Erik ten Hag has been one of the most talked-about names in the football fraternity to take up the Bayern Munich job next summer.
Bayern Munich are currently in the middle of a topsy turvy season, where recently they were humiliated by Eintracht Frankfurt, which resulted in Niko Kovac’s dismissal. In came Hansi Flick and since then, a rejuvenated Bayern side has beaten Olympiacos in the Champions League and also outperformed Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker.
Flick has had a great start to life as the interim manager and it looks like the Bayern board will show trust in him longer than expected. However, their search for a bigger name to take charge from next summer is still on. While it was always a gamble with Niko Kovac’s appointment, Bayern may again return to their status quo of hiring big names.
But, if they decide to take another chance, then they can’t go much wrong with Ajax current boss, Erik ten Hag. The Dutchman has been a revelation for Ajax in recent times and his expansive free-flowing style of football resonates with the Bavarians.
The 49-year old has already made it clear that Bayern will be his dream move. However, ten Hag won’t jump ship mid-season as he aspires for big things with Ajax in Europe and also on the domestic front. He has transformed Ajax into a driving force in Europe, taking them to the Champions League semi-finals last season.
Ten Hag has managed the young Ajax side with aplomb, getting the best out of his players under any circumstances. His fearless mentality and love for attractive attacking football make this young Ajax side deadly.
The Dutchman’s ideology was resonated on the pitch by his side when they recently held Chelsea to a 4-4 draw after being down to nine men at the Stamford Bridge. Even when he had lost two defenders he kept going and urged his team to move forward in search of the winning goal.
The Dutchman considers Johan Cruyff as his inspiration and it shows in his style of play. He has also worked with Pep Guardiola earlier and the experience has made him a more mature coach. His time under Guardiola came when the Catalan was at Bayern and he was in charge of the youth side for two years. He is loved in Bavaria and hence, a return is very much on the cards.
Apart from the similarities in looks, both ten Hag and Pep Guardiola are pretty similar with their progressive passing football, something which the Bayern fans want to see. The Dutchman is a tactical genius as he mainly starts with a solid 4-2-3-1 formation which then changes to a more balanced 4-3-3 or at times shifting to an attacking 4-1-4-1 on the basis of need.
He prefers players with great understanding and football knowledge so that they can morph their positions according to the circumstances on the field, something which the German record champions have in ample.
Should he join Bayern next summer, he will also be influential in reviving the club’s youth academy as he is brave enough to take his chances with the youngsters who can deliver for the senior team. Bayern’s youth academy has been on a steep decline and there isn’t anyone better than ten Hag to take up the responsibility. Also the Bayern squad has ample amount of talent and he can be more assured with the brand of football he wants them to play.
Amidst all the pros, the only con with the Dutchman is uncertainty. Although his achievements at Ajax cannot be considered as a fluke, he is yet to make an impression elsewhere with a bigger budget, expectations and lot more pressure to deliver week in week out.
Is Hans-Dieter Flick, Erik ten Hag’s biggest competition?
During Niko Kovac’s time, he liked to organise his backline and then go for the kill. But, the Croat never managed to sort out the complications with his defence and also struggled to keep everyone happy by rotating the squad.
However, ever since Flick has taken over in this short phase of time the former German national team assistant coach has grown into the role immensely as he shares a great bond with the players. Despite several players missing due to injuries, Flick’s Bayern have not conceded a single shot on target in these two games.
He has brought back the cohesiveness in the team and has also reaped the rewards of showing confidence in his senior players like Thomas Muller, who had a torrid time under Kovac. Muller was one of the standout players in Der Klassiker and it was mostly due to Flick, who made him believe again.
The Bayern board should act rationally from here and allow Flick to take charge of Bayern till January before scrutinising his performances and deciding his future. However, that will solely depend on his team’s performances mainly getting back to the top in Bundesliga and also staying put in Europe. If his team manages to deliver on all fronts, he will also emerge as an option to continue as a permanent boss but that can wait till next summer.