Jock Stein Celtic's greatest ever manager started a very exclusive club in 1967

Never mind the Champions League Trophy. The main prize at stake on Saturday night in the Bernabeu Stadium when Inter Milan face Bayern Munich in the Champions League Final is guaranteed membership of the very exclusive club started by Jock Stein in 1967.

Membership of this club is restricted to coaches whose team win the big one, the European Cup or Champions League, as well as their own domestic double of League and Cup. Stefan Kovacs the Romanian coach was the next to join in 1972 when he coached the magnificent Ajax team of Cruyff, Neeskens and Rep to this triple feat, coincidentally also beating Inter Milan in the Final..

It would be another 16 years before a further member was admitted when Guus Hiddink’s PSV Eindhoven achieved the feat in 1988. In 1999 Alex Ferguson became the second Scot to join when Manchester United achieved their treble. And not until last year, 2009, was a fifth member admitted when Pep Guardiola achieved it in his first season as a top class manager.

The Lisbon Lions The first team to win the Great Treble

While Jock Stein’s Celtic also won the League Cup and the Glasgow Cup that incredible season of 1966-67, the normal European pattern of having only the League and Cup to compete for, will ensure that only the domestic double is needed to apply for full membership of this elite club. With only 5 members in over 54 years of the European Cup/Champions League it is clearly a very exclusive club and ensures the Big Man will always be in exalted company. It can never be taken away from Stein and the Lisbon Lions that they were the first coach and the first team ever to achieve this remarkable treble.

Both Jose Mourinho and Luis Van Gaal have already completed the first two legs of this treble, with wins in both domestic league and cup with Inter Milan and Bayern Munich respectively. So whoever of them is triumphant on Saturday night will be guaranteed instant entry to this elite club founded by Jock Stein.

Van Gaal and Mourinho are already the sole members of one exclusive club and on Saturday night one of them will join another small group which currently also only has two members. GGW pointed out last month, before the Quarter Finals, that Van Gaal and Mourinho are the only two managers ever to have won the Champions League with clubs outside the ‘Might is Right’ top 20 group of richest clubs (With respectively Ajax in 1995 and Porto in 2004) and therefore it would be no surprise if either of them were to repeat the feat with their current much better resourced clubs. Winning the Champions League with a second club will entitle Saturday’s winning coach to join Ernst Happel and Ottmar Hitzfeld as the only coaches to have ever lifted the European Cup/Champions League with more than one club. Happel was the manager who denied Stein a second victory in 1970 when he coached Feyenoord to victory over the Big Man’s meek Milan Mice, and then in 1983 he took Kevin Keegan’s Hamburg team to victory over Juventus. Hitzfeld triumphed with two different German clubs, a Borussia Dortmund team including Paul Lambert in 1997 and Bayern Munich in 2001.

Van Gaal Jock Stein's kind of guy

So which of the two would be the better candidate to join Stein’s collection of managerial giants. Van Gaal would probably be the new member closer in style and spirit to the Big Man who would probably have disapproved of much of Mourinho’s shenanigans. Van Gaal has an impressive record as a coach winning league titles in three countries as well as his Champions League and UEFA Cup success with Ajax. He found the task of managing Barcelona a difficult one despite inheriting and keeping an interpreter, young Mourinho, ho turned out to be something of a coach in waiting. In two spells with Barcelona Van Gaal won 2 leagues and a Cup not a bad record but he could not do what he was hired to do, and emulate fellow Dutchman Johan Cruyff who in 1992 finally managed to take Barcelona to the European Cup success they so craved ever since deadly domestic rivals Real Madrid won the first one in 1956. Last season Van Gaal gave clear proof that he was still a coach of considerable merit when he guided small town club AZ Alkmaar to a first ever Dutch League title. That impressive feat earned him another opportunity at the very top level when the club ranked 4th in the Might is Right League, Bayern Munich appointed him as the man to lead their challenge for the 2010 Champions League. Like 1st and 2nd ranked Might is Right clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona, Bayern exercised that financial might in summer 2009 spending around 90 million euros in bringing in no less than 8 top players.

