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Conte re-ignites Mourinho feud

Antonio Conte has reignited his war of words with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

The Italian and Portuguese coaches have been trading blows in the media ever since Conte replaced Mourinho as Chelsea’s permanent manager in the summer of 2016.

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Conte led the Blues to the Premier League title during his first season in English football, a feat all the more impressive considering that Mourinho had left the London club struggling to finish in the top half of the table. Despite having won the League under the Portuguese boss in the previous season, Chelsea would ultimately go on to finish in 10th in 2015/16, something which Conte has publicly called ‘the Mourinho season.’

However, it hasn’t been all plain sailing for Antonio Conte this term, who has seemingly struggled to get the best out of last season’s champions, with a fifth placed finish looking the most likely scenario heading into the final round of Premier League fixtures.

Speaking ahead of the Blues’ final game against Newcastle on Sunday, Conte said that the Premier League always offers the possibility of missing out on Champions League football:

“You must know that there is this possibility, because you play in a strong league.

“For this reason, you have to know this and prepare in the right way. There are six top teams at the start of the season ready to fight for a place in the Champions League.

“It can happen. In the past, it happened the same. Don’t forget two years ago, Chelsea ended the season 10th and not in the FA Cup final, not in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup, and they were eliminated in the last 16 against PSG in the Champions League.

“It can happen.

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“Last season, after a 10th place, we won the league. It was difficult. We worked very hard, but we won. After a 10th place finish.

“Now, probably, you can finish fifth and start with a bit of an advantage compared to when you finish 10th.”

Asked if he thought Chelsea had avoided “the Mourinho season”, the Italian responded testily: “This is not my task to tell this. I’m the last person to judge my work.

“My task is to work, to do my job in the best possible way with these players for the fans.

“Last season, after a 10th place, we won the league. It was difficult. We worked very hard, but we won. After a 10th place finish.

“Now, probably, you can finish fifth and start with a bit of an advantage compared to when you finish 10th.”

Asked if he thought Chelsea had avoided “the Mourinho season”, the Italian responded testily: “This is not my task to tell this. I’m the last person to judge my work.

“My task is to work, to do my job in the best possible way with these players for the fans.

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