Old Trafford was a cauldron of boos yesterday after Manchester United fell to a limp defeat against Manchester City.
Erik ten Hag is finally feeling the pressure due to some confusing tactical choices, team selections, and a general lack of attacking identity.
His comments are under more scrutiny than ever before in his tenure and in such a time, he has made a truly baffling statement.
Speaking after the Manchester Derby loss, the Dutchman was asked about the stark contrast in the style of play of this current United side and his memorable Ajax side.
When asked if he would be able to replicate that style of football at Old Trafford, Ten Hag made a shocking admission, one that United fans will be livid to hear.
“Never. We will never play that football. Because those were different players. This is also not why I came here.
“We are playing different football than I showed at Ajax because I have to because I can’t play the same way,” he said.
It would come as a hammer blow to fans who were hoping to see the same dominating, possession-based football which made the Dutch team darlings of the footballing world under Ten Hag.
The manager then went on to compare the contrasting identities of the two teams, defending his statement.
“The players decide how you play. Ajax has a very typical and characteristic style of play, with Manchester United I will always show different football, I did so last year as well.
“We play much more direct football here because I have the players for that here,” he finished.
It can be read as a damning indictment of United players’ technical qualities if they are deemed to be good enough to play only direct football.
Furthermore, it also raises questions on Ten Hag’s recruitment policy since he has now signed more than 10 players during his time here and they should ideally have been consistent with Ten Hag’s philosophy.
However, as it stands, it is not even clear what the manager’s philosophy is, let alone buying players that fit into it.