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Jose Mourinho hits back at Antonio Conte: 'I've never been banned for match fixing'

Published in England Premier League
Saturday, 06 January 2018 11:17

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has hit back at his Chelsea counterpart Antonio Conte, saying he has never been banned for match fixing.

Mourinho was speaking after the 2-0 victory over Derby County in the FA Cup where he was asked about Conte's comments about him forgetting what he used to be like in the past - remarks which themselves came in response to reports that Mourinho had a called Conte "a clown" on the touchline.

Mourinho responded: "I don't blame him. Press should apologise to me and him. The question iscompletely wrong and because of that it is an out of control reaction. I was speaking about myself. You said Mourinho said you behaved as a clown. I was speaking about myself.

"I don't need Chelsea manager to say I made mistakes in past and will in future. What I will say is I will never be banned for match fixing."
This appeared to be a reference to when Conte was implicated in a 2011 match fixing scandal involving his former club Siena - he was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing in the case.

The Italian was alleged to have failed to report fixing in a match between Siena and Albinoleffe in the 2010-11 season and was originally banned for 10 months in the scandal, then saw theat reduced to four, which he served before eventually being retrospectively acquitted in 2016.

The row started when Mourinho was asked whether he was happy at United and responded by saying that he didn't need to act like "a clown" on the touchline to prove his joy.

"Because I don't behave as a clown on the touchline, it means that I lost my passion," said Mourinho.
"I prefer to behave the way I am doing it, much more mature, better for my team and myself, I don't think you have to behave like a crazy guy on the touchline to have that passion."

When asked about Mourinho's comments Conte used the phrase "demenza senile" in relation to the United manager, which translates as senile dementia, although a Chelsea's spokesperson was quick to stress that the Italian had meant to say amnesia.

Conte said: "I think he has to see himself in the past - maybe he was speaking about himself in the past. Maybe, sometimes, I think that someone forgets what's said in the past, which is his behaviour.

"Sometimes I think there is, I don't know the name, but demenza senile... when you forget what you do in the past."

Mourinho's response could cause the LMA to get involved.

Antonio Conte coy over Eden Hazard future after claims he rejected new Chelsea contract

Published in England Premier League
Saturday, 30 December 2017 07:39

Antonio Conte refused to discuss Eden Hazard's future despite claims from his father that he has rejected a new contract at Chelsea.

Hazard's father Thierry has told Belgian newspaper Le Soir that the offer of a new deal was turned down because of "interest" from Real Madrid.
Chelsea insist no new contract offer has been made, because his current deal still has two-and-a-half years to run.
Asked about Hazard senior's comments, Conte said: "This is a private conversation - between the club and the player, and the agent of the player.

"I'm proud to have him in my team, in my squad, and I'm very happy to work with him. He's a really good guy and has a lot of space for improvement, to become one of the best players in the world. But, I repeat, on this issue: this must be a private conversation between the player, the player's agent and the club."
The future of fellow Belgium international Thibaut Courtois also remains the subject of speculation, and Conte added: "Courtois has a contract, also for next season, with the club. With Chelsea. We are talking about one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

"Me and my staff are proud to have him as goalkeeper. For sure, I hope to have all the players for the next season.

"This is the type of conversation for the agent to have with the club. If you ask me if I hope Courtois stays? Yes, for sure. We are talking about a fantastic goalkeeper, a really good guy, and I'm happy to work with him."

"I don't know about this issue [surrounding Courtois' family living in Spain]. For sure, when you are in a great club and you trust in the project, you want to stay. You want to continue to play for this team. The family is not a problem. But I repeat, this is a private conversation between the player, his agent and the club. My only hope is that I continue to train him because I'm very happy with his commitment, his behaviour.

"You are talking about two important players for us. Yes, for sure, it will be very important to continue with this type of player, especially if your ambition is to try and compete for something important. It's very important to try to improve your team, to strengthen your team, and not to sell the best players."

Simply honest to say Chelsea not in title race, says Conte

Published in England Premier League
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 10:48

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte denied he was being negative when he said the club were not in the Premier League title race and insisted, after Tuesday's 3-1 win at Huddersfield Town, that he was simply being realistic.

