Manchester United target Erik ten Hag shown that he is not afraid to make bold decisions by benching Sebastien Haller and Andre Onana in Ajax’s Dutch Cup final defeat to PSV, but he was left dissatisfied and facing questions after the 2-1 setback.
The Eredivisie title contenders seized the lead thanks to in-demand Ryan Gravenberch’s goal, but they conceded twice in the second half, with Cody Gakpo, another player attracting interest from England, netting the game’s winner.
Ten Hag, who replaced Haller’s 33 goals with Brian Brobbey and left first-choice goalie Onana out of his lineup entirely, cut a frustrated figure after the game, believing Ajax had done enough to win more major trophies.
“There should have been only one team with the cup, and that is Ajax,” the 52-year-old told Voetbal International, refusing to answer any questions about his ties to United.
“We do that to ourselves; we make two major errors.” While we were saying to one other, “You have to stay 100% concentrated.”
“You have to improve your defense; you can’t let Gakpo in since that’s where his strengths lie.” You must keep him to the left of the two people who are standing by.”
“We score a wonderful goal with [Davy] Klaassen; just offside,” he continued. And there’s a post shot from [Dusan] Tadic. It wasn’t supposed to be that way; football has its own set of energies and powers. It wasn’t easy, but you had to do it on your own.”
Excuse for the loss?
While implying that Ajax did not get the better of PSV, Erik Ten Hag also took aim at the match referees while explaining why his team was unable to cross the finish line in a big final.
“We played against more than eleven players,” he explained. Nonetheless, we demonstrated character and should not have lost this game, but it did.”
There have been numerous speculations that Ten Hag has agreed to become Manchester United’s permanent manager in 2022-23, as the Red Devils look for a long-term replacement for interim coach Ralf Rangnick, but no official announcement has been made.