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[FM16] Ajax Amsterdam - Building a dynasty of youth


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Season Summary 2031-2032

 

It was perhaps the worst season in my history as Ajax manager. We failed to win Eredivisie and our continental season was a similar short disappointment. I’m not sure what’s the reason behind that, but few things I can point out.

Firstly, in Eredivisie we weren’t significantly worse than in previous years. The other teams had failed to put together a good challenge in previous seasons, but in this time PSV collected almost 80 points themselves and it meant our usual ‘good’ season was not good enough to secure the title. Secondly - we looked really great against big teams - we destroyed FC Utrecht and PSV at home, defeated Feyenoord 8:2 (our highlight of the season, without doubt), but then dropped points against smaller teams, failed to win and settled with poor draws.

In the first half of the season our defense had all sorts of problems and we looked vulnerable both from set pieces and open play. It got better after winter break and Ismet Gluhalic collected plenty of clean sheets, but our defensive problems probably contributed to our poor run in Champions League and we couldn’t improve on time to save our European season.

Another number from stat sheets that caught my eye - we were really poor with our clear cut chances. A lot worse than usual - only 33 goals out of 85 clear cut chances. Dirk van Grinsven was especially wasteful (4 out of 15) and Johan van Dalen wasn’t much better (4 out of 12). So it’s pretty clear in what area we need to improve. Interesting fact about goalkeeping - in the last season our goalkeepers managed to save 23 out of 35 clear cut chances that we conceded. A huge effort to save 2 out of 3 of those situations. In this season this number was only 7 out of 18. So our keepers couldn’t work miracles in one-on-one situations as they have done in the past.


 

Fans Player of the Season:

  1. Tom Drost
  2. Francesco Antonucci
  3. Tarik de Wit

 

Goal of the Season:

  • Rene Verhoeven vs. Go Ahead Eagles 26/10/2031

 

Young Player of the Season:

  • Tarik de Wit

 

 

 

Eredivisie Awards


 

Golden Boot:

  1. Tarik de Wit - AFC Ajax
  2. Ron Bosman - FC Utrecht
  3. Raul Ibanez - MVV Maastricht

 

Top Goalscorer:

  1. Sebastian Sosa - FC Utrecht - 29
  2. Tarik de Wit - AFC Ajax - 28
  3. Raul Ibanez - MVV Maastricht - 27

 

Goalkeeper of the Year:

  1. Ismet Gluhalic - AFC Ajax
  2. Barry Tuitel - Fortuna Sittard
  3. Martijn van der Velde - Sparta Rotterdam

 

Young Player of the Year:

  1. Lars Ames - PSV Eindhoven
  2. Mauricio - Feyenoord Rotterdam
  3. Rene Verhoeven - AFC Ajax

 

Manager’s Manager of the Year:

  1. Sander Duits - PSV Eindhoven
  2. Clarence Seedorf - Feyenoord Rotterdam
  3. Me
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July 2032


 

Four friendlies in July went fairly well - one win and three draws, but our opponents were fairly good teams, so it’s not a bad string of results.

We made three decisions about younger players and sent Moreno Markiet, Jaap Hoogdorp and Sjoerd de Jong out on loan for another season. Hopefully they’ll get good playing time in good leagues and I hope they’ll improve in this season.


 

24.07.2032 - AFC Ajax - PSV Eindhoven 1:1p (Dutch Super Cup) - 35. Johan van Dalen - 50. Rene Lems

We’re slight favourites for this Super Cup game and I hoped we could show PSV that we’re the better team despite their Eredivisie title in Spring. We practiced defending set pieces before this game, because we conceded some goals from free kicks and corners in pre-season friendlies.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba, Ari, Stekelenburg (72. de Groot), Antonucci (63. Janssen), van Grinsven (63. Matal), van Dalen, de Wit

We looked very good in the first 10 minutes - Leslie Lichaba tried from distance - good shot, but still saved by PSV goalkeeper. We defended well, but a bit aggressively and picked up too many yellow cards early in the game and the match turned into midfield battle after the first 15 minutes. It looked fairly even game until we picked up our pace later - good combination from our left flank gave Johan van Dalen a chance and he took his shot well. Tarik de Wit had a great chance just three minutes later - lovely combination of short passes and good through ball left him open in the box, but his shot was saved. That could have decided the game, but even as we went to half time at 1:0 I was fairly pleased with what I saw on the pitch.

In second half PSV came out a bit more motivated and it didn’t take long until they equalized - combination from our right left Rene Lems with the ball in our box and he scored with a lovely shot. Our defense gave him too much space and time, but I have to give credit to Lems - he put it right next to far post and there was not much that Ismet Gluhalic could do about it. Second half was mostly even battle and I hoped that substitutions could make impact, but in 79’ we were left with 10 men - Leslie Lichaba injured his groin and I had to take him off. We moved Engin Ari to DL (unusual position for him) and tried to hold on until the final whistle. PSV started to attack more, but curiously we had the best chances late in the game. Johan van Dalen sent a header towards goal in 85’ and it bounced back from crossbar. Very unlucky not to score. Nketsi Matal got himself into good positions and he had a half chance in injury time - he was in good position, got the ball, but it was at his left foot and he’s very right-footed, so it wasn’t the best shot and goalkeeper got his hand to it. When ninety minutes were over, I knew that it’s going to be tough thirty minutes of extra time for us.

PSV took control of the game in extra time, taking advantage of their numbers and our tired feet. They had two clear cut chances, but Gluhalic positioned himself right and held the shot both times. We were under pressure, but managed to hold on and take this game to penalties.

It took 8 shots in penalty shoot-out and when Johan van Dalen missed his spot kick it was over for us. PSV took the Super Cup win. I was obviously disappointed, but I feel that we played fairly well and were rather unlucky and Lichaba injury put us into really poor position. Lichaba will be out for at least 6-7 weeks with his injury and that will affect our start of the season.


 

28.07.2032 - Petrolul - AFC Ajax 0:1 (Champions League 3rd Qualification round 1st leg) - 76. Dirk van Grinsven

Because of our place in Eredivisie we had to start our European campaign from qualification rounds and our first opponent is Romanian side Petrolul. They look like a solid mid-table side in Eredivisie and we were favourites against them and I hoped that we could score some goals in away game to give us good pole position for second leg.

Leslie Lichaba was injured and Dirk van Grinsven was dropped after poor performance in Super Cup game.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman, Ari, Stekelenburg, Antonucci (59. Janssen), Matal (66. van Grinsven), van Dalen (71. van der Aar), de Wit

We were favourites for a reason and looked like a better team in the first half. Pieter Stekelenburg took an ambitious shot from distance that was parried by brilliant save from Petrolul goalkeeper. Unlucky to score from there. Petrolul looked complacent and we tried to exploit that, but couldn’t find a goal. Nketsi Matal and Tarik de Wit wasted their clear cut chances and when first half finished without goals I was a bit disappointed with our finishing.

Second half started pretty much the same when Johan van Dalen managed to pass the ball wide of empty goal in 51’ - can’t believe he didn’t score from there. Petrolul tried to keep their clean sheet, but it wasn’t to be - substitute Dirk van Grinsven sent a beautiful header next to post and that was too good for goalkeeper to stop. It was his 200th goal for Ajax and a very nice effort to mark that occasion. Petrolul lost their fire a bit and in 83’ Fred Koeman almost doubled our tally when his shot bounced back from crossbar and in 88’ van Grinsven sent his shot inches wide after our good counter.

In the end I was a bit disappointed with our finishing - we wasted three clear cut chances in this game and that’s not good enough. Still, I’m fairly pleased with our result and clean sheet in this away game.

  • our shooting was 25/8
  • we made 52 key passes
  • Edward Schans surprised me negatively with 5 individual mistakes


 

First two games have been promising - we’ve played well, although our finishing has let us down. But what I’ve seen on the pitch is quite encouraging - our tactics look good and players are doing well. We will have enough match practice before Eredivisie season kicks off and I hope that it gives us advantage in early matchdays.

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August 2032


 

04.08.2032 - AFC Ajax - Petrolul 6:0 (Champions League 3rd Qualification round 2nd leg) - 2., 32. and 71. Tarik de Wit, 28. and 79. Dirk van Grinsven, 37. Pieter Stekelenburg

We came to this game with 1:0 lead from away match and our goal was to secure our place in the next round.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman, Ari (69. de Groot), Stekelenburg (54. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (54. van der Aar), de Wit

We started off with flyer - Tarik de Wit headed in after just two minutes of football and despite the fact that Simon Janssen and Dirk van Grinsven wasted their clear cut chances in first half, we found our second goal in 28’ and after that it looked like game over. Petrolul players were disheartened and we let the goals flow. Tarik de Wit completed his hat-trick in 2nd half and Dirk van Grinsven added his second goal to wrap it up. Emphatic win and great performance to start our month.

  • our shooting was 34/13
  • we had 63% possession
  • we had 8.60 average rating
  • we made 56 key passes and 36 dribbles
  • Tarik de Wit, Dirk van Grinsven, Tom Drost, Simon Janssen and Fred Koeman were outstanding
  • our next opponent is Hajduk


 

11.08.2032 - ADO Den Haag - AFC Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 24. Tarik de Wit, 30. Dirk van Grinsven, 41. Engin Ari

A little bit of deja vu - we had the same opening game in the last season, so we should be used to have ADO Den Haag as our first opponents. Not the easiest match-up, of course. ADO are predicted to finish 6th in this year and they made a good free signing in Summer - Costa Rican striker Anthony Smith (who, fortunately for us, is still with his national team during this opening game). Edward Schans is absent for us, serving his suspension for yellow cards that he collected in the last season.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Koeman (66. Otten), Ari, Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (62. van der Aar), de Wit (71. Sastrodimedjo)

It was a careful start from both teams, but we took initiative in 24’ - Tarik de Wit used his half-chance well to open scoring for us. Six minutes later we doubled our lead - Fred Koeman sent a good cross from left wing and Dirk van Grinsven won a header against ADO left-back to made our position much more secure. ADO got their first chance in 34’ - Mirko Aquilani was 1-1 against Ismet Gluhalic, but Bosnian goalkeeper made a brilliant save to keep his clean sheet and when Engin Ari curled his free kick over wall and into the net from 20 meters out, it was game over. We were in control after first half, even though we didn’t exactly had too many good chances. Our finishing was excellent in the first half and that made all the difference.

I allowed myself to experiment in second half and give some key players a bit rest. Simon Janssen played as F9 from 71’ onward, but overall second half was much less exciting and we were content with our lead. Final score was definitely a great result for us to start our season with, especially from away game, and I was very happy with that.

  • we allowed ADO players to make 26 dribbles in this game and that’s a bit too much
  • Steven Otten made his debut for Ajax in this game
  • Engin Ari suffered groin strain late in the game and he’ll be sidelined for 2-3 weeks


 

14.08.2032 - Vitesse Arnhem - AFC Ajax 1:4 (ED) - 29. Donald Jourdan - 12., 23. and 27. pen. Dirk van Grinsven, 59. Tarik de Wit

Only three days to prepare for this game and it’s another tough match in away stadium. Vitesse are predicted to finish 5th in this season and they have proved to be a difficult opponents for us. We lost the last match against them in Spring and I’m well aware how dangerous their attacking players can be. Bookies probably feel the same, because they’ve marked Vitesse as slight favourites for this game.

Edward Schans is back in line-up for us in this game and Mario de Groot replaces injured Engin Ari.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman (65. Alleyne), de Groot, Stekelenburg, Janssen (60. Antonucci), van Grinsven, van Dalen, de Wit (60. Splinter)

We opened scoring in 12’ and it was just like our second goal against ADO Den Haag. Fred Koeman delivered a cross from our left and Dirk van Grinsven headed in from close range. Vitesse reacted to goal by changing their tactics even more defensive and it was easy for us to control midfield. We doubled our lead in 23’ - Tarik de Wit sent a header towards goal, it was saved by goalkeeper, who couldn’t hold onto it and van Grinsven was first to pick it up and finish into empty goal. Three minutes later we got the penalty - Fred Koeman was tripped in the box and Dirk van Grinsven completed his hat-trick from the spot. It was 3:0 with less than 30 minutes played and Vitesse were sinking without trace. They did manage to score one goal back fairly quickly - their first good attack in the first half gave Donald Jourdan a good look on goal. First attempt was saved by Ismet Gluhalic, but Jourdan didn’t make a mistake from rebound. First half finished 3:1 - van Grinsven’s hat-trick put us to very strong position, but we need to be aware and concentrated after the break.

We managed to hold onto our lead and even add another goal - Tarik de Wit sent his header right next to post in 59’ and against the movement of Vitesse goalkeeper. Textbook header and that secured our win. Big lead allowed me to make some bold substitutions and allow rest to key players. 17 years old striker Wim Splinter got his chance to impress in second half and even found the target a couple of times. Fred Koeman picked up a small knock and Sergio Alleyne had to play in unusual role as DL for some period in second half. But that didn’t make our win any less special

  • our shooting was 18/13
  • Wim Splinter made his league debut for Ajax
  • Fred Koeman suffered bruised head and is out for a week
  • Dirk van Grinsven and Tarik de Wit had a great game


 

18.08.2032 - AFC Ajax - Hajduk 2:0 (Champions League Play-off 1st leg) - 28. and 62. pen. Tarik de Wit

We had a very favourable draw for Champions League play-off. We’re clear favourites against Croatian side Hajduk and first leg at Amsterdam Arena is the game we should take control of this pair. Still, we have a lot of injury problems - Leslie Lichaba, Engin Ari, Fred Koeman are out and now Edward Schans twisted his ankle in training and need at least 3-4 weeks to recover. Eugene Talea suffered concussion in training and Engin Ceylan is just back in light training, so it’s less like ‘team selection’ in this game, but rather ‘send out whoever is healthy’.

I chose more attacking setup and overlapping instructions for fullbacks in this home game.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Otten, de Groot, Stekelenburg (56. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, van Grinsven (62. Matal), de Wit (68. Splinter)

We controlled the game from start to finish, but had to work hard to get the goals that we needed. Dirk van Grinsven got the best chances in 19’, but he couldn’t score even though he had two attempts on goal. Tarik de Wit scored from header in 28’ and our goal woke up Hajduk players. Their striker Alin Covaci caused us some problems in the end of the first half and he had a clear cut chance in 43’ - Rene van den Bosch was pushed away from the ball too easily, but Ismet Gluhalic made a good save to stop the shot. That was something we addressed in half-time - we can’t allow chances like that in our home game, because away goals are much too valuable in those playoff games.

Second half was very similar football - we started better and in 62’ Tarik de Wit was pushed over in Hajduk penalty box. Our striker converted the penalty himself and doubled our lead. I ordered the team to retain possession, because I was satisfied with 2:0, and we managed to keep that lead until the end. Mario de Groot headed against crossbar in 76’ - a little bit unlucky not to score our third, but that was a minor problem.

Two-goal lead and clean sheet from home game was a very good result for us, even though our defending was questionable at times.


 

21.08.2032 - AFC Ajax - FC Eindhoven 4:0 (ED) - 23. and 31. Tarik de Wit, 27. Dirk van Grinsven, 35. Rene van den Bosch

For a change, this should be an easy fixture - newly-promoted FC Eindhoven are predicted to finish 17th in this season and the first look to their squad indicate the same. They have not made enough effort to attract decent players and are likely to struggle in Eredivisie.

I used this game to rotate some players and good news from training ground is that both Fred Koeman and Eugene Talea are back in full training. We selected attacking formation and overlapping instructions for full-backs.

Squad: Koops, Drost, Alleyne, van den Bosch (60. Sahin), Otten, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Antonucci, van Grinsven, van Dalen (52. van der Aar), de Wit (60. Splinter)

Johan van Dalen had an early chance when Tom Drost found him at the far post with excellent cross, but van Dalen only managed to hit the post from close range. Tarik de Wit headed against crossbar in 8’, but FC Eindhoven couldn’t keep their goal intact for long. Tarik de Wit opened scoring with a powerful shot in 23’ and soon it was 2:0 - Dirk van Grinsven had plenty of time and space in the box and finished calmly. Second goal from de Wit secured our win and Rene van den Bosch added another goal with a good header from corner. It was a fantastic performance in the first half and we had secured our win, so at half time I asked players to retain possession and the next 45 minutes were much more quiet. Easy win for us and mandatory three points.

  • our shooting was 27/11
  • we had 8.17 average rating
  • we made 62 key passes
  • no chances for FC Eindhoven
  • 18 years old central defender Soner Sahin made his debut for Ajax in 2nd half


 

24.08.2032 - Hajduk - AFC Ajax 1:2 (Champions League Play-off 2nd leg) - 35. Luca Matarese - 4. Rene van den Bosch, 40. Tarik de Wit

We were in good position after our 2:0 win in the first game, so I had to make some changes in line-up to allow some rest to key players before derby game against Feyenoord. Engin Ceylan was back in full training, but not yet ready to play, so youngster Wim Splinter again started on the bench and got valuable minutes in high level.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost (52. Sahin), Alleyne, van den Bosch, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (66. Antonucci), Matal, van der Aar, de Wit (52. Splinter)

The first 30 minutes of the game were mostly midfield battle, but then things started to happen. Rene van den Bosch scored after IFK - his header was saved, but he was quick enough to react first and finish from the rebound. It was his second goal in consecutive games - quite an achievement for a central defender. Hajduk quickly equalized - this time van den Bosch was a culprit, as he lost the duel against Luca Matarese and the game was level. However, we went to half-time with 2:1 lead - Tarik de Wit scored his 10th goal of the season and put us ahead. It’s not even the end of August yet and he already has 10 goals!

