Conte, Mourinho rivalry continues after Chelsea beat Man United

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LONDON — At the final whistle Antonio Conte punched the air with delight, turning around to Chelsea’s fans and saluting them in the cold, dark west London night.

[ MORE: Three things we learned ]

Then, there weren’t quite fireworks as is commonplace on November 5th in England, but another fiery torch had been added to the slowly simmering Bonfire ignited by Jose Mourinho last season.

Following Chelsea’s 4-0 shellacking of United in the Premier League last October, Mourinho took exception to Conte celebrating N'Golo Kante‘s fourth goal wildly and had a word with Conte at the final whistle.

This season there was no time for that as Conte ran straight onto the pitch at the final whistle and celebrated with his players as Mourinho stood on the sidelines waiting for the Italian coach to return. He didn’t.

Speaking after the game, Mourinho said he had no problem with Conte not shaking his hand.

“You want me to go and chase him on the middle of pitch?” Mourinho said. “I was there. I shook hands with the people that were there. I think one of them was his brother, his assistant, so I feel that by shaking the hands of his brother and the other assistants, I feel that I did my duty. I cannot go and run to chase him. He [Conte] doesn’t have to wait. There is no problem with this at all.”

Conte did not wait for Mourinho in the tunnel after the game to shake his hand either and the simmering rivalry between the current Chelsea boss and the former Blues manager is obvious.

“It’s not important,” Conte told Sky Sports afterwards. “It’s important to win the game. You have to have the respect on the pitch, not outside the pitch.”

Conte then told the media in his press conference that he “shook hands two times” with Mourinho and that “I think that’s enough” before weighing in on Mourinho saying that United will be a different team in November and December when Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo return from injury.

“When you have 24 players in your squad, if you have one, two or three injuries it doesn’t work,” Conte said. “The problem is when you don’t have 23 or 24 players in the squad. Then it is totally different.”

Injuries aside, Chelsea got the better of their former manager on the pitch once again as Mourinho’s pragmatic approach succumbed to an Alvaro Morata header in the second half to give Chelsea all three points.

Mourinho didn’t think his team deserved to lose the game

“We had chances to equalize, which I think would be a fair result,” Mourinho said. “But this is not about what I think it is. This isn’t even about what I think is fair or is not fair. It is about the pragmatism of the result. One goal. Three points. Congratulations.”

In truth, Manchester City were the big winners as they’re now eight points clear atop the Premier League table heading into the international break.

With United in second place on 23 points, they are level with third-place Tottenham and Chelsea, despite all of their early season struggles, are just one point behind in fourth. Mourinho said they are “worried” about the gap to Man City but said they are “18 teams more worried than us” and said that City’s lead in the Premier League is not the same as it is in the Bundesliga or La Liga.

We didn’t see fireworks on the sidelines at Stamford Bridge on Bonfire night but Conte’s actions will surely light a fire under Mourinho which will simmer until the two clubs meet again at Old Trafford on Feb. 24, 2018.

Pressure builds on Borussia Dortmund manager Peter Bosz

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Borussia Dortmund has fallen to fifth in the Bundesliga table thanks to a trio of consecutive losses in league play, and suddenly there is loads of pressure on manager Peter Bosz.

The Dutchman came to Westfalenstadion after upper management pushed Thomas Tuchel out over the summer, and while he won seven of his first eight league matches in charge by a total goal differential of 21-2, things have come crashing down. The black & yellow have lost three in a row Bundesliga matches and four of their last five across all competitions, with their only win in that span coming over third-tier Magdenburg.

With fans feeling helpless over the departure of the wildly successful Tuchel that came as a result of a falling out between the German and his superiors, Bosz would always be on a short leash. He inherited a flawed squad, yet one that had achieved much under his predecessor, and immediate failures would naturally be lumped on the new man.

The most recent defeat, a 2-1 falter at Stuttgart, was a microcosm of Dortmund’s recent failures. The team conceded a comically poor goal five minutes into the match, worked hard to equalize just before the halftime break, and conceded again just after returning to the pitch. They controlled much of the match, but largely failed to capitalize.

The head man summed it up pretty well. “The defeat really hurts,” Bosz proclaimed after the final whistle. “We came here to win, so we’re very disappointed. When you see the goals we conceded, it borders on the ridiculous. It hurts because we actually put in a relatively good performance in the first half. The team performed well after conceding the early goal, only the final ball was lacking. The second half wasn’t as good. We need to keep going, we won’t give up.”

