Two of footballs major ego’s will clash at Old Trafford on October 26th as Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United go head to head with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.
Once master and apprentice together at Barcelona, they will come face to face as managers for only the second time in their long and cultured managerial careers.
Although Mourinho got the better of his Dutch counterpart in their only previous meeting, when his Inter Milan side triumphed in the Champions League final against Van Gaal’s Bayern Munich, he will find this meeting to be like no other.
In the past Mourinho’s mind games have won him many a battle. His branding of Arsene Wenger as a ‘specialist in failure’ before his sides 6-0 victory last season and his apparent mentoring of Brendan Rodgers before he faced Liverpool have both been psychological battles that Mourinho has triumphed in and given his team a head start before a ball has been kicked. He might, however, find that this is a battle he can’t win when he faces Van Gaal.
Their time at Barcelona mean that Mourinho and Van Gaal share a lot in terms of managerial qualities and characteristics which makes it hard for Mourinho to identify and attack any weakness he sees from his opposition number. Van Gaal’s apparent influence on Mourinho means that he has no choice but to meet his old master as his equal, a position Mourinho will feel rather uncomfortable with.
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The match itself promises to be a tight and tactical affair. Neither manager will want to show his hand and throw caution to the wind too early.
This fixture also has form for being a cagey encounter. The last three years these teams have met at Old Trafford in the Premier League have seen two draws and a narrow 1-0 Chelsea win.
When the teams met last season Mourinho was accused of ‘parking the bus’ and playing for a point as the game finished 0-0 against David Moyes side. It would be very much like the Portuguese to stay true to form and put on a similar show this time round.