The 2010 Champions League Final in Madrid will be a typical Master vs Apprentice scenario in which the teacher might be the one learning a lesson this time. Luis van Gal and Jose Mourinho, head coaches of Bayern Munich and Inter respectively, used to work together at Barcelona back in 1996-99.
The unique thing about Jose’s career is that he actually started as an interpreter for Bobby Robson while the Englishman was coaching Barca. And when Sir Robson was eventually dismissed from the job, van Gaal was selected to take over, but the Dutchman had a policy of always preserving some type of connection with the previous coaching staff in order to have a better inside knowledge on his new players. Thus, he decided to keep Mourinho in his staff and assigned him the task of preparing the scouting reports on Barcelona’s opponents every week. Jose was doing such a great job that van Gaal decided to make him his assistant.
Now, the two go head to head and his year’s CL Final, just as Robben and Sneijder who used to be teammates at Real Madrid until last summer, another case of footballing irony.
On the battle against his apprentice, here is what van Gaal had to say: “I hope that we can surprise my good friend Mourinho. But of course, Jose is the coach who knows me best. He worked with me for three years, a period in which he saw quite well my whole footballing philosophy and coaching style. That actually helped him develop his own – his style is to destruct the opponents’ game while mine is to play beautiful football and win. I guess my style of play is a bit harder to achieve.”
In an interview for Inter’s official website, Mourinho had the following to say on his opponent at the Bayern bench: “I learned with him (Van Gaal). I have to be fair with him, I have to be honest. I worked with him for three years when I was a very young coach, in my early thirties. In that moment he was important for me, like Bobby Robson was important for me even before him. But since 2000 I have been alone, so in ten years I have built my roads but I will always thank the people that gave me real contributions.”