Eddie Howe: Mourinho and Conte fine to defend themselves in feud

Eddie Howe has refused to rule out employing the kind of mind games that have dominated the recent spat between Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho.

Chelsea boss Conte vowed he would not forget criticism from Mourinho, also branding his Manchester United counterpart a "little man."

Mourinho had earlier escalated the duo's feud by claiming he would never be "suspended for match-fixing," referencing Conte's four-month suspension at Juventus for failing to report match-fixing at previous club Siena. In that Italian football case, Conte was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

Bournemouth manager Howe conceded he would be willing to depart from his measured demeanour to dip into the well-established tradition of mind games -- but only if absolutely necessary.

"It would be foolish of me to say I wouldn't do that, because I would always protect my players and the club," said Howe. "So never say never, you just don't know what situation you'll be put in with your team.

"You may find yourself needing to protect your team, your club. But I don't necessarily think it's in my nature to court that kind of media coverage.

"I'm just intrigued really to look at it from my perspective as a manager, and to analyse it that way.

"I think it's a way of just trying to get leverage for future games. I think it's always related to their own team, they are doing it for a way to motivate their team.

"I think like everyone else I've been listening to and watching it. I wouldn't take it too seriously or personally.

"It's two people at the top of the game perhaps trying to score psychological points, preparing their team for battle against future opponents.

"So I wouldn't read too much into it. It's entertaining, but I don't think it's too personal."

Bournemouth will host Arsenal at Dean Court in Sunday's early Premier League clash, with Howe paying tribute to long-serving Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.

"I've got huge respect for the man, for everything he's done for Arsenal, and I enjoy seeing him," said Howe, of Wenger. "It's incredible, 21 years at one club, and what he's achieved.

"The job is about winning, and that never leaves you, as a player, a manager, it's the buzz that makes the job. It is an incredible achievement, I don't think any words I say will do it justice."