Conte firmly rejects Mourinho's counter-attacking jibes
Jose Mourinho may have gotten under Antonio Conte's skin, with the Italian staunchly defending his style of play at Chelsea.
Antonio Conte has firmly rejected Jose Mourinho's suggestions that he has turned Chelsea into a counter-attacking team, but the Italian says his counterpart's barbs at the Blues should not affect his legend status at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho takes United to London on Monday in the FA Cup quarter-finals, having suffered a humiliating 4-0 reverse in October on his first return to the club since his sacking in 2015.
The Portuguese has appeared a frustrated figure as Conte has taken Chelsea to the top of the league, while he languishes outside the top four with United, despite going unbeaten since that Stamford Bridge hammering.
But Conte says Mourinho will not dilute his standing with the club, having led the to three Premier League titles, regardless of his jibes.
"Jose Mourinho wrote a good part of the history of Chelsea," Conte said. "He won a lot with the players. He did a great job here in Chelsea. It's important, always, not to forget this.
"I have great respect for him because he's a winner. I like his mentality. He has a winning mentality. For sure, he's one of the best in the world and, here, he did a great job. I think every single fan must respect him."
There was a suggestion that Mourinho may have gotten to the former Italy coach, however.
Mourinho said last month: "It looks like this season to be phenomenal defensively and good in counter attack is art." - a thinly veiled dig at admirers of Conte's team.
But the Italian says sitting on the back foot is the last thing on his mind.
"I have to tell you one thing," Conte said. "Not only here, but I never, ever, ever train for the counter-attack. Never prepare for the counter-attack. Never.
"I think the counter-attack is an option, above all, if you have this type of player, players who are very, very fast. Also [Diego] Costa is a counter-attacking man, and Willian and Pedro.
"It's normal to have this situation with space, so they know what they can do.
"For me, it's important to train the other aspects: when we have the ball, when we stay almost always in our opponents' half, to prepare when we are attacking.
"It's very difficult to train counter-attacking but it's not my priority."