The Dutchman enforced a possession based, patient and highly analytic approach to attacking football, leading to a series of painfully restricted, turgid performances.
Mourinho’s arrival in June has signalled a dramatic restoration of speed, energy and positive passing, with players now able to experience more freedom on the ball.
However, speaking prior to Man United’s 1-1 draw with Stoke City on Sunday, Mourinho insisted that some players are still in a detoxing stage with regard to shaking off the dogma imposed by van Gaal last year.
“The players are good players but some perform better with the ideas of a different manager and the opposite is also true – some of the boys might be more comfortable with Mr van Gaal’s ideas of football,” Mourinho said.
“That is true, that is football.”
The influence of van Gaal on this United side is still very much apparent: Mourinho may demand a direct, fearless approach, but some players continue to show inklings of the Dutchman’s ‘safety first’ strategy, tentatively moving the ball sideways, even with options further forward.
Inadvertently perpetuating van Gaal’s style is somewhat unsurprising: the Dutchman was thorough and ceaseless when it came to imposing his methods, warning players of retribution if they didn’t obey. And with the Mourinho era still in its nascent stages, such a mentality will still occupy the minds of various players.