On the day before the biggest Classic in the country (Feyenoord-Ajax), we can look back at a great week for Ajax.
And typically for Ajax, it has everything to do with balls. Big balls.
The difference between Ajax and Feyenoord, PSV, Twente and all the other teams in Holland is basically that. Bravado. Balls. Arrogance. Self-consciousness. This is what made/makes Ajax extraordinary.
Yes, good football. Yes, results. Yes, a good venue. Yes a good jersey. Yes, a strong supporters following. All of that. But it’s Ajax gogme ( jiddish word for street smartness) that sets them apart.
And it was demonstrated by Frank de Boer ( and his staff) in the tactics against Manchester City.
The Oranje1974/Barca style of playing with a loose striker ( ™ Carlos) worked wonders. Roberto Mancini didn’t get it. Lescot and Kompany didn’t have a clue. Ajax ruled the game.
And it was demonstrated by Cristian Eriksen, Siem de Jong, Ricardo van Rhijn, Daley Blind and even Paulsen. On the pitch. In amongst big name players like Toure, Nasri, Aguero, Barry, Milner.
Ajax deserved the lead in the first half already, but over enthusiasm by the team (and Van Rhijn) allowed Nasri to score (was Vermeer indeed pulling his hand?). But Man of the Match Siem de Jong set up the equaliser in brilliant style, after a one-two combination with Van Rhijn.
In the second half, Ajax put the foot firmer on the pedal and won the game highly justified with 3-1.
Dennis having a good time while Roberto is not happy….
And sadly, one wonders…what would have happened if the lot would have found their cojones earlier on in the competition? Sure, they played well against Dortmund in Germany, but forgot to kill the game. The home game against Real Madrid (with yours truly in the stands) gave us another Ajax, however. Frank de Boer said “It was as if I was watching Martin Jol’s Ajax…”…
But he got them to play exciting, adventurous and ballsy again. According to the Dutch school, but arguably in a 4-4-2 formation. So what?
So, there are many different scenarios out there, but in my book, Ajax needs to win away against City (Boerrigter and Babel up front, no Sana and 4 men in midfield) and at home against Dortmund and Real will do the rest :-). If Ajax goes up to the second spot, Dortmund and Man City will go after spot 3 and Man City will definitely win a game (after they get their arse whooped by Ajax again 🙂 ).
So, there you go people: Ajax to go through.
Also, on another level, in the board room, former Ajax executives Michael van Praag and Maarten Fonteijn have pushed for (and received) agreements on Financial Fair Play. To be introduced next season ( 2013-2014)!
Like Frank de Boer on the bench, Michael van Praag does not take prisoners. Asked if he would have the cojones to have a go at Manchester City and Real Madrid, he said (with a smile): “You betcha!”.
So clubs like Ajax will have a real chance to win the CL again.
Van Praag: “If Real Madrid doesn’t want to play according to the new rules, they are out. Simple as that.”
Any club competing in a European competition will have to have his financial household in order by running the operation break even. Making a loss is not on.
“The revenue streams will have to come from ticket sale, sponsoring, tv rights and merchandising. It is not longer an option for the owner of Man City to say “what do we need to balance the books? 100 million? Here you go…”.”
Debt needs to be repaid in three years. In the first year, 45 mio is allowed, but in year three only 5 mio. After that, it is zero! The only investments that are allowed is the youth academy. The only option left for them is to sell shares in the clubs. But they won’t…”
Fascinating developments in Amsterdam.
Sadly for them, they’re now on their way to Rotterdam where Feyenoord will put their feet firmly back onto the ground :-).