‘It has taken 10 YEARS to get to this point… Wow, we have got the right man’: Erik ten Hag is like ‘vintage Sir Alex Ferguson’, gushes Peter Schmeichel as United legends hail new boss after Barca win
Peter Schmeichel believes Manchester United finally have a manager in the mold of Sir Alex Ferguson in Erik ten Hag, a decade on from the Scotsman leaving the club.
Ferguson retired from his position as manager in 2013 after winning the Premier League title, the last of his 38 trophies following 26 years in charge.
A decade on and the legendary manager was back at Old Trafford on Thursday night to see the Red Devils under the management of Ten Hag sweep Barcelona aside to reach the last-16 of the Europa League.
United came from behind to win 2-1 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate against the runaway Spanish league leaders after an early Robert Lewandowski penalty was cancelled out by Fred after half-time before substitute Antony scored the winning goal in front of a roaring crowd at Old Trafford.
‘It has taken 10 years to get to this point,’ for me this season anything can really happen,’ Schmeichel told BBC Radio 5 Live.
Erik ten Hag led Manchester United to an excellent comeback victory over Barcelona
Sir Alex Ferguson was inside Old Trafford for Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Barcelona
United have not won the Premier League title since Ferguson retired in the summer of 2013
‘Manchester United can win everything or nothing but we have seen the progress. Every situation has been dealt with properly by Erik ten Hag, like a good manager should.
‘Like vintage Sir Alex Ferguson… I am sitting here thinking “wow, we have got the right man.”‘
Schmeichel though was not the only past United star to lavish praise on Ten Hag with 2008 Champions League winner Owen Hargreaves also highlighting the impact of the Dutch coach following his summer arrival from Ajax.
‘It feels everything has changed,’ Hargreaves told BT Sport. ‘The atmosphere, the performance on the pitch, the manager. It feels so much more positive and gives confidence. It feels a different place.
‘Ten Hag has transformed this football club. The energy is different. It has been a breath of fresh air. It feels like the feel good factor is coming back. Sunday [Carabao Cup final] could be another big step.
‘[It’s] amazing. Everyone is smiling. The manager’s changes affected this game and the crowd, this is what they have been dreaming of. They have a huge game on Sunday but this was a big match in Manchester United’s season.’
Schmeichel’s treble-winning team-mate Paul Scholes noted the strong atmosphere inside Old Trafford, which before the game trialled not having any music inside the stadium 15 minutes before kick-off to allow fans to build their own cauldron of noise to great success.
‘Absolutely brilliant, this is what this ground is known for,’ Scholes added. ‘Big atmospheres, big games. This was the Europa League not the Champions League but it still a major game. I wanted to see these two great clubs meet again and two great goals to eventually win the game for us.
Antony celebrates scoring the winning goal in a 2-1 win during the Europa League tie
Fred had equalised for the Red Devils shortly after half-time to help dump out Barcelona
Peter Schmeichel now believes Erik ten Hag has United competing back to their best
Schmeichel was Ferguson’s goalkeeper during the 1990s and when they won the treble in 1999
Former United stars Paul Scholes (second left) Robin van Persie (second right) and Owen Hargreaves were working as TV pundits for the match on Thursday night
Ten Hag (left) caught up with his Dutch compatriot Van Persie (right) after Thursday’s game
‘This is what the ground should be seeing, big European nights. We have been starved of it a little bit. It is something that makes this club.
‘Barcelona are not as good as they were and were missing a couple of players who would have played. I think United were confident and comfortable the game once they got the second goal.’
Robin van Persie, who was the main striker in Ferguson’s last title winning team, also made a rare return to Old Trafford and as well as noting the atmosphere praised Ten Hag’s substitutes in introducing livewires Antony and youngster Alejandro Garnacho.
‘It is electric,’ the Dutchman said. ‘I loved the second half. The first half was passive. With Antony and Garnacho on there was more depth in the game and they were very dangerous in the second half.’
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