The Eredivisie has been called the Mickey Mouse competition since before Walt Disney got the inspiration to draw the black mouse, it seems… But the so-called Big Leagues have lost some of its glory this season for me.
Bayern Munich, Man United and Barca were surefire champions on Boxing Day already, it seemed. While two weeks ago, five clubs in Holland were still battling for the title.
Sadly, however, Ajax has shown it’s men against boys in Holland. In the last weeks of the competition, the business end, Ajax demonstrates it wants it. Badly. While Feyenoord succumbed under pressure (physically and mentally) while PSV disgracefully disappoints. So much so that Mark van Bommel considers throwing in the towel and retiring.
What is going well in Amsterdam can clearly be summarized in three words: Frank de Boer. Sure, his assistants Dennis Bergkamp and Hennie Spijkerman (and Carlo L’Ami) will have an impact, just like Overmars and Van der Sar do great things in their suits and the Ajax scouting is able to find the talent, etc etc.
But to take all these great ingredients and to mix it all up into a winning team for three seasons in a row is quite a feat. And all that in non-matching clothes to boot! All Ajax staff wears the formal Ajax costume, bar head coach Frank de Boer who has his own personal fashion sponsor…. Something for Dick Advocaat to consider. He was still wearing his Russia National Team jacket in the PSV dug out….
Back to the field.
PSV – Ajax was a match between a team that really wanted it and a team that felt it merely deserved it.
PSV has spent millions on attacking talent in the last seasons. Matavz, Mertens, Narsingh, Lens, Wijnaldum and with Strootman and Van Bommel in midfield it seemed PSV would have all the ingredients to start winning titles again.
But someone in Eindhoven forgot you do need good defenders too. Scoring a lot is not a problem for the PSV team. But conceding a lot is doing them in.
Seasoned coach Dick Advocaat couldn’t find the right tone with his team. Where Ajax, Feyenoord and Vitesse are working with a coach that can relate to the 20 year olds, PSV decided to go for the veteran coach who is renowned for his “gun for hire” mentality. In a recent interview, he said “don’t expect me to go and check out a PSV youth team. Can’t be bothered…”. No wonder the spark was gone after a while.
Some old PSV icons, who are still involved at the club formally or informally (like Hans van Breukelen, Wim Kieft and others) are moving towards a coup in Eindhoven. Maybe not JC style so much, but the ex-players believe general manager Tiny Sanders is to blame.
Most pundits expect a different PSV next season anyway. Dries Mertens, Kevin Strootman, Ola Toivonen and Jermaine Lens will have moved on, while new coach Phillip Cocu will most likely replace a number of average players wearing the PSV jersey ( Hutchinson, De Rijck).
That will most likely improve the situation in PSV a bit, as the vibe in the dressing room has deteriorated. As Willem van Hanegem said in his column, he had heard from well-informed sources that most players were busy checking the American NBA results after their defeat against Ajax. He also heard that Mark van Bommel was most keen to put his studs not in an Ajax leg, but in Hutchinson’s for his continuous mistakes.
And Advocaat was heard muttering about Pieters’ mistake till late in the night. “What can I do, if an international defender like Pieters allows Boerrigter an open road to goal like this???”.
Van Hanegem went on to criticise Feyenoord too. He did not see a Feyenoord fighting for its last chance, against RKC. “Where is club love?” he muttered. “Should these guys fight till they can’t get up anymore, even if just for the fans who pay their high salaries?”. A often heard complaint by the Feyenoord legend. Ronald Koeman could only agree. “I still get tears in my eyes when I think how Duits was allowed to steam up into our defence. No one responded!”
The Feyenoord coach believes the selection of some of his youngsters this season for Oranje has not helped his quest.
All in all, Ajax is simply the best (again) this season.
Frank de Boer must be complimented for his work and Ajax fans will lose sleep this summer, as many European clubs will vie for his services, without a doubt. De Boer said “no” to Liverpool last season but what will he say if AC Milan, Barcelona or Manchester City comes to chat?
