Chelsea may have produced a masterful performance to hand Jose Mourinho his heaviest defeat in English football on Sunday, but thanks to the former Chelsea manager's post-match tactics -- much better than in his in-game tactics! -- the major talking point in the media was the exchange between the two managers after the final whistle.
Mourinho, seemingly not a believer in the adage of "if you can dish it out, you should be able to take it", apparently* felt "humiliated" as Antonio Conte urged on the Stamford Bridge crowd to cheer for the home team in the last few minutes of the game.
* Ed.note: There was an interesting take on all this from Ken Early on the Second Captains Podcast. Remember, for example, when people called it disrespectful that Mourinho went to shake hands before the final whistle? We played that down as just silliness from Jose, but if he really does think Conte was trying to humiliate him personally on Sunday, he most certainly intended his own handshake shenanigans and a sign of humiliation as well! Oh, Jose...
This was still a topic of discussion in today's press conference, with Conte having to answer inane questions about how his "behaviour" on Sunday could affect the West Ham fans tomorrow, or some such.
"I think that everyone must show respect for me, for my work, for my job. Every game I show myself, not only in one game. I have history and you can see my past, my behaviour. It’s normal - I’m a passionate man. I showed this in the past."
"I want to stay close with my players, to play with them and also in situations when we are suffering. But I always show respect for the opponent and my history shows this."
Conte tried his best to diverge back to real issues, you know, the football match against West Ham for a place in the League Cup quarterfinals.
"I think in this moment it’s not important to talk again about a game that for me, for my players, for the club is the past. United is the past, now it’s important to be focused on tomorrow’s game against West Ham."
"I’m pleased for the performance of my players against United because we played a good game, with good intensity. But it’s important for us to be focused on the present, not the past, to build something for the present and the future."
"We know that this for sure is a tough game against a big rival like West Ham and we played also against them in the League [and got a 2-1 win in August]. I remember a tough game."
"But I repeat: we are ready, all the players are ready to play a good game. I hope to see a good atmosphere. I know that these two teams are big rivals, but in England the atmosphere during the game is fantastic."
-Antonio Conte; Source: London Evening Standard
Chelsea won that first game thanks to a late-late goal from Diego Costa, who got onto the end of a header won by substitute Michy Batshuayi. The young backup striker is expected to play from the start tomorrow, with Conte tipping him for success.
"The confidence for Michy must be high because he’s a young player. He can make big improvements; he has great quality in the technical and physical aspect. He’s working very well. He’s started two games and I have full confidence in him."
"I’m sure if he plays he will have a good game. When you are in a great team and you have the possibility to work every day with great players and learn a lot of things it’s very good for him. We trust in him a lot. He must continue to work and exploit the moments he plays."
Another young player who will be ready soon (hopefully) for the first-team is French defender Kurt Zouma, who made his return to the pitch yesterday in a Chelsea U23 game against Derby County in the Premier League 2 development league. Conte was happy to see Zouma back in action after missing nearly nine months with a torn ACL.
"I’m pleased about [his return] because Zouma is a young player but a good player. After the West Ham game, I hope to see him working with us in training. I’m very happy he played with the Under-23s and he had a good response in terms of the physical aspect."
-Antonio Conte; Source: Chelsea FC
Win or lose, Cup games like the one on Wednesday provide a great opportunity for young players such as Batshuayi and Zouma to get more first team experience under their belt, especially with Chelsea's lighter than normal schedule otherwise. Winning of course is doubly beneficial, providing even more opportunities while getting Chelsea closer to some silverware.