Second half was pretty relaxed, because Hajduk needed to score at least 4 more to win on aggregate and that was unrealistic. Nketsi Matal suffered injury late in the game and we were down to 10 men for the last minutes, but that didn’t change much. Convincing 4:1 win on aggregate and we’re in group stage!

  • Nketsi Matal suffered damaged knee cap and he’ll be out for 3-4 weeks - very unfortunate
  • we were drawn to Group B against AS Monaco, Dynamo Kyiv and Olympiacos


 

28.08.2032 - Feyenoord Rotterdam - AFC Ajax 3:3 (ED) - 4. Tony de Jonge, 28. Fethi Jaziri, 37. Rico van Leeuwen - 8. Johan van Dalen, 12. Pieter Stekelenburg, 55. Tarik de Wit

August has been full of games for us and fairly difficult games in my opinion and it’s finished with Klassieker derby against Feyenoord. Another tough away game. Feyenoord are predicted to finish 3rd in the league, they’ve sold their best young midfield star Richard van der Plas in this Summer and invested nearly £10m into new players. Both teams had won first three games in Eredivisie, so it will be a fierce battle.

We practiced defending set pieces before the game and Engin Ari returned to full training before this match. Both teams still have some injury problems and in terms of fitness it’s fairly even.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Koeman, de Groot, Stekelenburg, Janssen (66. Antonucci), van Grinsven, van Dalen (72. van der Aar), de Wit (77. Ceylan)

We didn’t start well - Feyenoord got their first corner in 4’ and they instantly scored. Tony de Jonge outjumped Tarik de Wit in the box and it went in off the bar. But the goal fired us up and we quickly turned things around - Johan van Dalen equalized with a good header (his 50th league goal for Ajax) and Pieter Stekelenburg finished off excellent combination of shot passes to fire it home in 12’. Johan van Dalen wasted a great chance just two minutes later and perhaps that was the miss that allowed Feyenoord back into game. We looked in control until 25’, but Feyenoord started to build up attacks and find space in our third. Fred Koeman was too slow to stop his man going past him, a cross found Fethi Jaziri in front of goal and it was an easy equalizer for Feyenoord. And in 37’ Rico van Leeuwen found himself completely unmarked in front of goal and made it 3:2. It was action-packed first half and I felt that 2:3 at half time was a bit harsh. We looked better in possession and controlled midfield, but allowed Feyenoord too many chances and they used them well. We had to be better in 2nd half.

Second half didn’t start well for us. Rico van Leeuwen got another clear cut chance right after kick-off, but fortunately for us he blasted his shot over. In 55’ we found our equalizer - Tarik de Wit converted van Dalen’s cross to make it 3:3, but another great chance for van Leeuwen could have changed the game, but he missed his shot again. It finished 3:3 and in the end both teams could accept that it was a fair result. End-to-end football and very entertaining for fans. I have to say that a draw from away game is not the worst result, but our defensive errors gave Feyenoord way too many good chances to score and we weren’t at our best defensively.



 

August have gone fairly well for us. One big goal was to reach Champions League group stage and we managed to get their fairly confidently. We’ve started our Eredivisie campaign well and won some difficult away games and I hope that the first international window will give us some time to recover from injuries.


 

Eredivisie

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Transfer Window Update Summer 2032


It was a fairly busy transfer window for Dutch clubs. Three big sales from three teams and some movements within the league topped it off.

  • Rene Verhoeven from AFC Ajax to Atletico Madrid for £18,5m
  • Richard van der Plas from Feyenoord Rotterdam to Manchester United for £13,5m
  • Mirko Roland from MVV Maastricht to Tottenham for £12,25m
  • Screve N’Goma from PSV Eindhoven to Feyenoord Rotterdam for £4,9m
  • Rico van Leeuwen from AZ Alkmaar to Feyenoord Rotterdam for £3,8m
  • Marco Valk from Swansea to PSV Eindhoven for £3m


 

AFC Ajax players on loan:

  • Moreno Markiet to Racing (La Liga)
  • Sjoerd de Jong to VVV Venlo
  • Jaap Hoogdorp to Nacional de Madeira (Portugal)
  • Germain Siereveld to MVV Maastricht
  • Mithat Arabaci to Westerlo (Belgium)
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Squad Update 2032


Not much has changed over Summer. We have a slightly smaller squad and in most positions we have two players.


 

Goalkeepers


Ismet Gluhalic

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Ismet Gluhalic is perhaps the biggest surprise of the last season. Over the past year he’s played himself to our no. 1 goalkeeper and Marvin Koops finds himself on the bench. He’s perhaps not that good in one-on-one situations, but overall he’s calm and confident between sticks and doesn’t make mistakes. On the verge of Bosnia & Herzegovina national team, too.

 

Marvin Koops

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After losing his place to Gluhalic in the last year, it’s the time for difficult choices for Koops (and the club, as well). He’s 29 years old and his contract is about to end in the next Summer. Koops himself did let me know that he might be looking for new challenge, but we didn’t receive any serious bids for him and so he remains in the squad for now, but as we do have some decent youngsters coming up, it makes sense if he’ll leave in 2033.


 

Defenders


 

Tom Drost

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Team captain is in veteran status now, but his professional attitude and high natural fitness means he’s as reliable as ever in our right defense.

 

Sergio Alleyne

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Another veteran defender who, despite his age, manages to outperform his younger teammates.

 

Rene van den Bosch

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Actually I was a little bit disappointed with his performances in the last season. It should have been his time to really emerge and raise his game to new level, but instead he looked much more error prone than Sergio Alleyne and didn’t develop as quickly as I hoped. If he wants to move to bigger teams and more challenging leagues, he should make the most of this season.

 

Edward Schans

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Reliable centre-back, who is very consistent and calm on the bench. Not likely to improve much in the future and probably won’t attract any interest from big teams, but good enough to be our first team option for coming years.

 

Steven Otten

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With Moreno Markiet out on loan for this season, Steven Otten returned to club and fills the role of young rotation player. Physically good enough in the air (in Eredivisie terms) and capable of providing cover in DL position.

 

Leslie Lichaba

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Leslie Lichaba is another player who developed a lot in the last season. He wasn’t really convincing in Autumn, but after Dragisa Gudelj left in January he started to play more and became more consistent, too. Provided a lot of assists from his left flank and can improve our attacking play with his overlapping, but on the other hand - I expect to see our youngsters to become better players than Lichaba currently is, so protecting his first team status will be a tough challenge

 

Fred Koeman

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One of those youngsters who challenge Lichaba in this position. 21 years old and quick as a devil, but his technical ability, positioning and composure need to improve.

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Squad Update 2032

 

Midfielders


Engin Ari

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First choice for defensive midfielder role, especially against in more difficult games and in Champions League level. Also, embarrassing to admit - still our best set piece taker.

 

Mario de Groot

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He can get enough playing time in DMC position, because he’s a bit different player than Engin Ari. I use de Groot mostly as regista and he contributes more to attacking phase of the game.

 

Pieter Stekelenburg

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Stekelenburg had a difficult season - he suffered spinal injury in Autumn and was out for full three months and that allowed Rene Verhoeven to emerge. But now, after Verhoeven left to Atletico Madrid, Stekelenburg assumed his usual role as our first choice box-to-box midfielder

 

Eugene Talea

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Sadly, his development stalled a little bit. He’s decent rotation option, but nothing more.

 

Clyde Sastrodimedjo

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Sastrodimedjo had a great season on loan at MVV Maastricht and now he returned to Amsterdam and wants to compete for first team role. He’s a very good fit to box-to-box midfielder role - quick and hard-working, covers a lot of ground and can pass the ball. Few weaknesses too - he’s very poor in the air and also very one-footed. That last flaw visibly hinders his passing options on the pitch

 

Simon Janssen

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Simon Janssen missed almost entire last season with cruciate ligament injury and he’s now worked with himself all Summer to get back in form. With Francesco Antonucci getting older, Janssen is our first choice advanced playmaker

 

Francesco Antonucci

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Italian looked very formidable in Spring, despite his age, but he’s getting slower and his quality starts to drop a little. Could still be good against smaller teams when we dominate possession - his touch, passing and creativity can cut through most of bus-parking defenses, but his role in the club will decline now.


 

Wingers

 

Dirk van Grinsven

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Amazingly great on our right wing. Can score and create opportunities. Very consistent and highly motivated player.

 

Nketsi Matal

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South African is experienced backup in AMR role. Quick and agile despite his age and role model for younger players.

 

Johan van Dalen

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van Dalen is another player who was a small disappointment in the last season - he didn’t score as many goals as in the previous year and wasn’t as consistent as I expected. Needs to improve in this year.

 

Omar van der Aar

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Hot prospect who got his chance in the first team after Justin Kluivert left in January. He brings something else to AML position, because he’s more suitable to IFa role and cuts more inside, moving into channels and creating space for others. Just 19 years old, but great prospect for the future.


 

Strikers

 

Tarik de Wit

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Definitely our first choice striker and perhaps the one irreplaceable player in the squad.

 

Engin Ceylan

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Great prospect for the future. Not exactly CFs type of player, but really talented forward who moves well without the ball and can finish his chances. Only 17 years old, but features often from the bench, so he’ll have all the chances to develop his game in this season.

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September 2032


 

Transfer window closed and international break went by really fast. We were busy finding new staff, but although there were several candidates for U-19 coach positions, none of them matched our high criterias.

We finalized works in our training facilities and they were upgraded to highest level once again - works that started some 6 months ago were concluded in September. No it was time to return to Eredivisie football and Champions League was about to start.


 

11.09.2032 - AFC Ajax - Fortuna Sittard 1:0 (ED) - 73. Omar van der Aar

It should have been easy home game - Fortuna Sittard were ranked just 15th in pre-season predictions, but those first games after international break are always tricky and it wasn’t different this time as well. I opted for more attacking formation with overlapping instructions for full-backs.

We were ready for the game - Leslie Lichaba and Edward Schans were back to full fitness, but both Eugene Talea and Francesco Antonucci were injured in training and have to miss some games.

Squad: Koops, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba (61. Koeman), Ari (52. de Groot), Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (69. van der Aar), de Wit

We controlled midfield from kick-off and had a number of great chances in the first half to open scoring. Johan van Dalen had a great look in 8’, but he only managed to hit the post. His shot in 25’ was denied by brilliant save from Fortuna goalkeeper. I was very disappointed to go to half time with 0-0, because we had done enough to take comfortable lead, but failed to finish our chances.

Fortuna players were encouraged by score-sheet and they defended bravely in 2nd half in hopes to get away from Amsterdam Arena with a point, but it wasn’t to be. Dirk van Grinsven found Omar van der Aar with a cross and youngster finished his only chance of the game better than van Dalen did in the first half. 1:0 is a narrow lead and we almost lost it in the final moments of the game. Fortuna got a corner in injury time, we were unable to win the header and ball bounced dangerously near our goal line for couple of times until Marvin Koops collected it and referee could blow the whistle. We won, but by narrow margin and that sort of result at home is not good enough to my standards. Johan van Dalen has to improve his finishing in next games.


 

14.09.2032 - AS Monaco - AFC Ajax 7:0 (Champions League Group B) - 13., 30., 47. pen. and 50. Jurij Dinaburskij, 53. and 89. Franjo Galovic, 57. Leonel Bangert

Our Champions League campaign started with a tough match in away stadium against AS Monaco. Monaco are one of the favourites for Champions League title in those times and looking at their squad list makes any manager worry - most of their players are rated 5* compared to our team and I expected a tough match, although not exactly like it turned out. But omens were there - AS Monaco had been 29 games unbeaten before that game.

We practiced defensive positioning before the game and I relied on our most experienced players.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba (56. Koeman), Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (56. van der Aar), de Wit (58. Ceylan)

AS Monaco were more attacking team from the start, but in the first half we could keep up the pace for the most time. Twice we were not good enough to stop their best striker Jurij Dinaburskij - for the first goal their midfielders found him with excellent lob behind our defensive line and for second goal it was Leslie Lichaba’s missed interception to blame. 0:2 scoreline at half time was something that was to be expected - we couldn’t really stop AS Monaco from scoring, but at least we looked respectable and tried to play football.

Second half, however, was another story. Johan van Dalen made a stupid foul to give away penalty and after that the floodgates opened. It probably was down to the fact that our heads dropped a little after third goal, but we were under heavy pressure for the next 15 minutes and when the storm ended we were 0:6 behind and hammered badly. At least some players tried to create something in the final minutes, to get consolation goal or at least something positive out of this hell. Simon Janssen sent his shot inches wide in 82’ and Engin Ceylan managed to hit crossbar in 86’, but we couldn’t find our goal and in the last minutes Franjo Galovic added 7th goal to AS Monaco.

Without a doubt, that was an awful result. Honestly, I expected us to lose, but not THAT bad. In fact, it was the worst defeat of my career and I can’t pick out anything positive out of this game. Players decided to react and refunded fans who travelled with us to Ettori Stadium - obviously it wasn’t a performance that any of our fans enjoyed and most of the players felt guilty. To make things worse - Holland manager Roberto Martinez was on the stands and I believe some players hurt their chances of getting a call to national team.

  • we gave away 7 clear cut chances
  • our average rating was just 6.33 - I can’t remember it being so low
  • we made 23 individual errors, 6 of those came from Engin Ari

 

It was the first game of our Champions League campaign - while it was embarrassing defeat, it was just one defeat and we still have 5 games to go, so better to forget this game as quickly as possible and move forward.

Perhaps inappropriate timing, but after that game I agreed to sign a new contract with Ajax. New deal lasts until 2036 and will bring me £24,000 p/week.


 

18.09.2032 - AFC Ajax - Helmond Sport 5:2 (ED) - 12., 24. and 51. Tarik de Wit, 69. Dirk van Grinsven, 85. Omar van der Aar - 75. Lorenzo Kleijn, 77. Sergio Alleyne (og)

We needed to bounce back from that horrible defeat with a win and home game against Helmond Sport looks like a good option to regain our confidence. Helmond are ranked just 16th by pundits and it was a must win game for us in Amsterdam Arena. I chose attacking formation with overlapping orders, but didn’t mess with our line-up: pretty much our best eleven went out.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans (52. Otten), Lichaba, de Groot (52. Koeman), Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven, van der Aar, de Wit (57. Ceylan)

We quickly took control of the game - Tarik de Wit got a chance in 12’ and finished well. Our corner was cleared by Helmond defenders, but Dirk van Grinsven delivered another ball into the box and de Wit was ready for it. Our striker doubled his tally in 24’ and although van Grinsven wasted his great chance in 33’, we went to half time with solid 2:0 lead.

I asked the team to retain possession in second half and switched Omar van der Aar to IFa on our left wing and it soon paid dividends. Young winger found de Wit with a nice ball and de Wit completed his hat-trick. However, just a minute later Leslie Lichaba picked up his second yellow card and was sent off. We were leading 3:0, but a man behind. That didn’t stop us at first - Dirk van Grinsven scored our fourth goal (his 150th league goal for Ajax!), but then we lost concentration and almost allowed Helmond back into game. Substitute Steven Otten weren’t alert in our box and Lorenzo Kleijn got his foot in from close range to find the target. Just two minutes later it was a very similar cross from our left and this time Sergio Alleyne was on time to get to the ball first … only to put it into our own goal. 4:2 in less than two minutes. However, that was all that our opponents could do in this game and Omar van der Aar extended our lead further in 85’.

In summary it was a good win, although those two conceded goals didn’t make me happy and Lichaba’s red card was careless and unnecessary.

  • our shooting was 17/12
  • Dirk van Grinsven scored his 150th league goal for Ajax
  • Tarik de Wit and Dirk van Grinsven had a great game


 

22.09.2032 - NAC Breda - AFC Ajax 0:3 (Dutch Cup 2nd round) - 9. Rene van den Bosch, 55. Engin Ceylan, 79. Clyde Sastrodimedjo

It’s good that we get some easier games to build up our confidence after that heavy loss. Having said that - NAC Breda are not perhaps the easiest opponents in 2nd round - Jupiler League side could cause upset against anyone on home turf and we had to avoid complacency.

Leslie Lichaba was suspended for this game and I was bold to allow several rotation players a chance to impress.

Squad: Koops. Drost (53. Otten), Alleyne, van den Bosch, Koeman, Ari (64. de Groot), Sastrodimedjo, Stekelenburg, Matal, van der Aar, de Wit (53. Ceylan)

We were control of the game in the first half, but didn’t create enough good chances. We got one good shot on target and it was our central defender Rene van den Bosch who scored from corner - he found himself in a good position in the box and Stekelenburg found him with a good pass.

We secured the result in second half with goals from Engin Ceylan and Clyde Sastrodimedjo. Sergio Alleyne needed just some luck to score with a header from IFK, but that bounced back from the post. In the end I still felt that we didn’t create enough clear cut chances, but we scored three goals and kept a clean sheet, so I can have no complaints.

