Erik ten Hag’s first starting XI as Ajax manager – tactics for Old Trafford faithfuls

Erik ten Hag’s first starting XI as Ajax manager reveals the likely transformation about to happen at Old Trafford when he resumes as manager in the coming summer.

These covers the players and their whereabouts to answer the question; where are they now? – Erik ten Hag’s first starting XI as Ajax manager.

Manchester United’s new manager Erik ten Hag is two wins away from winning his third Eredivisie title with Ajax.

There are three league games remaining in the Dutch top-flight and the Amsterdam giants are four points clear of their rivals PSV Eindhoven.

With the 52-year-old’s four-and-a-half-year stay at Ajax drawing to a close we thought it would be a good time to have a look back at Ten Hag’s very first starting line-up for the Eredivisie leaders.

Ten Hag’s first game in charge saw him come up against one of Dutch football’s biggest clubs Feyenoord at the Amsterdam Arena.

Goals from Manchester United loanee Donny van de Beek and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar ensured Ten Hag got his Ajax reign off to a winning start with a 2-0 win against the Rotterdam-based side, who were managed by Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

Here is a look at the line-up Ten Hag picked on Sunday, 21 January 2018;

Erik ten Hag’s first starting XI as Ajax manager

Andre Onana

After coming through Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy, the Cameroon international left Catalunya for Amsterdam in January 2015.

The 26-year-old was part of Ten Hag’s Ajax side that reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.

From February 2021 to November 2021, Onana was suspended after receiving a doping ban and he looks set to leave Ajax this summer with his contract expiring at the end of June.

Joel Veltman

The defender came through the much-respected Ajax Academy system and quickly established himself as a first-team regular.

Having the versatility to play either at right-back or centre-back worked in Veltman’s favour.

The 28-time Netherlands international made 246 appearances for Ajax before leaving Ten Hag’s side to join Brighton & Hove Albion.

Veltman has been a regular for Graham Potter’s Seagulls since making the move to England.

Matthijs de Ligt

Manchester United were in the race to try and sign De Ligt from Ajax in the summer of 2019, but it was Italian giants Juventus who signed the youngster for £67.5m.

De Ligt arrived to Turin as the much-coveted centre-halve across European football after rising to prominence under Ten Hag’s stewardship.

The 22-year-old has struggled to consistently produce his best form for the Old Lady, but with Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci coming to the end of their illustrious careers, De Ligt will be hoping to build his own legacy at the heart of Juventus’ defence.

Frenkie de Jong

Similar to his compatriot De Ligt, De Jong’s run with Ajax to the 2019 Champions League semi-finals caught the attention of Barcelona.

The Catalan giants signed the classy ball-playing midfielder for £65m and he has been a regular in the La Liga giants’ starting line-up.

De Jong has been linked with a reunion with Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford, but the Dutchman’s desire to play Champions League football could prove to be a stumbling block.

Nicolas Tagliafico

The Argentine international was Ten Hag’s first Ajax signing after making the move from Independiente to Holland in January 2018.

The left-back became Ten Hag’s number one left-back and has amassed 166 appearances during his time with the club.

Tagliafico, who has been capped 39 times by Argentina, hasn’t featured as frequently his campaign with Daley Blind being preferred at left-back.

Donny van de Beek

Van de Beek became one of the most sought after midfielders across Europe while being under the wing of Ten Hag.

Since his £35m move to United, the 24-year-old’s time in England has been a non-starter, but with Ten Hag taking the United reins, Van de Beek will be hoping a reunion with his former boss proves to be the catalyst in rekindling his former influential form.

If Ten Hag can galvanise United’s number 34 and help him reproduce the form he showed with great regularity in Holland, United will feel like they’ve got a new signing.

Lasse Schone

The Denmark international wasn’t the most glamorous name on the team sheet, but he was a vital part of Ten Hag’s side for two seasons.

Following the 2019 campaign, the energetic midfielder headed to Italy with Serie A side Genoa.

The 35-year-old played 34 games in Italy before moving back to the Netherlands. He’s currently playing for NEC Nijmegen after leaving Heerenveen in the summer.

Hakim Ziyech

The influential Moroccan elevated his game to new heights under the tutelage of Erik ten Hag.

Cutting in from the right-hand side like Arjen Robben, Ziyech scored 49 goals and provided 81 assists during his time in Amsterdam.

Ziyech, who was Frank Lampard’s first Chelsea signing for £33.3m, has struggled to replicate the devastating form he showed under Ten Hag in west London.

David Neres

Similar to current star Antony, David Neres was signed by Ajax from Brazilian giants Sau Paulo in January 2017.

The dazzling Brazilian winger spent five years in Holland before moving to Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk in January.

From 180 Ajax games, Neres scored 47 goals and provided 41 assists. While the seven-time Brazilian got off to a blistering star in Holland, his form in recent seasons stagnated.

Justin Kluivert

Son to the famous Patrick Kluivert, Justin had big footsteps to follow in and he also came through the Ajax Academy.

The 22-year-old only spent half a season with Ten Hag before moving to Serie A giants Roma in the summer of 2018.

The winger is currently on loan at Ligue 1 side Nice from Jose Mourinho’s side and he also spent last season out on loan at RB Leipzig and he scored a goal against Manchester United in the Champions League.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

The prolific forward joined Ajax for the second time in his career as a free agent following his departure from Schalke in July 2017.

Under Erik ten Hag, Huntelaar scored 47 goals from 103 matches. Huntelaar returned to Schalke in January 2021 before retiring six months later.

In March, Huntelaar was appointed as Ajax’s adviser of management.

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