Seven things you might not know about potential Newcastle United manager Erik ten Hag

Touted for a host of leading jobs across Europe, Ten Hag has enjoyed a stunning start to his managerial career...and an especially stunning win.

Ajax manager Erik ten Hag has attracted a lot of attention lately.

With Newcastle United and Barcelona in search of a new boss and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer under pressure at Manchester United, the Dutchman has been linked with his fair share of roles.

But who exactly is the 51-year-old Ten Hag, who has been in charge at the Johan Cruyff Arena for almost four years? Planet Sport brings you seven things you might not know about him.

Scourge of Lille… but no luck in Liverpool

Liverpool, Ajax, Champions League,

Ten Hag has faced 88 different opponents in his nine-year-long managerial career, but there have proven to be several he enjoys locking horns with more than any other.

Of those 88 sides, he enjoys a 100% win record against 25 of them, and the highlight of those are Sporting Lisbon, Borussia Dortmund and Lille, the latter of whom he has faced, and defeated, four times.

It is testament to his ability that there are far fewer sides he has failed to ever beat. In fact, besides the reserve side of German outfit Augsburg, of those 88 it is only Liverpool that have played, but never lost to, a Ten Hag team.

Success in Utrecht

Erik Ten Hag, Utrecht, manager, Eredivisie

Ten Hag took over as Utrecht boss in 2015, and in his second season in charge, guided the team to fourth in the Eredivisie, and subsequently, the Europa League.

That was Utrecht's highest finish since 1991, when they also finished fourth, and it followed his first season in which they had ranked fifth. His success in two seasons at the Stadion Galgenwaard saw him poached by Ajax.

Trophy in Twente

In his playing days, Ten Hag was a centre-back and made more than 350 appearances across all competitions for Twente, De Graafschap, RKC Waalwijk and Utrecht.

He is most associated with the first club on that list, however, with three separate stints in Twente totalling more than 200 of those appearances.

It was at De Grolsche Veste that he won the only trophy of his playing career, taking home the 2000/01 Dutch Cup courtesy of a penalty shootout win over PSV Eindhoven - who featured a certain Ruud van Nistelrooy - in the final.

More Dutch Cup shootouts

It was rather appropriate that he won the cup in a penalty shootout, because, 11 years later, his managerial debut in the competition would also go to a shootout.

As boss of Go Ahead Eagles, a role he had held for two months, he came up against VVV-Venlo. Normal time had seen Ten Hag's men fight back from a 2-0 deficit to take the game to extra time.

After a further exchange of goals had made it 3-3 with two minutes to go, Eagles could have been forgiven for thinking they had won it with a fourth in the 118th minute.

Not so. A final, desperate equaliser in the last minute of extra time hauled Venlo back level, before a marathon shootout was eventually concluded with Eagles winning 8-7 on penalties. Welcome to management, Erik.

Outstripping Mourinho, Wenger, and Sir Alex

Erik Ten Hag, Ajax, manager

Ten Hag has taken charge of 403 games as a manager and has won a remarkable 257, or 63.77%, of them. That is a win percentage that thus far outstrips those of many modern greats.

Arsene Wenger (54.0%) and Sir Alex Ferguson (58.1%) both concluded their careers with win percentages below 60.0%, while current bosses Jose Mourinho (63.63%), Carlo Ancelotti (57.82%) and Jurgen Klopp (52.8%) are also trailing Ten Hag.

Of course, he has a fair way to go yet, but the first decade of his career in the dugout has certainly set Ten Hag on the right path.

'Total Football 2.0'

Many observers have seen Johan Cruyff's 'Total Football' style of play in the way Ten Hag sets up his teams, and he has admitted he takes inspiration from his late, great compatriot.

"We want to have possession and hurt the opponent," he has said. "It's about possession, about movement, about vertical attacking patterns, about pressing, wingers moving into the middle to make room for the full-backs.

"Everyone is attacking, everyone is defending."

Masterminding the Eredivisie's biggest ever win

Ajax, VVV Venlo, Ten Hag

On October 24, 2020, Ajax travelled to VVV-Venlo - remember them? - for an Eredivisie clash. What transpired would stun a nation.

It took Ajax just 12 minutes to open the scoring and Lassina Traore went on to hit five as ten-man Venlo were ripped apart in a 13-0 defeat, ensuring Ten Hag's name would be etched in the annals of Dutch soccer history.

READ MORE: Who could Newcastle sign in January? Bale, Vardy, Coutinho, Lingard...

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