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Ten Hag calls for calm as Red Devils prepare to revisit ‘hell’ for Champions League tussle

Erik ten Hag wants cool heads when Manchester United look to keep their UEFA Champions League hopes alive on Wednesday, returning to the scene of their infamous 1993 clash with Galatasaray.

Having squandered 2-0 and 3-2 leads in a chaotic 4-3 defeat to Copenhagen on their last European outing, United sit bottom of Group A with just three points going into matchday five.

They will be out of contention to reach the last 16 if they lose in Istanbul, while a draw will also seal their fate should Copenhagen upset group winners Bayern Munich elsewhere on Wednesday.

United memorably received a hostile reception when they travelled to Turkey for the second leg of a 1993 Champions League tie with Galatasaray, being greeted on their arrival in Istanbul with a banner which read: ‘Welcome to Hell”.

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A goalless draw played out in a ferocious atmosphere saw United dumped out of the competition on away goals on that occasion, and Ten Hag is urging calm as his team look to avoid a similar fate.

“We know how to deal with it. You have to stay calm in your head and don’t get too emotional,” Ten Hag said of the atmosphere likely to await United at Rams Park.

“You need the emotions, but you have to control them and not give them [Galatasaray] anything, the referee as well. We know how to deal with it, you have to make it your game.

“It’s not that important how the opponent is playing, it’s about how we are playing, how we deal with possession, out of possession, the normal stuff.

“We will make a good plan but in the moment, the players have to decide it. They have to manage the game.”

Both of United’s away Champions League games this season – against Bayern and Copenhagen – have resulted in 4-3 defeats, but Ten Hag does not believe hostile receptions have impacted his players.

“You can always find something,” the Dutchman said. “Last year we couldn’t win away from home, it was an issue, now we can’t win at home.

“Now we win away games so you bring up that we can’t win away games in Europe! We know what we can do and we are confident.

“The last few games away from home in the league were also very hostile, and we played very well. We were calm and composed, like this team last year in Barcelona [in the UEFA Europa League].”

Arguably the most damaging result of United’s campaign to date came in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford, with former Red Devil Wilfried Zaha among the scorers as Galatasaray clinched a dramatic 3-2 victory.

Asked if United have improved since that loss, Ten Hag said: “I think so, yeah. It will probably be the same for Galatasaray but I think we improved.

“We made good progress, we’re stepping up, we’re more stable and we’re winning games. There’s definitely a better feeling than in the moment when we last met Galatasaray.”

United will be without forward Marcus Rashford for Wednesday’s game as he serves a one-match ban after being sent off in Copenhagen, but Ten Hag confirmed Rasmus Hojlund and Antony are both in the squad after missing Saturday’s 3-0 win over Everton with minor injuries.

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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