  • our shooting was just 17/5
  • Omar van der Aar pulled his hamstring in this game and is out for 3 weeks
  • Pieter Stekelenburg and Nketsi Matal were outstanding for us
  • we got De Treffers for our 3rd round opponents - a lot easier draw, at least on paper


 

26.09.2032 - AFC Ajax - MVV Maastricht 2:0 (ED) - 25. Germain Siereveld (og), 27. Engin Ari

Easy games are over and MVV will provide a much more difficult test. They have finished in top half of the table in recent seasons. They’re too inconsistent to really challenge top three, but on a good day can beat almost every club in Eredivisie. This season they’re predicted to finish 7th, but we’re favourites in Amsterdam Arena and MVV are missing some first team players, so this should play to our advantage. It’s also interesting to see how our hot prospect Germain Siereveld does for MVV.

We went to the game with attacking formation and overlapping instructions. Leslie Lichaba was suspended for second game in a row and so giving Fred Koeman some first team opportunities.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman (67. Otten), Ari, Stekelenburg (63. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen, de Wit (58. Ceylan)

MVV tried to defend deep in this game, using 2 DMCs, and that worked well for them for the first 20 minutes, but then two goals in short space of time made a difference. The first was unfortunate own goal for Siereveld, who stood on the way of Dirk van Grinsven’s cross. Two minutes later Engin Ari put it into the net after corner and that put us in control of the game.

We switched to more conservative tactics in second half, but MVV never really challenged our goal until 87’ when Raul Ibanez sent his shot on target. Ismet Gluhalic was ready for that, despite having fairly quiet game until that point and his save kept our clean sheet.

In conclusion, it was a solid win and I had nothing to complain about.


 

29.09.2032 - AFC Ajax - Olympiakos 1:1 (ED) - 30. Johan van Dalen - Edilson

We finished September with our second Champions League game. We needed to bounce back from that trashing we got from AS Monaco and I hoped that players can do a lot better in front of home fans. We practiced defending set pieces before the game.

We had Leslie Lichaba available again, Francesco Antonucci and Eugene Talea were also back to full training. Tom Drost, on the other hand, was suspended for this game.

Squad: Gluhalic, Alleyne, van den Bosch (55. Otten), Schans, Lichaba, Ari (58. de Groot), Stekelenburg (73. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen, de Wit

We started the game better and had two great chances in the first 15 minutes, but Johan van Dalen and Dirk van Grinsven both missed their opportunities, so it was Olympiakos who took the lead in 22’ - Edilson was unmarked in the box and it was easy finish for him from point blank range. We fought back and van Dalen equalized in 30’ and in the end of the first half Olympiakos switched their tactics to more defensive formation. We looked like a better team in that first half, but I was really unhappy with our finishing and missed chances.

Olympiakos did well to kill the game after half time break. We controlled midfield, but couldn’t create any real chances, so in the end we had to settle with draw. That was a disappointment, because we needed points from those home games and I feel we’ve lost two in that game.

  • Rene van den Bosch was forced to come off with bruised rib and he’s out for a week

 

I look back to September with mixed feelings. We’ve done well in league games and actually looked confident in those wins, but terrible defeat in Monaco leaves its mark to this month and our Champions League performances have not been good enough. Perhaps weaknesses in our squad are being exposed by quality teams, I don’t know.


 

Eredivisie

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No surprises in top three, but sc Heerenveen are doing really well to be so high in the table. FC Twente are underperforming, but I expect them to improve in the coming months.

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October 2032


 

02.10.2032 - Roda JC Kerkrade - AFC Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 77. Dirk van Grinsven

First game in October is against newly-promoted Roda JC, but it wasn’t an easy game at all. Roda JC have surprised everyone with their good form - team who were predicted to finish 18th are currently 5th and exceeding all expectations.

Despite that I still expected our rotation players to do the job and so I shuffled our team a lot.

Squad: Koops, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo (46. Stekelenburg), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (6. Matal), de Wit (70. Ceylan)

Our game was disrupted early - Johan van Dalen had to come off with broken ribs and Nketsi Matal took his place in AML, although he’s not really comfortable with playing on the left. Not sure if it was squad selection, early substitution or something else, but we couldn’t create anything for the first 30 minutes and those half chances that we got in the end of the first half weren’t too dangerous. Disappointing performance in first half and on stat sheet we had only 8 key passes - clearly not enough creativity.

Changes were made at half time - Clyde Sastrodimedjo came off and Stekelenburg took his place in midfield. We got our first clear cut chance in 56’, when Dirk van Grinsven had a great look from point blank range, but somehow his shot was saved. Unbelievable miss in this kind of moment. In 60’ Nketsi Matal took a good shot and a brilliant save from Roda JC goalkeeper denied him. It started to get nervous for us, but we finally broke through in 77’ - good transition football and final pass from Engin Ceylan released Dirk van Grinsven and this time our right winger used his opportunity well. We could calm down a little after that goal and I was satisfied with keeping possession until the end.

In the end, a narrow win in away game. We had no reason to be happy with that performance, but we did enough to scrape it. Second half was better in terms of created chances, so that was an improvement.

  • we didn’t give Roda JC any chances in this game
  • Tom Drost and Fred Koeman both committed 7 fouls - way too many
  • Johan van Dalen will be sidelined for 3-4 weeks with broken ribs

 

I finally found suitable additions to coaching staff and we signed Carlton Cole as a coach, Italian Mirco Paluzzi as U-19 goalkeeping coach and Jason Blunt and Daniel Ciafani as U-19 coaches.



 

16.10.2032 - FC Groningen - AFC Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 64. and 66. Omar van der Aar, 77 .Engin Ceylan

Opponent: FC Groningen are predicted to finish 10th in Eredivisie and they have the best teamwork in the league. Definitely not easy opponents in away game.

Team news: international break has allowed Omar van der Aar to recover from his injury, Rene van den Bosch is also back in full fitness, but Clyde Sastrodimedjo is out with double hernia - that’s a shame, because he was after more first team football and now his ambitions are hampered by injury.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba, Ari, Stekelenburg (69. Talea), Janssen, van Girnsven (64. Matal), van der Aar, de Wit (69. Ceylan)

A little bit like in Roda JC game we didn’t create anything dangerous in the first half, even as we looked a bit more attacking team. Again I had to make some tactical tweaks at half time and switched Omar van der Aar to IFa in our left flank. Perhaps that made the difference, but our young winger made the difference in second half - he scored two goals in two minutes and that decided the game. Substitute Engin Ceylan added third goal in 77’ - good show of skills from him, to turn around his defender and pass it calmly into the net.

Very good second half led to very good result in away game and I’m happy that youngsters made the difference in this game.

  • it was another excellent game defensively - we didn’t give FC Groningen any chances
  • Omar van der Aar and Simon Janssen had a great game


 

20.10.2032 - AFC Ajax - Dynamo Kyiv 1:0 (Champions League Group B) - 53. Nketsi Matal

After big trashing in the first game and disappointing draw with Olympiakos, we had pretty much our back against the wall. If we want to get anything out of this group, we have to get some points and home game against Dynamo Kyiv is our most likely opportunity, although they have looked fairly strong in their games so far.

Preparation: we practiced attacking set pieces to take advantage of our corners and free kicks. Dynamo Kyiv were slight favourites for this game even though it was Amsterdam Arena. They play attractive 4-3-3 formation and we don’t have too many experience against such setup. I ordered our fullbacks to support to counter the threat that three strikers posed to our defensive line.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, Ari (46. de Groot), Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven, van der Aar (23. Matal), de Wit (62. Ceylan)

The game started slowly and both teams were careful in their game, not to take any unnecessary risks. In 23’ Omar van der Aar had to come off with injury and again I had to go with Nketsi Matal on our left flank. Dynamo’s Cleber had some shots on target, but we got even closer to first goal when Tarik de Wit headed against crossbar in 37’. First half was fairly even and ended without goals. Dynamo attacking trio looked skillful with ball and our defenders did well to contain them most of the time and at least for some periods it looked like we had control of the game.

First half gave us encouragement and we took the lead in 53’ - Tarik de Wit flicked the cross towards far post where Nketsi Matal was waiting and finished with good shot. Dynamo wanted to equalize and they started to attack more and it almost worked. In 60’ ball fell to Walter Medina in our box and he had time and space to score, but Ismet Gluhalic made a great save to keep our lead. Dirk van Grinsven  had a great chance from counter in 80’, but it was brilliantly parried by Dynamo goalkeeper. It was end-to-end stuff in the final ten minutes. Dynamo almost got lucky in 85’ when their cross bounced back from our crossbar. In following counter attack Nketsi Matal had a great chance to double our lead, but it was again brilliantly saved and follow-up from Stekelenburg was equally well parried. Dynamo had chances late in the game, but both Vitaliy Krasilnikov and Cleber wasted their opportunities (or rather it was Gluhalic who made two key saves), so final whistle brought relief to us and we could celebrate our first win in the group. Dynamo did their best to get the goal in that second half, but we held on. The last ten minutes were full of action and both goalkeepers could show their skills. Very entertaining football and I’m happy to be in the winning end of it.

  • our shooting was 16/10
  • Omar van der Aar suffered fractured arm - because Johan van Dalen is also injured, I asked him to play through it with protective equipment


 

23.10.2032 - AFC Ajax - sc Heerenveen 0:0 (ED)

We had just three days to prepare for our next league game and we have some tired legs in the squad after Champions League football.

Opponent: sc Heerenveen are predicted to finish 13th, but they’re overachieving at the moment and find themselves in 4th position with some really good results in the first half of the season

Tactics: I chose overlapping instructions to fullback for this home game

Squad: Gluhalic, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Stekelenburg, Antonucci (55. Janssen), van Grinsven (69. Matal), van der Aar, de Wit (69. Ceylan)

First half was a disappointment for us. We put sc Heerenveen under good pressure in the first minutes, but it died out after 15’ and we didn’t get enough good chances in the first half.

Second half was pretty much the same, although I tried to change things with substitutions. We got our best chance of the game in 82’ when Engin Ceylan went one-on-one after our counter-attack, but he was brilliantly denied by sc Heerenveen goalkeeper and that was it. We dominated midfield for the most of the game, but couldn’t break sc Heerenveen defense and our opponents are obviously happy to leave from Amsterdam Arena with a point.


 

27.10.2032 - De Treffers - AFC Ajax 0:9 (Dutch Cup 3rd round) - 2. Nketsi Matal, 8. and 13. Omar van der Aar, 33. and 80. Engin Ceylan, 37. Sergio Alleyne, 59. Dirk van Grinsven, 74. and 82. Simon Janssen

Cup game against lower league side De Treffers was easy affair and I allowed rotation players to take this one. Some youngsters got to start, too.

Squad: Koops, Alleyne, Sahin, Otten, Koeman, de Groot, Talea, Antonucci (49. Janssen), Matal, van der Aar (46. van Grinsven), Ceylan

We pretty much destroyed the smaller team in this game. De Treffers probably hoped to keep their clean sheet for as long as possible, but we opened scoring already in 2’ and when Omar van der Aar scored our third goal in 13’ it was obvious that heads dropped a little. It was free-flowing football for us and De Treffers had no skill or spirit to deny us. Engin Ceylan could have scored a hat-trick, but even so it was a dominant performance. Something to gain confidence from and first team players got a valuable rest day before derby game against PSV Eindhoven.

  • we had 63% possession and gave 59 key passes
  • our shooting was 34/17
  • we created 5 clear cut chances
  • we made 33 dribbles in this game
  • we had 8.97 average rating
  • most of the players had outstanding game
  • we are now 20 games unbeaten in Dutch cup
  • we play with Feyenoord in 4th round
  • Francesco Antonucci pulled his hamstring in 2nd half and he’ll be out for 3 weeks


 

30.10.2032 - PSV Eindhoven - AFC Ajax 2:0 (ED) - 60. Laurens Antoine, 90. Dennis de Jong

It was always destined to be a title six-pointer and even more so after we dropped points against sc Heerenveen.

Opponent: PSV have done again really well in this season, putting together a long winning streak while also competing in Champions League level. They’re at their full strength and coming against us with their usual 4-4-2, with Zakaria Baltham their best striker with 15 goals in Eredivisie already. At home they’re slight favourites against us.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba, de Groot (26. Matal), Stekelenburg (70. Talea), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen, de Wit (70. Ceylan)

Zakaria Baltham showed early why he’s such a great striker - he won shoulder to shoulder duel against Edward Schans and got the first clear cut chance of the game in 4’, but Ismet Gluhalic was ready and parried it wide. We looked error-prone in defense and I asked players to retain possession, but the key moment came in 26’ - Johan van Dalen made a reckless and completely unnecessary two-footed tackle on PSV player and was sent off early. In 30’ we got a chance when Dirk van Grinsven was tripped at the edge of PSV box and referee awarded a very generous penalty for us, but Tarik de Wit (who has already on a long spell without a goal) didn’t convert the penalty and it was still 0:0. Zakaria Baltham got another clear cut chance in 44’, but again Ismet Gluhalic made a good save and sent us to half time with 0:0.

We were hopeful at half-time, but second half with 10 men was always a tough challenge. Ismet Gluhalic had a good game, but he too was human. Leslie Lichaba’s mistake allowed Rene Lems to take open shot from close range and Gluhalic saved that, but in 60’ Laurens Antoine headed in and PSV could celebrate. We had our hopes for equalizer until another mistake from Lichaba allowed Dennis de Jong to score from corner in the final minute and PSV took a derby win.

I was very disappointed with result, but I can’t fault the performance of most players. To be honest, it was a tough position that Johan van Dalen put us in and we needed a lot more luck to avoid that defeat.

  • our average rating was just 6.76
  • Leslie Lichaba managed to make 9 (nine!) individual mistakes and had a generally poor game
  • we managed to be caught offside 11 times

 

I decided to give official warning to Leslie Lichaba for poor performance (that he wasn’t too happy about) and fined Johan van Dalen for 1 weeks wages for his red card and unprofessional challenge (that he accepted without complaint)


 

October has been generally OK. I’m happy that we finally got a win in Champions League and we played well in Eredivisie. PSV game came down not to team performance or tactics, but one reckless challenge and error of judgment by Johan van Dalen. Those things happen in a long season, you just have to accept them and move on, but that defeat leaves us 4 points behind PSV in the table, so we can’t allow too many mistakes in upcoming games.


 

Eredivisie

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No surprises in top three. PSV look really formidable. FC Twente are finally starting to pick up some points to get out of relegation zone and some smaller teams who started their season really well have now slided down in the table.

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November 2032


 

02.11.2032 - Dynamo Kyiv - AFC Ajax 1:2 (Champions League Group B) - 61. Emil Brown - 23. Johan van Dalen, 57. Simon Janssen

November starts with a long trip to Kyiv. After narrow win at home we were prepared for a very tough away game.

Tactics: I chose to counter Dynamo 4-3-3 formation with completely different setup. Formation was our usual, but mentality standard instead of control, more disciplined mindset, high tempo and fullbacks were on support duties instead of usual attack.

Team news: Johan van Dalen will get his chance to redeem himself, because Omar van der Aar is not ready to start in this game. Leslie Lichaba was dropped and replaced with Fred Koeman and Engin Ari returned to DMC position.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman, Ari (63. de Groot), Stekelenburg (66. Talea), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen, de Wit (71. Ceylan)

First half was fairly even until 23’ when good attacking combination gave us the lead - Dirk van Grinsven crossed and Johan van Dalen headed in from six yard box. Dynamo switched to more attacking tactics after that, but our formation stood well and we limited their chances. The closest they got to our goal was in 43’ when Emil Brown’s header scraped crossbar before going over. I was pleased with our first half display - Dynamo increased their pressure as the first half progressed, but we stood well in defense and were patient in attack. We have to take our chances when they come in this kind of games and we did exactly that.

Good transition attack in second half doubled our lead - great cross from Johan van Dalen found Simon Janssen in front of goal and it was easy finish from close range. Emil Brown managed to score one back for Dynamo - deep cross came from our left to far post. Ismet Gluhalic didn’t go for it and Tom Drost allowed Brown to escape - clear cut chance and easy finish for ex-Ajax striker. That goal gave Dynamo players extra motivation and they almost got their equalizer in 85’ - Vitalyi Krasilnikov hit the post after a counter - great chance for him and we were a little bit lucky there. Final whistle marked a great result for us - we edged another close encounter and we had now two wins in a row.

  • Engin Ari suffered bruised head in this game and he’ll be out for a week

 

Young goalkeeper Rob Pluim signed his first professional contract in this week - he has a huge potential and could be a key player for us. One sign of this is the fact that he earned his first U-21 cap already. at the age of 16.


 

06.11.2032 - AFC Ajax - Sparta Rotterdam 0:0 (ED)

We’ve given up some points in comparison to PSV and I wanted a good result from here. Sparta are doing fairly well and they were predicted to finish 9th in the table before this season, but I was confident that home advantage makes us favourites and chose attacking formation with overlapping instructions to fullbacks.

Johan van Dalen was suspended for this game and we missed Engin Ari and Francesco Antonucci due injuries.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven, van der Aar (58. Matal), de Wit (64. Ceylan)

The most noteworthy moment of the first half came in 11’ in our box - lot of mess from defenders and we weren’t able to clear the ball, so Sparta got two good chances in a row, but Ismet Gluhalic did well to save us. We controlled midfield in the first half, but Sparta defended in numbers and it was difficult to find chances, so we couldn’t find any, despite getting 8 corners in the first half.

Second half was better. Tarik de Wit headed against crossbar in 47’ and his shot in 54’ again found frameworks - a bit unlucky not to score from there. I sent in Nketsi Matal in 58’ and moved Dirk van Grinsven to AML as IFa. Mata got a great chance to score in 66’, but his shot was saved. We started to apply good pressure on Sparta goal. Substitute striker Engin Ceylan had two great chances in 81’ and 87’, but youngster missed them both and final whistle marked a goalless draw.

