MANCHESTER, England — With two frosty handshakes, Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte seemingly drew a line under a feud that had become one of the most entertaining subplots of the Premier League season.
“I think that is what me and Antonio want to show to everyone,” Mourinho, the Manchester United manager, said after his team’s 2-1 win over Conte’s Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday.
“The handshake before and after, I think is an example that everything in football you have to move (on) and respect each other. Mourinho and Conte, they are not two ordinary persons in football. We have a history, we have an image — I am happy with that.”
Conte was less forthcoming
“You wanted to see the handshake,” he told reporters, “and we did this.”
Mourinho started the spat last month by saying he did not feel the need to behave like “a clown” on the touchline. Feeling that was a dig at him, Conte responded aggressively by suggesting Mourinho was suffering from dementia because of the Portuguese’s behavior on the touchline earlier in his coaching career.
Mourinho then came out with an explosive retort, saying he will never be “suspended for match-fixing.” Conte served a four-month touchline ban in 2012 for failing to report his knowledge of an incident of attempted match-fixing during his time as Siena manager in 2011. The Italian was acquitted of any wrongdoing over the matter in 2016.
Conte again hit back, calling Mourinho a “little man” and “fake,” before offering to meet his rival coach “in a room” ahead of Sunday’s game.
Ultimately, that didn’t happen but there were no confrontations during the game, only the briefest of handshakes before kickoff and after the final whistle.
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80