Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte admits he is unable to count any Premier League colleagues as friends since compatriot Claudio Ranieri left Leicester City last season.
The latest chapter of Conte and Jose Mourinho’s tetchy relationship will be played out on Sunday, when Manchester United visit Stamford Bridge.
But the former Italy coach, who said he wanted his players to “suffer” in order to find a response to Tuesday’s chastening 3-0 Champions League reverse at Roma, concedes he has no managerial ally in the Premier League to serve as a counterpoint to Mourinho or any other troublesome opponent.
Asked whether he could call any other Premier League managers a friend, Conte told reporters: “Honestly, I think not now, no. Before, I had a really good relationship with Claudio Ranieri.
“After the FIFA awards for the best coach and the best player [in London last month], we went for a dinner with our wives.
“But I think it’s very difficult to speak about ‘friendship’ with other coaches because then they become an opponent.
“You can have respect, respect for the job and the work, but to speak about friendship is very difficult.”
Conte is similarly unconcerned over the closeness or otherwise of his relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich despite heading into a tough weekend fixture nine points behind league leaders Manchester City.
“My relationship is the same as last season. I don’t see a difference between this season and last season,” Conte said, with Abramovich having paid a visit to Chelsea’s Cobham training base this week.
“I know I have to do my job. My only worry is to do my job with all myself.
“I repeat, I’m doing my job in this way. So, for this reason, when I finish my work here and go home, I’m satisfied with what I’m doing this season for this club.”
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