Jose Mourinho has taunted Antonio Conte by claiming he has had an easy ride in his first season in England.
Conte has taken Chelsea to the brink of the Premier League title, but Mourinho warned he won’t have it so easy next season when the Blues are in the Champions League.
Mourinho, who takes his Manchester United side to his former club in the FA Cup tonight, claims Chelsea’s lack of involvement in Europe has handed them a clear path to the title.
The remarks are likely to rile Conte and could lead to a fresh row with Mourinho, with the pair having already clashed earlier this season.
Mourinho took exception to Conte’s wild celebrations during Chelsea’s 4-0 win over United last October and rebuked the Italian at the final whistle.
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The pair could now be set for a new bust-up after Mourinho, sacked by Chelsea last season, said: “The most difficult thing to have is time to work – and they have time to work.
“I know he said a couple of weeks ago it’s not his fault they’re not in the European competitions, it’s my fault and the players’ fault.
“But the reality is that he got in his hands a situation where they have time to work, time to rest, time to relax, time to disconnect.
“They have time to travel, time to have holidays, time to go to America and enjoy America for a couple of days, they have time for all of these things.
“So they’re in a position of privilege, the same privilege that Liverpool had a couple of years ago when they almost won the Premier League.”
Mourinho also claimed Conte had used his blueprint for success at Chelsea, one that saw him win three Premier League titles before he was sacked in his second spell.
“I don’t want to say that they don’t deserve credit for it,” said Mourinho. “They choose a certain style of play that I think is very adapted to the qualities of these players.
“They defend a lot and well, and they counter-attack and kill opponents on the counter-attack, similar to my Chelsea.
“The difference is they play with five at the back and I played four at the back, but it’s the same criteria – a very strong team to defend and a team that kills on the counter-attack.
“They’re doing very, very well and that’s why they’re going to be champions, easily.”
Mourinho insists there will be no conflict of emotion when he returns to Stamford Bridge again for the third time as an opposing boss.
“I’m focused on United and I know the work I did there,” said Mourinho.
“I know what I did, but I’m the kind of guy that I move and have no regrets and I’m not looking for bad feelings at all.
“Am I sadder to lose against Chelsea than against another team? No. Am I happier to win against Chelsea than another team? No.
“So for me it’s just a game that comes in the wrong moment for us, because the Europa League is a competition that can give us a Champions League spot.
“The FA Cup isn’t, so the Europa League is more important for us.”