Very frustrating result, because we deserved to win with our second half performance. We were a little bit unlucky not to score, but we need to finish better those clear cut chances if we get them and we didn’t tonight.

  • we had 60% possession
  • we gave 57 key passes
  • our shooting was 20/9
  • we had 16 corners (and didn’t use them well)
  • we’ve now played three league games without goals and wasted 6 clear cut chances in those games, atrocious finishing
  • Simon Janssen had a great game for us


 

21.11.2032 - FC Volendam - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 39. Omar van der Aar, 70. Edward Schans

It was a good international break for us, especially because it allowed some players to recover from injuries. Clyde Sastrodimedjo and Francesco Antonucci are back in full training and we travelled to Volendam for our next league game. We really needed a win and to score some goals to get our confidence back. Volendam are predicted to finish 14th in Eredivisie, but they have injury problems in goalkeeping department and they had to use 17 years old youngster against us and I hoped that it gives us better chances in attack.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba, Ari (63. de Groot), Stekelenburg (72. Talea), Janssen, Matal, van Dalen, de Wit (70. Ceylan)

We were in control of the first half, but it took some time before we could create anything dangerous in FC Volendam area. Tarik de Wit won a header after corner in 26’, but his header hit crossbar and bounced back. Volendam struggled to defend set pieces and in 33’ their defender pushed Edward Schans in the box in IFK situation - clear penalty and it was promptly awarded by referee. However, Tarik de Wit is not the most confident striker at the moment and his penalty was saved by goalkeeper - 17 years old Darryl Franken. How on earth can one player look like a shadow of his best days. It’s the second penalty in a row that he’s missed and his goalless streak affects us as a team. In 39’ Omar van der Aar got a free header from close range, but it smashed crossbar - it looked like we have rotten luck in all situations, but van der Aar managed to tuck it in from rebound. I was happy to lead at half time, although that penalty miss was as bad as it gets.

We continued well after half time break and the best chances came from corners. Rene van den Bosch had a good look in 61’, but his shot was cleared off the line. Edward Schans headed in from another corner in 70’ and that goal settled it. We concentrated on ball possession after our second goal. FC Volendam almost scored after counter in 82’, but Andy Lyden’s shot was well saved by Ismet Gluhalic and that was it - solid win from away game. It was a bit more difficult and nervous than I expected, but in the end the players delivered.

  • our shooting was 23/9
  • we had 5 clear cut chances in this game
  • we had 18 corners and we looked fairly dangerous from set pieces
  • Sergio Alleyne was injured in the first half - twisted knee will keep him out for 2 weeks
  • Dirk van der Grinsven picked up a knock in second half - twisted ankle leaves him sidelined for 3-4 weeks
  • Dirk van Grinsven had a great game for us


 

24.11.2032 - AFC Ajax - AS Monaco 0:2 (Champions League Group B) - 8. Franjo Galovic, 62. pen. Klajdi Idrizaj

It’s difficult to see us getting any points against AS Monaco, but we were eager to prove that we’re better than the 0:7 scoreline from away game showed. We practiced defensive positioning before the game and I used the same tactical tweaks that worked so well against Dynamo Kyiv - fullbacks to support, standard setup, higher tempo and more disciplined mindset. Sergio Alleyne and Dirk van Grinsven were injured, but the rest of the first team players were available to us.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba, Ari (63. de Groot), Stekelenburg (72. Talea), Janssen, Matal, van Dalen, de Wit (70. Ceylan)

We made a very good start to the game - Johan van Dalen had a shot on target in 7’ that was saved off the line and Nketsi Matal had a clear cut chance that was saved. But while we couldn’t produce a goal from those good attacks, AS Monaco scored from their first attack in 8’. Franjo Galovic beat Leslie Lichaba in the air and his header landed in top corner. That was cold shower for us and our inability to use our chances added up to it. Nketsi Matal wasted another great chance in 11’ and Tarik de Wit missed his opportunity in 31’. We went to half time break with 0:1, but our tactics worked well and I felt that scoreline was a bit unfortunate and didn’t reflect the game properly. We wasted three clear cut chances in the first half and that’s something you just can’t allow to do against AS Monaco.

We were optimistic about our chances in second half until Leslie Lichaba gave away penalty after handball in our box. Very stupid move from our left-back and that made our job much more difficult. We had chances late in the game, though - we attacked well in the last ten minutes and substitute Engin Ceylan found himself twice in one-on-one situations, but he couldn’t finish his opportunities. Johan van Dalen continued our poor finishing with missed chance in injury time. When final whistle called I was really frustrated. We had numerous chances in this game, but couldn’t score a single goal and two mistakes from one player in defense cost us the game. Tarik de Wit continued his goalless run, even though he found a clear cut chance.

  • we had 5 clear cut chances in this game, but missed them all - we could have won this game easily, but failed to do so
  • we need to win our last game against Olympiakos and hope that AS Monaco beats Dynamo Kyiv

 

 

27.11.2032 - AFC Ajax - AZ Alkmaar 4:0 (ED) - 17. Edward Schans, 21. Tarik de Wit, 44. Pieter Stekelenburg, 90. Kevin de Jonge (og)

Back to Eredivisie and we host AZ Alkmaar in our next game. AZ are predicted to finish 8th in this season and look like solid mid-table side. It’s nice to see Kevin de Jonge, who’s currently on loan at AZ and have played regularly in their central defense in this season.

AZ plays pretty standard 4-4-2 tactics and we went against them with our usual formation, fullbacks overlapping because it’s our home game and I expected us to dominate midfield.

I dropped Leslie Lichaba after poor display against AS Monaco and Fred Koeman took his place in left defense.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch (69. Sahin), Schans, Koeman, Ari, Stekelenburg (50. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, Matal, van Dalen, de Wit (57. Ceylan)

Tarik de Wit got the early chance in 6’, but his poor finishing form continues and his shot went well wide. We opened scoring in 17’ - Edward Schans headed in from IFK. Nice goal for central defender and his second in consecutive league games. Tarik de Wit header landed in the net in 21’ and there was a massive roar in Amsterdam Arena, because de Wit FINALLY scored. It was his first goal after long drought - in fact he’s been without scoring for 816 minutes until that goal and that must have been massive confidence boost for him and in fact for the whole team. Before half time we scored our third goal and what a goal that was! Corner was delivered to outside of area and Pieter Stekelenburg sent a screamer from 30 yards straight to top corner. Wonderful goal, very well struck and the first goal that in this season that looks like a goal of the season candidate.

With confident lead after first half I asked players to retain possession in second half and tuned down overlapping, so second half was less eventful. For some period it looked like AZ is trying hard to find a goal and managed to control midfield better, but we defended well and it never got too dangerous. Our own loan player Kevin de Jonge scored unfortunate own goal right before the end and final score was 4:0.

I was happy with result and performance - we looked dominant in the first half and controlled things well after half time. I’d like to see games like that more often.

  • our average rating was 8.06
  • AZ Alkmaar managed to get 11 corners, but we defended well in set piece situations
  • we allowed 25 dribbles that is too many - Robin Claeys was especially difficult to handle for Fred Koeman
  • despite all those stats, AZ didn’t get any chances in this game
  • Pieter Stekelenburg, Nketsi Matal and Edward Schans were outstanding for us


 

30.11.2032 - Olympiakos - AFC Ajax 3:2 (Champions League Group B) - 9., 24. and 68. Nahuel Veron - 60. Pieter Stekelenburg, 72. Nketsi Matal

Last game of the month was away game against Olympiakos, also our last game in Champions League group stage. As I noted before, we needed to win in this game and hope that AS Monaco defeats Dynamo Kyiv, if we want to progress from this group.

We practiced defending set pieces before this game and used our proven European tactics that worked well in so many games already.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman, Ari (60. de Groot), Stekelenburg, Janssen, Matal, van Dalen (65. van der Aar), de Wit (69. Ceylan)

Just like in AS Monaco game we got an early chance - Johan van Dalen had a good look on goal in 7’, but his shot was saved. Olympiakos got their opportunity just a minute later when Juan Mercuri found himself alone in the box, but Ismet Gluhalic made a good save to deny him. It was Olympiakos who opened scoring another minute later. Nahuel Veron skipped past Edward Schans and Fred Koeman and finished well from tight angle. He doubled his tally in 24’ and that, I felt, was the end of our hopes to qualify from this group. Fred Koeman struggled to handle him in our left flank and to concede two goals so early in this game was a disappointment. But it was still early and players weren’t prepared to give up. Pieter Stekelenburg tried his luck from distance in 28’ - his shot looked dangerous, but only scraped crossbar before going over. Johan van Dalen had a great chance from counter late in the first half, but his shot was saved and disappointing first half finished 0:2. We showed good football for some periods, but were again wasteful with our chances and made some costly mistakes is defense. If we can get away with those mistakes in Eredivisie, that’s not good enough in Champions League level.

We continued to try in second half and Pieter Stekelenburg managed to score our first goal in 60’ - great counter attack, good pass from Simon Janssen and calm finish from experienced midfielder. But if that goal got our hopes up, it was not for long. Nahuel Veron completed his hat-trick in 68’ and that cooled our fire a bit. Nketsi Matal made it 2:3 - we looked dangerous in transition and finally managed to score from those chances, but it looked like we’re too late to save this one. Omar  van der Aar had a clear cut chance in 90’ - that one was saved by goalkeeper, but wouldn’t have mattered either way. Final score 2:3 showed again that we have to improve our finishing if we want to get further in Champions League.

  • we got 5 clear cut chances in this game ,but gave away 6 great chances to Olympiakos
  • players made 26 mistakes in this game, Simon Janssen 9(!) individual errors
  • Group B standings: AS Monaco 15, Dynamo Kyiv 9, AFC Ajax 7, Olympiakos 4
  • Simon Janssen had a great game for us


 

How should I sum up November for us? In Eredivisie we looked fairly good and mostly got the results, but November was about Champions League and here we failed to deliver, although we started the month with a great result against Dynamo Kyiv. We played well, but failed to deliver and our poor finishing from clear cut chances was the main problem. It’s been a struggle for Tarik de Wit and I hope that his goal against AZ Alkmaar will give him confidence and improve his form in coming weeks. We need to concentrate on December to improve our league standings before winter break.


 

Eredivisie

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Top three have moved away from the rest of the pack. We’re still in title race, but there’s not much room for mistakes.

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December 2032


 

04.12.2032 - AFC Ajax - VVV Venlo 0:0 (ED)

First game in December was home game against VVV Venlo. We need a win in home game to retake the lead in the table. VVV Venlo have actually a very good team, although they lack a bit quality in defense. Either way, they’re predicted to finish 11th by media experts and that shows that they can be dangerous if they’re underestimated.

I asked players to be more attacking and fullbacks to overlap in attacking phase.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch (20. Sahin), Schans, Lichaba, de Groot, Stekelenburg, Janssen, Matal, van der Aar (56. van Dalen), de Wit (70. Ceylan)

We didn’t get our attack to run as smoothly as I expected and it took a lot of time before we created anything dangerous. Nketsi Matal had the best chance in 37’, but his shot was saved. It was a fairly even battle in the first half apart of this moment. VVV played well in midfield and our performance was not good enough by our standards.

Second half looked fairly similar - we managed to control midfield a little bit better, but chances were rare and our attacking movement was not good enough. Young centre-back Soner Sahin won a header in corner situation in 70’, but it hit the post and bounced away. That was the closest we got to goal in this game.

Final result was a disappointment - we should have played a lot better at home and used our chances better. VVV are obviously happy with one point from tough away game.

  • our shooting was 15/10
  • Simon Janssen made his 200th appearance for Ajax in this game
  • Rene van den Bosch suffered groin strain in first half and he’ll be out for 2-3 weeks
  • Johan van Dalen suffered gashed leg and he’ll be out for a week, missing a game or two


 

08.12.2032 - AFC Ajax - FC Twente Enschede 2:1 (ED) - 18. Tarik de Wit, 71. Omar van der Aar - 43. Ferdi van Gerwen

Next game against FC Twente didn’t allow us a lot of time to prepare. We needed to improve our attack and finishing if we wanted to win games. FC Twente have been perhaps the most underachieving team in this season - they have one of the most talented young midfielder in Jonathan Pengel and they’re predicted to finish 12th in this season, but instead they find themselves in relegation battle and it’s been difficult for them to get points.

Johan van Dalen and Rene van den Bosch are injured, Tom Drost is suspended for this game, but Sergio Alleyne is fit and ready, so he’ll start in DR and youngster Soner Sahin takes place next to Edward Schans.

Squad: Gluhalic, Alleyne, Sahin, Schans, Koeman, Ari (58. de Groot), Stekelenurg, Janssen (69. Antonucci), Matal, van der Aar, de Wit (74. Ceylan)

We took the lead in 18’. Nketsi Matal made a good run from right wing and delivered a cross to near post where Tarik de Wit arrived right on time to put it into the goal. FC Twente equalized just before half-time break - their combination from our left allowed Ferdi van Gerwen to run into empty space and he used his chance well. Shot went into near post and goalkeeping from Ismet Gluhalic was a bit questionable in this situation, but this goal gave FC Twente confidence before half time and increased our frustration.

We did better after half time break, put FC Twente under pressure and chances started to come. Tarik de Wit got a great chance from corner in 51’, but his shot was saved. Nketsi Matal got a shot on target in 56’ and then, just like in first half, FC Twente got a chance out of nowhere - good cross from our right found Ferdi van Gerwen in our six yard box and he got goal open in front of him, but Ismet Gluhalic managed to make incredible reflex save to stop that shot from close range. It was a key moment in the game, key save from Gluhalic and after a moment like that it was clear that we need to take this game. And we got this goal that we needed - in 71’ Sergio Alleyne delivered a cross to Omar van der Aar and young winger headed it in off the bar. Great goal for him and important win for us. We retained possession for the rest of the game and held onto that win. It was a narrow win and fairly even game - FC Twente probably feel that they should have got at least one point from it. I’m not entirely happy with our performance, but pleased with three points.

  • our shooting was 23/11
  • Sergio Alleyne was outstanding for us in this game


 

11.12.2032 - FC Utrecht - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 61. and 67. Tarik de Wit

It was difficult to select tactics for this game, because FC Utrecht are strong team (predicted to finish 4th) and it’s always tough against them in away game. They also came against us with standard 4-4-2 instead of their usual 5-3-2WB, that’s something different compared to previous seasons.

We had Tom Drost back in line-up, but Sergio Alleyne looked tired and was rested. Soner Sahin was in starting line-up, because of van den Bosch was injured.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Sahin, Schans, Lichaba, Ari , Sastrodimedjo (46. Stekelenburg), Janssen (58. Antonucci), Matal, van der Aar, de Wit (67. Ceylan)

First half was drab football from both sides with only two noteworthy moments. FC Utrecht’s Jorri van der Geest was the first player to react to loose ball in our box and his shot in 6’ cracked crossbar. Omar van der Aar had the best chance of the first half, but his shot was easily held by FC Utrecht goalkeeper. No goals at half time and we needed to change something in second half.

Tarik de Wit was the man of the moment to make all the difference in second half. His shot from the edge of area went right next to post and surprised goalkeeper a little bit. Six minutes later it was again de Wit who was in action - his header from corner bounced back from crossbar, but he was ready to react and tucked in the rebound. That decided the game and we slowed things down to protect our lead. Substitute Engin Ceylan got a great chance in injury time to add our third goal, but his shot was parried by goalkeeper. I didn’t mind that, because 2:0 from away game was a very good result that I’m happy with.

  • we collected 6 yellow cards, which is too much, although some decisions from referee were ridiculous
  • we allowed 29 key passes (too many in Eredivisie)
  • Leslie Lichaba looked a bit error-prone with 5 individual mistakes
  • half of the season is over and we’ve collected 40 points out of 17 games - not too bad, but PSV and Feyenoord are doing equally well


 

14.12.2032 - AFC Ajax - Feyenoord Rotterdam 2:1 (Dutch Cup 4th round) -  21. and 63. Johan van Dalen - 37. Rico van Leeuwen

The first Klassieker derby of the season was held in August and it finished 3:3. This time two teams meet in cup game and it’s held in Amsterdam Arena, so I hoped that home crowd could make some difference. It’s fairly tight schedule before Christmas and it looked like Feyenoord players are more tired and in need of a good rest.

We practiced attacking set pieces before this game (corners have produced some good goals lately) and it’s good to see that Dirk van Grinsven is back in full training and ready for this game.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans (64. Otten), Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (72. Antonucci), van Grinsven, van Dalen, de Wit (64. Ceylan)

Johan van Dalen had the first chance of the game in 9’. He sent his shot past of goalkeeper, but it rattled crossbar. A little bit unlucky there, but van Dalen was the man to open scoring in 21’ - good work and cross from our right wing from Tarik de Wit. de Wit got his best chance in 33’, but shot from close range came off too softly and was easily held by goalkeeper and in 37’ Rico van Leeuwen equalized. It was pretty much the first good attack by Feyenoord, they managed to create a gap in defense and Sergio Alleyne allowed van Leeuwen too much space in our box. Good finish, surely - he’s a quality striker - but this goal came a little bit against the run of play. We looked more in control of the game and created chances, but couldn’t score another goal in the first half. Tarik de Wit had a clear cut chance from close range in 43’, but it was saved. Dirk van Grinsven wasted his opportunity soon after and in injury time both de Wit and van Dalen had a good looks and shots on target, but goalkeeper was good enough to parry those attempts.

