Erik Ten Hag, Who Measures Grass, May Not be a Good Fit for England.

Erik Ten Hag, Who Measures Grass, May Not be a Good Fit for England.

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26 Mar 2022
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Erik Ten Hag

Erik Ten Hag has been advised that he has enormous obstacles if he is to successfully transfer from Ajax to Manchester United, and his first task will be to part ways with some of the dressing room’s most prominent figures.

Former players and journalists in Holland have weighed in on Ten Hag’s chances at Old Trafford following the Dutchman’s meeting with the United leadership this week.

Ten Hag is one of several candidates for the Red Devils’ hot seat, which also includes Mauricio Pochettino of Paris Saint-Germain, Julen Lopetegui of Sevilla, and Luis Enrique of the Spanish national side.

United are under great pressure to make a decision quickly, since other clubs are also interested in the high-profile players on their shortlist.

However, it is the Dutchman Ten Hag who is leading the race… despite the fact that some of his compatriots believe he will face serious issues if he gets the top post at Old Trafford.

‘All he needs to do is eliminate those troublemakers.’ Rene van der Gijp, a former right-winger for Holland suggested.

Other Dutch media outlets picked up on Van der Gijp’s remarks. Ten Hag’s point is that there is no room for ego or distraction in his method, but also that the big-name players will simply not accept him.

In Holland, Cristiano Ronaldo has been viewed as both a blessing and a curse for United’s current manager Ralf Rangnick. Harry Maguire has developed into a problem due to his poor form, and Paul Pogba has also failed to perform at the level many believe he is capable of.

Given the stodgy, stilted, halting form that has defined the nine long years since Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down from the dugout, supporters marvel at Ten Hag’s accomplishments on the European stage with a fraction of the resources. And they admire his team’s performance approach.

Ten Hag caught the attention of every major club as he guided his gifted teenagers to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018-19, only to lose in the final minute to Tottenham Hotspur.

Ajax drew both home and away matches against Bayern Munich in the group stage that year, before defeating Juventus and Real Madrid, including a 4-1 thrashing of Los Blancos at the Bernabeu.

While United’s £220 million talent pool notoriously failed to score against Manchester City at the Etihad, Ten Hag has dominated Borussia Dortmund this season, defeating them 7-1 in two group games with performances of typically incisive football. They now sit atop the Eredivisie.

Under Ten Hag, Ajax have delivered performances that the Red Devils just cannot match. However, can the Dutchman work his magic at Old Trafford?

Ten Hag is an excellent coach without a doubt, but there is concern that the environment at Old Trafford – especially in the Premier League – may not suit him.

At the Theatre of Dreams, there is a failure culture that includes Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. This has resulted in a lack of dedication from a highly compensated squad that has operated as individuals for an extended length of time.

How would those players react to a ‘obsessive’ coach who will drill them to distraction and has been known to measure the grass length in order to adjust his approach?

However, according to Dutch journalist John Inan, ‘conditions for performance are critical’ for Ten Hag.

Another obstacle the Dutch envision for Ten Hag is the Premier League’s intensity, both on and off the field.

The league is of a better standard than the Eredivisie, where he now plays. Ajax has won two league titles and two KNVB cups since he arrived in 2017. They have finished first seven times and second four times in the last 11 years.

While the Big Six dominate the English top division, there are few guarantees of three points – and no weekend off. The games are fast-paced and difficult, and they arrive more frequently.

Analysts In a recent study, Ai Abacus discovered that the Premier League’s tempo is significantly higher than that of the Eredivisie.

Additionally, English clubs play more games in a tier with two additional teams and an added cup competition. Ajax played 51 matches last season, compared to United’s 61.

This is significant since Ten Hag is known for putting his players through their paces on the training ground.

Ten Hag began measuring grass blades at the De Adelaarshorst Stadium. He also enjoyed ‘shadow play,’ which required all 11 players to execute with the ball but without opposition, repeatedly repeating established patterns until they became second nature. They never made a pass that was more than five meters long.

It has been characterized as tedious, but effective. Additionally, there is hard effort.

If Ten Hag is successful, it will take time for Manchester United to turn around. He’ll need to reduce the squad’s egos and excess talent, then recruit selectively, if he’s going to accomplish a core group pulling in the same direction in his preferred 4-3-3 style.

Even then, hours and hours will be spent on the training ground perfecting the patterns and movements desired by Ten Hag. It will require a degree of application that Old Trafford looks to have lacked for a long period of time.

The Premier League, on the other hand, is a pressure cooker. While there is always discussion of being given time to explore a new method, the fact is that if outcomes or performances are not immediately exceptional, doubts rapidly arise.

 

 

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