He earlier on said, he’d want an Alex Ferguson career at Ajax, so maybe it will all be well after all.
The man who helped Vermeer, Siem de Jong and Blind into Oranje and has made Christian Eriksen into one of Europe’s hottest midfielders will most likely see Dennis Bergkamp move to Arsenal. His successor is known already, what with Jaap Stam coming to the Arena, while Fons Groenendijk is also a highly respected coach in Amsterdam.
Ajax Godfather Johan Cruyff was pleased to see Ajax’ progress. “The performance can still be improved. It wasn’t great all the time. But the mentality was great. And Ajax has moved from “it’s nice to play good” to “we have to play good”. Frank de Boer is the right coach for Ajax. He made three changes and all three changes were aimed at winning the game. He didn’t make them because of PSV’s actions. It was not reactive, but pro-active. Things are looking up. Financially, the club is doing ok and winning the title this year again will help tremendously.”
Frank de Boer is one of the few players of a golden generation who is capable of transcending his passion as a player into his coaching. It took Jan Wouters a long while to find his mojo, while Rijkaard, Van Basten and Koeman had a hot-cold career so far.
It’s officially too early to congratulate the Sons of Gods, but their demonstration of will in the PSV-Ajax game clearly makes them the only club deserving of the title this season. And with a bit more luck in the draw next season (and Adam Maher for Christian Eriksen who will most likely move away from Amsterdam), the Champions League might prove to be a good platform for Ajax anyway…
Great article Jan, thanks for that.
What I want to point to is the fact that the Ajax combination football has simply been superior to all other football in the Eredivisie this season.
How many games was Ajax outplayed in the field game department this season when it was 11 vs 11?
How did they respond when they were in a 10 vs 11 when Vermeer was send off recently?
How did they respond when PSV leveled 2-2 in their own stadium?
Why would a team that knows it has always played the better football during the season feel insecure all of the sudden?
The self confidence, strength of mentality and football ability of Ajax has been build from the roots up. I love this approach, because it feels honest and right to me. It’s a holistic approach. Some coaches made comments about Ajax not being able to be opportunistic at times and take another approach to win a game, but I feel that those people forget that such decisions also come at a price. If you start using the long ball and move away from trying to win the game with combination football then that is also a ceiling you put in place up to what level you are able to solve things with real football. If you stick to your philosophy, despite drawing or losing one of the games in a campaign (notice the word campaign: it’s a marathon) then that can also be seen as an investment in yourself and your resolve. Many players at Ajax do not stop after training. Maybe the training is over, but they just keep going on improving themselves. De Boer has now showed another season that he finishes really strong. It’s like he does all his sowing in the first part of the season and then does the harvesting in the second half of the season.
Good football leads to good results. It’s funny how 3 titles in a row do not stick to playing good football. What if another coach would have won the title with opportunistic result football? We would not heard the end of it. Comments in the press and public would have been made like: “Look at him being realistic”, or “That coach looks at his material and plays the football he is able play with it”, or “finally a man who understands that results come first and good football comes second”.
Before the season started there are polls where experts tell about their expectations for the season and how they weigh the teams. Almost all of them said that PSV had the best material. People still say that PSV has the best attack and midfield. However the Ajax midfield cut right trough the PSV midfield and was better for the whole game. The combination football of Ajax was too much for the PSV internationals and Ajax won the game. Here you see how good football, is very much result football. It only takes some time to set up the machinery and maybe you get pounded at times when another team is very good at benefiting from your mistakes in build up. Real Madrid and Dortmund come to mind. It takes character to take those on the chin and carry on with your ideas.
For me Ajax has showed that not having the perfect players or spending the big money is never an excuse to move away from trying to play the best football. Like van Gaal does at the Dutch NT when we played Italy off the park with the youngest Dutch NT in history. This is why I think Ajax deserve to be champs and why I take my hat off for de Boer. Despite him being blind at times IMO, he had the balls to take off Poulsen and put Schöne in DM at a clutch moment. Less defensive solidity for more football when the game yet had to be decided. Ajax was not there to draw and consolidate, they were there to finish their opponents off and grab the title with one hand. Great stuff. Advocaat is too much of a coward to do such a thing.
