Manchester United boss, Louis Van Gaal, has lavished praise on his opposite number, Jose Mourinho, ahead of their Premier League clash on Sunday.
Mourinho’s unbeaten Chelsea side travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United for the first time this season with a 10-point advantage over their illustrious rivals. The two coaches are old friends though; when Van Gaal was managing Barcelona he decided to make Mourinho a part of his back-room team.
This was one of the key reasons why Mourinho was able to prosper in his role to such an extent, and he has since picked up 20 major trophies in his career. Mourinho always makes a point to insist that it was because of Van Gaal and another former Barcelona manager, Bobby Robson, that he has become the manager that he is.
However, when asked about his role in Mourinho’s life, Van Gaal downplayed any suggestions that he was pivotal in his progression. Instead, the Dutch manager noted that his rival had done it all by himself, and that he shouldn’t have any praise for the accolades that Mourinho has acquired.
“He talks about me and Bobby Robson and I appreciate that, but you always do it by yourself. He’s such a wonderful coach. And to see that he’s been a champion in different countries is fantastic. He’s very special but he is very special for me because we’ve continued our relationship, which in the football world is not always normal. That’s nice.”
Mourinho and Van Gaal originally met around 17 years ago. However, despite the fact that the duo have both gone on to have illustrious managerial careers, in this period of time their paths have only ever crossed once. This came in 2010, when Mourinho’s Inter Milan defeated Van Gaal’s Bayern Munich side by two goals to nil to life the Champions League trophy.
During his press conference ahead of his side’s trip to Old Trafford, Mourinho also praised his opposite number too. He also made sure to declare that even though Van Gaal is now “an opponent,” he still thinks of him as one of the best managers to ever grace the world of soccer.
“Everybody knows the respect I have for him. I never hide the respect, the relationship and the fact he was an important influence in my career. Don’t make me speak for half an hour about him. He knows what I feel about him.”
[Image via Sulekha]