The lack of genuinely top class players in the current generation of Dutch football is a major cause for concern. The lack of forward thinking, intuitive coaches emerging from the nation that produced Johan Cryuff and Rinus Michels, however, is arguably an even greater concern.
Erik Ten Hag, then, represents a flickering beacon of hope in dark days for Dutch football.
The 47-year-old led FC Utrecht into the qualifiers for the Europa League for the first time in four years last season but it’s the style, rather than the results, that has made Ten Haag one of the most admired coaches in Holland.
Like Pep Guardiola was a student of Cruff, Ten Haag is a student of Guardiola. The former centre-back coached Bayern Munich’s B team between 2013 and 2015 while the esteemed Catalan tactician was transforming the Bundesliga giants into arguably Europe’s most watchable side.
And with Ten Hag’s Utrecht renowned for their slick passing football and dizzying movement, the stamp of Guardiola is clear in the Dutchman’s philosophy.
Pep Ten Hag
“You see that he has gained experience at Bayern Munich,” Utrecht’s former AC Milan and Fulham star Urby Emanuelson told Goal.
“He dares to deviate from the calibrated, traditional paths. In fact, he does the same as Guardiola did.”
While the Rangers board are understood to be prioritising a British-born manager after the ill-fated eight month spell of Portuguese coach Pedro Caixinha, per the Daily Record, they should not overlook a manager as intelligent and intuitive as Ten Hag for the vague reason of nationality.
Sky Bet has Ten Hag as the 40/1 outsider to take over at Ibrox. But this disciple of Guardiola deserves a bigger stage and Rangers should consider offering him the chance to prove why he is one of Europe’s most exciting, up and coming coaches.