Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal was in good form as he spoke to the media ahead of Sunday’s clash with Chelsea. The Red Devils host the league leaders in a match that is set to be a tactical battle between two giants of the game, Van Gaal and Mourinho.
The pair have faced off only once before in a competitive match, the 2010 Champions League final, where Mourinho’s Inter triumphed over Van Gaal’s Bayern Munich 2-0.
When quizzed by the press about his thoughts on Mourinho, the Dutchman spoke glowingly about his former assistant, and shed light on the pair’s “unusual” relationship.
Van Gaal said, “Jose Mourinho is special for me, because I have worked with him, and we continued our relationship. In our football world, that is not always normal, so it’s nice (that we have continued our relationship).”
“I knew he had talent, because I let him manage Catalunian cup matches for me. But to foresee that he would be such a wonderful coach, win championships in different countries, it’s wonderful.”
Van Gaal went on to surprise that media with an insight into Mourinho’s character and personality saying, “You can’t ever imagine, but he is a very modest and emotional human being. And I like that. But surprise, no. Surprise is that he is one of the best coaches, that’s maybe a surprise because you can’t foresee. But you can’t imagine that he is modest and emotional.”
Manchester United have had a difficult time with injuries this season, but Van Gaal was happy to announce news on Angel Di Maria’s progress. The Argentinean had picked up a niggle in the match against West Brom.
“Herrera was already fit for the last game. Angel Di Maria’s injury is not so heavy, and he has trained from Thursday, so he is fit.”
Midfielder Michael Carrick recently returned to training following an injury layoff and the Dutchman had this to say on the matter – “I let Michael Carrick play in London versus West Ham in the reserves team. Because he needs to play matches, if you have been injured for 5 months you need to play and gain match fitness.”
Van Gaal also expects Diego Costa to play, citing the player’s quickfire start to life in the Premier League.
“He (Mourinho) will play with Costa when he can, because he wants to win. I read that Costa trained yesterday. He has scored 9 goals in 7 matches. That is remarkable. He is in good shape but he was ill yesterday, so let’s see.”
Manchester United are coming off a difficult draw with the Baggies, and find themselves in 6th place with 12 points after 8 games. But the Dutchman is confident his side are ready to face Chelsea.
We are always ready so that’s not a problem,” Van Gaal said. “They are one of the top teams and so is Manchester City, but Jose has worked more than one year with his team and he didn’t win any prize last season.”
“You have to build up and they are now playing like a team. I want my teams to do that. Play like a team for 90 minutes. We did that I think against West Brom, but we made individual errors.”