Though there is less tension going into Saturday’s FA Cup final which pitches Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho against Chelsea coach Antonio Conte, the game at Wembley is still a grudge match nonetheless.
With both managers desperately wanting to end the season with some form of silverware, it’s hard to fathom a game where so much anticipation and focus will be on what happens on the side-lines
as well as the pitch like yet again.
A grudge match like none other, where Conte and Mourinho would be keen, almost to a state of desperation on getting one over each other.
Right from Conte’s celebrations, seen as ‘histrionic’ by Mourinho, when Chelsea put four past Manchester United in October of
2016, the meeting in November last year that finished with no handshake between the two, right down to Mou’s comments over not celebrating like a clown, Conte’s jibes about ‘demenzia senile’, and the match-fixing pot shot as well, the mutual displeasure looks to have been brewing.
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On Saturday, when Chelsea take on United, it might be seen as a chance for either manager to laud
a victory over the other, even if they’ll naturally play it down as already being played out by Mourinho.
This will be the third time the sides have met in English football's showpiece.
In 1994, Alex Ferguson's United comfortably beat Chelsea 4-0 at Wembley.
But in 2007, Jose Mourinho's Chelsea beat United 1-0 with an extra-time winner from Didier Drogba.
The man who led Chelsea to victory in 2007, Jose Mourinho will be in the dug out
Saturday for Manchester United against his former club, Chelsea.
The two have promised to bury their verbal hatchets ahead of tomorrow's blockbuster.
This is one of the most evenly-matched FA Cup finals in recent memory, and another grudge match between old foes Mourinho and Conte.
Mourinho needs a trophy to put a positive spin upon an otherwise forgettable campaign, while this seems likely to be Conte's final game as Chelsea coach.
These two have met on five occasions in charge of these sides, with Conte's Chelsea winning three matches and Mourinho's United two.
After Chelsea's crushing 4-0 win in October 2016, Mourinho appears to have gradually worked out how to play against Chelsea's three-man defence
, which is partly why United start as favourites
The Italian manager is set to leave the club with a year left on his contract.
Conte won the Premier League in his first campaign in England, a considerable achievement that should have been the basis for Chelsea to kick on and challenge Manchester City at the top of the table this season. Instead, the London club slipped outside the Champions League qualification slots.
Conte must take his share of the blame. Even though recruitment did not match his expectations, the team has underperformed.
The energy and tactical flexibility that characterized his first season in charge faded and the players' performances reflected their manager's loss of vigour
. For all his justifiable complaints, the 48-year-old gave the impression that he was going through the motions.
Most of the responsibility for the club's regression lies in the boardroom, though. Chelsea's methods have produced a remarkable turnover of managers -- seven since 2010 -- but those inside the club suggest that this has been no barrier to success, something the trophy cabinet bears out:
This decade has brought three titles, two FA Cups, a League Cup, a Champions League and a Europe League.