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Jose Mourinho claims 'contempt' for verbal spat with Antonio Conte

MANCHESTER -- Jose Mourinho says he only has "contempt" for his war of words with Antonio Conte after two weeks of trading insults with the Chelsea boss.

The Manchester United manager said he did not need to "act like a clown" on the touchline, prompting Conte to hit back by claiming Mourinho could be suffering from "senile dementia" having "forgotten his past."

In response, Mourinho referenced Conte's four-month ban for failing to report match fixing in 2012 -- a punishment that was ultimately rescinded in 2016 -- before the Italian struck back by branding Mourinho "fake" and a "small man."

Mourinho told a news conference on Friday: "I think when a person insults another, you can expect a response.

"Or you can expect contempt, silence.

The war of words between Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte has raged on for the past two weeks.

"The first time he insulted me I had a response, a response that I know that touched the point where he really feels hurt.

"Then he insulted me for a second time, but now I change, and now contempt and for me, contempt means end of the story."

Mourinho was speaking after returning from a five-day trip to Dubai with the squad ahead of Monday night's Premier League clash with Stoke City at Old Trafford.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was not part of the group that travelled to the UAE as he continues his recovery from a knee injury.

The 36-year-old has missed the last three games and is not expected back in training until the end of January at the earliest.

Mourinho added: "Zlatan is injured or is not totally happy with his condition.

"He fought like a tiger, like he likes to say, to be back, which he did. He was starting having minutes here and there and had a start and had 60 minutes in one game, start another one and had 45 and he was not happy with his feelings.

"He consulted other doctors, other opinions and we all make the decision to stop, treatment, and when [he's] feeling really good come back to the work.

"The date for him to be back to training with the team was around end of January, beginning of February, so let's hope his feelings are better and we have him with us as soon as possible."

Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.

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