Antonio Conte has praised predecessor Jose Mourinho’s impact at Chelsea but labelled him as the “enemy” ahead of his Stamford Bridge return.
Mourinho won his third Premier League title with Chelsea in May 2015 before his second spell came to an end seven months later, with the Blues perilously close to the relegation zone.
Since the Portuguese, who won two league titles in his first spell between June 2004 and September 2007 before returning in June 2013, has been appointed Manchester United manager and he will manage in opposition at Stamford Bridge.
“I have great respect for him,” said Chelsea head coach Conte, who was appointed Mourinho’s permanent successor in April and began his job in July.
“He won three championships and I think he was an important man for the club.
“I think he deserves a good reception, because he wrote with the club, with his players, with the staff part of the story of this club.
“When you win three championships, you remain in the heart of the fans. It’s normal.
“After the whistle, he becomes like the other players of Manchester United an enemy, in the sporting aspect.”