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José Mourinho vs. Antonio Conte: Who is the better big game manager?

Mourinho’s middle name is winning. Or at least used to be...

Chelsea v Manchester United - The Emirates FA Cup Quarter-Final Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

José Mourinho was once known as the ultimate “big-game” manager, able to beat or least his team’s biggest rivals and toughest opponents. In his first stint at Chelsea, for example, he lost only 5 games in a little over three seasons to teams occupying one of the top six places in the Premier League. (Though, as the wins turned to draws, the mood soured, and we all know how that ended.)

For Mourinho, Chelsea’s dominance was not unique in his career. Friend of the blog Barrie, of the appropriately titled Barrie’s View blog did a deeper dive on The Special One’s record in these special matches and he’s kindly shared his findings with us. But be sure to check out his detailed game-by-game breakdown.

Mourinho’s record vs top 6 — with only 4 such wins in 16 games at his current station
source: Barrie’s View
Mourinho’s results against the top 6 since he joined United
source: Barrie’s View

Mourinho’s Home Record: During his time at Porto, Mourinho won all his home matches against the top 6, winning 70% of the matches in total. Moving on to his first stint at Chelsea, he won 67% of of the matches against top 6 that were played at Stamford Bridge and in his second stint, this number rose to 75%.

At Real Madrid and Inter, his home win record against the top 6 stood at 79% and 60% respectively. However, at Manchester United, this number has fallen to just 43%, clearly showing a decline.

Mourinho’s home/away win% against top six teams
source: Barrie’s View

Mourinho’s Away Record: Mourinho posted a 36% win record away from home at Porto. During his tenures at Chelsea, this number increased to 50% in the first stint while dropping massively to just 23% in his second stint, even after the famous wins at Etihad and Anfield during the 2013-14 season.

At Real Madrid, he enjoyed his best away win record at 63%, in a record 100-point La Liga-winning season. At Inter however he won only 30% of his away games against the top 6. And at United, as was the case with the home record, the situation is even worse with the 3-1 win away to Arsenal the only top 6 away win under his belt. In fact, if we remove the meme that is Arsenal FC, the results are quite shocking.

Unfortunately for us, Chelsea’s next game against United isn’t at Stamford Bridge but at Old Trafford where our record isn’t too good either. In fact, the last time we won there was back in 2012-13 (thanks to a Mata goal) but by then United had already wrapped up the title. Since then, Chelsea have played at Old Trafford 4 times in Premier League, drawing 3 times(0-0, 1-1, 0-0) and losing once — last season’s 2-0 loss under Conte. In fairness, a draw at Old Trafford is no small achievement, usually, and Chelsea’s record is relatively good at the Theatre of Dreams.

Having looked at Mourinho’s big game record, let’s take a quick gander at Antonio Conte’s as well. Is he worse, is he better, is he about the same as the only other manager he may actually consider a personal rival?

Conte’s record vs top 6

Conte enjoyed a Win percentage of 70%, 60% and 70% in his first 3 seasons at Juventus. That number has dropped to 50% and 33% in his time at Chelsea. That’s expected since the Premier League is the World’s Most Competitive League™.

But Conte’s Juve numbers do look good in comparison with Mourinho’s, who took over an Inter coming off of three consecutive Scudettos while Conte took over a Juventus who had finished seventh in consecutive seasons. Despite that, Mourinho only managed a 45% success rate against the Serie A’s top 6 (while winning the league both years).

Conte’s home/away win% against top six teams

Conte’s Home Record: We all knew Conte’s Juventus were dominant but the extent of the dominance far exceeds even the loftiest standards, especially at home. In 3 seasons at Juventus, Conte maintained a 100% win record against the rest of the top six at their home ground, winning an impressive 15 out of 15 games. At Chelsea, in the first season, we won 4 out of 5 games at Stamford Bridge, losing only once in the 2-1 loss to Liverpool. This season so far, the results haven’t been that impressive, winning 1 (Manchester United), drawing 1 (Arsenal) and losing 1 (Manchester City).

Conte’s Away Record: Strangely, Conte has always struggled away from home against the top 6. In 3 seasons at Juventus, Conte won only 33% of his games away from home, winning 5 out of 15. In his first season at Chelsea, this number dropped to just 1 out of 5 games — the 3-1 win against Manchester City — drawing once (Liverpool) and losing three times (Arsenal, Spurs and City). That said, this season Chelsea have yet to lose a “big game” in the league away from home, beating Spurs and drawing with Arsenal and Liverpool. The next two games will complete this set — maybe we can be a bit confident?

On paper, today’s Manchester United-Chelsea clash has all the makings of a tense, tight, and ultimately disappointing affair hat neither side can afford to lose, but neither side look all that capable of winning.

  • Mourinho, who clearly seems to be on a decline, has won only a quarter of his games against big teams at United.
  • Conte, while enjoying a stellar record at home, often disappoints away from home and this match is at Old Trafford, where he’s never won.
  • Chelsea have won 1 out of the last 7 games away to Manchester United.

However, games aren’t played on paper...

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