‘He was copying our tactics!’: Chris Wilder jokes Antonio Conte stole his Sheffield United tactics

‘He was copying our tactics!’: Chris Wilder jokes that Antonio Conte stole his Sheffield United blueprint when he was Chelsea boss as Middlesbrough manager pays a glowing tribute to the Spurs manager before their FA Cup showdown

  • Ex-Blades boss Chris Wilder joked Conte took inspiration from his 3-5-2 system
  • Wilder told Conte at an awards evening that his Chelsea side was copying him
  • The Boro boss thought Conte may not have been in the dugout for Tuesday’s tie

Middlesbrough boss Chris Wilder comes up against Antonio Conte and Spurs in the FA Cup on Tuesday evening admitting he once accused the Italian of stealing his tactics.

Wilder was in charge of Sheffield United and deploying a 3-5-2 system with overlapping centre-backs when he encountered the-then Chelsea manager.

‘I said to him at an awards evening once that he was copying us!’ revealed Wilder. ‘But he’s a world-class manager, just look at his record.

Chris Wilder has joked that Antonio Conte stole his tactics ahead of their FA Cup meeting

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‘One thing you see is that he has an incredible passion to help his team and club. Everybody goes about it a different way, but his record speaks for itself.’

Wilder, like everyone, suspected Conte may not have been in the dugout at the Riverside Stadium following his post-match comments at Burnley last week.

But the Boro manager has defended his opposite number, who had called his own future into question after the 1-0 defeat at Turf Moor.

‘He speaks his mind and from the heart. He finds it difficult to not be himself, which is how people want to see it,’ he added.

‘I love watching his teams play and his connection with his players and enthusiasm. When they went to Man City and got that late win, you saw his reaction, he is here to win. He is what he is. It’s up to other people to deal with that.’

Meanwhile, Wilder says he should not have to rally his players for the fifth-round tie despite their demoralising 3-2 defeat at Barnsley on Saturday.

‘I’m not an entertainer, I’m not a comedian. I don’t have to sing a song to them to get the mood up!’ he said. ‘If you can’t get motivated for Spurs at home in the FA Cup, then go and do something else.’

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