Getty Images

Conte vs. Mourinho: Looking behind the banter

Leave a comment

Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte have had a little back and forth over the weekend.

Grab your popcorn.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Initially Mourinho gave an answer packed with innuendo when discussing Chelsea following Manchester United’s 2-0 win against Watford at the weekend.

That victory extended United’s unbeaten run in the Premier League to 16 games but Mourinho handed table-topping Chelsea a compliment when discussing the Red Devils’ title hopes.

Well, sort of.

“Chelsea are a very good defensive team,” Mourinho said. “They defend very well and with lots of players and I think in this situation a very defensive team wins the title with counter-attack goals and set pieces goals so I don’t think they will let it slip but football is football.”

Ah, Jose. You rascal.

In response to Mourinho’s comments, Chelsea’s manager shared his thoughts following their 1-1 draw at Turf Moor on Sunday.

“He’s playing,” Conte said. “I have the experience to understand this. I don’t like to reply about the other coaches.”

Stone cold Conte.

Now, this may be nothing more than a few words exchanged between coaches in the media. Yet Mourinho knows that his comments about Chelsea will be repeated to Conte and as he tried to crank up the pressure on the Blues. It’s worth a shot, right?

After all United are 12 points behind Chelsea with 13 games of the season to go and Mourinho’s former club, who he led to three of their previous four PL titles, seem to be cantering towards a crown in Conte’s first season in charge.

That said, just like the old days of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger going at it back and forth, this rivalry has the potential to blow up in the coming months and years. Conte has somehow managed to rekindle title-winning form from a group of players who seemed to have downed tools under Mourinho last season, leading to his firing as Chelsea boss and Conte’s subsequent hiring.

With Mourinho set to spend big again this summer and slowly building momentum this season to challenge for a top four finish (United sit in sixth place but are just two points off second after the weekend games) these two managers and teams look set to challenge for the title side-by-side.

Remember when Chelsea beat United 3-0 earlier this season and Conte irked Mourinho for firing up the home crowd when the Red Devils were down and out? Yeah, there was a spark there as Mourinho had a word in Conte’s ear. You could see it in the eyes of the Italian manager.

There’s respect between Mourinho and Conte though. That’s obvious. Even Fergie and Wenger have admitted they appreciated the work of one another.

Last week Conte made a point of stating United are still in the title race. Then Mourinho complimented Conte’s defensive system and if anyone can appreciate good defensive play, it’s Mourinho.

It’s all very cordial right now. Perhaps too cordial.

You get the sense that if both clubs stay on their current trajectory then a managerial rivalry is brewing between Mourinho and Conte.

Hang on. There we go. My popcorn is ready.

Soccer world reacts to the Manchester attacks

Peter Byrne/PA via AP
Leave a comment

NBC News is reporting that at least 19 people have been killed and another 50 are injured following a possible suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials who are monitoring British authorities told NBC News that preliminary reports indicate that a single explosion took place outside the arena on the southwest side opposite the train station. The explosion occurred as the concert ended, catching people as they exited.

Soccer clubs, players and personalities around the world are reacting to the horrible event.

Juventus purchases Cuadrado from Chelsea

Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
Leave a comment

If you didn’t realize Juan Cuadrado still belonged to Chelsea, you’re forgiven.

The Colombian attacker will complete his second season at Juventus after the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid, and won’t be headed back to Chelsea afterwards.

Juve has purchased Cuadrado, and the fee is $22 million, and Juve will pay it over three seasons. Cuadrado, 28, is now signed through 2020 with The Old Lady.

Cuadrado first went on loan to Juve in Aug. 2015, and has eight goals and 18 assists in 83 career appearances with the club.

Chelsea bought Cuadrado from Fiorentina for around $32 million in the January 2015 transfer window, but made just 14 appearances with the club.

Report: Jermain Defoe meeting with Bournemouth

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images
Leave a comment

Sky Sports is reporting that Jermain Defoe may head back to the south of England following Sunderland’s relegation.

Defoe, 34, spent two seasons with Portsmouth between 2008-09, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances.

[ MORE: ‘The Moment’ of each PL club’s season ]

The 56-times capped England striker had a clause in his Sunderland contract allowing him to leave the Stadium of Light were the Black Cats to be relegated, as they were this season. He’d have little interest in dropping into the Championship given his desire to stay a part of the England squad ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Bournemouth’s strike corps includes Joshua King, who scored the most goals of any player not on a Top Seven side this season. King’s 16 goals were one more than Defoe’s 15, though the latter scored just one goal following a brace against Crystal Palace on Feb. 4.

Chelsea’s Conte wins pair of top managerial honors

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
1 Comment

Antonio Conte took league and national honors from the League Managers Association on Monday night.

The Chelsea boss was named Premier League Manager of the Year and Manager of the Year after leading the Blues to the PL title and an FA Cup Final in his first year on the job.

Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton nabbed another Championship boss of the year award after leading the Gulls to the Premier League. He also won the honor with Newcastle United in 2010.

The League One winner is Chris Wilder of Sheffield United. Wilder won the honor with Northampton Town last season.

In League Two, Paul Cook of Portsmouth was named the winner.