Conte had reacted to Saturday's 1-0 loss at West Ham United, by saying Chelsea were not in a position to overhaul runaway leaders Manchester City and that his team's bid had "never started".
Although a comfortable victory at the John Smith's Stadium leaves Chelsea 11 points behind Manchester City, who visit struggling Swansea City on Wednesday, Conte does not believe it is realistic to talk of catching Pep Guardiola's side.

"This is the truth. Manchester City in 16 games they have won 15 and drawn one. In 17 games, we have lost four games," said the Italian.

"When you have a competitor like Manchester City that every game they are winning, it is very difficult to think that you can fight for the title. You can say it's negative or this is positive but its bulls***," said Conte.

"We must be realistic and to tell always the truth. I prefer to tell the truth rather than a good lie. I am this way. Sometimes I can be too honest but I like to speak very honestly with my players, with our fans also," he said.
Conte added that the reality did not stop his team, who are also in the last 16 of the Champions League where they will face Barcelona in February, from fighting till the end.

"It doesn't mean that we don't want to try to catch them but we have to hope to have a big slip (from City) and then for us to win every game -- in this league.

"In this league don't forget it is very difficult. In every game you have to put 120 percent of yourself otherwise you risk dropping points," he said.

The former Juventus and Italy boss was pleased with the way his team had bounced back on Tuesday after the West Ham reverse with goals from Tiemoue Bakayoko, Willian and Pedro.

"I think we must be very happy for the performance because from the start of the game we showed a great personality and desire to win the game against a very good team,” he said.

"They beat Manchester United and City struggled to win against them. To win this way is very important as it improves our confidence after a defeat against West Ham," he said.

Antonio Conte: N'Golo Kante would be my Ballon d'Or winner

Published in England Premier League
Saturday, 09 December 2017 10:24

N'Golo Kante would be the coaches' choice as the world's best player, says Chelsea boss Antonio Conte.

But the Italian admits Eden Hazard is the Chelsea ace most likely to win the Ballon d'Or.

France midfielder Kante finished eighth in the voting and Belgium playmaker Hazard 19th as Cristiano Ronaldo won the prize for a fifth time, tying Lionel Messi's mark.

Real Madrid's Ronaldo, Barcelona's Messi and Neymar of Paris St Germain are usually the standout candidates for the prestigious prize, voted for by journalists.

But Conte reckons Kante, like defender Paolo Maldini and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon before him, is destined to miss out.
Conte said: "Honestly I don't know if N'Golo Kante can win the Ballon d'Or in his life because of the characteristics of this player.

"(But) for me, he is the Ballon d'Or. For a coach Kante has to win, for every coach."

Conte says Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar have an inner desire to keep winning, a "sacred fire".

And the former Italy and Juventus midfielder reckons Hazard can challenge them for the right to be the world's best by nurturing this "flame".
"Eden has the right characteristics to try to fight with these giants," Conte added.

"He has to try to do this. And to improve his position in this table in the next year. When you see these players you see a hunger in every moment. For this reason, these players are special.

"I like to call it a sacred fire, when you have it inside you, the desire, the will to win every game, to score goals.

"Every one of us, we have this sacred fire and we have to find the right solution to improve it. The flame can be big or little. When you have an inferno it means you are like Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar."

Chelsea play at West Ham on Saturday, with Conte believing the number of London derbies make the Premier League more challenging.

Conte added: "In this league every game is very tough, but to play during a season eight to 10 derbies is not simple. I think it's more difficult."

Conte laments Chelsea injuries after Palace defeat

Published in England Premier League
Sunday, 15 October 2017 08:54

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said he needs to “find solutions” after a 2-1 defeat away to Crystal Palace on Saturday left the Premier League champions nine points adrift of leaders Manchester City.

Antonio Conte says Chelsea players were tired after busy week

Published in England Premier League
Sunday, 01 October 2017 09:49

Antonio Conte said his Chelsea players were fatigued after only 30 minutes of their 1-0 loss to Manchester City on Saturday, three days after they defeated Atletico Madrid away in the Champions League.