It took Van Gaal some time to settle in at Bayern and turn them into his team, playing in his style to his commands. He immediately jettisoned Brazil captain Lucio who was snapped up by Saturday’s opponents Inter for whom he has been an outstanding defender all season. He also fell out with Luca Toni, probably the best traditional centre forward in the world in his prime and still a fine forward. Toni was shipped out to Roma in the winter transfer window and helped them come very close to denying Inter their domestic successes, pushing them hard in both the league and the cup. He relegated both other star forwards Klose and Mario Gomez to the bench in favour of a young eager runner Thomas Muller and workhouse Croat forward Ivica Olic. These words “eager runner” and “workhorse” say a great deal about Van Gaal’s Bayern but he also found room for both Ribery and Robben, on the few occasions when both were fit and available. Together they became “Robbery” a combination of exciting attacking wide forwards who stole the hearts of Bayern supporters. Apart from their undoubted flair and class, Van Gaal’s Bayern are efficient rather than inspiring, a hard team to beat but a hard team to love.

Mourinho Definitely someone special

Every GGW reader will be well familiar with Jose Mourinho and his successes with Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan.  Which Celtic supporter can ever forget that it was Mourinho’s Porto team that denied Celtic the UEFA Cup in 2003 before making Celtic supporters feel slightly better by going on to win the Champions League the following year. He transformed Chelsea into one of the top clubs in the world before heading for Milan and winning the Italian League two years in succession. His tactical triumphs against Chelsea and Barcelona in this year’s Champions League knock-out stages have confirmed his reputation as the top tactical manager on the world stage and should ensure he gets the chance next season at Real Madrid to win trophies in Spain and restore Real Madrid as kings of Europe.

Mourinho gets an undeserved reputation as a coach of defensive teams. But his Inter Milan had the nerve to use three forwards against both Chelsea and Barcelona when the likes of Manchester United struggled with one. It is fairer to say that his teams tend to be superbly organised defensively. But defence is an important part of football and confidence in defence allows his teams to play forward with assurance.

Van Gaal the master teaches Mourinho the trade

The conflict between the two men will be as interesting as the clash between their teams. Mourinho has always acknowledged the debt he owes to Van Gaal who allowed him to make the transition under him at Barcelona from interpreter to assistant coach. He ha snot shown the disrespect for him he reserves for other coachers notably poor Ranieri, who has been the butt of many Mourinho jibes this season. Van Gaal too has generally been respectful about Mourinho although in the last few days, perhaps needled by some of the publicity focused on Mourinho, he has claimed that Mourinho’s teams are geared up to win but his own teams are geared up to win playing well, which is a more difficult thing to do.

Will Might prevail?

The bookies tend to have Mourinho’s team as the favourites, but GGW reckons that Bayern should be seen as the more likely to persevere. In 9 of the last 10 Champions League finals the club ranked highest in the Might is Right League table has tended to triumph. By this rule Bayern’s 4th place should make them favourites to beat Inter.

Van Gaal is no mug. Like Mourinho he believes in meticulous planning before a game and in meticulous preparation of his team related to the opposition they will be facing. Don’t expect another 10 goal thriller on the 50th Anniversary of the greatest game ever played, Real Madrid’s 7-3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt at Hampden Park. Each coach may well have studied the other team so well that all their strengths will be nullified and neither team is allowed to play well.  The best bet may be 0-0 at 90 minutes (currenly available at  about 7-1)and then settled on penalties after a further 30 minutes stalemate. However there are enough players out there, Arjen Robben, Schneider, Etoo, Milito who have the individual class and brilliance to overcome even the most meticulous of annulment strategies. Let us hope so. But expect Van Gaal’s team to triumph if it goes to penalties.