ON THE ROAD: Erik ten Hag saw big calls BACKFIRE as Ajax lost the Dutch Cup final… the new Man United boss has guts of his conviction and will DEMAND spoiled stars to embrace his style of pressing (but don’t expect theatrics on the sideline! )
- Erik ten Hag watched his side lose to fierce rivals PSG after leading at half-time
- Ajax won’t win another double but the league title is still within reach
- Ten Hag is expected to be appointed as the new manager at Manchester United
- Sportsmail takes a look at what we’ve learned from watching the Dutchman up close
Erik ten Hag was in no mood to discuss his upcoming move to Manchester United after Ajax’s defeat by PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch Cup final.
“I think this is the right time to end the press conference,” said the Ajax boss when the topic was raised. “It will take me 24 hours to recover from this.”
His side were crushed with two goals within three minutes just after half-time after a well-taken Ryan Gravenberch goal put them ahead.
Erik ten Hag saw his side lose to rivals PSV after leading at half-time in the Dutch Cup final
That means Ten Hag won’t sign off with another double win in Amsterdam, but Ajax can still win the league title.
Sportsmail takes a look at what we’ve learned from Ajax’s final defeat at the hands of Ten Hag.
Large selection is calling
Any United fans wondering if Ten Hag has the courage of his beliefs got a big clue when the team sheets were handed in.
Sebastien Haller, Ajax’s main striker with 33 goals in 37 games this season, was benched for that parade game and replaced by the largely untried 20-year-old Brian Brobbey.
The usual first-choice goalkeeper Andre Onana has been left out of the squad entirely amid an ongoing dispute over his fitness.
Erik ten Hag’s decision not to start with star striker Sebastian Haller in the final backfired
Ten Hag was challenged three times in a pre-game TV interview with his pre-game claim that Onana was injured. Ten Hag repeated himself three times before giving his interviewer a steely look. end of the debate.
United stars beware – if you don’t live up to Ten Hag’s expectations you’ll be cut. He has been known to select his team based on the best performers in training each week, there will be no slacking off.
He brought Haller on with 18 minutes to go as Ajax went after the equaliser, an admission he might have made the wrong decision.
Dressed in a suit jacket and sweater on a sizzling afternoon in Rotterdam, Ten Hag cut a largely motionless, slightly hunched figure as he stood on the sidelines.
He’s a quiet presence – we won’t see Louis van Gaal or Jose Mourinho-esque theatrics at Old Trafford. The occasional wave of the arm was about as lively as it got.
The Ajax coach was a calm presence on the touchline and no theatrics are expected
Even when Ajax scored through Ryan Gravenberch, his reaction was a subtle fist pump. The fourth official got an icy look when a trip to the box on VAR’s Dusan Tadic went unchecked.
He ended up freezing for a few seconds as if trying to figure out in his head where he was wrong before slowly moving forward to comfort his players. It was noticeable that they initially avoided eye contact with their manager.
Ten Hag answered a question about United in his post-match press conference in fairly good English but declined to discuss the matter.
United’s spoiled stars have refused to accept Ralf Rangnick’s powerful pressing style. But you sense there will be no excuses when Ten Hag arrives.
His Ajax team moves across the field in fluid motion. When they push forward, everyone commits to attack. If they have to defend themselves, everyone has to run back.
There’s security when playing from behind, flying full-backs and a dual attacking pivot in midfield.
Manchester United players are expected to match the intensity of Ajax under Erik ten Hag
Ten Hag could be looking to pair United outcast Donny van de Beek with Bruno Fernandes there but in Premier League intensity they need a relentless No 6 behind. Someone like West Ham’s Declan Rice maybe.
Jurrien Timber, just 20, has had a presence at the heart of Ajax’s defense and it’s no wonder he’s already being linked with United.
His speed on the ball and his positioning could support Harry Maguire at the back.