Welcome to Hell – Erik ten Hag confident Man Utd can handle Gala atmosphere

By Sports Desk November 28, 2023

Erik ten Hag says Manchester United must keep calm and in control of their emotions if they are to emerge from their ‘Welcome to Hell’ experience at Galatasaray with their Champions League hopes alive.

It is 30 years since the Red Devils’ first trip to the Istanbul giants, who progressed on away goals from that highly-charged encounter punctuated by hostility and intimidation.

United have visited Galatasaray twice in the Champions League since then and are now preparing for a huge clash for both sides amid an ear-splitting backdrop at Rams Park on Wednesday.

The Turkish champions are well placed to qualify having won the reverse fixture 3-2 and Ten Hag knows his side will be unable to reach the knockout phase if they lose the Group A encounter.

“We know we can (win away in Europe) and we are confident,” Ten Hag said.

“The last games away from home in the league were also very hostile environments. We played very well. We were very calm and composed.

“This team also last year in Barcelona (in the Europa League did well), so we know how to deal with it and I’m sure it will be tomorrow a confident team on the pitch.”

Asked if he will stress to his players to keep their heads and remain disciplined, Ten Hag said: “Absolutely. You have to stay calm in your head and don’t get too emotional. You need the emotions but you have to control it.

“That you don’t give them anything, that you don’t give the referee as well at that moment that they’re going to take, so you have to stay away from such moments.

“We know how to deal with it. You have to play confident and you have to make it your game, so it’s not that important how the opponent is playing.

“It’s important how we are playing, how we are dealing with possession, how we are dealing with out of possession, so normal stuff. We will make a good plan but then, at the end of day, the players have to decide, they have to manage the game.”

United have failed to so much as score in their three visits to Galatasaray, who have embraced the ‘Welcome to Hell’ phase made famous in their 1993 meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.

There are few more hostile environments in European football and Ten Hag was asked by a Turkish journalist what his plans were “to get out of hell” on Wednesday.

“We have to make it our game and it’s the history,” the Dutchman said.

“Obviously Manchester United has a great history, but you can’t take any guarantee from it in the future, so we have to make our own future. It’s the past, so tomorrow, it’s about the future, so we have to make it our game. It’s on us.”

United head to Istanbul without a variety of first-team players, with Casemiro, Lisandro Martinez and Christian Eriksen among those injured.

Jonny Evans, Mason Mount, Tyrell Malacia and Amad Diallo are also sidelined, while Jadon Sancho remains banished from the squad and Donny van de Beek was not registered for the Champions League.

Marcus Rashford serves a one-match ban for his sending off in the 4-3 loss at Copenhagen earlier this month, but striker Rasmus Hojlund and winger Antony are available.

Ten Hag confirmed “they are in the squad” after missing Sunday’s 3-0 win at Everton through injury – a match in which Kobbie Mainoo shone on his first Premier League start.

The highly-rated 18-year-old put in an eye-catching display at Goodison Park and Ten Hag would have no hesitation throwing him in again.

“No, we don’t have fear (of starting Mainoo again),” Ten Hag said. “If players are good enough, then they are old enough.”

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