Insights from 'Inside Ten Hag's Ajax Farewell'
On the night our Under-18s won the FA Youth Cup in front of 67,00 fans at Old Trafford, new Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag was lifting his own trophy with Ajax.
Thanks to our friends at Ajax, MUTV cameras were granted special access to capture a short film that profiles our new manager with exclusive insights from match-going fans, respected journalists and local podcasters. Watch it below, before reading the thoughts of those who know Erik well…
Short film | Inside Ten Hag's Ajax farewell
WATCH | We flew to Amsterdam to profile Erik ten Hag, interviewing fans & experts around the night he won the title...
Dick Sintenie, Dutch football writer with Hey Parool: “When I first heard the news, I thought 'good for him' because he deserves it. His career is good so far and he has made the right steps at the right moments. He has proved at Ajax that he is capable of leading a big club in Holland. He has proved also that he can get a competitive team at the highest level in the Champions League without lots of money, so he deserves a step like this. Whether it is young players or stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, there is no difference between them for him. He will help everyone and you have got to give him something back.”
Willem Vissers, Dutch journalist with Volkskrant: “I think he is a very normal man, he likes to play normal football, attacking football, with good organisation, but he is also coming from the east of the country so he is a very nice and quiet modest man.
“Ajax were more down to earth when he came. In fact, when he started, they were starting again because in four years they had no title, the mentality of the players was not good enough, they lost the important matches because the mental strength was not big enough, so he tried to change all of that. With him, they changed the system of the whole club. A lot of new players will come in [at United], he wants to play attacking, dominant football, but he needs time to introduce a new system. I hope he gets time in Manchester and that is the most important thing.”
Freek Jansen, Dutch journalist with Voetbal International: “I hope that the United fans accept him and his knowledge. I think it will be a good match between United and Erik ten Hag. I think in England the job will be different and bigger for him. But for the media, he is a good man and he says what he wants, but he is always thinking of the club.”
Elko Born, Dutch football writer: “In a way I was surprised [he is joining United] as it is a pretty big move. Obviously, he is used to managing a big club in Ajax, but Manchester United is another step up in terms of pressure and just how big the job is really. So in that way I was surprised, but I am very excited as well. I am really excited to see what he is able to do at United. He has done quite well at Ajax, so let's see if he can produce the same kind of results in the context of United. I am very curious.
“Ten Hag likes managing a squad, he likes working with people, he likes working with young football players as well. He likes managing the group atmosphere, he likes to talk to people, to make sure everybody knows their role and not just on the pitch when they are playing football and trying to produce a result. Those two factors - on the pitch, tactically making sure everybody knows what to do and in what type of situation, and off the pitch as well. I am always quite surprised by how good he seems to be at managing both those sides of football.
“I think he likes intelligent players and players who like to think about what they are doing on the pitch, not just when the team is attacking but when the team is in transition to defence as well. So players who know what to do in different types of situations and who like learning about that, thinking about that, together with their team-mates and together with their manager.”
Thijs Zwagerman, Dutch football journalist: “Ten Hag is always talking about the process and he needs time to attempt his vision at the club. His pre-seasons are really nice to follow, because we see him building a team so carefully and we see him attempting his way of playing, attempting [to impose] his style on the team so carefully. He is improving in exactly the way he wants and he is really a good builder. That is one of his biggest qualities.
“His style is a combination of really careful football, attacking football, always with great tactics. He can adapt to the opponent, he can make switches that can help his team, and always with his own way of playing in mind. He will never put everything away and just park the bus defensively. He will always analyse opponents carefully and will always make the best tactics for that match. That is one of the greatest things about Ten Hag.”
‘AWARE OF UNITED’S TRADITIONS’
Menno Pot, Ajax podcast host: “He comes across as a very, very focused man, very serious and with an enormous work ethic. He is always talking about football and thinks it should be better. It took some time for people to get used to him because he didn't turn stuff around immediately, by the time he started his first proper season he had already lost much of his credit and it was a thin line. And it was hard for him at first. But slowly, people started to understand what he was doing, results started coming, the team started improving and that's when the magic happened. I think we have come to love him as a person as well. With his integrity and his seriousness, he is a bit of a professor and people can smile about that now.
“When I think of Erik, I am totally convinced that he will read about Manchester United, that he knows the club, he knows how they have played in the past, what the philosophy of the club is. He will take that into account and implement his own vision into it so it will become something better. He is very, very aware of the traditions of the club and what people will want to see at Old Trafford.”