Three things Man Utd fans should look out for when Ten Hag’s Ajax face PSV

Manchester United are set to announce the hiring of Ajax boss Erik ten Hag as their next permanent manager.

Ten Hag looks to be the preferred choice by the United board after a round of interviews which saw them speak to former Tottenham Hotspur boss and current Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino, though Ten Hag has yet to officially confirm that he is joining the Old Trafford outfit and continues to shoot down speculation regarding his future.

This hasn't stopped United fans from getting excited about what the future could look like with the 52-year-old in charge and his Ajax side are in action on Sunday night against PSV in the KNVB Cup final. The fixture gives United fans the perfect opportunity to tune in and get a glimpse of the style of football that will be on display next season at Old Trafford.

But Ten Hag's philosophy won't be the only thing on display at Feyenoord's stadium. Fans can also get a first-hand look at a number of players linked with a move the Premier League as well as the post-match press conference which could shed some light as to an official announcement from the man himself.

Here, Daily Star Sport have named three things to look out for when Ajax play PSV in the KNVB Cup final on Sunday night.

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Style of play

All eyes will be on the formation and shape Erik ten Hag and Ajax play throughout the cup final against PSV.

United have flirted with a 4-2-2-2 when Ralf Rangnick took over as interim manager in December but that experiment ended quickly when results and performances went against United. Ten Hag is known for a 4-2-3-1 which roughly translates to a 4-3-3 due to the wingers playing high and the attacking midfielder often dropping deep, a tactic he used to to perfection when guiding Ajax to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.

The Dutch coach is also able to play without a recognised striker though that is unlikely to be the case with Sebastian Haller expected to start up front. Even if the former West Ham attacker is tasked with leading the line, Ten Hag has the tactical nous to switch things up if things aren't going his team's way.

There's also the way in which Ajax press teams when they don't have the ball and the way they dominate possession with it, two things United have lacked over the past few years. United fans should also pay particular attention to the way in which Ajax transition when losing the ball and winning it back, having seen their side cut open with ease on the break against Norwich City on Saturday afternoon.

Dynamic forwards

With Marcus Rashford out of form, Edinson Cavani leaving at the end of the season, Anthony Martial potentially joining him on the way out and Cristiano Ronaldo getting a year older, United are in desperate need of attackers.

Alejandro Garnacho was named on the bench against Norwich and Ethan Ennis continues to impress for the youth sides, as does Joe Hugill. But the trio are far from the finished product and United need proven players not only through the middle but out wide as well. In Antony and Cody Gakpo for Ajax and PSV respectively, both teams have a player United have either been linked with or should target.

Antony has 12 goals in 23 league appearances this season and in the Champions League, contributed six goals and assists in seven games and could be signed for a minimum of £50million. Operating mainly from the right wing, the 22-year-old would solve an issue Jadon Sancho was meant to fix when he joined from Borussia Dortmund last summer but has since switched to the right. Antony playing on the opposite flank to Sancho would provide much-needed balance to a lop-sided United team and already knows what is required in a Ten Hag side.

Gakpo shows similar traits to Antony and reports suggest United had shown interest in the Dutchman earlier on this season. Arsenal are said to be the Premier League team targeting the winger, who has said in the past that he looked up to Gunners legend Thierry Henry. But a strong performance on Sunday afternoon could see United make a move for a player who thanked Red Devils legend Ruud van Nistelrooy for his development.

"Van Nistelrooy was my striker trainer in the academy. I have learned a lot from him and I look up to him," Gakpo said via the Mirror. So far this season he has 17 goals and 15 assists across all competitions and could come with a glowing recommendation from another former striker in Robin van Persie who is currently a coach at PSV. Gakpo could cost just £42m but United will face stiff competition from a number of Europe's top clubs.

There are also the possibilities of centre-back Jurrien Timber and midfielder Edson Alvarez making the switch from Ajax to United. Timber can operate at both right back and central defence and with a contract expiring in 2024, a deal could be struck between the two teams should Ten Hag want to strengthen United's leaky defence. As for Alvarez, the defensive midfielder has marshalled the middle of the pitch extremely well and with Nemanja Matic announcing out of the blue he will be leaving in the summer, Ten Hag can arrive in Manchester with a ready made replacement.

Ten Hag's press conference

In his pre-match press conference, Ten Hag refused to answer questions about joining United in the media availability to discuss the cup final.

It wasn't the first time he's done so, the club banned English journalists from attending a post-match press conference last week and the manager himself threatened to walk out days later due to the large number of questions non-Ajax related. While Ten Hag is likely to do the same on Sunday night, the 52-year-old may be more willing to open up if his side gets the job done on the pitch.

With the Eredivisie still to play for, it's hard to envisage a situation where Ten Hag confirms officially that he is leaving as he won't want to distract his players from the task on hand. But equally, should Ajax lose to PSV, he may decide that the constant questions and getting out of hand.

It's likely that he has addressed his players privately to tell them what is going on but doing so in public may see the United-related questions come to a halt, if at least for a few days.

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