Ten Hag told by Dutch pundit 'you are already at Manchester United'

Erik ten Hag’s Ajax fell to defeat in the KNVB Cup final on Sunday with a narrow 2-1 loss to PSV Eindhoven.

Ajax played well, having two goals disallowed and another shot coming back off the post, and were made to pay for a five minute spell in which they conceded twice.

The league leaders’ defeat was naturally a big talking point in the Netherlands, and Ten Hag’s imminent move to Manchester United has become an easy stick to poke him with.

This was the case after the cup final loss, when former Dutch striker Pierre van Hooijdonk questioned his decision making.

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Van Hooijdonk was speaking specifically about Ten Hag’s last throw of the dice, bringing on substitute Mohamed Ihattaren.

It was Ihattaren’s debut since he signed on loan in January. The youngster had been having fitness troubles since joining, but Ten Hag felt it was worth a gamble to throw him on for the final few minutes of the final with Ajax needing a goal.

The pundit told NOS: “You are already at Manchester United. On March 12 he shouted that Ihattaren could not yet run at Champions League level. A short time later he is top fit.”

“He came to Ajax as a fearful deer. Now he has acquired a certain arrogance. He can also look at himself.”

Ten Hag had criticised the refereeing in the cup final, feeling Ajax were wrongly denied a penalty, and said it felt like his side were playing against more than 11 players.

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There was an opposing viewpoint against the criticism, with former Dutch winger Ibrahim Afellay standing up for Ten Hag’s decision.

Afellay told NOS : “He didn’t have many other options and Ihattaren as an alternative on the right is still someone who can create something out of nothing.”

This type of criticism is something Ten Hag will be used to from managing one of the Netherlands’ top clubs, and he can expect even more scrutiny at United.

The Ihattaren substitution was one which makes the manager look like a genius if it works, or feeling flat if it doesn’t. But it is always worth a gamble when already behind.

Ajax’s options on the right were depleted by Antony picking up an ankle injury while on international duty for Brazil against Bolivia.

Speaking about the decision, Ten Hag told Voetball Primeur: “Mo can do something unparalleled in one moment. We have seen that in training and at Jong Ajax.”

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