Ruthless Erik ten Hag is proving he's a Man Utd manager in Sir Alex Ferguson's mould after brutally axing Harry Maguire as captain and kicking David de Gea out

Ten Hag Ferguson Maguire GFXGetty/GOAL

It was the start of the biggest week of Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United career at that point, a Europa League play-off decider against Barcelona followed by the Carabao Cup final. So the Dutchman naturally decided to begin it with a dinner with Sir Alex Ferguson.

The pair ate at Cibo restaurant in Wilmslow, where Ferguson still lives, and in addition to enjoying Italian food, Ten Hag feasted on the knowledge of the club’s greatest-ever manager.

"I always enjoy speaking with people who have a lot of knowledge, who have a lot of experience,” Ten Hag later explained. “He wants to share it, so he wants to help and he wants to support. You feel Manchester United is his club and he feels so committed.”

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Ten Hag would not give away many details of their conversation, but five months on, after the Dutchman has made seismic decisions on the futures of Harry Maguire and David de Gea, it seems likely that they discussed how to deal with high-profile players who had passed their sell-by-date. It is, after all, one of Ferguson’s specialist subjects.

Ten Hag has only been at United for one year, but he is following Ferguson’s lead, making the tough calls his predecessors were often afraid to and looking to the future.