Ten Hag: Typical tactic by the Belgians

Ten Hag: Typical tactic by the Belgians

Leading up to the game at Standard Liege, Ajax was emphatically put in the position of favourite by the Belgians.  According to Erik ten Hag, this is a mental game, as he explained on the eve of the game during the press conference.  “This is a typical Belgian tactic when it comes to the Dutch: position yourself as the underdog.”

Ten Hag is counting on an even match.  “Of course we are confident, but it’s a bit exaggerated to be considered the favourite like this.  But, as I said, it’s a typical tactic.  It makes the Belgians feel stronger.  Standard is a well known club, a top club.  I estimate that the chances are 50/50.  The 2 day form will be decisive as to who goes through.”

“What does he mean by comfort zone?” countered Ten Hag to a Flemish reporter, only to continue his dialogue.  “We’re going to play our own game.  That’s Ajax’s way, we’ve been focusing on style and playing strategy for many years, and now is oriented on new developments.  This team, today’s players, determine the way we play.  But we’re definitely going to play to our own strengths.”

Top-level atmosphere

The discussion turned to Ajax’s broad selection.  Ten Hag explained once again that a large group of players is needed.  “These days, players play season after season, non-stop.  We just had the World Cup and now an early start to the competition.  You need a big group to avoid injuries.”

“But that’s the game at this level, competition belongs with top-level sports”, continued Ten Hag.  “This is good.  The guys need to fight for their spot, challenge each other.  This makes them better individually, and strengthens the team.  And that’s just what the guys want: they’re very ambitious.”

Battle-ready Schöne

Lasse Schone joined Ten Hag, perhaps symbolically.  If someone knows how to fight for his spot, it’s definitely the Dane.  “No, this is nothing new for me.  It’s my 7th season with Ajax and in the 6 last ones, I’ve had to fight for my place.  This year, the competition is bigger.  There’s nothing wrong with that, it only makes you better.”

Schone’s country mate Kasper Dolberg won’t play in Liege.  The striker will be our of the rotation for several weeks and Ten Hag does not know when his centre forward will be back.  “Worried is a big word”, was the coach’s reaction to a reporter’s question.  “I think it’s a shame for Kasper.  He missed a half year last season, but fortunately was able to play in the World Cup, although his participation was different because he hadn’t played much leading up.  It’s such a pity that this has happened again, because you fall behind again.  I hope he can join us soon, because we need him.”