Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has played down any friction between himself and Jose Mourinho ahead of the Premier League clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.
United manager Mourinho won three league titles with Chelsea but had a touchline spat with Conte when Chelsea defeated United 4-0 in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge.
“We have great respect for his history with this club,” Conte said during his pre-match press conference on Friday.
“It is normal for there to be a conflict during the game but it is only a sporting conflict.
“I don’t see no problem in our relationship, it is only a sportive competition between me and him.”
Conte’s side are 18 points ahead of their hosts, but the Italian still expects a tough time.
“We will face a really strong team, physically and technically,” he added. “It is a massive game for us and United.
“United want to find a place in the Champions League.”
Conte has never coached a team at Old Trafford but was part of the Juventus side that met United in the semi-finals of the 1998/1999 Champions League, when the Red Devils went on to win the treble.
“As a player I remember a semi-final of the Champions League, we drew 1-1, I scored,” Conte said.
“It was a great goal and Ryan Giggs equalised in the last minute.” United won the second leg 3-2 in Turin.
Conte added: “I think my players are the best in the world, it must be so, for United there are a lot of top players, they are United players.
“Zlatan is one of the best players in the world right now. We must have good defensive organisation and pay attention because when he attacks the box, he is dangerous.”
Conte has refused to make a personal choice between Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante for who should be crowned PFA Player of the Year as every Chelsea player is having a great season.
Former winner Hazard, who picked up the award two years ago when Chelsea last won the Premier League title, was joined by his team-mate on the six-man shortlist along with Harry Kane, Alexis Sanchez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku.
When asked who he would like to see win, Conte told reporters at his Friday’s press conference: “We are fighting for the title and we’ll fight until the end. This is our target.
“I don’t like to make a choice between my players. All my players are having a great season and deserve the best. I’m pleased.
“I think it’s great for them, a great achievement. I hope for them to be the best player of the year.”
The winner will be announced on Sunday, April 23.
Conte also revealed that has a full complement of his players to pick from as Chelsea face Manchester United on Sunday meaning Super Eagles forward Victor Moses will likely play in his right wing back role for the league leaders.
“No concerns. One or two situations to check, but no injuries,” Conte said.
“The situations are good, but I think we have another day to make the best decision for the team. I want to wait to tell you it is alright.”
Chelsea have beaten United in both meetings so far winning 4-0 in October and 1-0 in the FA Cup last month.
But Mourinho will be desperate for points on Sunday with United chasing down a place in the top four.