LONDON — Chelsea coach Antonio Conte hit back at a taunt by Jose Mourinho by suggesting the Manchester United manager has senile dementia.
Without naming names, Mourinho appeared to aim a dig at Conte and Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp — two of the most animated and passionate coaches in the Premier League — by saying on Thursday he did not feel they need to behave like “a clown” on the touchline.
Asked a day later about Mourinho’s remarks, 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 behavior. Sometimes I think there is, I don’t know the name, but ‘demenza senile’ (the Italian for ‘senile dementia’) … when you forget what you do in the past.”
Conte might have been referring to Mourinho’s charge down the touchline at Old Trafford when his Porto team eliminated United on its way to winning the Champions League in 2004. Or a similar incident while Mourinho was in charge of Chelsea, when the London club scored late to eliminate Paris Saint-Germain from the Champions League in 2014.
Mourinho famously poked his finger in the eye of Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova in a touchline scuffle during the Spanish Super Cup in 2011.
Mourinho has had two spells in charge of Chelsea — from 2004-07 and 2013-15. In his second spell, he won the league title in his second season before being fired halfway through the third season.
Conte succeeded Mourinho as Chelsea’s full-time manager.
“There is a person that continues to look here,” Conte said. “You understand? He went away, but he continued to look here.”