Claudio Ranieri has declared any ill-feeling towards Jose Mourinho as “pre-history” and says he would happily share a bottle of wine with the Manchester United manager.
Mourinho succeeded Ranieri at Chelsea in 2004 and irked supporters of the Italian by claiming he had been considered “a loser” during his four years at Stamford Bridge.
A simmering war of words continued during their respective spells in Serie A, with Mourinho questioning Ranieri’s age and mentality as his Roma side lost out to the Portuguese coach’s treble-winning Inter in the 2009-10 title race.
Mourinho also claimed he would not trade the success he has enjoyed during his career for the shock Premier League title triumph masterminded by Ranieri with Leicester City last season.
However, as he prepares to take his side to Old Trafford for Saturday’s league meeting, Ranieri has dismissed the idea that there is any lingering animosity between the two – though he is keen to avenge August’s Community Shield defeat at Wembley.
“It’s fantastic, very good,” he said when asked to describe his relationship with Mourinho.
“No problems. It’s pre-history, not now. Maybe he has to offer me a good red wine. If he offers, I’ll go and drink with him.
“He’s a fantastic manager, clever, intelligent. Every manager has a big job to do. He’s a fantastic person and I wish him all the best. After Saturday, of course.
“When you change a coach, players, you need to work hard to complete your idea with the new players.
“When you play against these big teams, you don’t have an advantage. They beat us in the Community Shield and we want revenge.”
Speculation has mounted that Mourinho could drop captain Wayne Rooney for the game as a result of his poor recent form, but Ranieri remains an admirer of England’s record goalscorer.
“He’s an amazing player,” he said. “He’s a champion.”
He added of United’s young talents Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial: “Rashford is an amazing player, also Martial. They have very good young players. I don’t know his [Rashford’s] character, but his quality is amazing.”
Leicester sealed a 1-1 draw in the same fixture last season, a result that helped them to secure their stunning title triumph, and the 64-year-old says his players should relish another visit to Old Trafford rather than feel any nerves.
“We are in a good condition. We have to push a lot and keep the momentum going. We are working so hard, so well,” he said.
“We are fearless. Why should we be scared to go there? We enjoy it. [The crowd] is amazing, fantastic. I don’t want to go where there is just me and you!”
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