Erik ten Hag has revealed that he talks with legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson ‘regularly’ and has learned the importance of setting the tone as the club’s figurehead.
Ten Hag took over at Old Trafford last summer and has enjoyed a brilliant first season at the helm, helping United accumulate 17 points more than they did during the 2021/22 campaign, reach an FA Cup final and win the Carabao Cup.
Speaking to The Times, Ten Hag has now lifted the lid of how much of a role Ferguson has played in his initial success, admitting that regular contact with the Scot has helped to make him a better manager.
“After Sir Alex left, the culture changed over the years. One of the biggest qualities Sir Alex had was to have high standards,” the Dutchman said. “I wanted to bring it back in, so that everyone in this organisation lives the highest standards and the football players too.
“I talk to Sir Alex regularly. He gives his opinion and I’m happy to have that opinion. With all his experiences and his intelligence it’s really valuable to talk with him. From Sir Alex, I learn a lot because he’s such a legend. It gives me inspiration, how to manage.”
Asked specifically about whether he shares Ferguson’s mentality when it comes to winning and losing, Ten Hag added: “Definitely. If you want to be that winner, you have to feel a loss a long time in your stomach. You can’t lose. If you lose, you question everything and I start with myself and look in the mirror.
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“In general, especially after night games, I sleep badly. The game has to settle down. And I’m already thinking of the next day, the next game, how do you prepare, and what to feed back to the group and what not. I have to set the right tone.”
United and Ten Hag’s season is not finished despite sewing up a third-place finish in the Premier League. The Red Devils still have the small matter of an FA Cup final against inner-city rivals Manchester City to contend with, where victory would seal a domestic cup double.
There are injury doubts to contend with, however, as Anthony Martial will not be available because of a hamstring injury sustained in the 2-1 win over Fulham on the final day of the season. Antony is also unlikely to feature after being carried off in the romping win over Chelsea – United fear the Brazilian may have aggrivated an old ankle injury picked up in 2022.