Mour­inho gives men­tor Van Gaal the Blues

CityPress - - Sport - –TEAM talk Me­dia

Louis van Gaal and José Mour­inho are two foot­ball man­agers with big per­son­al­i­ties and even larger lists of ac­com­plish­ments.

Be­tween them, they have over­seen the cap­ture of 42 pieces of sil­ver­ware, in­clud­ing three Cham­pi­ons League ti­tles and 13 league crowns in top flights around Europe.

It was at Barcelona that Mour­inho made his ini­tial foray into man­age­ment, first un­der Bryan Rob­son and then Van Gaal.

The Dutch­man en­cour­aged Mour­inho to adopt his man­age­rial style and the Por­tuguese tac­ti­cian took his teach­ings from the Camp Nou to Porto, Chelsea, Real Madrid, In­ter Mi­lan and then back to Chelsea and the hotly con­tested Premier League.

It’s fit­ting that th­ese two gi­ants of man­age­ment go head-to-head for only the sec­ond time at his­toric Old Traf­ford in a fix­ture that oozes class and her­alds more an­tic­i­pa­tion than almost any other game.

Mour­inho heads into the en­counter hold­ing all the aces, with the league-lead­ing Blues boast­ing a strong de­fence, a well-rounded mid­field and a num­ber of op­tions up front.

Con­versely, United have failed to hit their straps this sea­son, with Van Gaal con­ced­ing that his re­quest to be judged after three months was a mis­take.

How­ever, de­spite their pen­chant for calami­tous de­fen­sive show­ings, United find them­selves in sixth, the po­si­tion in which they fin­ished the 2012/13 cam­paign, some 10 points off the pace.

But on Mon­day night, United’s de­fence was once again shown up and it’s this frailty that could see Mour­inho adopt dif­fer­ent tac­tics from those he em­ployed against the Red Devils last sea­son.

The Por­tuguese maestro tends to put out de­fen­sive for­ma­tions away from home in or­der to avoid de­feat. In­deed, the Blues left Manch­ester last sea­son with a draw, a re­sult, which, on re­flec­tion at the end of the cam­paign, seemed like two points dropped. It’s near im­pos­si­ble to de­ci­pher the truth re­gard­ing spearhead Diego Costa’s fit­ness, but dodgy ham­string and stom­ach bug aside, if the Spa­niard fea­tures to­day, he will no doubt run rings around the United back-four. And with Cesc Fabre­gas and Eden Haz­ard pulling the strings from mid­field, the hal­lowed halls of Old Traf­ford may turn out to be the site of a blood­bath.

It would be fool­ish to write off United com­pletely, though, as they too pos­sess a po­tent arse­nal of at­tack­ing weapons.

How­ever, if noth­ing is hap­pen­ing – de­fen­sively or of­fen­sively - be­hind Radamel Fal­cao and Robin van Per­sie (the third mem­ber of United’s much-vaunted at­tack­ing trio, Wayne Rooney, is sus­pended), then there is lit­tle hope for Van Gaal’s troops.

United need a defin­ing vic­tory to kick-start their cam­paign, but against a ram­pant Chelsea, they once again ap­pear doomed to suf­fer another week­end of woe.

PHOTO: SANG TAN / AP PHOTO

CRUNCH CLASH Chelsea’s Ramires (right) and Manch­ester United’s Rafael go head-to-head

PHOTO: MIKE EGER­TON / EMPICS SPORT

MASTER Manch­ester United man­ager Louis van Gaal (right) and as­sis­tant Ryan Giggs

PHOTO: DAVE THOMP­SON / PRESS AS­SO­CI­A­TION

STU­DENT José Mour­inho

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