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Ten Hag: ‘Sticking to principles will provide structure’

Ten Hag: ‘Sticking to principles will provide structure’

Ajax is currently going through a difficult period.  At the press conference leading up to the sc Heerenveen game, Erik ten Hag explains that there is no reason for panic or for making radical changes.  ‘Sticking to our principles is what will provide structure.’

Within 2 weeks, Erik ten Hag’s team has been eliminated from the Europa League and the KNVB Cup.  The pressure’s now on.  ‘We’re having some headaches, but this is always the case, both in good times and bad.  We’ve been giving away too much room all year.  When we’re good, we’re better with the ball. That’s the key difference.”

No radical changes
At the press conference, the coach was asked about what the team could be doing better, and Ten Hag’s answer was clear.  “Right now, we’re creating too few opportunities and we’re giving goals away much too easily.  Next to that, we’re making mistakes in our build-up, and also when play resumes.  It’s strange, but we’re not honouring some of the agreements we’ve made.”

'We had an amazing six months until December’

So many changes
According to Ten Hag,  Ajax’s difficulties go hand-in-hand with the many changes that the team has been forced to make this season.  ‘We had an amazing six months until December, and at times we were even playing better than last year.  After that, we lost 6 players and our level sank way below our threshold.”

“We needed to bring back Blind, Ziyech and Promes”, is his explanation about the changing nature of the squad in the past few months.  ‘That means some people need to leave to make room.”

Dynamic backs
Although Ten Hag is not planning on making extreme changes to the game plan, some things do need to improve.  The agreements between the backs is one of them.  ‘This really needs to get better.  They can’t leave at the same time, and they’ve violated this agreement on several occasions.’

‘But they’re important when coming up, so I don’t want to change that.  They shouldn’t only be playing from a safe position, their strength is their dynamism.  We attack with 11 players and defend with 11 players, and it’s happened at times that they were both somewhere else’, concludes Ten Hag.

Same team as Wednesday
Daley Blind returned after a period of absence, but is still seeking top form.  ‘I need to help Daley with that, and he need to take responsibility for it himself, which he knows.  If he works hard, he’ll regain the dominant form he had prior to the winter break.  At that time, he was probably our best player.”

Sharpness and remaining close to each other
One thing that absolutely cannot happen is that Ajax loses because they aren’t sharp.  ‘That is something that we require; we can’t lost matches because of that.  Right now, we are, and it needs to stop.’

Ajax needs to recover soon from this difficult phase.  ‘Things are never going well only.  It’s just like life, there setbacks sometimes but you need to deal with them.  We need to stay close to each other, and we’ll be fine.”