I was not happy with scoreline at half time - we were clearly the better team in the first half and created plenty of chances, but it’s been the story of our season - we suck so badly in finishing in certain situations that it physically hurts to watch.

Game was not so open in second half, but we continued to control and attack and this constant pressure paid off in 63’. Dirk van Grinsven delivered good cross to Johan van Dalen and van Dalen doubled his tally. He had a great chance to complete his hat-trick in 66’, but this shot wa saved.  Final score was 2:1 - I was happy with our dominating performance, but frustrated with our poor finishing. We should and could have destroyed Feyenoord in front of our home fans, but missed that opportunity.

  • our shooting was 22/12
  • we created 5 clear cut chances
  • we had 14 corners in this game
  • we had a very favourable draw for next round - quarter final will see us go against Jupiler League side RKC Waalwijk


 

18.12.2032 - AFC Ajax - ADO Den Haag 2:2 (ED) - 82. Omar van der Aar, 90.+2 Tarik de Wit - 38. and 74. Anthony Smith

The last game of the year is against ADO Den Haag. We defeated them in August comfortably, but this 3:0 scoreline was a bit flattering, because they’re a good team. I expected us to do well in home game and asked full-backs to overlap and offer support in attacking phase.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman, Ari (59. de Groot), Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven (54. Matal), van dalen (70. van der Aar), de Wit

The first half was even battle in midfield, but best chances fell to Den Haag. In 12’ Edward Schans missed his header and Tarik Hmouda got to go one-on-one against Ismet Gluhalic, but our Bosnian goalkeeper made a great save to deny this shot. In 38’ Anthony Smith opened scoring - good header after deep cross was sent into box from our left. Alleyne was a bit too far away in this situation. That goal gave Den Haag the lead in half-time and I was disappointed with our poor performance - we just didn’t create anything dangerous and didn’t put opposition under real pressure.

My half time team talk had effect and I saw a lot more motivated faces on the pitch after half time break. Tarik de Wit had the first great chance in 64’, but his shot was hacked off the line by defender. Anthony Smith doubled his tally in 74’ after Fred Koeman missed his header while defending IFK situation. Smith scored two goals and neither of those weren’t a really good look, he just took his shots well, got them on target and beat our goalkeeper. Mark of a great striker. I knew that we deserved to get something out of this game and to be 0:2 behind was very disappointing, but motivation to prove that we’re better than that was there and we finally started to attack. Omar van der Aar finished our first good attacking combination with a goal. Tom Drost had a fierce shot on target in 86’ - saved well by goalkeeper. In the end, ADO couldn’t keep their lead. Injury time corner was flicked on by Sergio Alleyne and Tarik de Wit headed it in from far post. Late equalizer and superb comeback to get one point from this game, but I’m not happy that it took 80 minutes before we really started to play. Performances were a bit uneven and lot of players didn’t impress. However, in the end of the season that one point could make a huge difference.


 

I’m fairly pleased with our December. We dropped points against VVV Venlo and ADO Den Haag, but we didn’t lose any games and both PSV and Feyenoord have dropped some points too. We were leading the table before that last game, but that draw allowed Feyenoord to take charge and open up two-point lead.


 

Eredivisie

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sc Heerenveen have not been able to win consistently and there’s now 10 points gap between them and top three. FC Eindhoven and FC Twente are still two main relegation candidates. The rest of the pack is quite as predicted.

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January 2033


 

Winter break and start of transfer window turned my focus off the pitch. We had a bit busier transfer window than I expected and it started with Marvin Koops joining SC Bastia for £425k. He’d lost his position as our first choice keeper and I saw no point in keeping him on the bench. Instead, I promoted 18 years old Zeus Florentina from Jong Ajax to fill substitute role. FC Barcelona came and hijacked young defender Soner Sahin from us for his minimum release  fee £2,6m. That’s a bummer, because I forgot he had that clause in his contract and Sahin was a very talented youngster, although still early in his career. 17 years old striker Wim Splinter attracted a lot of attention from European giants - FC Chelsea and Real Madrid were among the clubs to bid for him. I rejected all bids, but when AS Monaco came with their offer, he became restless and asked for transfer, so I reluctantly allowed him to leave for £2,8m + clauses (up to £3,9m). Good money, but he was a really good prospect that I wanted to keep around.

 

Other clubs tried to strengthen their ranks too. PSV sold their best striker Zakaria Baltham to Olympique Marseille for £10,5m and invested big part of that fee (£6,25m) into Jaume Prada from Tottenham.

 

FC Twente lost patience with Eljero Elia and the manager was sacked after another poor result in January. FC Twente are 17th and that’s obviously not good enough after first half of the season. The club appointed Stefan de Vrij as their new manager in January.

 

We played Stekelenburg testimonial in January against Legia (did beat them easily 4:1) and it was time to return to Eredivisie football.


 

22.01.2033 - FC Twente Enschede - AFC Ajax 1:2 (ED) - 67. Pieter Stekelenburg (og) - 45.+1 Tarik de Wit, 51. Edward Schans

It wasn’t long ago since we last played against FC Twente and they’re our opponents when Eredivisie returned from Winter break. Players are fit and ready to play, Rene van den Bosch has returned from injury and I have full squad in my disposal besides Leslie Lichaba who is away at African Cup of Nations with South African squad.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman, Ari, Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven (57. Matal), van Dalen (64. van der Aar), de Wit (73. Ceylan)

We gave FC Twente an early chance - deep cross from our left found Rocky Lie A Kwie (what a name!) at our far post. He had a great look, but managed only to hit the post. In 15’ we put together a very good counter, Tarik de Wit was completely alone in the box, but his shot was saved and the chance wasted. After those chances the first half looked a bit drab, but we got the breakthrough in injury time. We had IFK, played it open shortly, Tom Drost delivered the ball into box and Tarik de Wit won his header. It was a bit ambitious to go for a goal, but FC Twente goalkeeper Yanick van Osch had come out from his line and de Wit sent his header over him and into the net. It was his 20th goal of the season and great moment to score a goal, right before half time whistle. Despite that goal I wasn’t too happy about our first half performance - there was a lot of midfield struggle and we were not creating chances. FC Twente tried to keep possession and at times were fairly good at it. Both of our wingers looked lost on the pitch and Tom Drost found himself constantly offside when he tried to overlap.

I asked players to retain possession in second half and we looked slightly better after the break. Engin Ari took a DFK in 51’ - he curled it beautifully around the wall, but goalkeeper managed to parry it with difficulties. With that danger averted by FC Twente, we still found the goal from following corner. Edward Schans won a header and sent it in. In 56’ Dirk van Grinsven pulled his hamstring and had to come off. We looked confident and in control with our two goal lead until FC Twente managed to score one in 67’ - we were not able to defend their corner properly, couldn’t win headers and make clearances. There was a lot of mess in our six yard box and the ball bounced around until it went over the line and Pieter Stekelenburg was the last man to touch it. Messy stuff. We almost made it worse in 73’ - Rene van den Bosch gave a backwards header to Ismet Gluhalic, but it was too weak and was easily intercepted by Isaac Osei. FC Twente striker went 1-1 against Ismet Gluhalic, but somehow sent his shot wide of goal. Unbelievable miss when he had all the time and space to score an equalizer. It was nervous until the end and FC Twente got their last chance in injury time - they won a header from corner and it was going past Gluhalic into the goal when Tom Drost managed to make a clearance off the line. That was it and we secured narrow win from away game.

I was satisfied with three points, but it was too much struggle and too nervous game against the 17th team in the table. Perhaps we’re not in the rhythm just yet.

  • we allowed FC Twente to make 22 dribbles - that stood out from stat sheet
  • both of our goals came from set pieces
  • Tom Drost and Simon Janssen were outstanding for us
  • Dirk van Grinsven is sidelined for 3 weeks with pulled hamstring


 

26.01.2033 - AFC Ajax - Vitesse Arnhem 1:1 (ED) - 75. Omar van der Aar - 85. Maarten Jacobs

Next opponents are Vitesse - good team, currently lying on 7th place in the table. They play attacking 4-2-3-1 and their danger man Donald Jourdan has consistently found goals against us, but I hoped that home advantage will be decisive in this game.

We still missed Leslie Lichaba because of his international duties, Dirk van Grinsven was injured and Clyde Sastrodimedjo started in midfield because I promised him more first team football.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman, Ari, Sastrodimedjo (70. Stekelenburg), Janssen, Matal, van Dalen (58. van der Aar), de Wit (70. Ceylan)

First half ended without goals and noteworthy events. We held Vitesse under pressure for some periods and our team looked really motivated, but we couldn’t create good enough chances in the first half and no goals.

In second half Vitesse raised their game and they started to get opportunities. In 51’ Sander Noorlander had a shot on target that was brilliantly saved by Ismet Gluhalic. Fred Koeman’s mistake gave Felix Wohlert a great look in 59’ - again parried by Gluhalic. We were playing with fire defensively and our own attacks looked as fruitless as they did in the first half. In 67’ I asked the players to up the tempo a bit and it changed things. Less than 10 minutes later we opened scoring - Omar van der Aar was at the right place at the right time and scored his 10th goal of the season. We switched to retain possession after our goal. Vitesse probably felt that they deserve to get at least one point from this game and in the end they did - good cross came in from between our defenders and goalkeepers to find Maarten Jacobs at the far post. Easy finish for Vitesse winger and 1:1 remained to scoreboard until the final whistle.

Disappointing result for us in home game - we allowed Vitesse some very good chances and could have easily lost this one altogether. We didn’t create chances in attack and weren’t good enough in defense.

  • our shooting was only 11/4
  • we lost possession battle 48/52 - not often that happens
  • Fred Koeman made 6 individual errors and always looked like a liability in defense
  • Johan van Dalen suffered sprained wrist in this game, but he should be OK to play through it


 

29.01.2033 - AFC Ajax - Feyenoord Rotterdam 2:0 (ED) - 3. Nketsi Matal, 68. Tarik de Wit

January ended with another Klassieker derby. This time in the league. Because Feyenoord lead the league and are ahead by 2 points it’s a true six-pointer and extremely important game for us for all reasons.

We practiced attacking set pieces before the game and I tried to replicate the tactics and attitude of the cup game in December where we managed to dominate Feyenoord completely.

I made some changes with the team - Pieter Stekelenburg started in midfield, Leslie Lichaba returned before this game and started in left defense (Fred Koeman can have no complaints after his poor display against Vitesse), Johan van Dalen is not at 100%, but he’ll start in this game.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, Ari, Stekelenburg (68. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, Matal, van Dalen (56. van der Aar), de Wit, Ceylan)

We scored a flyer after good transition attack when less than 3’ was played - great start and it shocked Feyenoord players a bit. Nketsi Matal was the scorer and it was his 50th league goal for Ajax. Matal had another great chance in 12’, but both his two attempts were saved and Feyenoord goalkeeper kept his team in the game. Tarik de Wit sent his shot inches wide in 16’ and it looked like our second goal is just a matter of minutes. Leslie Lichaba had a great chance in 33’, but left-back sent his shot wide. We were leading 1:0 at half time, but it was a very good first half. We were clearly better of the two teams and early goal helped us on our way. We deserved more goals, but our attacking plays were often disrupted by offside calls.

We continued to control midfield in second half and in 68’ Tarik de Wit doubled our lead. Nketsi Matal did a good job, pulling two defenders on him and putting it on a plate for de Wit, who didn’t make a mistake from there. When final whistle called it marked our comfortable win. What an important result!

  • we had 60% possession
  • our shooting was 20/5
  • Nketsi Matal had a great game for us
  • Nketsi Matal scored his 50th career league goal for Ajax
  • Leslie Lichaba made his 100th appearance for Ajax


 

Good results in January. We wasn’t at our best in the first games, but derby win over Feyenoord makes up for that and it takes us to lead the league table.



 

Eredivisie

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PSV had dropped some points and those could be costly. There’s a gap now between them and it looks like a two-horse race for the title. At the bottom of the table I still expect FC Twente and FC Groningen to pick themselves up and start winning, but so far it hasn’t happened.

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February 2033


 

01.02.2033 - RKC Waalwijk - AFC Ajax 1:3 (Dutch Cup Quarter Final) - 33. Marco de Ruiter - 6. and 90. Omar van dre Aar, 90.+2 Nketsi Matal

We had a very favourable draw in the cup - to get RKC Waalwijk, who is 17th in Jupiler League, as our opponents in quarter final stage, is a lot easier than expected. We were big favourites before the game and obviously our attacking tactics was easy choice - fullbacks overlapping and some bold rotations in the team as well.

Squad: Gluhalic, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Otten, Koeman (60. Lichaba), de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Antonucci (78. Talea), Matal, van der Aar, Ceylan)

We made a good start to the game and Omar van der Aar opened scoring in 6’ after our counter. But we didn’t get enough chances to extend our lead further and in 33’ RKC equalized. They got a corner and their captain Marco de Ruiter was unmarked at the far post. Ball was flicked on to that area, Steven Otten had drifted away from de Ruiter and it was easy finish from close range. We didn’t have much luck in attack - Clyde Sastrodimedjo rattled crossbar in 39’, but that was the closest we got to the second goal in the first half.

I had some critical feedback to distribute at half time - performance like that is not good enough against Jupiler League teams and we had to improve in second half.

We did, but the winning goal kept us waiting. Engin Ceylan had a great chance from counter in 47’ - he took the ball into box, but left himself with too narrow angle and it was saved by goalkeeper. Omar van der Aar had a great chance in 62’, but his shot went wide. With time running out, it looked very likely that we need extra time to win this game, but in the final minute we broke RKC defense. Omar van der Aar found the goal in 90’ and with pressure lifted, Nketsi Matal added another in injury time. Decent result in the end, but honestly we were saved by those late games and I don’t rate our performance good enough

  • our shooting was 23/11
  • we made 36 dribbles
  • we will go against sc Heerenveen in semi final
  • Omar van der Aar had a great game for us


 

05.02.2033 - FC Eindhoven - AFC Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 38. Clyde Sastrodimedjo

We continued our Eredivisie campaign against FC Eindhoven. To be honest the schedule is a bit easy in February, if I may say so - we play most of the small teams from bottom of the league and newly-promoted FC Eindhoven is struggling in the last position and most likely will be relegated in Spring. Two things that made his game tricky though - it was away fixture and the evening in FC Eindhoven Stadium welcomed us with rainy weather and very wet conditions that favoured our opponents and hampered our technical football.

I continued to play with attacking tactics and overlapping instructions. Leslie Lichaba was suspended for this game and Fred Koeman took his place in left defense. Most of the other first team players returned to line-up, too.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman, Ari (61. de Groot), Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (69. Stekelenburg), Matal, van der Aar (73. van Dalen), de Wit

First half was a muddy midfield battle. Neither of teams couldn’t get any really dangerous shots on target, although it was a scary moment for us in 33’ when Patrick Hillekens won a free header in front of our goal, but he sent it over and we could breathe more easily. We broke deadlock in 38’ - Omar van der Aar sent excellent diagonal ball to Nketsi Matal who crossed it into the box. Tarik de Wit saw his shot being blocked, but Clyde Sastrodimedjo picked up the rebound and scored. After first half like this I was fairly pleased to go to half time with 1:0 lead.

I asked players to retain possession in second half. FC Eindhoven had to open up their game a bit more and we got good chances from counters. One of those came in 51’ - Simon Janssen’s shot was saved, Nketsi Matal had a great opportunity from rebound, but he somehow missed the target. That was a bad miss - we should have decided that game here and there. It was even more ominous sign when substitute Mario de Groot made a reckless two-footed challenge in 65’ and was sent off just four minutes after coming on. Unbelievable stupidity! FC Eindhoven took encouragement of that dismissal and the rest of the game they were going for equalizer and we tried to exploit counter-attacks that came plenty. Tarik de Wit had a great chance in 71’, but he missed both of his attempts. In 84’ he sent his shot just inches wide. One-goal lead was nervous until the final whistle and when it finally sounded I was more relieved than happy. Our finishing should have been much better in this game and we should have decided it earlier. Red card for de Groot was a different level of stupidity, obviously.

  • our shooting was 26/8 - we created chances, but didn’t get our shots on target
  • we had 15 corners, but couldn’t use them well enough
  • Mario de Groot was fined for 1 weeks wages on the spot and had no complaints whatsoever


 

10.02.2033 - AFC Ajax - Maccabi Tel Aviv 3:0 (Europa League 1st knockout round 1st leg) - 40. and 52. Tarik de Wit, 87. Omar van der Aar

Our European campaign continues in Europa League knockout round and we have pretty good chances against Maccabi Tel Aviv. We are touted as favourites for the first leg at home, at least, and practiced attacking set pieces before this game. Maccabi play fairly defensive 4-5-1 formation.

I would have liked to teach Mario de Groot a lesson and sat him on the bench, but Engin Ari was suspended for this game, so de Groot got a chance to redeem himself a bit.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba (67. Koeman), de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, Matal, van Dalen (59. van der Aar), de Wit (70. Ceylan)

We played well in the first half and created good chances, but missed a bit of luck in decisive moments. In 18’ a shot by Tarik de Wit rattled crossbar and two minutes later Johan van Dalen had a great look, but Maccabi goalkeeper made a brilliant save to deny him. Our goal came, however, before half time. Tarik de Wit finished our good counter by putting his shot right next to post and it was unstoppable for the keeper. Deserved goal as we looked in control of the first half - Maccabi wasn’t a threat in attack and their only striker looked too isolated on the pitch and was easily handled by our central defenders.

