Back in April, Samuel Eto’o claimed that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had predicted how their game against Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge would pan out.
The occasion was the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final tie between the two sides. The Blues had lost the first leg 3-1 to PSG in Paris and were the underdogs heading into the second leg.
All Laurent Blanc’s side had to do was just hold on for a goalless draw or a 1-0 defeat, and they would be through to the semi-finals.
Ahead of the clash, Mourinho insisted that Chelsea would win, and they did – a Demba Ba goal from inside the PSG box three minutes from time sealing a 2-0 victory and with it progress to the last four.
It was a magical night and after the contest, it became even more surreal when Eto’o remarked that the Portuguese manager had told the players exactly what would happen.
'It's incredible', he told The Sun. 'Mourinho had been telling us from the morning of the game that we could win the tie, and we knew it would be possible. He designed this incredible scenario for us. This is part of the magic of football. He told us not to fall into the trap of being in too much of a hurry. He said that we would get a goal in the first half and then score another at the end of the match'.
And now Robin van Persie has made similar remarks about Louis van Gaal following the Netherlands’ shocking but well-deserved victory over Spain in their opening Group B game of the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil on Friday.
‘All credit to the coach’, the 30-year-old told NOS. 'These are his tactics. He already predicted how the match would go. Incredible’.
Did he? If Van Gaal did indeed predict how the game would pan out, then he is probably the best in the world in this aspect. Because, let’s admit it, no one really expected Spain to be so thoroughly and utterly outclassed.
Spain went 1-0 up before the half-hour mark, but then the Netherlands launched an astonishing comeback to clinch the contest 5-1 at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, thanks to a brace each from Manchester United striker Van Persie and former Chelsea winger Arjen Robben.
Van Gaal will take charge of United after the World Cup and the Red Devils fans will be relishing the football that the team could play. Against Spain, the Netherlands’ 5-3-2 was hugely effective, and it was not rigid throughout the match. When they had possession, the system was often modified to a 3-4-3, with the attack-minded players allowed to play the way they wanted to play with each other.
That may not be the system that Val Gaal will use at United, but the Manchester outfit’s supporters will be delighted to see how Van Persie has come to life under his compatriot after a rather disappointing 2013-14 season under the sacked David Moyes.