If Pep Guardiola has lived his life obeying the commandments set out by Marcelo Bielsa, then Erik Ten Hag is a devoted disciple of Guardiola himself.
The man who brought glory back to Ajax, guiding the Amsterdam giants to their maiden Eredivisie title in five years plus a place in the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in the 21st century, is obsessed with possession, high-pressing and swashbuckling attacking football, steeped as he is in Cruyffian principles.
According to 90Min, Everton have identified Ten Hag as their number one target should they decide to put the sour-faced Marco Silva out of his misery. Marcel Brands, the former PSV director who knows Ten Hag well form their battles together in Holland, is apparently confident of luring his compatriot to Goodison Park.
And while Everton fans have frequently hit out at Silva’s inability to get the best out of a talented squad of players, particularly his baffling usage of two defensively-minded midfielders in games against the likes of Burnley and Sheffield United, Ten Hag could turn Alex Iwobi, Moise Kean and Gylfi Sigurdsson into a free-flowing attacking force, releasing the shackles and transforming The Toffees’ stars a la Dusan Tadic, Donny Van de Beek and Hakim Ziyech at Ajax.
Ten Hag honed his trade during two years working as the coach of Bayern Munich’s second team between 2013 and 2015 and he relished the opportunity to work with Guardiola, the Manchester City coach who is very much the modern-day answer to Cruyff himself.
Anyone who had the pleasure of watching his youthful Ajax side outclass Real Madrid and Juventus in last season’s Champions League run will tell you that Ten Hag has put Guardiola’s tutoring to good use.
"Every day I get to work with him, I look forward to it. He inspires me," Ten Hag said in quotes reported by the Sun earlier this year.
Don’t expect Ten Hag to turn Everton into the dominant Premier League force like Guardiola has done elsewhere in the North West.
But, in this forward-thinking Dutchman with old-school principles, this talented Everton team could finally realise their potential.
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