Tarik de Wit doubled his tally early in the second half and we were cruising from there. Nketsi Matal had a good shot on target in 63’ - another brilliant save by Maccabi goalkeeper, but in the final minutes Omar van der Aar added another goal to make it 3:0. It was a very good result from the first leg and I was happy with our clean sheet as well. That put us in control of the tie and it should be fairly easy to get through this round.

  • we had 61% possession
  • our shooting was 24/10
  • we didn’t allow Maccabi any chances in attack
  • Simon Janssen had a great game for us



 

13.02.2033 - Fortuna Sittard - AFC Ajax 0:5 (ED) - 6. Clyde Sastrodimedjo, 13. Tarik de Wit, 16. and 87. Omar van der Aar, 63. Francesco Antonucci

Another small team in Eredivisie and another away game. Still, Fortuna Sittard is a tough cookie and I remember that we managed to just scrape a narrow 1:0 win at home, so we had to be wary of complacency. That’s why we went to van Bommel Park (yes, a stadium named after Mark van Bommel) with our full strength.  Or at least with the best available players, because Edward Schans and Mario de Groot were suspended. Good news is that Dirk van Grinsven is back in full training and started this game from the bench.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Lichaba, Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Stekelenburg (56. Antonucci), Matal (56. van Grinsven), van der Aar, de Wit (62. Ceylan)

We almost scored from our very first attack - Nketsi Matal curled his cross to far post and Omar van der Aar was open there, but he managed to only hit the post from narrow angle. But it was just the start and we soon took full control of the game. Clyde Sastrodimedjo opened scoring for us after calm finish from excellent through ball from Pieter Stekelenburg. Tarik de Wit scored in 13’ and Omar van der Aar extended our lead further with a great goal and in less than 20 minutes it looked like game over for Fortuna Sittard. We dominated possession and were dangerous in attack. Engin Ari had a good attempt from distance - it clipped the post and went behind - unlucky. We looked really confident and comfortable at half time, but the best was about to come.

We continued to play well in second half and create clear cut chances. Substitutes Francesco Antonucci and Dirk van Grinsven combined well between themselves and a string of one-touch passes led to our fourth goal. Engin Ari started oru counter attack in 72’ and found Omar van der Aar on the run; 19 years old winger was so alone in the box that he could take three shots on the goal in a row, but was denied three times by Fortuna goalkeeper Barry Tuitel (who had a great game against us in Amsterdam Arena, but couldn’t save his team today). What a waste from van der Aar, but he got his second goal anyway, finishing in 87’ after a good cross from van Grinsven. Dirk van Grinsven looked good as well, returning from injury break with two assists. Final whistle marked our convincing win and that’s the sort of performance I expect from my team more often.

  • our shooting was 24/16
  • we created 9 (!) clear cut chances
  • we had 8.41 average rating
  • we didn’t give Fortuna any chances in attack
  • Omar van der Aar, Clyde Sastrodimedjo, Tarik de Wit and Tom Drost were outstanding for us


 

17.02.2033 - Macabi Tel Aviv - AFC Ajax 1:2 (Europa League 1st knockout round 2nd leg) - 29. Jens Dehm - 15 .Omar van der Aar, 87. Eugene Talea

We travelled to Israel without pressure, because we had a healthy lead from first leg and one goal in away game would make our win in this pair secure. Rene van den Bosch was suspended for this game, but Dirk van Grinsven was back in starting line-up and I used more rotation players in this game.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo (58. Talea), Antonucci, van Grisnven (58. Matal), van der Aar (66. van Dalen), Ceylan

We took the lead in 15’ - Omar van der Aar sent his shot towards goal from the edge of area. It went down low, against the movement of goalkeeper and surprised him completely. A really great strike. As I said, that goal secured our position. Good attack from Maccabi allowed them to equalize in 29’. We went too passive in defense in there and didn’t make a tackle when we should have. First half ended 1:1 and our performance was so-so. I was not happy to see some complacency on the pitch.

Second half was quite the similar. Chances were rare and both teams looked to see this game out without much effort. Maccabi got their best chance in 68’ - Ismet Gluhalic made a good save to deny long shot, Mohamed Benali was first to get to rebound, but sent his shot against outside of post. In 79’ Maccabi’s Malik Kessassi received his second yellow card and was sent off, and in 87’ substitute Eugene Talea scored his first goal of the season to win this second leg for us.

Our performance wasn’t really impressive and it was a little bit boring game, to be honest, but to win is always good.


 

20.02.2033 - AFC Ajax - Roda JC Kerkrade 3:0 (ED) - 53. Tarik de Wit, 70 Edward Schans, 80. Dirk van Grinsven

Roda JC are perhaps the weakest team in Eredivisie and home game against them should be very easy, but we face fairly tough schedule until the end of February and have to rotate wisely. All players are fit and ready to play - a luxury we haven’t had too often in this season. I chose attacking tactics with overlapping instructions for fullbacks.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba, Ari, Sastrodimedjo (63. Stekelenburg), Janssen, van Grinsven, van der Aar (67. van Dalen), de Wit (63. Ceylan)

We started the game and I noticed immediately that we looked a bit nervous - surprising to see it against small team at home. We couldn’t create good chances in the first half. Omar van der Aar was perhaps the most active player on our left flank and Tarik de Wit sent his header against crossbar in 24’, but it was not good enough and after 45 minutes we were still looking for our first goal.

I asked players to increase tempo in second half and chances started to come. Tarik de Wit wasted his first clear cut chance, but he opened scoring in 53’ and after Edward Schans doubled our lead with a header from corner (he has contributed a lot of goals from corners in this season!) we looked more relaxed and confident. Dirk van Grinsven added our third goal (excellent cross from van Dalen to set it up) and final score looked like expected before the game. I was much more pleased with our second half and it was a good win in the end.

  • we didn’t allow Roda JC to get any chances
  • we had 16 corners in this game
  • Edward Schans suffered thigh strain in second half and he’ll be out for 2 weeks


 

23.02.2033 - Helmond Sport - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 8. Tarik de Wit, 51. Dirk van Grinsven

February schedule is tight, but our opponents are mostly small teams, so I expected us to do well against Helmond Sport in our next game. We continued with attacking formation and overlapping instructions.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (60. Stekelenburg), van Grinsven (51. Matal), van Dalen, de Wit (51. Ceylan)

We started the game well and took the lead early. Tarik de Wit received the ball in the left, took it into the box and finished with a great streak to far post. We were in control of the first half and were unlucky not to score more. Tarik de Wit managed to hit crossbar twice and Johan van Dalen wasted his clear cut chance in 24’. I was pleased with our first half performance - we controlled midfield and created chances and Tarik de Wit was unlucky not to score more goals.

It didn’t take us long to get our second goal after the break. Dirk van Grinsven doubled our lead with a great shot and I ordered the team to ease off and retain possession until the end. Engin Ceylan had a great chance to end his goal drought, but his shot in 56’ hit the post and made me cringe - it was easy chance and the lad knows it. He has to get over his dry spell and find some goals. Despite that miss we controlled the game until the end and took comfortable win.

  • we had 66% possession
  • we gave 66 key passes
  • our shooting was 21/8
  • we made 32 dribbles
  • we didn’t allow Helmond Sport any chances
  • Tarik de Wit scored his 100th career league goal
  • Simon Janssen had a great game for us


 

26.02.2033 - MVV Maastricht - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 3. Tarik de Wit, 30. Dirk van Grinsven

Away game against MVV Maastricht is probably our toughest Eredivisie game in February. However, MVV players looked tired before the game and they miss a couple of their key players due to injury, so I was fairly optimistic before the game.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost ,Alleyne, van den Bosch, Koeman, Ari (66. de Groot), Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven (65. Matal), van der Aar, de Wit (67. Ceylan)

Maastricht welcomed us with wet weather and it wasn’t our kind of turf. However, we scored a flyer when Tarik de Wit sent his header into goal after less than three minutes were played. Dirk van Grinsven doubled our lead in 30’ after excellent diagonal pass from Pieter Stekelenburg. MVV got their best chance of the game in 32’ - Ismet Gluhalic missed his interception when we defended a corner, our own prospect Germain Siereveld received the ball and had a chance from close range, but Sergio Alleyne managed to block it. I was pleased with our first half - we didn’t get too many chances, but we had a two-goal lead.

We controlled the game in second half and retained possession. In 83’ Germain Siereveld clattered Engin Ceylan in the box and we got the penalty, but Mario de Groot couldn’t convert it and it was saved by MVV goalkeeper. Despite that penalty miss we were satisfied with our win and clean sheet.

  • we had 60% possession
  • we gave 57 key passes
  • our shooting was 21/8
  • Dirk van Grinsven made his 500th appearance for Ajax
  • Dirk van Grinsven will be out for a week with a stubbed toe
  • Engin Ari suffered bruised head and is also out for a week
  • Tom Drost and Pieter Stekelenburg had a great game for us



 

February was a great month for us. Straight wins in domestic competitions. Even though our opponents have been mostly smaller teams, a winning streak like that doesn’t come together too often. We also defeated Maccabi over two legs and continue our run in Europa League. Good performances by most of the players and we’re generally fit and healthy, so I expect us to continue this form into March and April.


 

Eredivisie

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PSV have dropped behind and they’re now third. Feyenoord have kept our pace for most of February, but in the final match day they made only a draw and we’ve now pushed the gap to three points. It’s been a very competitive season in Eredivisie again, just like in previous year, and we have to be at our best level to secure the title.

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  • 2 weeks later...

March 2033

 

February had a lot of games, but opponents were small teams and we could win all the games we played. It’s a different story in March - only six fixtures, but tough opponents. We play FC Groningen, sc Heerenveen (twice, in the league and in the cup semi final) and PSV Eindhoven and the month will start with two Europa League games against Tottenham.


 

03.03.2033 - AFC Ajax - Tottenham 1:2 (Europa League 2nd knockout round 1st leg) - 26. Johan van Dalen - 41. and 83. Aimar Lopez

Tottenham is a big step up from Maccabi - although they’re just 10th in English Premier League at the moment, their squad looks more like a Champions League team than Europa League and I expect two tough games. Approach is simple for us in March - use more experienced players in those games against Tottenham and allow some others to prove themselves in Eredivisie. We practiced defending set pieces before this game and used more conservative tactics that served us well in Champions League.

We have some players missing in this game - Fred Koeman is suspended; Engin Ari, Dirk van Grinsven and Edward Schans are all in light training regime, but not yet fit enough to start in this one.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Lichaba, de Groot, Stekelenburg (61. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, Matal, van Dalen (68. van der Aar), de Wit (68. Ceylan)

We got the early chance - Tarik de Wit had a shot from IFK in the first minute, but sent it wide of goal. Scary moment in front of our goal came in 15’ - Tottenham’s Willie McGrath won a header from corner and sent it against crossbar. Their central defender Jamaica was first to rebound, but Tom Drost did well to block his shot from close range. Both teams looked vulnerable from set pieces. It was a close game until 26’ - good attacking move and cross from our right gave Johan van Dalen an easy chance and we took the lead in this game. van Dalen had another chance in 29’, but this time it was stopped by Tottenham goalkeeper. We looked fairly good and limited Tottenham chances until the end of the first half - Aimar Lopez got away from Rene van den Bosch, Sergio Alleyne missed his interception and half-chance was all that this top striker needed to score. Pity to concede right before half time and that goal from almost nowhere gave Tottenham a way back into the game. We had actually a really good first half and I feel that we deserved to lead, but we need to be at our best in both ends to beat top teams.

Second half was more quiet and it was more difficult to find good chances. We didn’t, but Tottenham found the winner late in the game. It was Aimar Lopez again, who headed in from corner - ball went in from crossbar. Nketsi Matal had a great chance to equalize in 87’’, but his shot went wide, so we fell short in the end. Home defeat and two conceded goals don’t make our chances look good for second leg game in London. Good effort by players, but we’re not just good enough. Aimar Lopez proved to be too good, a real world class striker and he was too much to handle for our defenders.

  • our shooting was 20/8
  • Tottenham got just two shots on target and scored two goals


 

06.03.2033 - AFC Ajax - FC Groningen 3:0 (ED) - 4. and 79. Omar van der Aar, 8. Clyde Sastrodimedjo

There was one Eredivisie fixture between two Tottenham clashes and it’s against FC Groningen. We were favourites for this game and in Amsterdam Arena I selected attacking tactics with overlapping instructions. Positive news from physios - Edward Schans is back in full training with Dirk van Grinsven and Engin Ari.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost (65. Alleyne), van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (52. Antonucci), van Grinsven, van der Aar, de Wit (65. Ceylan)

We attacked well from the first minutes. Both Omar van der Aar and Simon Janssen had an attempt in the beginning of the game and then van der Aar headed in after van Grinsven crossed the ball for him from our right flank. It really looked easy and you might even say it had been coming for FC Groningen. Good counter attack in 8’ resulted in another goal - Clyde Sastrodimedjo the scorer. FC Groningen looked in a real mess and even though the rest of the first half was quiet, it looked like FC Groningen never really recovered from those first ten minutes.

I asked the team to retain possession in second half and gave rest to key players. It wasn’t the most exciting football until 79’ - Omar van der Aar received the ball from throw in, showed wonderful technique to trick three defenders before hitting it into the net with power. Outstanding goal from that youngster. In 82’ we got a corner and Mario de Groot headed towards goal, but that was hacked off the line by arriving defenders. That was it and final whistle marked our convincing win with confident performance.

  • our shooting was 20/9
  • Omar van der Aar and Fred Koeman had excellent game
  • FC Groningen manager Robin van Persie was sacked after this defeat and FC Groningen named Ryan Donk their new manager


 

10.03.2033 - Tottenham - AFC Ajax 2:1 (Europa League 2nd knockout round 2nd leg) - 14. Tony Honratty, 20. Aimar Lopez - 74. Engin Ceylan

We had a really difficult position before this second leg game. We needed to score at least two goals in New White Hart Lane to get something out of this tie and that looked like a huge challenge. I used common sense and we trained defensive positioning before the game. Interestingly, in FM defensive tactics could lead to more chances, so I opted for our usual Champions League setup and hoped that our defenders could contain Aimar Lopez better than we did a week ago.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, Ari (12. Koeman), Stkelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (70. van der Aar), de Wit (64. Ceylan)

If we had any hopes of turning our 1:2 defeat around in this game, it was gone in 11’ wehn Leslie Lichaba committed a horrendous two-footed tackle on Tottenham player. Surely a red card and Lichaba was sent off. In a season of ups and downs for him it was another moment when he let down his teammates. After that we just had to endure the rest of the game. Tottenham executed well from half chances and they scored twice in the next ten minutes and that was it.

We improved after half time break despite being a man down (or rather Tottenham got a little bit careless). In 59’ Dirk van Grinsven made a good interception in Tottenham box, but sent his shot well wide and this chance was wasted. Tottenham’s Willie McGrath’s clear cut chance in 71’ was parried by Ismet Gluhalic and in 74’ substitute Engin Ceylan scored our consolation goal. While this goal didn’t change anything for the team, it was hugely important goal for the man himself. Ceylan had played over 23 games without a goal and he finally ended his drought with that shot. Let’s hope he’ll continue scoring now.

Final score 1:2 was actually pretty decent for 10 men team. Leslie Lichaba was fined for his dismissal (no complaints from him whatsoever) and I could now turn my attention to domestic competitions.


 

13.03.2033 - sc Heerenveen - AFC Ajax 0:5 (ED) - 8. and 12. Tarik de Wit, 21. and 31. Dirk van Grinsven, 88. Engin Ceylan

sc Heerenveen started their season pretty well, but they’ve dropped from 4th place down to middle of their table. They’re still using their usual 4-4-2 tactics and we encountered it with attacking setup and overlapping instructions.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman (57. Lichaba), Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (57. Stekelenburg), van Grinsven, van der Aar, de Wit (67. Ceylan)

Key events unraveled in the first 15 minutes. Tarik de Wit opened scoring after good cross from Tom Drost. Then sc Heerenveen got their chance just two minutes later - poor touch from Drost allowed Angelo to intercept and move 1-1 against Gluhalic. His shot did beat our Bosnian keeper, but bounced back from post and sc Heerenveen missed their chance to equalize. It was a very poor mistake from Drost and we were lucky to escape from that. And so, just another two minutes later another good combination from our right wing led to second goal. Tarik de Wit doubled his tally and sc Heerenveen looked a bit broken after those consecutive events. Dirk van Grinsven scored two goals in the first half - both assists gave from de Wit who fed him with beautiful through balls. sc Heerenveen defense was in disarray and even though their central defender Adnan Günes headed against our crossbar in 32’ the first half finished with 4:0 and it was game over. Brilliant first half performance in attack gave us confident lead.

We controlled things in second half, although sc Heerenveen got some half-chances, but nothing too dangerous. Engin Ceylan came on from substitution again and got himself to score sheet in consecutive games. Final score marked a great result in away game and I was very happy with performance.

