Manchester United this Thursday formalized the arrival of Erik ten Haag as coach for next season. Ajax is a fan of Dutch coach Pep Guardiola, who appeared in Amsterdam, whom he met at Bayern Munich.
He showed up in the Champions League
Eric Ten Hug is not used to roaming around. It was during their first European campaign, in the biggest competition, that the world had seen. From the group stage, their Ajax Amsterdam was pitched up to Bayern Munich, receiving two draws. “I’ll be honest: we should have won,” the Dutch coach said after the first game.
In the knockout stage, Ajax paid off Real Madrid with a 4–1 win in the return match at the Bernabeu, and Juventus with success over the opponent as well. Batavian then took his football lessons, led by Tadic, de Jong, Ziyech, Neres, van de Beek, de Ligt and others. It took a hat-trick from Lucas Moura and a Spurs goal followed by extra time to knock Ajax out of the competition, seconds after securing their ticket to the final.
After a first experience with the Go Ahead Eagles as coach N°1, with which he experienced first division growth, Ten Haag made his debut with Utrecht in the Eredivisie in the summer of 2015. Back in the time of his experience in Germany, he successfully applied his game principles. At the fore, Sebastian Haller piles up the pawns, 30 in two seasons in the league, and the smaller club is elbowing in with the big guys.
Utrecht finished 5th in the first season of ten Haag, who were voted the best Eredivisie coach. During the following practice, he did a little better and went on to finish fourth, synonymous with qualification for the Europa League. That’s enough to open the doors of the country’s biggest club, Ajax Amsterdam, who comes to Utrecht to pick him up.
Between the Go Ahead Eagles and his stint at Utrecht, Erik ten Haag risked moving away from the Netherlands and joining Germany, where he led Bayern Munich’s B team for two years (2013–2015). “When I left the Eredivisie to train in the Regionalliga (D4), many in the Netherlands were skeptical, admitting Ten Haag in an interview for the German daily Bild. But I have never regretted my decision.”
In Munich, the Dutchman walks side-by-side with Bayern’s No. 1 coach Pep Guardiola. “Working in such a big club, with a strong personality like Guardiola or Samar, was like winning the lottery.”
Bayern have always kept an eye on them
After his time as head of the Bavarian’s B team, and also after his European epic with Ajax, Bayern Munich have at times thought of bringing Erik ten Haag to Bavaria. At the end of 2019, first of all, the German leader wanted him to replace Nico Kovac, thank you. But at that point Ten Haig decided to expand with Ajax and put an end to the rumours.
Last summer, he was again on Bayern’s shortlist if Julian Nagelsmann’s lead was not successful. Earlier, the Dutchman had also dismissed Tottenham, who saw himself signing Jose Mourinho to take over. The decision to eventually leave the Netherlands again required waiting for ten haggling long negotiations with Manchester United.
He is an admirer of Guardiola and a follower of Cruyff.
During his time at Bayern, Erik ten Haag crossed paths with Pep Guardiola. Without talking to each other every day, they had the opportunity to exchange on many occasions. “I learned a lot from Guardiola, recognized ten hugs in 2019. His philosophy is sensational. What he did at Barca, at Bayern and now at City, this is the structure I tried to set up at Ajax.” The Dutchman’s role model remains Johan Cruyff, but Catalan is an obvious inspiration.
An inspiration that makes him feel good. In recent months, Guardiola has not stopped praising the qualities of his counterpart. “Are you asking me if Erik Ten Haag could be here in town? Certainly.” Then recently. “To see their qualities you only have to look at their Ajax team in recent years. It’s a pleasure to see and in many games, not just the year they reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.”
He advocates iron discipline
When he reaches somewhere, ten Hugs want to impose their thoughts, their vision. This earned him the nickname “Little General” in the past. When he arrived at Go Ahead Eagles in 2012, when he was starting out as No. 1, he didn’t hesitate to make several requests to the club: to buy 30 beds so players could take naps and practice more, Make a window in the office of the players to have a view of the building etc.
The Dutchman is a diligent worker, able to watch his future rival in the league, Fortuna Sittard, on a plane returning from Madrid after a resounding Champions League victory. He expects similar investments from his players, but then pays them back, whenever he is wherever, eventually leading to results.