Ten Hag: 'I don’t expect a tactical spar’

Ten Hag: 'I don’t expect a tactical spar’

Erik Ten Hag is looking ahead with confidence to the game at FC Utrecht, the club where he was head coach until the winter break.  “I know a lot about FC Utrecht.  That can be an advantage, but first, we need to play from our own strength.”

“I’m not expecting tactical sparring”, said Ten Hag on Friday afternoon during the press conference at de Toekomst.  “We want to play a certain type of football.  That means taking action, and leading with ourselves.  And, only after that, we should seek out the opponent’s weaknesses.”

As Utrecht’s head coach, he defeated Ajax earlier this season in the Amsterdam ArenA.  “At the time, Utrecht was playing in adapted system.  Perhaps this will be the case on Sunday again.  But we can play to that.”

Obviously, Ten Hag knows Utrecht through and through.  “That can be helpful, but I am constantly evaluating what I should tell my players, and what I shouldn’t.  I can’t overload my selection with information.”

Fluid position play will be tough
During the press conference, the poor quality of the fields in Utrecht was discussed.  “You always need to deal with field conditions”, says Ten Hag.  “But if it’s a disadvantage, you need to turn that into an advantage.  Fluid position play will be difficult on this field.  It can be bumpy, and that decreases the pace. You need to take this into account on a detail level, but you always need to remain true to yourself.  The best teams can adapt.”

Kristensen potentially in attendance on Sunday
Ten Hag has high expectations of newcomer Rasmus Kristensen, who trained for the 2nd time with the team on Friday.  “Rasmus brings a lot of power to the front.  He’s a mentally strong player.  On Saturday, we’ll have our final training, but it’s possible that he’ll be there on Sunday.”

Nick Viergever is still absent, but the defender’s doing well.  “He’s taking steps and is on his way back into the selection.” Daley Sinkgraven, Kasper Dolberg, Vaclav Cerny and Benjamin van Leer are also injured.  “We have a few long-term injuries, but otherwise, everyone is fit.”