Erik Ten Hag: Tactics at Ajax | Formation | Style of Play | Philosophy
Since taking over the reins of Ajax, Erik Ten Hag has done an impressive job and formed a robust side in the Dutch Eredivisie. In this article, we dissect the tactics and philosophy of Erik Ten hag.
In the past, Erik Ten Hag guided smaller clubs that weren’t very famous in Europe, as a Utrecht manager where he became a popular figure in the Dutch Eredivisie; this caught Ajax’s attention and later he was appointed as their manager in 2017.
Ten Hag first came to the spotlight when he inspired the club to Champions League semi-final for the first time since 1997 in his first season in charge at Ajax.
Under his tutelage, Ajax won 74% of its matches which extended to 81% last season. This season the club has embarked on a great run winning all their league games and humiliating Borussia Dortmund 4-0 in the Champions League Group Stage.
|Stats||Erik Ten Hag|
|Clubs managed||Go ahead eagles, |
Bayern Munich II,
Erik Ten Hag: Tactics and formation
Erik Ten Hag applies his tactics with a flexible formation in the form of 4-3-3 and 4-3-2-1, with three attacking midfielders who join one attacker at the higher position and three defensive midfield who forms tandem with four defenders.
Defensive midfielders’ job is to press higher when out of position while attacking ones play box-to-box and are poised to feed balls to the attacker. This creates better fluidity and dynamism; it forms a better build-up from the defense to the attack.
With the defense tactics, Erik Ten Hag has formed an odd system where players swap their positions during play, the centre-back often shifts to defensive midfield, which offers them an extra helping hand during defending.
Even if Ajax doesn’t have robust defense, they use their prowess to keep attackers at bay. Last season Ajax only conceded 20 goals in 27 matches contributing to a scintillating goal difference of +65.
Ajax have perfect ball-winners in the likes of Daley Blind and Tagliafico, who are great off the ball, but their defensive ability heavily depends on the attacking structure, what the team accomplishes at the front.
Erik Ten Hag deploy the players at their accurate position so when they win the ball back, they restart their attack right away, as the team play in close proximity and the setting up of players is also plays a huge role in winning the possession.
Ajax rotates their players in such a manner that they never lose the balance and this mechanism helps in counter-pressing to avoid any error.
Ajax also likes aggressive pressing, the players re-group into 4-3-2-1 formation this makes them stay compact on the field as it prevents passes in the middle of the pitch, and leads to opponents playing out-wide where there is an extra defender in the touchline who will win the ball to begin a counter-attack.
Build-up play and final third combination
Ajax is more of a possession-oriented team, who plays possession-based football starting from the back with quick short passes, no teams have kept more possession than Ajax last season.
Daley Blind is the man who spearheads the team from back to front, he’s the orchestrator of their moves, through him the team relies on during build-ups.
Since the departure of Frenkie de Jong, Ryan Gravenberch has been his predecessor and has done a great job so far dropping to Blind’s left or right to combine with him and create more space on the field.
Although Ajax doesn’t keep possession to show they are a dominating team, during their build-up they use the pragmatic system to make exact width, depth, and the right amount of space to execute their plan.
Ajax plays quick one-to-one touches during the build-up to split the defense of the opponents and lay-offs to draw out defenders from their spot, these lay-offs help shoot with power wide from the goalkeeper where he cannot reach.
Ajax is great at combining with each other, as it offers them more space and less pressure on the ball in central areas. The fullbacks maintain great width and the wingers drift inside to expose the defense and create chaos in the box for the oppositions.
Erik Ten Hag: Philosophy
Since his appointment, Ten Hag has revitalized the club into Europe’s most exciting teams, they may not be favourites to go further in the Champions League, but their 4-0 smashing of Dortmund is the warning is how the club has revolutionized under Erik Ten Hag and his tactics.
He has also become the most south manager in Europe as his style of play has impressed many top European giants and in no time, we will be seeing him managing a more successful European Club.