Fabrizio Ravanelli believes Antonio Conte is the best coach around - at the Special One’s expense.
Juventus hit a bump in the road to their third straight Serie A title on Sunday evening, succumbing to defeat to Rafael Benitez’s Napoli at the San Paolo.
Luckily for Conte and company, however, the Bianconeri had already set up a contingency plan. The defeat leaves to the Turin giants still 11 points clear at the top of the table.
Chasers Roma and Napoli will continue to dream, of course. But don’t expect them to reach the summit by any means in the run-in.
The last time Juventus lost in the Italian top flight before Sunday was in late October to Fiorentina. They would go on to win 20 of their next 22 league contests in the aftermath - dropping just four points on the way.
Conte has built a machine during his time at Vinovo, in short, setting the standard in Serie A.
And Ravanelli sees his former Juventus team-mate as the cream of the crop on the bench at present - drawing some lofty comparisons.
“Antonio is the best of the best, better than Benitez and many others,” he told Tuttosport. “He’s even better than Mourinho.
“What he has been able to achieve with Juventus is beyond what anyone else has done.
“If he stays, then he can win another five or six Scudetti in a row.
“Conte is the Leo Messi or the Cristiano Ronaldo of managers.”
Conte and Benitez have already exchanged in a war of words after their sides came to blows at the weekend.
Beyond this row, you could bet Mourinho would take personal issue with ex-Derby County and Middlesbrough man Ravanelli for his statements.
Seven league titles, two Champions League victories and myriad other honours make Mourinho what he is today - one of the best around, even if he is a character that divides opinion.
As for Conte, he has a bit of catching up to do in the silverware department to earn the exalted status that Ravanelli has handed him at the Portuguese’s expense - a pair of Serie A titles, two Italian Super Cups and a Serie B crown to his credit.
The Italian’s tenure with the Old Lady has been impressive indeed, but there’s still plenty of the tale left to be told. And it may be a disservice to the contentious Mourinho to place Conte out in front at this point.
This is one comparison that would be better delayed a few years to see how it all plays out. Neither man is anywhere close to being finished, and Conte has a mountain to climb to catch up.
Such statements are perhaps a bit premature from Ravanelli.
Doubtless Mourinho would like to have a word with the Italian should the news trickle down to him. But his attention right now will firmly be fixed on reigniting Chelsea’s title charge and slipping past PSG to the Champions League semi-finals - looking to add more winner's medals to his collection.