Jose Mourinho largely refrained from hitting back at Antonio Conte over an unflattering remark about the Manchester United manager’s most recent departure from Stamford Bridge, the boss of the Red Devils sufficing himself instead with what may have been a sly reference to the Italian’s elaborately restored hairline.
As Chelsea prepare to try and retain the crown they earned last term, Conte warned his players they will need to “avoid a Mourinho season”, referring to the infamous 2015-16 campaign.
The Blues finished 10th under caretaker Guus Hiddink that term, Mourinho having been sacked before Christmas amid a succession of nightmare performances.
Speaking after United’s 3-0 friendly win over Valerenga on Sunday, the Portuguese was reluctant to return fire directly, although he did perhaps squeeze in a subtle acknowledgement of the efforts made by the previously follicly-challenged Juventus and Italy player.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“I could answer in many different ways but I’m not going to lose my hair to speak about Antonio Conte.”