening, but then we have to start to focus on another game," said Conte.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE