Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho appears to have started the mind games with Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal ahead of next season.
Mourinho has hailed van Gaal as the best manager at the World Cup, with an assessment of the current Netherlands side, which creates echoes of the current status of the United squad.
“But if I had to choose one because I think he did a fantastic job with a team that, in my opinion, was not strong enough to arrive where they arrived, I would choose Louis van Gaal,” said Mourinho.
Mourinho is a very clever ropes and he’ll know that despite the additions of Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw, United are a team still very much on the ropes following Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to retire.
United dipped to a point under David Moyes where Mourinho may no longer have considered them a threat to his West London team and he’s implied van Gaal is at his best when he’s tasked with controlling what he deems a disadvantaged team.
United have plenty to their advantage now that the Netherlands have ended their World Cup journey and LvG can focus on his job at Old Trafford.
United’s commercial and financial network around the world means they can be competitive in the transfer market despite not having any Champions League football this season.
That also allows them the luxury of playing fewer games, which allows van Gaal to keep the squad fresher and focus on a Premier League title challenge.
Mourinho is one of the best in the business when it comes to contemporary mind games and his comments about the Netherlands suggest that he predicts, or even expects, van Gaal to do something similar at United.
Therefore, should van Gaal struggle, Mourinho will have ammunition to attack the Dutchman in the media in the same way he used the press to get at Arsene Wenger last season.
Van Gaal is an experienced and very clever coach and Mourinho simply pointing that out, creates a little extra pressure when the 62-year-old was already heading to Old Trafford with a lot of expectation on his shoulders.