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Jul 28, 2014

Van Gaal: Mourinho is my friend

ESPN FC's Raphael Honigstein discusses Louis van Gaal's challenges at Manchester United ahead of the 2014-15 campaign.

Louis van Gaal will not get drawn into any mind-games with Jose Mourinho this season and he says he still regards the Chelsea manager as his "friend''.

- Brewin: More action, less talk

Mourinho controversially claimed earlier this week that United were paying over the odds for Luke Shaw, a 27 million pound signing from Southampton who reportedly now earns in the region of 100,000-pounds-a-week.

The Blues' boss said had Chelsea paid that kind of money to the 19-year-old, it would have "killed'' the London club. United counterpart Van Gaal hinted he would speak privately to Mourinho about the matter and many saw that as a sign the two former colleagues were set for a rocky relationship this season.

But Van Gaal is sure he will have a harmonious relationship with the Portuguese this term even though both he and his former protege are in charge of teams vying for the title.

"I don't think I will fall out with him. He is my friend,'' Van Gaal said of Mourinho. "I don't think (I will fall out with) all the other managers. I have full respect for all my colleagues.

"For me (mind games) are not so interesting. I have to manage my club. That is already difficult enough. I am not concerned with other clubs or other managers.''

Although he has only been in position for a couple of weeks, Van Gaal has been compared to Sir Alex Ferguson, who was the master when it came to manager mind games. Ryan Giggs said the new United boss had an "aura'' about him -- just like Ferguson. Being compared to a man who won 13 Premier League titles with United has gone down well with the new man at the helm.

"I highly respect Sir Alex because I don't think there is another manager who has won so many titles,'' Van Gaal added. "I (have) won a lot of titles, but he did it in one club and that is fantastic and when you compare Sir Alex with me I am very proud.''

Van Gaal, of course, is the second man to have a go at trying to fill Ferguson's shoes. David Moyes failed terribly last year, guiding United through their worst Premier League campaign in history.

The Red Devils finished seventh under his stewardship, and they now face a season without European football for the first time in almost two decades.

"No,'' Van Gaal said when asked whether following Ferguson would have been harder. "I don't agree. I had to follow Bobby Robson at Barcelona the year after he won three titles and there wasn't a problem (Van Gaal won the league that year).

"When there is success you have a very good squad, and now I have to follow and the squad was broken I think.

"When you look at the squad, there is quality. There is (Wayne) Rooney, (Robin) van Persie, (Javier) Hernandez, (Danny) Welbeck, but you also see Juan Mata, (Marouane) Fellaini, and you see (Ander) Herrera. There are a lot of players that can play in the same position.

"It is not in balance. It's more difficult to succeed in a difficult situation than in a fantastic situation.''

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