How Manchester United could appoint Mourinho's mentor to beat Jose's Chelsea

Louis Van Gaal

Manchester United are looking for a new manager after sacking David Moyes, but could they be about to hire the man who mentored Jose Mourinho?

Despite only ten months in charge at Old Trafford, Manchester United today took the decision to relieve David Moyes of his duties at the club after a dismal season, with the Red Devils currently languishing in seventh place, just a year after winning the title under Sir Alex Ferguson.

But Ferguson's retirement brought about a new era at United, and Moyes was chosen as the man to be the face of it. With poor transfer dealings, a lack of clear philosophy and rumours of player unrest, it has been a disaster, and Moyes has paid the price with his job.

That leaves United searching for another new manager, and the favourite to take the hot seat is Holland boss Louis van Gaal, who will leave his position as national team coach after the World Cup in Brazil this summer. A highly respected, illustrious coach who has an outstanding reputation in European football, van Gaal looks to be an ideal candidate for United.

Yet what few will know is that van Gaal has a special relationship with one of United's biggest rivals - Jose Mourinho, manager of Chelsea.

When van Gaal was appointed manager of Barcelona in 1997, Mourinho was still on the coaching team at the Camp Nou after the departure of Sir Bobby Robson, who is widely credited with being Mourinho's mentor - but it's apparently van Gaal who took Mourinho under his wing and taught him the tactical aspects of football.

The duo worked together in Catalunya for three years, winning La Liga twice, the Spanish Cup and a European Super Cup. It seemed only natural that their paths would cross again after van Gaal was run out of town in 2000, and it proved to be the case as van Gaal's Bayern Munich lost the 2010 Champions League final to Mourinho's Inter.

Before that game, van Gaal made reference to the bond between the two, saying; “We have been observing each other ever since and been sending text messages. Little did I know he would be such a great coach. He was an excellent coach then, but now he is one of the best in the world. And I don’t think many coaches can make that declaration.”

Despite van Gaal's Bayern falling short in that Champions League final, United will be hoping that the master can get one over on his pupil should he be appointed as the new manager at Old Trafford. Whilst the two are clearly close off the pitch, van Gaal admitted that their philosophies are very far removed - which could make for some interesting battles in the Premier League.

"We are also different in many ways," said van Gaal in 2010. "Mourinho teaches his team to win at all costs, while my objective is to win with style and attacking play, which is not so easy. Also Jose seems to be very proactive in affecting games. I don't behave in such an extreme way, but that is his personality."

Just as friendship was put aside in 2010, they would have to do the same should van Gaal arrive in England - which would promise to be a true meeting of great footballing minds.

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