The Dutchman made some interesting comments in the wake of his Ajax side of 2019 dumping European powerhouses Real Madrid out of the Champions League with an emphatic away win
Former RB Leipzig manager Ralf Rangnick has been at the helm on an interim basis since December of last year but has failed to inspire a significant turnaround in terms of results. Ten Hag is highly thought of by the United hierarchy and Mirror Football understands he has a verbal agreement with the Red Devils to take over following the end of this season.
Though he is expected in the red half of Manchester soon enough, he has previous when it comes to the man who runs things on the blue side. Ten Hag worked closely with Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola while the pair were both at Bayern Munich, where the former took charge of the reserve side. What is more noteworthy is that the Dutchman once likened his own playing style to that of Guardiola’s.
While some sections of the United faithful may not be keen on the idea of their manager basing his philosophy on the beliefs of the boss of their fierce rivals, Guardiola’s success at City has been nothing short of remarkable and if Ten Hag could achieve even half of it while at United he’ll go down as a hero on the Old Trafford terraces.
Ten Hag’s most notable achievement to date is arguably the fact he took a young Ajax to within touching distance of the 2019 Champions League final, only to be beaten by a last-gasp Spurs winner in Amsterdam. Two rounds prior, the Dutch outfit eliminated Spanish titans Real Madrid.
Having been beaten 2-1 at home by Los Blancos, the odds were stacked against Ten Hag’s side when they rolled into the Santiago Bernabeu. 90 minutes later, they had just ran riot and beaten what was then-Santiago Solari’s side 4-1 on their own patch.
The next round saw them draw Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus – yet another tie that would see Ajax regarded as massive underdogs. Yet again, they took another scalp after a 2-1 win in Turin.
Ten Hag told reporters after the game: “I think it was an incredible night for Ajax, the players and all of Dutch football. We have again knocked out one of the Champions League favourites, as with our philosophy, we can go beyond our limitations and we’ve done it again. You could see that Juve were a little scared of us and so were Real Madrid.”
The 52-year-old went on to heap praise on his own tactics as well as the players that were tasked with executing them. “It is very difficult to play against our style of football, as we have very technically-gifted players and it’s tough to press us. Even in defence, only we know how to perform that variable pressing game.
Upon beating Juventus, Ten Hag learned of the potential opponents that awaited his side in the next round. It was a case of either Tottenham or Man City in the final four and Ten Hag added: “Pep Guardiola has a pretty similar philosophy to mine. If we play the way we did against Real Madrid and Juventus, then we ought to feel confident against either of these teams too.”
Ten Hag never got the chance to pit his wits against Guardiola as City were on the wrong end of yet another shock defeat in Europe against fellow Premier League side Spurs.
Unfortunately, the fairy-tale run came to its end at the semi-final stage as Ajax’s hearts were broken by Lucas Moura’s late winner. Ten Hag will be hoping for better luck on the European stage at United, but the Red Devils must qualify first – something that is by no means a guarantee.