Erik ten Hag says Sir Alex Ferguson has helped him “massively” since arriving at Manchester United, adding that the legendary former manager is keen to share his “knowledge and experience”.
Ten Haag was pictured dining with Ferguson this week as he prepares his side for two of their most important games since arriving at Old Trafford last summer.
United host Barcelona in the second leg of their Europa League play-off tie on Thursday evening, having secured a 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp, before facing Newcastle in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.
Sunday 26 February 15:00
Ferguson won 28 major trophies during a 27-year reign at Old Trafford as he established himself as one of the greatest managers of all time and when asked how precious it is to be able to call on the 81-year-old, Ten Haag said: “It’s massive.
“I always like to talk to people who have a lot of knowledge and experience and want to share it. He wants to help and support.
“You feel that Manchester United is his club. He feels so committed and wants us to do well.
“It was a great night and I can’t wait for the next night with him.”
Ten Hag: We want trophies, not credit
Victory over Barcelona would see United go on to claim four trophies this season, while success in the Carabao Cup final would secure their first silverware in six years.
“We all want to play big games,” Ten Hag said. “When we were little we dreamed of it and now we are in the position.
“We’re really enjoying it and we’re really excited. We have to give our best if we want to match the best.”
Ten Haag has overseen an impressive revival at Old Trafford since his move from Ajax at the start of the season. The Dutchman took over a team that finished sixth – 35 points behind champions Manchester City – in the Premier League during a dismal campaign that began under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and ended under interim manager Ralf Rangnick.
But while Ten Hag has now guided United to third in the Premier League – just five points behind leaders Arsenal – he dismissed suggestions that he and his team deserve more credit for their turnaround.
“It’s not about credits, it’s about trophies,” he said. “Every day we want to give a better version of ourselves.
“When you face teams as big as Barcelona, you have to play your best, otherwise you have no chances. Tomorrow we have to give our best performance of the season. We believe that and we are looking forward to it.”
United are likely to be boosted by Anthony’s return from injury for the Barcelona game, while captain Harry Maguire is also expected to be available after a switch to the side.
However, Ten Hag said the match will come too soon for Anthony Martial, who is yet to return to team training.
Varane: The most disciplined team under Ten Hag
Raphael Varane knows more than most about what it takes to compete with Barcelona, having faced the Spanish giants 20 times during his time with Real Madrid.
The centre-back said he has been encouraged by what he has seen from his team-mates in recent weeks and urged them to show their progress by eliminating Xavi’s side on Thursday, saying: “I think in the last month we have grown a lot.
“We are playing with more confidence and tomorrow the atmosphere will be electric. We have to manage our emotions and keep cool and believe.
“I think we’ve improved a lot as a team already and the next stage is to beat teams like Barcelona. It’s a big challenge for us and a big opportunity.”
Varane is now in his second season at Old Trafford and says there are two main reasons for the team’s significant improvement since his debut under Solskjaer and Rangnick.
“First of all it’s confidence and secondly discipline,” explained the French international. “Tactically, we follow the rules exactly and we know exactly how we want to play and manage the game.
“The quality is in the squad but we have a bit more experience and a winning mentality.”
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