So what do the Dortmund executives do? Does Bosz get the benefit of the doubt based on performances? Or does he get blamed for the sudden dropoff in results? There is plenty of pressure given the team sits not only nine points back of Borussia Dortmund in league play, but is also third in a brutal Champions League group with almost no hope of recovery, and even threatens to miss out on a drop to Europa League play if they slip behind Cypriot club Apoel Nicosia, whom they find themselves level on points with.

Even if the club sticks with the Dutchman for now, his room for error has almost completely evaporated and it’s only mid-November. The next two matches will likely tell the tale, and it’s an uphill battle. Tottenham comes to Westfalenstadion on the backs of a disappointing defeat to North London foes Arsenal, followed by the home end of the Rivierderby against a Schalke side that sits second in the Bundesliga table, three points above Bosz and Dortmund.

Antonio Conte calls Tony Pulis a “really good manager”

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West Brom, after four straight defeats, sits 17th in the Premier League table, most recently suffering a 4-0 dismantling at the hands of Chelsea.

Yet Blues boss Antonio Conte has offered his counterpart an olive branch, supporting his fellow Premier League manager at a time of panic.

With reports that Pulis could be fired this coming week – some say as early as Monday – the Baggies boss is under heaps of pressure, but Conte doesn’t believe he should be. “I must be honest, I think Tony Pulis is a really good manager,” Conte said, hoping those in charge don’t make decisions based on Sunday’s result.

“He has great experience and it’s always very difficult to play against his team. This game became easy because we started very strong, with great concentration and desire to win. We showed from the start our will to win this game. But I repeat: Last season we struggled a lot against them.”

West Brom has lost four in a row in league play, and they haven’t picked up a win since August, and as The Guardian points out, they have the lowest average possession in the Premier League and have the second-lowest shots on target thus far. They registered just two shots on target against Chelsea, and held 39% possession, which is actually slightly above their average for the season.

Sergio Ramos suffers broken nose in Atletico Madrid draw

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Real Madrid trails Barcelona by 10 points in the La Liga title race just 12 matches in, and now they will have to play catch-up without their best defender.

Club captain Sergio Ramos suffered a broken nose after being accidentally kicked in the face by teammate Lucas Hernandez during the first half of Madrid’s 0-0 draw with cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid. He received treatment and remained on the field, but he was withdrawn at halftime.

Manager Zinedine Zidane was unable to give a timetable for Ramos’s return.

Ramos said via Twitter, alongside some graphic images of his bloody nose, “I would bleed a thousand times for this badge and this shirt. Thanks for your support. I’ll be back in no time.”

Up next for Madrid is Champions League group match against Cypriot club Apoel midweek before a league game against Malaga at home. Athletic Bilbao and Borussia Dortmund are also on the horizon. A masked Sergio Ramos could be in our midst soon.

Real Madrid has not lost a league match without Ramos since March of 2015, but they drew their only game this season with Ramos suspended, a 2-2 home split with Valencia.

Moyes roasts West Ham players after loss to Watford

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After his first game in charge of West Ham, David Moyes thought he had a better squad. Apparently he was mistaken.

A 2-0 loss to Watford gave Moyes a rude awakening as he looks to replace Slaven Bilic and pull the Hammers out of the relegation zone. He was not pleased with his players.

“Overall, that level of performance will not be good enough,” Moyes told reporters after the match.

He wasn’t done.

“I thought this was a big job, but there were some players with big reputations who disappointed me. There were some who I thought would show me more, and why they play for the team regularly. They need to show me, ‘If that’s your reputation, show me why you’ve got it.'”

He backtracked slightly, agreeing that the players are in a difficult position changing managers, but ultimately that excuse wasn’t enough for him. “It’s tough for the players – I could sense that – but I didn’t enjoy our performance in the end. I didn’t enjoy us giving the ball away too cheaply, too many times and I expected us to do better.”

Moyes even called out striker Andy Carroll, saying he removed the England international because he feared Carroll would pick up a second yellow card. Carroll could have been carded seven seconds into the match, leaving Marvin Zeegelaar with a bloody nose after an elbow to the face, something Carroll has been sent off for earlier this season. He was eventually given one in the 28th minute.

“I thought we defended OK,” Moyes said, “but then we gave away cheap goals by getting bundled off the ball and we didn’t really deal with it. We didn’t do well enough in all departments at different times.”

That’s about as ruthless as you’ll ever hear the mild-mannered David Moyes, and all West Ham players should beware that their places in the team are in jeopardy.