The Portuguese took over from van Gaal in July 2016 and his Man United side are currently 2nd in the Premier League, in the EFL Cup quarter-finals and topped UEFA Champions League Group A with five wins from six games.
Before Sunday’s defeat in the Manchester derby, Mourinho’s side were unbeaten at Ol Trafford in 40 games. Van Gaal, though, believe the results aren’t indicative of Mourinho’s boring football.
The Dutchman was heavily criticised for his style of play while in charge of United from 2014-2016 and most would say rightly so. The football was drab and uninventive, and the only success was an FA Cup trophy, while Mourinho has won the UEFA Europa League and EFL Cup in his first season in charge.
Many have criticised van Gaal, but he claimed his time at United was fantastic.
“If you ask me how did I do at United, I will say it was my best year ever, given the circumstances I was working under,” he told the Daily Mirror.
“We played football that was quite alright. But it’s not football that is appreciated in England.”
Van Gaal’s football wasn’t a style not appreciated in England, it was simply dull. He did many things right, his big game record was often superb and there were some fantastic moments on and off the pitch.
But the football, in general, was bad. It was a form of the exciting style he used at Ajax when he won the UEFA Champions League in 1995, but nowhere near the quality.
“And yet, right now, looking at United, I have to conclude Mourinho is not being criticised while it’s far more boring football,” van Gaal continued. The Reds were beaten in a terrible performance against City at the weekend, a 2-1 loss. United parked the bus, relying on individual quality from their forwards. It didn’t work and City are now 11 points ahead of United.
“I would rather watch City play than United,” van Gaal declared. “You need quality in a squad and it’s clear City have a better squad.
“What United produce now is defensive football. I always played attacking football. The proof is that the opposition were always parking the bus.
“They don’t do that now because Jose Mourinho plays so defensive.”
Van Gaal has rarely spoken out since his exit from United, despite leaving in controversial circumstances, sacked just days after winning the FA Cup.
That has been good, and magnanimous. But this latest interview is slightly bitter and Mourinho’s football is clearly better than van Gaal’s, and the results are better, too.