  • we had 8.14 average rating
  • we created 6 clear cut chances
  • Tom Drost made his 400th appearance for Ajax in this game
  • Tarik de Wit, Dirk van Grinsven, Tom Drost and Engin Ari were outstanding for us


 

18.03.2033 - AFC Ajax - PSV Eindhoven 4:0 (ED) - 19. Tarik de Wit, 35., 57. and 81. Johan van Dalen

We remembered well our previous game against PSV in Philips Stadium. Johan van Dalen’s red card led to 0:2 defeat there and we were eager to prove that we are actually better team than that. But I have to say that PSV are not exactly the same team than they were back in Autumn. They had a very good first half of the season and they even got themselves to Champions League knockout stages, but they’ve won only three games since December and lost a lot of ground in Eredivisie table. Zakaria Baltham’s departure in January weakened their attack and they have not really reorganized their game after that. They also looked a bit tired before this game, so I counted us as favourites before this game.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman (62. Lichaba), Ari, Stkeelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven (56. Matal), van Dalen, de Wit (62. Ceylan)

Tarik de Wit opened scoring in 19’. It was a fairly quiet first half until that point - we controlled midfield, but PSV defense held and we didn’t get too many chances, but after 30’ they started to crack. Johan van Dalen doubled our lead in 35’ and in 42’ de Wit had a great chance from IFK, but that time PSV goalkeeper Rene Rauws was up to challenge and produced a brilliant save to deny him. I was happy with scoreline at half time and we looked good on the pitch.

Second half belonged entirely to us. Johan van Dalen redeemed himself in this game, producing a hat-trick and we didn’t allow PSV to create anything in attack. Final score 4:0 celebrated emphatic win n front of our home fans.

  • our shooting was 26/10
  • PSV didn’t get a single shot - not at target, but not a single shot. They just didn’t take any attempts at all
  • Sergio Alleyne made his 300th league appearance for Ajax
  • Johan van Dalen, Simon Janssen and Tom Drost had a great game


 

In this matchday it was confirmed that FC Eindhoven will be relegated this Summer. Club reacted by sacking their manager Idrissa Gueye, although that road was clear for me long time ago.



 

30.03.2033 - AFC Ajax - sc Heerenveen 1:0 (Dutch Cup Semi Final) - 71. Tarik de Wit

International break was behind us and it didn’t give our players too much extra workload. Leslie Lichaba and Ismet Gluhalic are with their national teams, but it’s been a while since we had a player in Holland national team and I’d like to see more of our players in U-21 and U-19 teams that we currently have in them.

However, March had one more game in store and it’s cup semi final against sc Heerenveen. I expected our opponents to make their conclusions from our previous encounter and change their tactics accordingly. They were perhaps too bold in home stadium, but this time we’re back in Amsterdam Arena and it usually means that teams come here with more emphasis on defense, defend deep with their lines and our scoring chances are somewhat more limited. We, on the other hand, continued with our usual attacking formation and overlapping orders.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba (72. Koeman), de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven, van der Aar (61. van Dalen), de Wit (72. Ceylan)

First half didn’t offer too many chances. Tarik de Wit released Dirk van Grinsven with a lovely through ball in 37’, but his shot was saved - brilliant stop from Bob Leeflang in sc Heerenveen goal. Leeflang was the star in the first half - we had a couple of good shots on target, but he kept his goal intact. Rene van den Bosch sent his header towards goal after our corner and it bounced back from the post. We controlled midfield in this first half, but chances were rare and our finishing was not good enough, so first half finished with 0:0 scoreline.

Second half was pretty similar to first half. Tarik de Wit got a couple of half chances and then finally breakthrough came in 71’. Dirk van Grinsven sent a cross between defensive line and goalkeeper and de Wit was there on time to finish with a powerful shot. That one goal was good enough to win the game and put us into cup final.

In the end of the game I felt that we did well enough, although our finishing could have been better.

  • our shooting was 21/10
  • we will play PSV Eindhoven in the final








 

I’m actually pretty pleased with our March. Tottenham games were more challenging and it proved once again where we were in European level - not quite good enough to beat big teams, but certainly no pushovers either. At the same time we continued our great form in domestic competitions and it’s not only wins and points that matter, but also the way we destroyed teams like Heerenveen and PSV in this month - it convinces me that we’re on title course and Feyenoord need some serious luck to challenge our title.


 

Eredivisie

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We have a gap behind us, but Feyenoord have one more game to play. PSV are well behind. FC Groningen are still struggling in relegation zone (how on earth they can’t get results with the squad that they have) and FC Eindhoven are relegated.

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Youth Intake 2033

 

New intake of youth players came in this March. As we currently have pretty good cover in all positions, I didn’t have any special requests about our talent recruiting department. Perhaps a new striker after Wim Splinter moved away? Anyway, the buch that I got is:

AfjPkAi.png


 

Mark van der Plas

SFz4sJN.png

Probably the best talent in this group. Left winger with good decision making and physically quick and strong. Likes to shoot from distance - nobody knows why.


 

Stan Knol

BQmYfOV.png

Talented striker. Not really complete forward material yet (but they rarely are in this age). Quick player, can finish well. Not the best consistency, according to my coaching staff, but that’s OK.


 

Sener Arslan

llOju4p.png

Two-footed midfielder. Not really sure just yet if it’s more advanced playmaker or box-to-box midfielder in my system. Could be better physically, but generally looks like a good prospect

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April 2033


 

02.04.2033 - Sparta Rotterdam - AFC Ajax 3:3 (ED) - 20. pen. and 45.+3 pen. Corey Moore, 44. Engin Ari (og) - 1. Simon Janssen 15. Engin Ari, 90.+2 Tarik de Wit

Sparta is a solid mid-table side, but they looked very injury-ridden before this game and I hoped that it would make our job easier. We went against them with attacking formation and overlapping fullbacks despite it being away game.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost (8. Otten), Alleyne, Schans, Koeman (51. Lichaba), Ari, Stekelenburg, Janssen, Matal, van der Aar (46. van Dalen), de Wit

We needed just 24 seconds to open scoring. Fred Koeman delivered a cross into box and Simon Janssen finished it. In 8’ Tom Drost had to come off with injury and Steven Otten went in from substitution. Engin Ari doubled our lead with a great shot from outside of the area and it looked like easy-breezy for us in that moment, even though Sergio Alleyne wasted his clear cut chance from IFK two minutes later. But it wasn’t to be and things turned around in a very horrible fashion. First referee decided that Edward Schans had his foot high in our penalty box and awarded Sparta a penalty in 20’ - nobody later could understand how and why that decision was made. Corey Moore converted the penalty. In 44’ we made a mess while defending free kick and the ball bounced into our goal and the last touch was made by Engin Ari. Ari was in the centre of attention just a few minutes later too - his foul in the box caused another penalty that Corey Moore converted deep in injury time (correct decision this time from the ref) and from 2:0 lead we had gone to 2:3 in just one half. Incredible and frustrating at the same time. Individual mistakes have messed up our defense and inexperienced Steven Otten had been poor so far in his role.

We needed to improve in second half, but at first Sparta continued to threaten our goal. Corey Moore had a great chance to score his hat-trick in 48’, but Ismet Gluhalic made a brilliant save to deny him. Stefan de Jong had another good attempt on target and then we slowly started to get back into game. We took better care of the ball, but Sparta defended well and they had freedom to create counter-attacks. Edward Schans had one good shot on target in 54’, but generally we were not able to create good chances. Corey Moore posed a threat for us in counter attacks and in 82’ he had another great chance - reflex save from Gluhalic held us in the game. And our saviour came in injury time - long ball from Simon Janssen found Tarik de Wit, who kept his calm, rounded one defender and fired it in. Equalizer out of nowhere and so late in the game, adding more drama to already entertaining match.

Final result 3:3 was relief more than anything else. We can complain about that one penalty decision that initiated Sparta comeback, but truthfully it was probably the worst defense I’ve seen in a long time. Steven Otten didn’t justify his selection, Engin Ari scored a great goal, but caused two in defense and all in all it’s better to forget this game as quickly as possible.

  • we conceded 5 clear cut chances in this game, against Sparta! what the hell!
  • we allowed 22 dribbles, another mark of our poor defense
  • Ismet Gluhalic made his 100th appearance for Ajax
  • Tom Drost will be out for a week with concussion


 

09.04.2033 - AFC Ajax - FC Volendam 2:0 (ED) - 44. and 50. Dirk van Grinsven

We all knew that we had to play better in this game not to allow poor performance from Sparta game to haunt us. When Eredivisie campaign is nearing to end, some players start to get the pressure and it shows in their nervousness. Nevertheless, it’s our home game and we are favourites, so attacking tactics and overlapping instructions remain in place.

Few problems with injuries - Mario de Groot twisted his knee in training and Tom Drost is out with concussion.

Squad: Gluhalic, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Schans (70. Otten), Koeman (60. Lichaba), Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven, van der Aar, de Wit (60. Ceylan)

This time we had much better control of the game. It took some time, but we started to increase our pressure around 20’ and started to find chances. Dirk van Grinsven wasted his great chance in 23’ and Omar van der Aar sent his shot wide from open position in 29’, but in the end of the first half we found the goal after good transition attack. Omar van der Aar delivered the ball to Dirk van Grinsven and our experienced winger found the net.

van Grinsven picked up from where he left off in second half and his second goal put us in control of the rest of the game. We started to retain possession and generally just saw things out. FC Volendam didn’t try too hard to turn things around and in the end it was a solid win and big improvement from Sparta result.

  • our shooting was 19/11
  • no real chances for FC Volendam
  • we made 32 dribbles in this game
  • Fred Koeman suffered gashed head in this game and he too needs to be sidelined for a week



 

15.04.2033 - AFC Ajax - FC Utrecht 2:1 (ED) - 37. and 57. Johan van Dalen - 31. Stan van Dijk

We need just one more win to secure Eredivisie title, but it won’t be easy. FC Utrecht did just beat Feyenoord 3:0 at De Kuip and their striker Juddy Menga is currently Eredivisie best goalscorer. We missed Engin Ari because of yellow cards and as Mario de Groot is still injured we had to start with Edward Schans in DMC.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Lichaba, Schans, Sastrodimedjo (46. Stekelenburg), Janssen, van Grinsven (70. Matal), van Dalen, de Wit (70. Ceylan)

The game started slowly and while we had small initiative, FC Utrecht got the first goal. Juddy Menga gave excellent through ball and Stan van Dijk timed his run well. Sergio Alleyne was too late to cover that and van Dijk scored from 1-1 opportunity. We equalized in 37’ and it was excellent DFK from Johan van Dalen. He has not used to take set pieces, but he was on duty in this game and he took this one really well - curled over the wall and beat the goalkeeper. It was all even at half time.

Second half was more under our control. Johan van Dalen doubled his tally with a simple tap-in and we took the lead in 57’. We had a chance to extend our lead in injury time - John Prins fouled Nketsi Matal in the box and Rene van den Bosch (another unusual set piece taker) couldn’t score from the spot. Either way we won the game and secured our league title with that result.

  • our shooting was 23/12

 

24.04.2033 - AFC Ajax - PSV Eindhoven 3:1 (Dutch Cup Final) - 6. Pieter Stekelenburg, 18. and 85. Johan van Dalen - 45.+1 Kees van der Werff

The last game of the month was the cup final against strong PSV team. It was good to have our league title secured and some pressure off our shoulders, so we could fully concentrate on this game. I wanted to repeat our March performance against PSV, but the final was held at De Kuip and it wasn’t our home ground.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba (85. Koeman), Ari, Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven (78. Matal), van Dalen, de Wit (71. Ceylan)

We started the game really well - Pieter Stekelenburg reacted first to loose ball in the box and his goal made it 1:0. Johan van Dalen soon doubled our tally and we took full control of the game, but just before half time whistle PSV got their first half-chance and midfielder Kees van der Werff scored one goal back from a counter. I was very disappointed with that conceded goal and with a good reason.

That goal allowed PSV back into game and they took heart from it in the second half. PSV found some chances from counters and in 66’ they had a great opportunity to equalize. Rene Lems found himself with space in our box, but he blasted his shot well over. PSV started to push in attack and left a lot of space behind their lines, so finally in 85’ we punished that risk - good transition attack allowed van Dalen to score his second goal and that settled it.

It was a great result and I was happy to held onto that win. PSV could rue their missed chance, but that’s football.

  • we won our 4th consecutive Dutch Cup and are now on 24 games winning streak
  • Simon Janssen had a great game for us
  • Dirk van Grinsven came off with damaged knee cap and he’ll be sidelined for 3-4 weeks



 

I can be pretty pleased with our games in April. We allowed things to carry away in our first game against Sparta, but secured league title and won in the cup final. To win both domestic titles is a big result after our runners-up position in the last season.


 

Eredivisie

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May 2033


 

01.05.2033 - AZ Alkmaar - AFC Ajax 1:0 (ED) - 22. Robin Claeys

We could take remaining games easy and I chose to give playing time to younger players. It’s also nice to see Kevin de Jonge in action - our youngster has done fairly well in this season for AZ Alkmaar. We practiced attacking set pieces before the game and hoped to take advantage of corners and free kicks.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo (71. Stekelenburg), Janssen, Matal, van der Aar (57. van Dalen), Ceylan (65. de Wit)

We had early chance in the game - Nketsi Matal delivered good cross to far post and Omar van der Aar got his shot on target, but it was held by AZ goalkeeper. AZ took the lead in 22’ when Robin Claeys won aerial challenge against Fred Koeman and headed in a good cross from our right. We had some troubles defending against AZ crosses and we were punished there. AZ had the best period between 20’-30’ and in 26’ their central defender Marcel Visscher got a good chance from IFK. Only brilliant save from Ismet Gluhalic kept us in the game. First half ended with 0:1 and I was not happy with our performance. We wasted our early chance and allowed AZ Alkmaar to take control of the game.

We looked better after half time break, but couldn’t find a goal despite our created chances. Johan van Dalen missed his opportunity in 61’ and Nketsi Matal had a great chance to score in 68’. Both shots were saved and AZ Alkmaar held onto valuable win. I know that that result didn’t matter for much, but this kind of performance is not good enough by our standards. We need to finish our chances better and players understood it well.

our shooting was just 17/4 - we couldn’t get enough shots on target

  • we allowed 26 dribbles


 

08.05.2033 - VVV Venlo - AFC Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 1. Mario de Groot, 57. Nketsi Matal, 72. Omar van der Aar

Away game against VVV Venlo is our last game of the season and I wanted to finish better. It was also nice to see Sjoerd de Jong in action. We continued with attacking set pieces training.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba (69. Koeman), de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (59. Stekelenburg), Matal, van der Aar, Ceylan)

This time set piece practice paid off instantly. Clyde Sastrodimedjo delivered our free kick into the area and Mario de Groot finished it off. Well played and it looked like a training ground move. It was the only noteworthy moment in the first half.

We continued to play well and concentrated after half time break - Nketsi Matal scored our second goal after good counter and Omar van der Aar added another goal with a well placed shot in 72’. We didn’t create too many chances, but finishing was a lot better and we used all scoring opportunities that we got. Great result to finish our season with.

  • we didn’t allow VVV Venlo any chances
  • we made 31 dribbles, but allowed VVV to make 23 dribbles
  • Nketsi Matal had a great game for us


 

Two games that we could play without pressure. I’m happy to finish our season with a win and that no players are in trouble for yellow cards in the first game of the next season.


 

Eredivisie

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No surprises in the final standings. Big clubs in top three. FC Eindhoven are relegated and Roda JC fought bravely, but couldn’t held onto their place in play-offs. FC Groningen survived, though, but their season has been way worse than they could imagine in August last year.


 

Ajax goals: Tarik de Wit 32, Omar van der Aar 19, Dirk van Grinsven 18, Johan van Dalen 14

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 20, Nketsi Matal 17, Tarik de wit 14, Simon Janssen 13, Fred Koeman 12, Tom Drost 10

Edited by Draakon
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Season Summary 2032 - 2033


 

I have to rate this season as average by our standards. We did well in domestic competitions after losing the title to PSV in 2032 and to be honest even I’m impressed by our continuing domination in Dutch Cup.

On the other hand - we couldn’t reach knockout stages in Champions League. I believe I’ve found good and suitable tactics for us against stronger teams, but narrow defeats indicates our shortcomings - poor finishing and small errors in defense cost us a lot and our opponents have more players who are able to decide the game because of their individual brilliance. Not sure we can close this gap in a season or two.

On stat sheet, same problems stood out. We created 89 clear cut chances in Eredivisie (very good number), but scored only 33 goals from those chances. 37% conversion rate is not good enough. Engin Ceylan (8/1) and Nketsi Matal (7/1) stood out in this column. Finishing was even worse in Champions League.

We scored a little bit more goals from set pieces - corner setup seems to work better and we got two goals from DFKs, but we didn’t get too many penalties and only scored twice from the spot in a whole season. Individually, Tarik de Wit scored 32 goals and that’s the first time any of our players has scored 30+ goals in a season since Andre Pröpper did it in 2026-2027 season. He also had a lot of unlucky shots, hitting framework more than 10 times.

 

Speaking about squad, it was a breakthrough season for Fred Koeman and Omar van der Aar. van der Aar, just 19 years old, scored almost 20 goals in this season and gave me a chance to vary our left wing attack. Clyde Sastrodimedjo asked for more playing time, got it and proved that he’s worth it - he put in really good games in midfield, earned himself the young player of the season award from Ajax fans and that makes me wonder why we pay so much money in wages for Pieter Stekelenburg.

