Conte: Title defense “will be most difficult season of my career”

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For someone who appears to be in the midst of a great war with Jose Mourinho, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte sure is conducting himself in a manner quite reminiscent of his predecessor.

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Mourinho, the unwavering agitator, has worn out his welcome at just about every stop along his managerial career. Conte has taken not-so-thinly veiled shots at the Portuguese in recent weeks, only to turn around and take a page right out of his worn-out playbook — publicly complaining, in an intentionally vague manner, about the lack of business completed thus far in the transfer window — quotes from the Guardian:

“For sure it will be the most difficult season of my career as a coach. Why? There are many reasons and I haven’t a lot of time to explain a lot of these reasons. But I am sure about this: in this moment we have a small squad. Everyone can see the situation. It’s not because the coach shouts, ‘I want this,’ or, ‘I want this.’ We hope to improve it, because it’s very clear. But for me and the players, the best way now is to be focused on the pitch and not to think of the other situation.”

“Everyone is trying to do their job, but, for sure, I think this question is good for the club — not for me.What do they tell me? We have to wait for the best moment, the best solution. We have to wait.” … “In Italy, the people know that I have not great patience. But I am learning in England to discover more patience in myself.”

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Mourinho’s relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich became strained during the early days of his first tenure at Stamford Bridge, and it wound up spelling the end of the road for the two in 2007, and again in 2015. While Conte might in fact despise Mourinho, he sure does do one heck of an impersonation of his nemesis. For Chelsea fans, this must sound and feel all too familiar.