Ten Hag clarifies young player stance after handing debuts to 22nd and 23rd academy players at Ajax

Erik ten Hag’s commitment to youth during his spell at Ajax manager has been unquestioned. During his time at the club, he had handed debuts to 21 different academy players.

In his final match as Ajax manager, Ten Hag boosted that number up to 23, by giving debuts to two more young players.

One of these was goalkeeper Jay Gorter, 21, selected as a starter to play all 90 minutes.

The second was substitute Anass Salah-Eddine, 20, who came off the bench for the final 27 minutes of the 2-2 draw with Vitesse.

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Debuts to 22nd and 23rd academy players

Ten Hag’s commitment to youth is fantastic, and one of the key reasons Manchester United felt he was a great fit for the club.

His appointment and track record will be of great encouragement to Manchester United’s talented youngsters, several of which are on the cusp of the first team, while the under-18s have just won the FA Youth Cup.

But Ten Hag is keen to point out, that his decisions to hand young players debuts are not made out of charity, nor done simply as a token gesture.

Ten Hag was quoted by Ajax Showtime, speaking about Gorter’s debut: “The fact that he is being picked indicates that we are very satisfied and that he has made a super development.

“Players don’t get chances, they have to earn them. He deserved it.”

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

This is an important message Manchester United’s young guns have to understand.

They won’t get opportunities simply for being who they are. They have to earn it, prove themselves, and impress Ten Hag and his coaching staff.

The players can’t think they have ‘made it’, before they have done, and there are plenty more pitfalls at Manchester United than Ajax, due to the extra global attention on the club.

If they youngsters stay focused, learn, and work hard, they will likely get chances under Ten Hag – but he is making no guarantees, and this measured approach is good to hear.

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