De Boer deserves a lot of credit but let’s keep in mind he is far from a finished article himself. To become an expert in something you need to spend 10.000 hours on it. De Boer still needs make more flight hours to sort out some flaws he has, to become an international top coach. It’s time Netherlands delivers another one. I’m still bothered about how de Boer was not able to understand the importance of Anita for the Ajax system last season. Once he did, Ajax won 14 games in a row in Eredivisie. If he takes care of his blind spots I would prefer him to take over the Dutch NT coaching spot from van Gaal, over pretty much everyone. Ajax fans will want to keep him though 🙂
Great article Jan as usual.Can cocu do the same with PSV,i doubt it all charisma.cocu doesnt lack brilliance or hardwork.charisma is in born..thats what deboer does..its just beginning.As long as Deboer continues Ajax wont have problems.
Faraz mate hope u r well in Iran..
yes Bro, I’m good, everything is ok here, it is just two big earthquake but too far from me and my city;).
I refuse to worry about FdB leaving any time soon. The more he wins, the more he will be considered whenever a big team is looking for a new manager. But it is important to remember that FdB has constantly said that he won’t leave Ajax until he is done building it, and he knows that he is a long way away from being done. He also said that he would not leave Ajax even if Barcelona came for him, so I am 100% confident that he would turn down a prestigeless team like Man shitty.
off topic. a cat invaded Heracles-Groningen game. but it took a tackle from a Groningen player to make the referee halt the match.
on topic, Ajax have showed us that they have the will to win it, always have. Their Dutch players might not be the first choice in the NT (only Vermeer, Blind, and that’s just relatively new…).
Feyenoord, have great prospects, many have said… Some of them have became NT’s first choice (Janmaat, BMI, De Vrij), or just NT regulars (Schaken, Clasie, Mathijsen). If Feyenoord make it through the European stage, I don’t think they’ll do well with current kind of mentality.
PSV… Nah. 🙂
Tnx jan it was gr8 article. :). i hope Frank De Boer want an Alex Ferguson career. 😉
DRB 300 you know some kid named Gyliano van Velzen??
He is an ajax product who is know in Man U youth sistem, he is havin some buzz in the net and I wanted to know your opinion about him.
PD: another ajax product, amazing!!
Yes I knew he was at United, but he was never really considered as a big talent like Bobby Adekanye for example who went to Barca from Ajax recently. I don’t think he is one to keep an eye on like Ake and in lesser regard Rekik and Ebecilio. He is a pretty tall winger IIRC, but has not been all that special.
I feel that many people tend to think that the kids moving early must have some special ability as they were able to attract foreign interest so soon, but often the best ones stay in the Netherlands, like Maher, Vilhena, Kongolo and others. They too have received big offers early but think long term and are confident in their ability. It’s often the kids not so sure of themselves or brought up really poor that are easily talked into foreign adventures so that agents can start making money really early. Keep in mind that ones that decision is made then switches in the future are made more easily as well. Agents love players that only follow the next big paycheck as it’s with switches where they can make more money for themselves. So it’s a very smart system they try to put in place. The earlier they can make youngsters make their move, the more switches they will get out of them during their career and the more money they can make. Raoila has made a fortune from Zlatan and all his switches.
Thanks for the info, I follow this kids too hoping that they
could be something important for us, despite leaving too soon for top clubs. I guess that money really matters in this topics, I read that ManU gave him a nice home in Manchester, you know…
But the thing is I really appreciate the guys who stayed and
are more confident of his talent.
DP: Ake will be good in anywhere!!! He is so complete I think
I hope FDB stays at least one more season (if not two), having some success at CL then takes over NT after LVG. 2 of CL semi-finalist are in Ajax group plus Mancity. Hopefully the draw is better next year and Ajax will be in the final four.
