London, March 12 (IANS) Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has asserted that he will persist with his exuberant celebrations when his team meets Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-finals here on Monday.
Conte was at the centre of a controversy last October when Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho accused him of trying to humiliate him with his over the top celebrations during Chelsea’s 4-0 win.
“I think I’ve shown in my period at Chelsea, but not only here — always, in every team I’ve managed — that I live the game with great passion,” the Chelsea manager was quoted as saying by the Guardian on Friday.
“Sometimes I want to share my enthusiasm with my players, my staff and also the fans. It’s normal. We are not in the same way. But for me the most important thing is to try and win, and then think about another celebration.”
Mourinho has a habit of trying to psyche out his opponents before a game, but Conte asserted he remains focussed with what will happen on the pitch.
“The most important thing is what happens on the pitch. To prepare the team in the right way, with good organisation. This is the most important thing. To talk football. To think about my team, to try through work to improve my players. These are the most important things for me and for every coach,” the former Italy international said.
“My players and I are focused on the game on the pitch, on the work, and to try and improve every day. The mind games, they’re strange, no? It’s strange to ask me this. I’m very focused on the pitch. The mind games don’t help you to win.”
Chelasea are in superb form this season and are currently leading the English Premier League (EPL) table while sixth placed Manchester United are trailing them by 17 points.
But Conte expects a tough challenge when the teams lock horns at the Stamford Bridge Stadium on Monday evening.
“In October, before the game, I was sure we would face a great team. The same now. I think Manchester United, with City, have the best squad in the league. They have a number of great players with great talent and great experience to win. It can be a really tough game, for us and for them,” he said.
“I think that now, for us, it’s better. In October we didn’t know our future. Now we are in March and we stay on top of the table. We have a good identity, a good team. So we are showing good football. But it will be a really tough game against United. We are facing a good team, very strong.”