You’d have to be an ardent Jose Mourinho fan – or an Arsenal fan for that matter – to believe Tottenham were wrong to part ways with the three-time Premier League winning manager.
While the timing of the decision may have come as a shock to most with the Carabao Cup final just six days away – 90 minutes that could have essentially vindicated Spurs’ decision to hire him in some people’s eyes – the football he was serving up in north London was absolutely dire.
A common opinion in football is that the Portuguese tactician has changed his style of management since his first stint at Chelsea, though the fact is he’s always had a pragmatic mindset, the difference is 15 years ago he wouldn’t ‘park the bus’ until the second half when his side had already killed the game by taking a 4-0 lead.
And when underwhelming results are mixed with turgid football the writing is usually on the wall.
Anyway, basically what we’re saying is that Spurs were 100% right to sack Mourinho even though it’s since become abundantly clear they didn’t have a replacement waiting in the wings.
With Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers distancing himself from speculation he could be in line to take the top job at Tottenham and Julian Nagelsmann confirmed as Hansi Flick’s successor at Bayern Munich this summer, Daniel Levy’s rumoured wishlist already has a few names scribbled out on it.
One name that has continually popped up since Mourinho’s departure is Ajax boss Erik ten Hag. The Dutchman has been at the helm of the Eredivisie giants since 2017 – picking up his fair share of silverware over the last few seasons – and it’s very easy to see why he’s been so heavily linked with the post.
Given the archaic football Spurs fans have been forced to endure over the last 17 months, Ten Hag is the antithesis of such a style of play and represents a shining light for the club’s supporters right now.
Levy is reportedly on the look out for a ‘progressive, attacking-minded manager who suits the club’s culture’ and the Dutchman has proven to be exactly that at Ajax, overseeing their extraordinary 2018/19 league campaign in which De Godenzonen notched an incredible 119 goals in 34 games – just three off the all-time league record.
Not only was Ajax’s 2018/19 league campaign impressive, Ten Hag also guided the club to within seconds of an unlikely Champions League final appearance, only for Spurs (who else?) to notch a last minute goal to break Dutch hearts.
Wins over Real Madrid and Juventus in said run dispel any suggestions sceptics may have that he’s ‘just dominating the Eredivisie because Ajax are the best team’, and he further proved his credentials as a boss during his time with Utrecht prior to taking the Ajax job, guiding them from 11th to an impressive fifth place finish in his only full season with the club.
So he plays good football and he’s got a winning pedigree, but Spurs are in a bit of a mess right now. They need a manager who can freshen things up and galvanise the squad – the Dutchman has all that covered too.
Ajax are renowned for their ability to develop talented youngsters before selling them on for big money, though Ten Hag’s tenure saw the club excel even by their high standards.
Donny van de Beek, Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong were all afforded the opportunity to showcase their immense talent with regularity under under Ten Hag’s stewardship, with the club eventually cashing in on the trio for a combined sum of well in excess of £150m.
While Spurs may be desperate to move away from their tag as a selling club, with talented youngsters like Oliver Skipp and Ryan Sessegnon likely to be afforded their chance in the first team next season after spending this season out on loan, Ten Hag could be crucial to their integration and development.
And it’s not just the youngsters who profited from the Dutchman’s time at Ajax; Dusan Tadic and Hakim Ziyech in particular were outstanding during his time at the club and undoubtedly played the best football of their career.
And if there’s one thing Spurs need right now it’s a manager who can get the best out talented players who’ve lost their way in recent years, with Dele Alli instantly springing to mind.
Basically, Spurs need to move for Ten Hag now because there’s a fair chance someone else will snap him up this summer if they don’t make their move quick.