Erik Ten Hag opens up on Sir Alex Ferguson’s ‘big’ dinner

Erik ten Hag said his dinner with Sir Alex Ferguson as part of the build-up to the Europa League tie with Barcelona was to share the former Manchester United manager’s “knowledge and experience”.

The pair were spotted at a restaurant in Cheshire on Tuesday as Ten Hag prepares his squad for a few crucial days, including Barcelona’s visit to Old Trafford on Thursday and the Carabao Cup final against Newcastle at Wembley on Sunday.

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“I always like to talk with people who have a lot of knowledge and experience,” Ten Hag said at a press conference on Wednesday. “He wants to share it, help and support. Manchester United is his club.

“He feels so committed and he wants us to do well. It was a great night and I’m looking forward to our next night.”

United will face Barcelona in the second leg following the 2-2 draw at Camp Nou last week. Barcelona are without midfield pair Pedri and Gavi, but Ten Hag says the Spanish giants are still more than capable of winning at Old Trafford and progressing to the knockout stages.

“Gavi and Pedri are great and great players, very young but have a positive effect on Barcelona’s game,” added Ten Hag.

“Their team has so much depth that they have players who can replace them. Tomorrow it will be a very good Barcelona team, so if we want to win we have to play our best.

“For me, the next game is always the biggest game. I’m not one to look back, I’m looking forward to it. Two big, big teams playing each other at Old Trafford will create a massive atmosphere. I think that’s the best you can get.”

Ten Hag, meanwhile, received a pre-game boost with Harry Maguire and Antony set to return. Maguire missed the 3-0 win over Leicester on Sunday while Antony has been out for the last four matches.

“I expect Maguire and Antony to be available,” Ten Hag said.

“[Anthony] Martial not available. He is back on the field but not in the team. What we do differently, you will see tomorrow on the pitch.”

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