Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has started the mind games in earnest warning Louis van Gaal that the competitive English Premier League is different from other leagues around the world. Van Gaal replaced David Moyes as the new manager of Manchester United after the Red Devils failed to keep its pride intact in the 2013-14 season.
Upon his arrival at Old Trafford, van Gaal has so far impressed everyone with wins over European champions Real Madrid and Rodgers` Liverpool on their way to winning the International Champions Cup. However, Rodgers said that “what van Gaal will find is the competition in this league (EPL) will be different to any other league that he`s worked in.”
"In a lot of the other leagues, there are one or two teams and those are the teams that are expected to win. This is a league where the top team plays the bottom team and on any given day you can lose. You don`t get that a lot in the other leagues. I think the competition will probably take him by (surprise), and that`s from foreign managers I have spoken to over the years," added Rodgers.
The 2014-15 English season will start on August 16 with Manchester United playing their first home game under the Dutch manager against Swansea. The following day, Liverpool will host Southampton at Anfield. Last season, Manchester United`s fortunes took a dip after the departure of the revered Sir Alex Ferguson and they finished seventh in the league, failing to qualify for European competitions. In contrast, Liverpool under Rodgers exceeded all their expectations by finishing second, two points behind winners Manchester City.
With a combined 38 top-flight titles (Manchester United – 20, Liverpool – 18), these two clubs have dominated English football for more than a century. However, in the last 20 years, Red Devils under Alex Ferguson have won the title 13 times, and thus created a new era of domination as the decline for the Reds began. Liverpool won their last league title way back in 1990, before the birth of the English Premier League. The enduring rivalry between these two world famous clubs has produced many classic matches. But despite fierce competition, both the clubs and those at the helms in their respective establishments have never shied away from giving credit where it`s due.
Rodgers confessed his admiration for van Gaal by saying the Dutch manager “is a very experienced manager and a very good manager who has worked at some big clubs.” The 41-year-old added that "When you come through as a coach, you look at the guys who have a vision and a philosophy, and he was obviously one of those guys."
Regarded as one of the most experienced managers in world football, van Gaal has won domestic titles in Holland, Spain and Germany with clubs such as Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. He also won the coveted UEFA Champions League with Ajax in 1995, helping the Netherlands club to their fourth continental title after a gap of more than two decades. In his most recent assignment, the 62-year-old was with the Dutch national team, and they finished third in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
On a friendly note, the former Swansea boss advised van Gaal to be wary of Manchester United owners the Glazer family, citing David Moyes as the example. He opined that “there were a lot of things at Manchester United that were not seen by many. He (David Moyes) had to go in and where I felt for him is that he thought he was getting time. All of a sudden when it’s not as hunky-dory as people think it is, you don’t get that opportunity. He signed a long-term deal and thought he had that longevity to do his work.”
In their first meeting, van Gaal triumphed with Wayne Rooney inspiring the Red Devils to a 3-1 comeback win to lift the International Champions Cup in Miami. Their first domestic meeting this season will happen on December 13 at Old Trafford. And Rodgers would surely like to repeat the league double, which famously included a 3-0 drubbing in Greater Manchester. But with his talismanic striker Luis Suarez gone, it will be difficult for the Northern Irish football coach to achieve such a feat.