Jose Mourinho has declared his “contempt” for Chelsea manager Antonio Conte as their public row continues to escalate.
The Manchester United manager has traded insults with Conte over the past two weeks, with their dispute becoming increasingly bitter.
Their enmity stretches back to early last season, with Mourinho accusing his Chelsea counterpart of humiliating him with the scale of his celebrations as United fell to a 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge in October 2016.
The two managers have continued to snipe at each other since then, but their comments have acquired more bite lately, beginning when Mourinho implied that Conte was a “clown”, although he later claimed he was not referring specifically to the Chelsea manager.
Conte then accused the United boss of going senile, with Mourinho responding by referring to the four-month suspension that Chelsea’s manager received in 2012 for failing to report match-fixing while at Siena. The Italian, who was cleared by a court of any wrongdoing in 2016, retorted by calling Mourinho a “little man”.
Now the United manager, whose side have just returned from a warm-weather training break in Dubai, has responded once more.
He said: “I think when a person insults another you can expect a response. Or you can expect contempt. The first time he insulted me I had a response, a response that I know that touched the point where he really feels hurt.
“Then he insulted me for a second time but now I change and now [I have] contempt. And for me contempt means the end of the story.”
Mourinho, whose side host Stoke in the Premier League on Monday, has refused to rule out a January move for Alexis Sanchez, describing the Arsenal forward as a “phenomenal” player.
But the Manchester United manager does not want to be drawn on his chances of beating Manchester City to a deal, saying it is not “ethical” to talk about another club’s player in such a way.
City are favourites to sign Sanchez, who is out of contract at the end of this season and has made clear he has no intention of staying at Arsenal.
Mourinho said: “I don’t know if it’s ethical or correct to be speaking about players of other clubs. If somebody speaks of one of my players to tell we are interested, I wouldn’t be very happy.
“Sanchez is an Arsenal player. Probably this weekend he is going to defend Arsenal colours so I don’t think it’s correct to say things about Alexis Sanchez.
“At the general level, what I can say is myself and the Manchester United board, and the owners, we don’t believe a lot in the January market. We don’t believe in signing a player just to sign a player, just to do something we don’t believe in that.
“What we believe really is there are some players in football world if you have the chance to sign them in January, March or July, you have to try and that’s it.
“But in relation to Alexis Sanchez, I don’t say a word. The only word I can say is he is a phenomenal player. Apart from that, he is an Arsenal player and I feel I shouldn’t say much more than this.”