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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted he’s failing at something Erik ten Hag could fix at Manchester United – Manchester Evening News

When Ajax made it to the Champions League semi-final in the 2018/19 season, there was an array of young stars exceeding expectations, playing fluid and dynamic football and representing the Dutch giants like Johan Cruyff envisaged.

Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong, Hakim Ziyech and Donny van de Beek were among those inspiring their stellar performances as Ajax brushed aside Real Madrid and Juventus in the knockout rounds of the competition, with Tottenham awaiting in the semi-final.

Although reaching the final of the Champions League would ultimately prove a step too far – they were only defeated by a late dramatic Lucas Moura goal at the Amsterdam Arena – for that fearless Ajax side, each player’s reputation was enhanced and they won admirers from around Europe for the manner in which they dared to play. It also helped that were led by the fearless Erik ten Hag.

The side that Ten Hag had propelled to unlikely Champions League success was inevitably dismantled following that season with Juventus, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United all eventually making advances for the aforementioned players.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is back under pressure as Manchester United manager. The Reds’ victory at Tottenham was soon forgotten as they fell to a dire 2-0 defeat in the Manchester derby, and saw the vultures circling around the Norwegian once again.

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It didn’t take long for Ten Hag to nature Ajax’s next generation of stars that are currently taking Europe by storm, though.

Ajax are flying in the Eredivisie, but it’s their performances in the Champions League that have really made people stand up and take notice once again. They sit at the top of their qualification group in the competition with four wins from four games – two of those in which they brushed aside Borussia Dortmund – and they’ve also conceded just two goals throughout that period.

That’s impressive on paper but it’s actually the style in which Ten Hag has his side playing that is causing quite the stir.

Ajax have long been synonymous with fluid, attacking and exciting football and Ten Hag has stayed true to that clear identity throughout his tenure at the club – mostly using the 4-2-3-1 this season, Ajax are a breath of fresh air to watch.

Interestingly, Ten Hag has also used 4-3-3 and this is the formation that the personnel at United were bought to play in.

Antonio Conte was never going to be an appropriate fit for United. Old Trafford officials have always used cliché buzzwords – that frustrate fans – such as ‘United DNA’ in the end of quarter meetings, but it’s true that there’s a certain style that is desired by fans.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is currently failing at delivering that style and he admitted as much himself after the Manchester derby defeat.

“I can’t look at myself and say this is the way I want Manchester United to play,” Solskjaer said.

Solskjaer has had almost three years to implement an effective attacking style at the club and the Norwegian switching back to the 5-3-2 shows that he’s ultimately failed in this area, which is a damning indictment of where United find themselves at the moment.

You wouldn’t get large odds on betting on Ten Hag being able to change that – the Dutchman could be an inspired appointment.

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