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Soccer: Juve boss Conte in war of words with Capello

'Not much good football' during Russia boss's stint in Turin

17 February, 17:21
Soccer: Juve boss Conte in war of words with Capello (By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) - Rome, February 17 - The mood at Juventus at the moment should be relaxed and cheerful after the reigning champions beat Chievo Verona 3-1 on Sunday to consolidate their grip on the Serie A top spot.

Instead the Turin giants are racked by tension caused by a war of words between current boss Antonio Conte and former coach Fabio Capello, who is now in charge of the Russian national team.

The source of the row is Capello's criticism of Conte's decision to cancel a scheduled rest day for his squad in punishment after they squandered a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw at Verona eight days ago.

"I've never been in favour of this sort of thing," said Capello, a former Juventus player who was in charge of the club from 2004 to 2006. "I've never given punishments. It's not part of my way of thinking," added the 67-year-old, whose comments contrasted with his reputation for being a strict disciplinarian.

"I like to reason, talk and find solutions".

Capello, who has coached AC Milan, Real Madrid, AS Roma and England, also irked Conte by saying Juve had not done better in European soccer recently because the level of competition they face in Serie A is not high enough.

Conte hit back by blasting Capello's stint in Turin, when Juve won two Serie A titles that they were subsequently stripped of for involvement in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal in 2006.

"I accept everything. I listen to everything and I make my decisions," Conte said after the home win over Chievo.

"I heard a referendum about this issue, including from people in the game. "If people ask me something like that about others, I respond - ask me a more intelligent question please.

"Some people should mind their own business instead of dealing with other people's homes. "It's their home where the stink is... From Capello's two years (at Juve) I remember two titles, not much good football, and then two championships that were revoked". There have never been any implication that Capello was involved in any wrongdoing in relation to the match-fixing scandal. Conte's comments were interpreted by some as acknowledgement that the 2004-2005 and 2005-06 Serie A titles do not belong to Juve, something the club has never accepted.

He subsequently clarified that this was not what he meant, saying Juve won those championships "with merit".

But he insisted that Capello was interfering, suggesting he may be envious of the success Conte is having in Turin.

Juve are aiming to win their third consecutive Serie A crown this season since the 44-year-old took charge in 2011.

"Now that's he's not here, we are playing in an amateur championship," Conte said.

"Since I've been at Juve, he's been sticking his beak in our business. Maybe the statistics that speak in my favour bother him". Some soccer pundits have suggested Conte may have stirred up the controversy deliberately to instill a siege mentality in his side and stop complacency seeping in.

Juve hold a nine-point advantage over second-placed AS Roma who, however, have a game in hand.

Conte launched a similar attack on Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola last year when the Spanish coach commented on Juve's transfer spending.

Judging by comments on Monday by Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci, if Conte wanted to get his squad behind him, he was successful.

"This current Juventus side reflects the (characteristics of the) coach and this is fortunate for us," he said.

An intense, athletic, tactically astute player, Conte was a midfield centrepiece of the Juve side that won five Serie A titles and a Champions League between 1992 and 2004.

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