Ahead of Manchester United vs. Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday (Watch live on NBC, 12 p.m. ET and online via Live Extra) the close relationship between managers of both teams is on the agenda.
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Jose Mourinho worked for Louis van Gaal at Barcelona and the current Chelsea boss, who is considered one of the world’s finest managers, often puts his success down to van Gaal and another former Barca boss, Sir Bobby Robson.
Van Gaal has downplayed his role in Mourinho’s development as a manger, but did reveal that the two have a close personal relationship as they prepare to square off against each other for the first time in the Premier League.
“He talks about me and Bobby Robson and I appreciate that, but you always do it by yourself,” van Gaal said. “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.”
Harmony between Manchester United and Chelsea in the lead up to a big game… what’s going on here?
Seriously though, the respect both managers have across the soccer world proves how talented they are, both have won domestic titles in multiple countries and the UEFA Champions League, and the fact that Mourinho and LVG are still close almost two decades on from working together at Barca proves a lot.
Of course on Sunday at Old Trafford there won’t be much friendliness during the game, but afterwards it’s a good bet that Mourinho and van Gaal will sit back, relax and open up a bottle of wine to catch up.
Two tactical geniuses at two of England’s biggest teams. But also two good friends.