Jose Mourinho felt Ajax’s insistence of sticking to their philosophy contributed to their dramatic exit out of the European competition.
The Amsterdammers went into a 2-0 half-time lead in the second leg of their tie against Tottenham, goals from Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech gifting them a 3-0 aggregate lead with just 45 minutes left in the game.
Mourinho felt that was the exact time they needed to divert from their usual attacking style and adopt a more defensive approach in order to get the job done.
Instead, Ajax manager Erik ten Hag changed little and a Lucas Moura hat-trick, which included a 96th-minute winner, sent Spurs into the with Liverpool on June 1.
Speaking as a pundit on beIN SPORTS, Mourinho said: “The philosophy is what makes a team grow up. You need that base, you need that philosophy, you need a style of play adapted to the qualities of the players you have and Ajax deserve all the credit for that.
“[But] football is a sporting battle and in battles you need strategy and to win matches, especially special matches, you need sometimes to go against your philosophy to win a football match.
“The basic thing you do when you have an advantage is to keep your balance all the time, never [become] imbalanced.
“The balance starts with the defensive line in position and after that a certain number of players always behind the ball. But they stuck with their philosophy, they played the second half like they were playing against Vitesse in the Dutch League.
“Tottenham changed, they used very well the direct football, they were lucky, they had the Gods of football with them but they chased that luck.”
Mourinho is currently out of work following his sack by Manchester United in December 2018 with his conservative style of play alienating him from many fans.