'I'll copy Guardiola' - Ten Hag's plan to beat Real Madrid
The Ajax manager used to train the youth team at Bayern Munich when Pep Guardiola was in charge of the first team, and his methods were studied.
Ajax host Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday evening in Amsterdam. And in this clash, the Dutch side will have a little taste of Los Blancos' old rival Pep Guardiola awaiting them.
Pep the mentor for Ten Hag
Back in 2013, now Ajax manager Erik Ten Hag was in charge of developing the youth side at Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich. At the same time, the current Manchester City boss was leading the first team to domestic glory, something that had a major influence on the future of the Dutchman.
"Guardiola's philosophy is sensational," he said ahead of the big clash, "and he has demonstrated this at Barcelona, Bayern and City.
"His structured attacking play is very attractive and I aim to implement this at Ajax."
Innovative and inspirational Guardiola
It's been a couple of years since Ten Hag was soaking up the leadership skills of the Catalan, and although he didn't form part of his direct staff, he was able to watch training sessions and discuss tactics with the first team assistants.
"Guardiola is an innovator and and inspiration," continued the man faced with preventing the Madrid side from taking a step closer to an unprecedented fourth consecutive Champions League title. We want to "win by playing well" is the shared idea.
Also in the mind of the Ajax coach is the pressure from poor domestic form. The Dutch press continues to talk about fans losing faith, as the club's disappointing 2019 sees them six points off Eredividie leaders PSV Eindhoven. Clearly a win over Santiago Solari's revitalised Madrid would stave off any calls of no confidence.
Although there is no certainty whether or not Guardiola's 'touch' will be felt by the LaLiga giants, one thing that is for sure is who the former Barça man will be cheering on.