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Manchester United v Chelsea: Find out how the pupil has become the master

The Special One used to be Louis van Gaal's number two. How times change...

by Josh Powell | October 23, 2014

In 1997 S Club 7 hadn’t even been created yet, and Jose Mourinho had just begun work as Louis van Gaal’s assistant at Barcelona. 17 years later and S Club 7 have had four UK number one singles, a UK number one album, dabbled with a bit of drugs, split up, become morbidly obese (see Cattermole, Paul), apparently racially abused someone on live TV (see O’Meara, Jo) and now reunited for charity.

Luckily Mourinho and LVG have had slightly more success in that time – but has The Special One now eclipsed his former mentor? We crunch the stats to prove that the pupil has become the master.

Manchester United v Chelsea: The Pupil becomes the Master

  • Can Mourinho upstage his former mentor? All the latest odds are here: Desktop | Mobile

When they worked closely together at Barca, van Gaal and Mourinho won two La Liga titles and a Copa Del Rey before going their separate ways in 2000. They will go head-to-head once again this Sunday when Mourinho’s title-favourites Chelsea visit a Manchester United side in a bit of turmoil under LVG. But how have both men fared in the past 14 years?

Jose Mourinho has a far superior record to his former boss in terms of win rate and major trophies. A quick look at the table suggests that his only blemish is his six month spell at Uniao de Leiria where he posted a win rate of 45 per cent. However he drew an awful lot of games at the Portuguese club – losing just four of 20 matches – and when Mourinho left they were up to third in the league, a point ahead of both Porto and Benfica.

The Special One’s managerial credentials were affirmed in style during his time at Porto. There he racked up an astonishing 72 per cent win rate and picked up two league titles and a Champions League upon the way. Since arriving at Porto 12 years ago, Mourinho’s win rate has dropped below 65 per cent just once – while he was at Inter Milan – although he still won two league titles and a Champions League in Italy so it was hardly a terrible tenure. He also rocked up to Chelsea picked up two Premier League medlas and went 77 league games unbeaten at Stamford Bridge. Not bad, pal. Not bad at all.


  • Will LVG end Mourinho’s unbeaten start to the season. The latest odds are just a click away: Desktop | Mobile

LVG has had far less success, despite being one of the most respected managers in Europe. He left Barcelona to take over the Dutch national team, but they failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup – the first time they’d failed to qualify since 1986. Even Ireland took four points off them in qualifying.

Van Gaal returned to Barcelona in 2002, but results were inconsistent again and his win rate was just 53 per cent, however he was back to winning ways in his homeland. As manager of AZ Alkmaar, Van Gaal lost the opening two games of the 08/09 season but then went unbeaten until April to lift the title after many pundits had them written off as a bottom-half club.

Further success followed with a league title at Bayern Munich and a return to the national set-up where Holland came within a penalty shoot-out of a World Cup final. Man Utd fans were acting the giddy goose watching Louis van Gaal and Robin van Persie light up the tournament in Brazil.


But it’s not been an ideal start for the new United gaffer. Draws away to Sunderland, Burnley and West Brom, combined with a 5-3 hammering by Leicester and a 4-0 mauling from MK Dons have left LVG with a win rate of just 33 per cent. By far the lowest score on the board.

Chelsea arrive at Old Trafford unbeaten and with the press discussing the possibility of Jose Mourinho’s eclipsing Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’, the price around 7/5 for the visitors looks more than tempting. Man Utd are 19/10 to upset the odds and close the gap between themselves and the league leaders with the draw at 12/5. Mourinho has the edge in terms of silverware, but van Gaal has been in this game long enough to know what it takes to grind out a win.

Let the battle commence.

  • Can Mourinho upstage his former mentor? All the latest odds are here: Desktop | Mobile

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