‘One of the best coaches’ – What Ten Hag’s players have said about him

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Ajax manager Erik ten Hag talks to Dusan Tadic at the Johan Cruyff Arena. October 2020.

Erik ten Hag has been announced as Manchester United’s new manager – but what can their current players expect from him?

Ten Hag began his managerial career at Go Ahead Eagles in the Netherlands’ second division before being named as manager of Bayern Munich’s reserves in 2013.

After spending two years in Germany he returned to the Netherlands and took on the role of sporting director and head coach at FC Utrecht.

The 52-year-old replaced Marcel Keizer at Ajax in December 2017 and has since won two Eredivisie titles, two KNVB Cups and the Johan Cruyff shield.

We’ve taken a look at what some of the players who played under Ten Hag have said about the manager.

Dusan Tadic

“He is amazing,” Tadic told The Daily Telegraph in 2021. “He is one of the best coaches in the world, without a doubt.

“He is totally obsessed with football, I am sure it is all he thinks about. You need a manager like that if you want to be one of the best clubs.

“That is what he has made Ajax. The thing about him that is so impressive is he always seems to have the solution to a problem when you face an opponent.

“He identifies their strengths and how to stop them, whatever the opposition do, he has a response. He will find a weakness and then he is able to tell the players what we must do to hurt them.

“It’s so nice. He gives us such an advantage, we always feel like we are one step ahead of the other team.

“I think, tactically, he is the master. But he is also very good in the way he talks to the players. When you have that combination, it is why he is so good.”

Antony

“Every player under his guidance becomes a better footballer through his training,” Antony told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. “Since my arrival, he has given me a lot of confidence and believed in what I can do.

“I am grateful to him for that. I respect him very much.”

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal prepares for the game against Aston Villa at Old Trafford, April 2016.

READ: Ten Hag next? The 8 Dutch Premier League managers – & how they fared

Andre Onana

“When we lose the ball, we must win it back immediately,” the goalkeeper told AFP in May 2019. “He [Ten Hag] is focused on that, he is always telling us that if we have control of the ball, we have the ability to push back any opponent.”

Matthijs de Ligt

“Everybody has a new start under Erik ten Hag with a new football vision and opinions and as a squad that can only be good for us in order to continue development in the future,” De Ligt told NOS in January 2018.

“The training is different under Erik ten Hag with a lot of focus on tactical elements and positional play and it is really instructive. I want to become even more consistent and develop my skills under our new manager Erik Ten Hag.”

Daley Blind

“Johan Cruyff’s philosophy and spirit still flows around in this club,” Blind told BT Sport in May 2019. “Erik ten Hag is doing very well now. He wants us to play attacking football but most of all without any fear.” 

Daley Blind

READ: An ode to Daley Blind, the slender defender who defies modern logic

Sebastian Haller

– “He’s responsible a lot for me coming to Ajax because of course I know him,” Haller told CNN in 2022. “I know him well. I know what he’s able to do and how he wanted to use me as well.

“For me there was a lot of safety, let’s say, because I know how he wants to play. I know how good he is tactically and he will never let his players just do what they want. He always has a good view on the opponent so he gives us the keys to succeed during the game.”

– “He’s clever, he knows his strengths but also his weaknesses,” Haller added in the same interview. “I think he’s trying to become better every day, so of course he’s trying to be there for the players… trying to keep everyone involved in the team.”

Dusan Tadic

“He was very important. He did a great job. He wants to improve us every day, he wants to help us,” Tadic told Omnisport in 2019.

“I think he also told his team with [Alfred Schreuder], with Richard [Witschge], with Aaron [Winter], with Carlo [l’Ami], with Bjorn [Rekelhof] and also a lot of compliments to our medical staff also, they did great to keep us fit.

“And also like all coaches they did amazing for us because they want to make us better.

“What is the biggest thing about Erik I think is his fanaticism and that he wants to improve us every day and he really likes football and this is really great for players because always they want to help you improve.”

Marnix Kolder

– “Behind every training session, there was an idea,” the former Go Ahead Eagles captain told The Independent. “He makes every player better. Tactical, physical. Erik left nothing to chance. He was prepared for every opponent, down to the last detail.”

– “He has a path in his head and he’s not distracted by anything and anyone,” Kolder added. “Everyone has an opinion but he follows his own plan. That’s Erik.”

Sjoerd Overgoor

“If we had a difficult time, maybe at halftime, he’d change something simple like: ‘You have to play five metres more to the left and problem solved’,” the former Go Ahead Eagles midfielder told the Independent.

“It was so easy and we didn’t see it. He’d turn it around and in the second half we’d be better than the opponent.”


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