I know this is a little off topic but could someone tell me about theo janssen because from what I understand he is the biggest talent to never make a name outside the eredivisie
I hope Ajax buys Maher, Van Ginkel or Fer.
definitely not Fer. He doesn’t fit Ajax’s system at all. His handling speed is far too slow. Plus he would cost a shitload
Plus he won’t want to go to Ajax. He will be hoping for Premier League (perhaps Everton again)
Robben with a goal and an assist already
Anyone know why Bas Dost is not playing? It looks like he haven’t scored a goal since he is called to the national team.
If anyone follows Bundesliga, could you please give me the updated information about Luuk De Jong, Afellay, Huntelaar, Bas Dost and Elia?
Robben with a goal and two assist!!
I dont know how into gossip everyone here is, but I stumbled upon some slightly interesting dutch news. Van der Vaart has split with his wife and is now apparently hanging with Sabia Boulahrouz, which is Khalids (Im guessing ex, wife)
That’s old news Sonneveld. They’ve been split up since new years
Think they got back together. And the boulahrouz ex wide is new
It’s not boulah’s wife but a German chick with the same name
R u sure Jan?
Curiosity getting the better of me, I had to look… From the journalistic powerhouse at “HelloMagazine” (whatever that is):
“Former Tottenham Hotspur footballer Rafael van der Vaart has confirmed his relationship with Sabia Boulahrouz, the best friend of his estranged wife Sylvie, who is also the wife of Rafael’s Hamburg teammate Khalid Boulahrouz.”
Maybe Raf should try Match.com instead of the list of KNVB WAGs before this becomes one of those personal distractions that LvG dislikes so much.
yalla Ajax win the champions league next season
Emmanuelson having a good game so far and Nathan Ake is on the bench for Chelsea..
Abhirup infact Emmanuelson is a good and EFFECTIVE winger with lots of work rate and speed..he is underutilized in national team and everywhere…
Hi there, guys!
I’m an old-time reader of this site (and the previous world cup blog too) but never had a chance to start to replying in your discussions.
I’m interested on a few of young players from youth teams.
One of them is Jairo Riedewald. I saw DRB3000 has a very deep knowledge of the Oranje talents, so I hope he (or somebody else, in case) can give me a (as much deep as possible) thought about Riedewald and few others, as Ezra Walian, Donny van de Beek, Abdelhak Nouri, Thomas Ouwejan, Mohamed Rayhi and Nabi Akimzadeh!
Thanks in advance to all of you 😉
Those are quite some names and I do not know all of them. I have seen a game recently from the Future Cup held in Amsterdam. In that game I think I saw all of the first 4 names play.
Riedewald is a pretty big defensive talent, playing CB. He did made some mistakes in build up, but overall made a good impression on me. I think that he makes a good chance to reach the first team of Ajax. Much attention goes to Bazoer, but this kid deserves to get attention as well.
Walian is a good finisher, but lacks overall football skill. Not a technical refined player like a RvP. That having said, I did like his ball retention ability in the game I saw. He scores quite easily, but it remains a question of how much he benefits from his size. I am always restrained about predicting pure goal scorers a big future. As when that dries up there is little to fall back on. Van der Moot is the same story. Scored three good goals recently, but what if he does not score? Then he looks pretty bleak. That’s the whole deal with these kind of strikers and that’s why I go for complete packages. The whole range of strikers in the pure finishing department (or close to) are for me back up to players who can finish and create things out of nothing. So Huntelaar, Dost, van Wolfswinkel, the weird semi complete player Luuk de Jong, Locadia and the two talents mentioned above are for me strategic players I would bring in for the right occasion. The basis and ambition should be to have 3 complete players at the front and speed is part of that package as well. Examples are Depay, Kishna and Boëtius. Looked at as wingers (where RvP also started mind you), but must be looked at and tested for the striker position. Depay for example scored easily when put there. Depay can play all 4 forward positions, so also striker. However keep in mind that this is my view on it. Gomes from Bayern scored a hattrick this week withing 10 minutes. Classical finisher and very effective. For me though they often are flat track bully’s that by default are easily cut off against the best teams, making it 10 vs 11 games.
