Ajax boss Erik ten Hag believes his fellow nominee Jurgen Klopp deserves to take home FIFA’s The Best Coach award after leading Liverpool to Champions League glory.
Klopp’s long wait for his first trophy in charge of Liverpool finally ended in June following a 2-0 final win over Tottenham in Madrid. It was also the club’s sixth European title, with only Real Madrid and AC Milan bettering that record.
Now, Klopp has the opportunity of winning the ultimate coaching honour in FIFA’s The Best award. Although he will face some stiff competition from the likes of Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, Brazil’s Tite and Ten Hag himself.
Many could argue, in fact, that Ten Hag would be a worthy recipient for the award. The 49-year-old Dutchman defied the heavy odds against his young Ajax team to lead them to the Champions League semi-finals last term.
The Eredivisie champions also spectacularly overcame cup holders Real Madrid and Serie A giants Juventus in the competition. They then capped things off by winning a domestic double.
However, Ten Hag insists Klopp deserves FIFA’s coaching prize more than himself.
“It’s a good list,” he told Algemeen Dagblad.
“With managers, we see the same thing as counts for the players. It’s obvious [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi belong in the top 10, but if you focus on last season, you can’t overlook Liverpool.
“In my opinion, Jurgen Klopp would be a more-than-justified coach of the year. What he achieved with Liverpool, and the way he achieved it, is very impressive.”
Six of the candidates for FIFA’s Best men and women’s awards are Dutch this year. Former Ajax stars Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong head the list, with Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Holland’s women’s star Vivianne Miedema also in the mix.
Meanwhile, women’s manager Sarina Wiegman is up for the female coaching prize after leading Holland to the World Cup final this summer.
“We’ve achieved something very special with Ajax and there’s a lot of international appreciation for that,” said Ten Hag.
“There are six nominees in total from the Netherlands. That suggests we are on the right track. It’s a nice compliment for Dutch football.”