Erik ten Hag Exclusive: How Cristiano Ronaldo can still make an impact in the big games, Sir Alex Ferguson’s advice and new signing Antony | Football news

Scrutiny, drama, pressure, wins, losses and one of the biggest stars in the world wants to leave. Eric ten Hag experienced it all in his first three months as Manchester United manager.

That should set him up somewhat for one of the Premier League’s iconic games, which promises to be a hit once again.

Like so many, Ten Haag was captivated by those epic meetings in the 2000s between Manchester United and Arsenal, who met live Sky Sports On Super Sunday.

“Top games, big history between the two clubs, both with incredibly good players and good managers, but now it’s Sunday, it’s new, we have to build a future,” Ten Haag said Sky Sports News.

So who did you cheer for in those days?

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Ahead of Manchester United’s Super Sunday clash with Arsenal, we look back at a classic match between them from 2008, where Owen Hargreaves’ free-kick gave the Red Devils a decisive victory

“My team in England has always been Manchester United, I’ve always supported that club, from the past I loved watching (David) Beckham, (Paul) Scholes, (Rio) Ferdinand and (Ryan) Giggs, I’ve always liked them.

What if he had to pick just one. Will it be Team Vieira or Team Keane? He is laughing. “That is clear, no doubt.” Keane.

It’s no real surprise then what his loyalty is when it comes to the manager. “What (Arsene) Wenger did at Arsenal was great, I really respect his philosophy, but Fergie built it all.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s shadow still looms large, but the Ten Hag will not let it define his era at this football club.

The Hague, Man United
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Ten Hag is looking to put his own stamp on Man Utd

“I’m talking to him and we’re happy about it, as are his advisers, we’re grateful, but now we have to build a new future, that’s also clear,” said the Dutchman.

The past few weeks have given him an indication of how intense the scrutiny will be as he rebuilds the club. “Did you enjoy your first 100 days or so?” I ask. “Is this all you dreamed of?”

He smiles: “I’m not such a dreamer, I’m more of a reality and I knew it was a big challenge and hard work. I was so busy that I didn’t notice that 100 days had passed, but that’s a good sign.

“What I do is a football process. I love driving it both on and off the field. I really like it, it excites me and it challenges me and it’s nice to have that experience.”

Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Manchester United as a second half substitute at Leicester
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Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Manchester United as a second half substitute at Leicester

Process is a word that comes up a lot during our interview – defined as “a series of actions taken to achieve a goal”, and Ten Hag was already busy in the action department. He ditched his captain Harry Maguire and made it clear to Cristiano Ronaldo that he needed to fit into his vision for the club, not the other way around.

“I have emotions when I make decisions, I use intuition and feelings, but they have to be rational and strategic if you want to go in the direction Manchester United want to go and we all have to be on the same page.” he said.

“I have to be clinical and ask what is best for the club and the team and what is the process and improve. I have to be transparent and clear and communicate.’

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The Ten Hag comments on his team’s morale after the 1-0 win over Leicester and also reacts to the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo will stay at Manchester United

I ask how that message was received and if he has any concerns about using it in the big games.

“He showed it last year and not so long ago, so now he has to fit into our way of playing, if he does he will decide games because of his ability.”

Ronaldo is just one of the compelling storylines that this match often evokes. Another is whether Antony, who finally arrived from Ajax to reunite with his former manager this week for £86m, will start and, along with that, begin to prove he can live with the pressure of being one of United’s players and the Premier League’s most expensive signings.

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The Ten Hag believes the meeting with table leaders Arsenal will be a big test for his Manchester United side after they registered a third successive win at Leicester

Ten Hag has no doubt. “He can handle it. He lives for football and enjoys it. He has already proven himself in the Champions League, the Brazilian national team and an Olympic gold medalist.

“He will bring temperament and creativity. Also, it’s a new start for him and he has to adapt to the team, to the Premier League and to the high intensity, but I’m sure he will adapt.”

Antony, along with fellow former Ajax man Lisandro Martinez, was part of the Ten Hag’s £200m-plus summer spending spree as he looks to build his squad in a very different way to the one he formed at Ajax.

Does he feel under pressure given the money spent? How did it feel to spend over £200 million? “It’s a lot of money,” he admits, but again points to the process. “That’s part of it and something we have to do to stay competitive. Now we have a team with potential with good players and now we have to make a team.”

Sunday, September 4, 4:00 p.m

Start at 4:30 p.m


This team could feature another one of those new faces on Sunday in Casemiro from the start. Is he ready to be released at Arsenal? “I think so,” says Ten Hag. “He’s used to playing big games.”

Which is exactly what it promises to be. The Ten Hag know how tough the opposition will be as Arsenal, enjoying something of a renaissance with five wins from five in the league this season, travel to Old Trafford.

Unlike some of those classic battles, there’s no title at stake here, but both Ten Haag and Mikel Arteta will know a lot more about where their squad rebuilds stand on Sunday night.

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