'A beautiful era': Erik ten Hag gets perfect send-off as Ajax win Dutch league title

Manchester United-bound manager lifts championship trophy after 5-0 victory over Heerenveen

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Manchester United-bound Erik ten Hag received the perfect send-off as Ajax were crowned Dutch champions with a 5-0 victory over Heerenveen at the Johan Cruyff Arena on Wednesday.

The club's 36th league crown is the third in charge for Ten Hag, who will end his five-year stint at the helm at the end of the season to become Manchester United manager.

Ajax have a four-point lead over second-placed PSV Eindhoven, who beat Nijmegen 3-2, with one match remaining. PSV missed the chance to cut the gap to two points last weekend when they conceded two late goals in a 2-2 draw at Feyenoord.

On Wednesday, goals from Nicolas Tagliafico and Steven Berghuis, and a Sebastien Haller penalty in the opening 38 minutes sealed the victory for Ajax, before Brian Brobbey and Edson Alvarez added two more late on.

It was the last home fixture for Ten Hag before he moves to the Premier League having been named last month by United as their new manager.

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“I have enjoyed this great journey, it was a beautiful era. I look back with great satisfaction,” Ten Hag said.

Ten Hag leaves for Old Trafford after the season, where he wants to turn things around in the same way he turned around Ajax’s fortunes.

It had not been easy at Ajax. “Social media makes it very easy to express an opinion. Ajax is an A-brand, the banner of Dutch football. Everyone has an opinion about the club. And those opinions can take on a life of their own, even if you win a lot,” Ten Hag added.

“When I started here four and a half years ago, I had to prepare Ajax for Europe again."

“That worked out and how. This season, I enjoyed our home game against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League the most. It was of such a high level, comparable to those matches in Turin and Madrid," he said of Ajax’s run to the Champions League semi-final in 2019 when they won away at both Juventus and Real Madrid.

Ajax finish their campaign at Vitesse Arnhem on Sunday.

Ten Hag's next assignment is one of the most high-pressure jobs in football. However, the manager said he will not change his coaching style at Old Trafford and will not hesitate to confront under-performing players.

"I will not change my view on coaching," he told Dutch newspaper 'Trouw'. "The material always determines how you play, but I set the requirements that come with it and the standards.

"I tell who has what task and those who don’t meet it, will be told that, regardless of who it is. I make no concessions in that regard."

Updated: May 12, 2022, 10:24 AM
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