Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has opened up about his relationship and experiences under Manchester United's new manager Louis van Gaal.
The Blues boss was the assistant coach when Van Gaal took over as Barcelona manager from Bobby Robson in 1997. The duo worked closely together for three years and also won two La Liga titles, during their time together at the Camp Nou. Mourinho looks back very fondly at working with the Dutchman and also appreciates the help he received from his then boss.
"It was a fantastic experience for me. I was very, very young and to be assisting people of their dimension – with Bobby Robson too - was fantastic. Louis was important in my career and I'm always grateful. I never forget people that supported me in my career, and Louis was one of them," Mourinho told talkSPORT.
Post their time at Barcelona, both managers went their separate ways, with the Portuguese boss heading to Benfica and the Dutchman beginning his first stint as the Netherlands manager. However, Mourinho maintains that even though they did not see each other, they kept in touch and when they met, it was in opposite dugouts during the final of the Champions League.
"We worked together, then we went our separate professional ways. He left Barcelona to be Holland coach for the first time, and when he left to go to Holland I left to be coach for the first time in Benfica and we didn't see each other for many years – just lots of contact on the phone. A few years later we met each other in the Champions League final: Inter Milan against Bayern Munich. This is part of life."
"So when in a couple of months I go to Old Trafford to play Manchester United, I think before the game: 'Good fun.' During the game we don't even think about who is in the other dugout. And after the game, I don't say 'good fun' because one of us will be not happy. But there will always be a fantastic relation between us. I like him a lot and I know he likes me a lot, too," the former Real Madrid manager added.
Mourinho also spoke about his love for the Premier League. He believes that it's the uncertainty involved in the number of teams that can win the title that makes the league exciting and unpredictable.
"That's why I like the Premier League so much. At this moment nobody knows who is going to win the title. I know that we want to and I know that we can, but it's the kind of competition where I can't say," the Portuguese manager said.
During my time in Italy, when the league started each season I knew it would be Inter first, Milan second, or Milan first, Inter second. When I went to Spain it was Barcelona first and Real Madrid second or Real first, Barcelona second. In this moment I think the league is between us, Liverpool, Arsenal, Man United and Man City. Who is going to be first? Who is going to play Europa League? I don't know," the Chelsea boss explained.
"What I know is that I start the league playing in Burnley, which is a team that were in the Championship last season – and I have to be worried, because if we want to win the three points we have to be at the top of our game. That's the Premier League," Mourinho concluded.