Antonio Conte has warned Jose Mourinho and any other manager that takes exception to his methods that he is ready to fight for himself and Chelsea, stating his improving grasp of English will only help his cause.
This week, Manchester United boss Mourinho was perceived to have taken a dig at Conte and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp when he stated he prefers to act in a “mature” manner on the touchline, as opposed to “crazy” or like “a clown”.
The Italian hit back at those comments at a pre-match news conference for the Blues’ FA Cup third-round tie against Norwich City, claiming the Portuguese was suffering from amnesia and that his antics in the dugout used to be overexuberant.
The former Juventus boss also took exception to Arsene Wenger’s complaints over the awarding of a penalty to Chelsea in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal on Wednesday, and believes the Frenchman would not have complained had he seen the decisions that went in the Gunners’ favour.
When quizzed on why he believes other managers target him, Conte said he cannot pin-point a reason – but fired a warning that he will not take it lying down.
“I don’t know because in my one year and a half I never talk about other coaches or if I did, only to make compliments,” he said.
“If I saw a well-organised team normally when I spoke about another coach it is only to make compliments, otherwise I stay silent, but in this situation you must have respect and I think I do this.
“But at the same time I am starting to get a bit annoyed because once, twice [people speak about me].
“For this reason, if you want to fight with me, I am ready. I am improving a bit my English because this is the real problem for me, otherwise we can go to fight.
“I’m ready to fight for me, my players, the club, with everyone, I have no problem.”
Conte was critical of Chelsea’s work in the previous transfer window, both for a lack of additions and the speed it took in getting deals over the line.
This time around, Chelsea have acted swiftly to bring in Ross Barkley – who reportedly changed his mind over a move to Stamford Bridge on the last deadline day – from Everton for a fee believed to be £15million.
Barkley has not played this season due to a hamstring injury and Conte is yet to assess when he will be fit to feature, but is confident the Blues have signed a “complete player”.
“I have to still see him and then we have the opportunity to work together and understand how much time he needs,” he added.
“We are talking about a player with great potential. He is a complete player, but at the same time he is very young and he has just started his career and now, I repeat, if he signs for the club and has this great opportunity to play in a great club with ambition and great targets and also to put yourself in this new challenge.
“[He is a complete] player because he has it all. He has stamina, strong physically, good technique and is a complete player. He is a modern footballer.”