Whether Mourinho meant them or not, his latest comments about a “very defensive” Chelsea who are only winning because of “counter-attack goals” and “set piece goals” — we certainly could’ve used either one of those earlier on Sunday! — have been taken as jibes at his old team. At the very least, they were back-handed compliments, while also continuing Mourinho’s private battle against the English media about the amount of recognition he is or isn’t getting.
Unfortunately for Jose, as we learned all too clearly a couple years ago during the #CostaCrimes episode, waging a war of words against the media is rather difficult when they are the ones in control of the words. So Mourinho’s comments back then about the media suspending Costa were turned into comments against the referees and The FA. And this time, his words, whether truly complimentary or not, have been reported as jibes. Let the records show.
And so, they were relayed to Conte via a question in the post-match press conference. But the new Chelsea head coach wasn’t about to get embroiled in any of this with the old Chelsea head coach.
“I don't like to reply to the other coaches. I don't like this joking. He's playing. I have the experience to understand this.”
-Antonio Conte; source: ESPN
The actual phrase that Conte used was “jokey play”, which is rather amusing. Homie don’t play that jokey play!
Mourinho and Conte already had a bit of an episode in the game at Stamford Bridge, when Mourinho took exception to Conte’s arm-waving on the touchline. And now we have this nonsense added to the proceedings, whether we like it or not. This is what Mourinho’s always been good at. Conte may ignore it as much as he wants, but the beast of narrative cannot be so easily slain.