Jose Mourinho Deserves Good Reception - Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte says Jose Mourinho deserves a good reception when he returns to Stamford Bridge as Manchester United manager on Sunday but insists he will be regarded as "an enemy" of Chelsea once the match starts.
Sunday's match will be the first opportunity for Blues supporters to make their feelings about Mourinho known since he was sacked by Roman Abramovich for the second time in December.
Chelsea's players were booed in victory by angry supporters during the first match after Mourinho's dismissal, but feelings among some fans have shifted since his decision to take the reins at United.
I think that he was an important manager for Chelsea, Conte said at his news conference ahead of Sunday's game. With the club, with the players, he brought a part of the history [of the club]. He won three championships.
He deserves a good reception. I repeat: he wrote, with the club and with the players and the staff, a part of the story of this club. When you've won three championships you remain in the hearts of the fans. It's normal.
I think he deserves this. Then, after the whistle, he becomes like the other players of Manchester United -- an enemy. But from a sporting aspect.
Asked about his personal feelings towards Mourinho, Conte added: Sure, I have great respect for him. He's a great manager. He won a lot in his career. I think that he deserves the maximum respect.
United's dogged defensive display when they nullified Liverpool at Anfield on Monday has prompted suggestions that Mourinho could show a similar level of caution at Stamford Bridge, and Conte said he does not expect the visitors to play an open game.
I watched the game against Liverpool, Conte said. It was a very tough game between two good teams. I think they'll fight for the title until the end, for this championship. It was a tactical game because we saw two teams very close who paid great attention, above all when they were without the ball.
Yes, I think also on Sunday it will be a tactical game. Usually, when two great teams face each other like Manchester United and Chelsea, it's important to prepare the tactical and technical aspects. To prepare offensive and defensive situations. But sure, I think it can be a tactical game.