MILAN, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Juventus coach Antonio Conte ducked out of further conflict with Fabio Capello on Wednesday, saying he wanted to concentrate on football.
Italian football has been shaken by the controversy involving two of its biggest characters, the feisty Conte and stern former AC Milan, Juventus, AS Roma, Real Madrid and England coach Capello.
"I request the courtesy of just talking about football on the playing field," Conte told a news conference on Wednesday on the eve of the Europa League match against Trabzonspor.
"We're starting a very hectic phase which includes the title race decision and the knockout stages in Europe. If we want to go forward, we have to think just about football. In the next 52 days, we will play 16 games, nearly one every three days."
The disagreement began when Conte cancelled a day off for his team after they squandered a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw at Verona on Feb 9. Capello said he would never have done such a thing and would have attempted to use dialogue and reasoning to improve the team's performance.
Conte replied with a furious outburst following his side's 3-1 win over Chievo on Sunday.
"Other great former black-and-white coaches, such as Marcello Lippi and Giovanni Trapattoni are respectful and educated regarding other people's work," said Conte, who then sarcastically referred to Capello as a "guru".
"It seems that when a football guru (Capello) speaks out we should all be silent and pay reverence."
Conte, a former Juve midfielder, also said that Capello, currently coach of Russia's World Cup team, enjoys "sticking his nose into Juventus business."
Conte has won successive Serie A titles in his first two seasons in charge and his side are on course for another scudetto holding a nine-point lead over AS Roma. (Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Rex Gowar) )