EDDIE Howe admitted he had been fascinated by the spat between Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte and said: "It's two people trying to win psychological points."

Manchester United boss Mourinho and Chelsea manager Conte have long history of barbs which have intensified since the turn of the year.

In the latest episode, Mourinho stated he had "contempt" for Conte after the Italian branded him "fake" and a "little man".

Reflecting on the feud, Howe said: "Like everybody else, I've been listening to it and watching it. I'm intrigued to look at it from a managerial perspective and to analyse it that way.

"I wouldn't take it too seriously or personally. It's two people at the top of the game trying to win psychological points and preparing their teams for battles against future opposition.

"I don't read too much into it. It's entertaining for everyone to see and read but I don't think it's too personal.

"I think they are doing it to motivate their teams at all times."

Asked if he would employ a similar tactic, Howe added: "Never say never. You don't know if you will be put in a situation where you have to protect yourself, your team or your club.

"It would be foolish of me to say I wouldn't do that because I would. I would always protect my players, my club and what I thought was right.

"But I don't think it's necessarily in my nature to court that kind of media coverage."

Mourinho's comment that he did not feel the need to behave like a " clown" during games appeared to hit a nerve with Conte.

The remark sparked an extraordinary war of words, with Conte accusing Mourinho of having senile dementia, prompting the United boss to hit back by appearing to allude to a four-month suspension Conte served in relation to match-fixing.

Conte, who was later cleared of any wrongdoing on that front, responded by accusing Mourinho of being "fake" and "a little man".

Speaking yesterday, Mourinho said: "I think when a person insults another, you can expect a response or you can expect contempt, silence.

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

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