Antonio Conte wants to emulate the success of his Chelsea predecessor, Jose Mourinho, who he admits is ‘in the heart’ of Chelsea fans.
Mourinho, whose United side visit Stamford Bridge in Monday’s FA Cup quarter-final, won three Premier League titles, three League Cups and one FA Cup in two spells as Blues boss.
Conte is on course to claim the Premier League title in his first season and United stand in the way of a possible league and FA Cup double, an achievement which has evaded Mourinho.
And despite Mourinho being a rival, Conte asked for there to be no animosity towards the Portuguese.
“For sure, I hope in the future to try to emulate his wins here,” Conte said.
“I know very well he’s in the heart of Chelsea’s fans. It’s great this because he deserves this.
“I think Jose Mourinho wrote a good part of the history of Chelsea. It’s important, always, not to forget this.
“I have great respect for him because he’s a winner. I like his mentality. He has a winning mentality.
“For sure, he’s one of the best in the world and, here, he did a great job. I think every single fan must respect him.”
Mourinho’s biggest Premier League loss was inflicted on his return to Stamford Bridge with United last October, when Conte’s Blues won 4-0.
The self-proclaimed Special One afterwards rebuked Conte for geeing up the home crowd when Chelsea led by four goals. Mourinho reportedly described it as “humiliating”.
Conte, who insisted on Friday he would not tone down his exuberance, had faced Mourinho only once prior to this season, in a pre-season friendly when he was boss of Bari and the United boss was at Inter Milan. Bari lost 2-0.
After making changes in earlier FA Cup rounds, Conte hinted he would select his first-choice line-up for the visit of United as Chelsea’s next game, at Stoke in the Premier League, is five days later.
“I saw that, when you arrive at this level of the FA Cup, our championship stops to play FA Cup,” Conte said.
“I want to make the best decision for the game against United. I don’t see the necessity to rest someone.”
Momentum is important to Conte, whose side are seeking a club record 13th successive home win.
“That’s the idea in my mind, in my mentality. Winning helps you win,” Conte added.