Manchester United and Chelsea could fight for a number of top players and key targets this summer. With Van Gaal focused on the World Cup with Netherlands, the Special One will have the upper hand, especially given United’s lack of Champions League football next season.
Mourinho will have more time to dedicate to his transfer plans than his Red Devils’ rival but Van Gaal’s credentials could see him favoured over the Portuguese, especially as Chelsea will likely not be able to spend as much as they have in previous windows if they intend to remain within the FFP rules, where Manchester United are expected to embark on a squad overhaul this summer.
Obviously, the main area these two managerial giants will compete is in games – they will compete for the Premier League, the FA Cup and the League Cup next season which means they will face each other at least twice with the potential for as many as four meetings in one season.
United’s objective, first and foremost, will be to qualify for the Champions League via a top four finish in the league, whilst Van Gaal has already set his stalls out stating he wants to win the league in his debut season in charge as he did with both Barcelona and Bayern Munich previously.
Meanwhile, Mourinho suffered his least successful season of his entire managerial career to date with the Blues last term winning nothing and he’ll be keen to attack on all fronts in the Premier League, the cups and, of course, the Champions League.
This is where I expect the Premier League to be most intriguing next term – the face off, via the media, between these two is going to make for fascinating viewing next season. Both are arrogant, controversial, outspoken, divisive and egotistical figures who are adept at using the press to unsettle their rivals and to dictate their own image as authority figures.
Likewise, both are attention seekers – Mourinho cannot stand to not be talked about for a week, he loves the spotlight to be on him and he loves the amount of column inches that the press devote to him, wherever he has been. Van Gaal, synonymously, is a self-declared egotist who has had clashes with players and the media in the past, especially in Spain, when he doesn’t get the credit he feels he deserves or the respect he demands. This town already has one ‘me me me’ manager in Mourinho and surely this town’s not big enough for two of them.
Finally, Mourinho will not take kindly, I suspect, to the arrival of his former mentor who is 62 years of age and one of the most well regarded coaches on the planet. That’s supposed to be his perch to sit on – he is the Special One, after all – and the arrival of Van Gaal has the potential to degrade his reputation as the not so special one, or even, perhaps, the mediocre one.
I have no doubt Mourinho will have an abundance of tricks up his sleeve and, at the end of the day, the table never lies, and there can be only one winner. Van Gaal’s arrival for Mourinho could be similar to your Dad turning up to pick you up from a party, it kind of ruins the illusion of your cool.
Mourinho has shown the utmost respect publicly to, for example, David Moyes, probably because he didn’t consider him a threat (and right he was too) but he constantly made unsavory comments about Arsene Wenger, Liverpool (especially their lack of European football), and Manuel Pellegrini as well as Manchester City’s spending (which I personally thought was a bit rich) so it’ll be interesting to see whether he pays his respect to his elder at United or whether he attacks all guns blazing next term.