The elimination came as a sledgehammer blow, acknowledged Ten Hag. "Of course it's clear that this disappointment hits home. But a sportsman fights back, recovers and focuses on the future. We must ensure that we play in the UEFA Champions League next year."
The coach has been watching less football in recent days, as he was done with it for a while. That doesn't mean he wasn't busy with football. "I have been busy with Feyenoord. I know their principles and I can imagine what they are like. Yesterday I did not see much of their match, but I know how they play. They have no secrets for me."
"But now it's a totally different Feyenoord than in recent years. Feyenoord wants to dominate on the ball, they have an idea on the ball and exert high pressure with equally high intensity. That's a difference from previous years."
That Feyenoord comes straight after such a midweek deception doesn't bother Ten Hag much. "There's not much you can do about it. I think it's fine. It's a big game in which we can really wash away the nasty taste of the European elimination."
"I have spoken to many players individually over the past few days, but also in groups to gauge the mood, and how we can move forward. After all, we need to get back to positivity as soon as possible. We still have a lot to play for: the cup and the championships. There are still many finals and Sunday is one of them. The pressure is the same even after Tuesday: we have to become champions."
Ten Hag used the disappointment of three years ago when Ajax saw their way to the final blocked by Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League. "Then we responded well in the league with a good result. Now we have approached this match in the same way. If we get the same result as we did against FC Utrecht I will be very happy."