Their exploits in the Europa League last week, mixed with their Premier League schedule has left Jose Mourinho a frustrated figure. If Chelsea can get past London rival Tottenham in the semifinal, it will play either Manchester City or Arsenal.
He said: “It was professional from us, we controlled the game when we needed to”.
“I don’t think that I’m insane and I see only him in this situation”. It is the FA Cup, it is one game.
“It was a good performance against a strong team with good players”, said Conte, who was involved with an angry touchline confrontation with Jose Mourinho shortly after Herrera was sent off ten minutes before half-time.
“We can not go with Nicky Butt’s team [ie players from the under-23 team, managed by Butt]”.
FatigueChelsea’s hopes of securing a club record 13th successive home win may have been boosted by the contrasting preparations the two teams have had this week.
Ahead of the Europa League last sixteen second leg tie against Rostov on Thursday night, Mourinho has clearly heard enough criticism of the 24-year-old, and has hit back at what he perceives as jealousy from pundits.
Both of N’Golo Kante’s goals for Chelsea have come against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.
Conte, meanwhile, was furious with United’s no-holds-barred approach.
Not only did Kante dominate against Manchester United’s Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba, but he scored the game’s only goal with a lovely 25-yard drive. They play a greater brand of football than some might normally associate with teams managed by the Portuguese, but they have also developed the toughness and durability of a typical Jose side. “But for sure it will be a really tough game for us and for them”.
Conte was infuriated by what he perceived as United’s persistent targeting of Hazard in the first half, while Mourinho afterwards pointed to Herrera’s dismissal as the moment that tilted the match decisively in Chelsea’s favour.
“Probably because in that time they were not getting 10 per cent of the money he was getting”.
There won’t be any league trophy in Mourinho’s hands in May, with United sinking to sixth place in his first season in charge.
“José Mourinho wrote a good part of the history of Chelsea”, he said.
“But I don’t want to go in that direction”. I don’t think I’m insane.
“I controlled the emotions very well”.
But Mourinho believes such adversity can bring United – and supporters – closer together.