Donny van der Beek was DM in the second half and looked pretty good on ball. Pretty tall blond kid. We will have to see.
Nouri is a magician with the ball at his feet. Is seen as the biggest talent of all the Ajax players. Outlier category. That having said, he was played on the wing when I watched him and he did not impress me at all. That’s not strange as he is no winger and lacks true speed. He is probably also unfit to really play in the current Ajax system. He has a nr. 10 written all over him and that position is not there anymore. Ajax plays with 1 DM and two halves. Sneijder really became the word star at Inter, not at Madrid. That had to do with Mourinho playing him as a pure 10, where at Madrid he was too occupied with defensive responsibility’s. Sneijder needs to be on the ball to be most effective and the same goes for this big talent. You basically want him on the ball as much as possible.
The other talents I know less about and have never seen playing. I heard some good things about Ouwejan. Mohamed Rayhi is a PSV player and will not have a easy time getting into the first team. Anyway the big talents from PSV are Hendrix and Bakkali (Belgium). Hendrix might be one for the future concerning the Dutch NT. I personally like him a lot. The last name you mention I do not know and saw that it was maybe spelled differently? Saw that he came from Sparta and now plays for Ajax. I will get back to you as soon as I have seen him playing.
You’re right: the last player’s name is wrong: it’s Hakimzadeh and should be an interesting iranian youngster (15 y.o.) which is growing good in Ajax youth system.
I saw Riedewald playing but he did’nt impressed me a lot. As you said, he’s having some problems when he has to start the action, but seemed much more confident on destroying opponents game. I prefere Bazoer all the way.
I understand your point about Walian (or KJH, Dost and the others) and I think you are right. You need a player to be more involved in the game, but in some game situations an upfront striker could be very useful.
Walian has a different body structure, which takes him to prevail on almost all his opponents. We will see if he can develop on his “without ball” skills.
Thanks for the other info’s…would you mind if, sometimes, I ask you more opinions?
So far, have a good day
from which angle is sabia boulahrouz hotter than sylvie meis….rafael..oh boy what have u done
Oh please you’d kill to be with Sabia Srinjoy. They’re both incredibly pretty.
As for you lot all saying this complicates things because of personal relations between Raf and Boula or whoever.. it’s not like Rafa is going around nailing other footballers wives while he’s with someone else. He’s not cheating, both parties were separated for some time before they got together. They’re both consenting adults so please just move on already lads.
I have Doubt about it.
if this is all true, I’m starting to lose my respect towards vdV… 🙁
De Boer: I’ll be at Ajax next year, insists De Boer
Hi guys, you can´t miss this goal!!!
The best goal ever!!
Van der vaart on bayern…
Is he lost?
or is he genius?
or is it envy?
vaart is technically so gifted and one of the mercurious player i have ever seen….Many dutch players should send to Roy keane,so that they will know how to be a winner in matches..i still remmber how keane pocketed Zidane and Davids in 1999..that was awesome..
Fischer make a goal for Ajax, but he is really sucks, he cannot driblled any herneveen player,
WTH is Ajax doing?!
I cant see they want to win the game
it seems all players are playing with 50% energy
they was too lucky, Herneveen can win this game, but their attacking polayer miss an one on one chance.
also AJax hit the bar. totally ajax was one class higher but they weren’t hungry enough for goals
usually Ajax cant score only because they fail to convert their chances.
but today they are simply unable to create chances.
Psv must be beating the TV. If they faced this Ajax I dont see a reason they would lose.
Blind always lose track of his opponent
fischer is selfish
eriksen keep losing possession
schone is isolated
moisander will only pass the ball backwards
Sigthorssen looks more like a basketball player
I cant find SDJ
cillisen is the only Ajax player with good performance and that means the team is really sucks
And the referee is great too. ignored at least 2 handball in penalty area
i cannot undrestand how he ignored herneveen player handball, in last 5 minutes, it was really easy penalty for Ajax
and the one in first half is obviously an intended handball