“About this issue I have already spoken," Conte said. "When you have to play a massive game only (three) days later, you must consider the fatigue in the legs of your players.
“It’s impossible to press box to box and after 30 minutes you don’t have the energy to continue to play this game."

Saturday's result leaves the Premier League champions fourth in the table, six points behind leaders City and second-placed Manchester United and one point behind third-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
Conte had complained earlier this week that his players would not have enough time to recover from Wednesday's Champions League game, saying his side were being "penalised" by the scheduling.

Chelsea’s misery was compounded by the loss of top scorer Alvaro Morata to injury 10 minutes before halftime but Conte said his substitution was made out of caution and he hoped the problem would not result in a long lay-off.

“It’s a muscular problem," the Italian said. "I don’t think it’s a serious problem. He stopped before to prevent it becoming a serious injury. He said: ‘Coach, I prefer to stop myself, otherwise I risk to have a bad injury’.

"The doctor in the next days has to check the situation."

Chelsea have now lost twice at Stamford Bridge this season and Conte said they had faced a tough fixtures schedule.

“You have to consider in seven games we played Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and also Everton. Our start wasn’t so easy. We have the points we deserve.”

Eden Hazard needs time to get back to his best, says Antonio Conte

Published in England Premier League
Sunday, 10 September 2017 09:11

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has welcomed the return of Eden Hazard from injury during their Premier League win over Leicester City on Saturday but said the Belgian playmaker needs time to get back to 100 percent.

Hazard, who recovered from an ankle fracture sustained in June, played for the final 12 minutes as Chelsea ground out a 2-1 win with goals from striker Alvaro Morata and midfielder N'Golo Kante to go third in the table.


"This is good news for us," Conte told the club's website (www.chelseafc.com). "For sure he needs time to be 100 percent but for us his recovery is very important."

Chelsea are back in Champions League action on Tuesday, where they face Azerbaijan's Qarabag at Stamford Bridge and Conte said he would be patient with Hazard.

"We all know very well the importance of this player for us," the Italian manager said.

"Now we must have patience to give him the possibility to improve his form, but I am pleased for him because after a bad injury it's great to see him with us."
Chelsea must continue to work on integrating new signings into the squad after winning three games in a row since their opening day defeat, Conte said.

"We must be satisfied... now we are trying to involve new players with the older players and this is a process. We need time. In football there is not a lot of time but we are working hard," Conte said.

Apart from striker Morata, the club's record signing from Real Madrid, new boys Antonio Rudiger, Davide Zappacosta and Tiemoue Bakayoko also featured against the Foxes.

"I think Baka is improving his physical condition. Also, he is starting to understand and adapt to our style of football," Conte added.

"He has to improve with the ball because without the ball he is very strong. He is a young player and has good signs for us."

Antonio Conte hits out at “ridiculous” Ross Barkley transfer claims

Published in England Premier League
Saturday, 09 September 2017 08:15

Antonio Conte has criticised the “ridiculous” claims regarding Chelsea’s failed transfer deadline day move for Ross Barkley.

The Everton midfielder had appeared set to join Chelsea but the deal failed to materialise, with some reports suggesting that Barkley decided against the transfer while he was undergoing a medical.


Defending In Numbers is a new Deezer Originals football podcast, created by Squawka. Listen to the latest episode and subscribe to the podcast on Deezer and iTunes.

Barkley subsequently denied such claims and Conte was also left angered by the media’s coverage of the deal.

As reported by Sky Sports, Conte said: “I want to tell you that I don’t like to speak of players from other teams because there is a lack of respect.

“On this issue I think it’s ridiculous what I read.

“I think the club tried to do its best in the transfer market, sometimes you are able to buy and sometimes you aren’t for many reasons.”

Chelsea may attempt to sign Barkley again in the January transfer window although if they do so then they could well face competition from Tottenham Hotspur.
The 23-year-old, who is currently injured, has less than 12 months remaining on his contract at Everton and his status as a homegrown player would make him especially appealing to the Blues.

Excellent in possession, Barkley had an average pass accuracy of 83 per cent in the Premier League last season, while he created 82 chances.

 

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