We have some veterans in the team and it looks like Francesco Antonucci is starting to decline because of age. He still has a year left of his contract, but he started only 8 games in this season and it’s difficult for him to find playing time.


 

Fans Player of the Season:

  1. Simon Janssen
  2. Tom Drost
  3. Dirk van Grinsven

 

Goal of the Season:

  • Pieter Stekelenburg vs. AZ Alkmaar 27/11/2032

 

Young Player of the Season:

  • Clyde Sastrodimedjo

 

 

Eredivisie Awards


 

Golden Boot:

  1. Frank van den Hoek - FC Utrecht
  2. Robin Claeys - AZ Alkmaar
  3. Tarik de Wit - AFC Ajax

 

Top Goalscorer:

  1. Juddy Menga - FC Utrecht - 25
  2. Rico van Leeuwen - Feyenoord Rotterdam - 24
  3. Tarik de Wit - AFC Ajax - 23

 

Goalkeeper of the Year:

  1. Ismet Gluhalic - AFC Ajax
  2. Vitrinio Apai - Roda JC Kerkrade
  3. Joost Nijhuis - ADO Den Haag

 

Manager’s Manager of the Year:

  1. Clarence Seedorf - Feyenoord Rotterdam
  2. Me
  3. Sander Duits - PSV Eindhoven
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  • 2 weeks later...

July 2033


 

We didn’t make big differences in our squad during this Summer. Players returned from loan and some of them I kept in the first team - Sjoerd de Jong and Germain Siereveld, for example.

We looked fairly good in pre-season friendlies and as usual, our season started with Dutch Super Cup game, this time against Feyenoord.


 

23.07.2033 - AFC Ajax - Feyenoord Rotterdam 2:3 (Dutch Super Cup) - 31. Engin Ari, 53. Tarik de Wit - 19. Raymond Hoekstra, 50. pen. Georges Kongnyuy, 107. Fethi Jaziri

This Super Cup game was held in Amsterdam Arena, so it almost felt like a home game. Both teams looked pretty much the same as in the last season. I decided to surprise Feyenoord with our Champions League tactics - standard mentality, with fullbacks on support and more disciplined mindset. Attacking set pieces practice should have helped us to find goals from corners and free kicks.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch (46. Siereveld), Schans, Lichaba, Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, Matal (70. de Jong), van Dalen (62. van der Aar), de Wit

First half proved that Champions League tactics don’t work out in this game. Feyenoord got too much of the ball and created opportunities and after Raymond Hoekstra opened scoring in 19’, i switched back to our usual control setup and things improved. In 31’ Engin Ari equalized with a stunning free kick and we were back in the game. Tarik de Wit headed just wide in 39’ and Feyenoord got one good chance in 44’ - Ismet Gluhalic did well to parry Tony de Jonge’s shot from point blank range. Teams were level at half time, but our game improved a lot after equalizer, so I was fairly optimistic before second half.

Second half started with a bad mistake from Tom Drost - team captain fouled Feyenoord player in the area and penalty was awarded. Georges Kongnyuy converted it confidently, but three minutes later de Wit replied to make it 2:2. We recovered well from that and looked like a slightly better team for the rest of the second half. No goals, though - Feyenoord defended well and players looked like they could use more match practice and understanding between each other.

Key moment in extra time came in 96’ - Tarik de Wit was forced off with injury and we were left with 10 men, because we had used all our substitutions. And in 107’ Fethi Jaziri headed in from corner and delivered Feyenoord a sweet victory.

This defeat did hurt us on many levels. It was my mistake to start with wrong tactical setup and we struggled to take control of the game. Extra time defeat hurts, but de Wit injury could pose a bigger problem for us - he’ll be out for at least 2 months with dislocated shoulder and that could mean some lost points in August.

  • Sjoerd de Jong made his debut for Ajax in this game
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  • 3 weeks later...

August 2033

 

05.08.2033 - Fortuna Sittard - AFC Ajax 1:4 (ED) - 81. Mehdi Bah - 13. Johan van Dalen, 29. and 62. Clyde Sastrodimedjo, 75. Stan Knol

First game of our new Eredivisie campaign was away fixture against Fortuna Sittard. To be honest, it should be fairly easy - Fortuna are predicted to finish just 16th in this season. On the other hand - they’ve exceeded expectations in previous seasons, so we have to be wary. First games always mean some testing in order to find the best squad and distributing playing time fairly.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schanss, Lichaba, Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven (62. de Jong), van Dalen (58. van der Aar), Engin Ceylan (70. Knol)

We started well, with all guns blazing. Dirk van Grinsven delivered a great ball behind defense in 3’. Engin Ceylan took a volley, but his shot was held and that chance wasted. In 8’ van Grinsven hit post from tight angle and Engin Ceylan wasted another great chance in 12’. Goals came, however, and just a minute later Johan van Dalen opened scoring. We created plenty of chances, but finishing was a bit rusty at first. Simon Janssen wasted his clear cut chance in 27’, but when Clyde Sastrodimedjo scored after counter-attack, we had full control of the game. Despite our poor finishing it was a solid first half.

Sastrodimedjo doubled his tally in second half and I could make bold substitutions. 16 years old striker Stan Knol was on the bench because de Wit’s injury and he got his chance to impress. Five minutes later he showed good anticipation, being in the right place at the right time, scoring a goal on his debut. Only poor moment of the game was when we allowed Fortuna to score their consolation goal - Leslie Lichaba lost Mehdi Bah in our box. It wasn’t the easiest shot, but Bah finished well and did beat Gluhalic that time.

Final result is a very good start to our season for away game.

  • our shooting was 23/11
  • we created 6 clear cut chances
  • 16 years old Stan Knol made his debut for Ajax and became the youngest ever goalscorer for the club
  • Clyde Sastrodimedjo and Simon Janssen had a great game
  • Johan van Dalen suffered bruised head in this game and will be out for a week


 

12.08.2033 - Helmond Sport - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 47. Nketsi Matal, 74. Clyde Sastrodimedjo

One week later we were travelling to Helmond. Another easy fixture on paper - Helmond Sport are predicted to finish 17th in this season. We had small problems with injuries - Tarik de Wit and Johan van Dalen were out and Eugene Talea suffered hernia in training. I made three changes in line-up: Fred Koeman started in left defense, Nketsi Matal got his chance on our right wing and Omar van der Aar replaced injured van Dalen.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost (70. Alleyne), van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman, Ening Ari (65. de Groot), Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (60. Stekelenburg), Matal, van der Aar, Engin Ceylan

First half was a disappointment. We had possession, but our attacking movement wasn’t the best and we didn’t use the half-chances that we got. We lost possession too many times because offside calls and Helmond goalkeeper had a fairly easy first half.

Some criticism at half time can make wonders and it inspired the team well in this time. Right after second half kick-off we took the lead - Fred Koeman provided the cross and Nketsi Matal finished with a tap-in. Helmond Sport got their best chance of the game in 66’ - Rene van den Bosch missed his interception and gave Ludovicius Depuydt a great chance, but Ismet Gluhalic made a brilliant save to deny his shot. I asked team to play slower and retain possession after that heartstopping moment, but then Clyde Sastrodimedjo doubled our lead after corner and that goal settled it.

The game was more difficult than expected - one of those scrappy wins against smaller team in away stadium, but we did well to come away with 2:0 win.

  • our shooting was 20/9
  • we gave 51 key passes
  • we were called for offside 11 times
  • Pieter Stekelenburg suffered bruised head and will miss one week of action
  • Clyde Sastrodimedjo had a great game - his second outstanding performance in a row


 

20.08.2033 - AFC Ajax - Sparta Rotterdam 3:0 (ED) - 1. and 20. Johan van Dalen, 32. Engin Ari

First home game of the season. Sparta have established themselves as a solid top half team in the past seasons and they’re predicted to finish 8th in this year by pundits. Some good transfers in Summer give them a lot of ground to make another step forward and our own Jaap Hoogdorp will play for Sparta as well.

Because of home game we were bold and attacking. No big changes in the squad, only Dirk van Grinsven returned to starting line-up. Johan van Dalen was back to full fitness and also started on our left flank.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans (62. Siereveld), Koeman, Ari (62. de Groot), Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven (57. de Jong), van Dalen, Ceylan

We started really well and scored a flyer with only 49 seconds after kick-off. Sparta gave us too much space in their box and van Dalen scored a quick goal to put us in control of the game. In 20’ van Dalen doubled his tally with a simple finish and in 32’ Engin Ari added a great goal from a stunning free kick - his second free kick goal of the season, curled around the wall from 20 yards. First half was completely under our control and game looked as well as over.

Second half didn’t change much, but we allowed Sparta back into game and they started to get chances. Kevin Patist got two great chances in a row in 65’ - first shot hit the post, but he collected rebound and Ismet Gluhalic had to make a brilliant save to deny his second attempt. Despite that, we controlled most of the second half well. Johan van Dalen got a chance to complete his hat-trick in 85’, but his shot was saved and that didn’t happen.

I’m pleased with the result and clean sheet. Great first half performance paved our way to win.

  • our shooting was 25/13
  • we had 8.08 average rating
  • we made 30 dribbles in this game
  • Engin Ari, Clyde Sastrodimedjo, Tom Drost and Simon Janssen were outstanding

 

Clyde Sastrodimedjo was called up to Holland national team for upcoming international window. Deservedly so, because he’s been outstanding in August and put in three great games in a row (rating 9.0+).


 

28.08.2033 - MVV Maastricht - AFC Ajax 0:0 (ED)

MVV had a poor start to this season and they’re looking to improve their form. Their results have declined in the last seasons despite the fact that they still have one of the largest salaries in Eredivisie. This year they’re predicted to finish 9th.

We had several players still missing - Tarik de Wit and Eugene Talea are still out and Omar van der Aar suffered hernia in training (a lot of hernias in this August).

We went to this away game with our usual attacking tactics. MVV traditionally played 4-2-2-2 with 2 deep DMC-s and they tried to play direct counter-attacking football, so their defense often is difficult to break down.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (59. Stekelenburg), van Grinsven (46. Matal), van Dalen, Engin Ceylan (87. Knol)

We were unlucky in the first half - Edward Schans headed against crossbar in 13’ and Engin Ceylan’s header bounced back from upright in 28’ In 44’ Engin Ceylan had a great chance to open scoring from IFK, but his shot was easily held by goalkeeper. That was a poor miss and our young striker knew he should have done better. Just a minute later Ismet Gluhalic made a brilliant save to deny Dirk Drent’s shot and in injury time Engin Ceylan had another clear cut chance - Simon Janssen found him with a good ball behind defensive line, but his shot went well over. I was not happy with our first half - sure, we were a bit unlucky, but finishing should have been better and we’ve been wasteful with our chances. Engin Ceylan showed his inexperience - that’s a sign that we miss Tarik de Wit and his composure in front of goal.

Second half was pretty much the same futile struggle, only MVV got their defense in order and we had to work even harder to find chances. Engin Ceylan had the third great opportunity in 71’, but unorthodox save with feet from MVV goalkeeper stopped his shot. Final whistle meant frustrating draw for us - we knew we should have done better. We had possession and opportunities, but we didn’t take them. Three missed clear cut chances will haunt Engin Ceylan for a while, I’m afraid.

  • our shooting was 20/7
  • Engin Ceylan has now missed all 5 of his clear cut chances in those first 4 league games in this season



 

Despite my frustration over MVV result, we’ve started fairly well. 10 points out of 4 games is not bad and we’ve played well, even though I feared worse after de Wit injured himself. We’ll see if we can continue this form into September and Champions League Campaign.

 

Eredivisie

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Four teams still unbeaten. PSV Eindhoven have made two draws, but one of those games were against Feyenoord and so they haven’t lost too many easy points and are on a good run early in the season.


 

Champions League Groups

Somehow we were seeded 1st in this year’s draw and ended up in Group G with Paris Saint Germain, Dynamo Kyiv and Panathinaikos. It’s not too bad for a draw - we look level with Dynamo Kyiv and should beat Panathinaikos, so qualification doesn’t look impossible at first sight.


 

Transfers

Summer transfer window was fairly typical to Eredivisie - most of the big deals were out from the league, meaning that players went to bigger leagues and money came in. Biggest transfers in Eredivisie in this Summer.

 

  • Rene van den Bosch from AFC Ajax to Reading for £8,5m+ clauses (up to £10,75m)
  • Jonathan Pengel from FC Twente Enschede to Nottingham Forest for £8,25m
  • Donald Jourdan from Vitesse Arnhem to SC Freiburg for £5,25m
  • Kamil Zalewski from SV Hamburg to Vitesse Arnhem for £4,1m (Polish striker to replace Jourdan)
  • Tristan Lourens from FC Utrecht to Schalke 04 for £2,4m (young talented striker)
  • Edu from AZ Alkmaar to PSV Eindhoven for £2,3m
  • Jasper Achtenberg from PSV Eindhoven to Fenerbahce for £2m


 

We decided to loan out a lot of youngsters who could not really make it into first team, but I hope to see them progress well and return to Ajax as better players:

  • Steven Otten to FC Utrecht
  • Jaap Hoogdorp to Sparta Rotterdam
  • Sjoerd de Jong to Sparta Rotterdam
  • Kevin de Jonge to AZ Alkmaar
  • Moreno Markiet to Racing
  • Stef Veldman to München Lions (Bundesliga team)
  • Mithat Arabaci to Stade Rennais
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Squad Update 2033

 

Rene van den Bosch transfer in the end of August was our standout big move in this Summer. £8,5m+ clauses was a fair price for him and I felt that if he wanted to develop further in his career (to achieve, say, place in Holland national team) he needs to move to bigger league. That’s OK, because we’ve got capable replacements in his position.

Francesco Antonucci also left to Rubin for much smaller fee. Club legend as he is, but there wasn’t enough playing time for him in this season and it was right to allow him to leave.

 

There wasn’t sufficient interest in Eugene Talea and he remained in the team, despite the fact that we agreed to find new club for him during Summer. That’s OK and he didn’t press transfer in August.

 

Germain Siereveld returned from loan and he is the only addition to this season squad - young and talented central defender will get plenty of playing time after van den Bosch departure.


 

Goalkeepers

 

Ismet Gluhalic

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Zeus Florentina

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19 years old goalkeeper is a solid backup, but his long term future is perhaps not in Ajax, because we have much more talented keepers coming from U-19


 

 

Defenders


 

Tom Drost

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Team captain is on the last year of his contract, but I hope to sign a contract extension with him sooner rather than later.

 

Sergio Alleyne

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Another experienced defender - physically very good despite of his age and only now begins to show first signs of age.

 

Germain Siereveld

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New young defender in the team. Physically very good and has room to develop. Could be better in the air, but we play with high defensive line and he possesses enough pace to cover ground behind him.

 

Edward Schans

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Leslie Lichaba

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Fred Koeman

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Midfielders

 

Engin Ari

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Mario de Groot

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Clyde Sastrodimedjo

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Sastrodimedjo have been a revelation in this Summer and pushed Pieter Stekelenburg out of our first eleven. Great work rate and has everything that you want from box-to-box midfielder.

 

Pieter Stekelenburg

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Versatile midfielder, can play both box-to-box and advanced playmaker role. Good at passing and creativity. The only problem is that his big contract will end in next Summer and although I see that he could be useful in the future, his huge wage demands are not justified by his role and skills compared to other players.

 

Eugene Talea

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Good rotation player for this season. Also on the last year of his contract.

 

Simon Janssen

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Squad Update 2033

 

 

Wingers

 

Dirk van Grinsven

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Experienced winger is starting to age and his pace is not what it used to be. His technical skills and experience make up for it, at least in Eredivisie.

 

Nketsi Matal

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Another experienced winger who is on the last year of his contract.

 

Johan van Dalen

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Omar van der Aar

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One player that I hope will make a leap in his development in this season. He surprised everyone with his number of goals in the last season. I expect even more better performances and consistency in this year.

 

Strikers

 

Tarik de Wit

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Clearly our best striker and 30 goals per season should be up to his standards.

 

Engin Ceylan

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Probably the best prospect in the first team. Only 18 years of age and looks like a future complete forward for Ajax.

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On 14/02/2019 at 21:46, Draakon said:

Youth Intake 2033

New intake of youth players came in this March. As we currently have pretty good cover in all positions, I didn’t have any special requests about our talent recruiting department. Perhaps a new striker after Wim Splinter moved away? Anyway, the buch that I got is:

AfjPkAi.png

Mark van der Plas

Probably the best talent in this group. Left winger with good decision making and physically quick and strong. Likes to shoot from distance - nobody knows why.

Stan Knol

Talented striker. Not really complete forward material yet (but they rarely are in this age). Quick player, can finish well. Not the best consistency, according to my coaching staff, but that’s OK.

Sener Arslan

Two-footed midfielder. Not really sure just yet if it’s more advanced playmaker or box-to-box midfielder in my system. Could be better physically, but generally looks like a good prospect

I'm not a regular follower of your thread, and although it's the Youth Intake pages I head straight for, I also like the way you highlight the best up and coming prospects, such as Egnin Ceylan. 

I notice that you really only have 3 proper prospects from this years intake, but it would be nice to see what they are up against. van der Plas has a 5.0 PA for example, but it's not easy to see who he is being judged against.  (I know it's easier in FM19 because the CA/PA stars appear on the profile page. 

Anyway, liking this and loving that you are sticking with it. :applause:

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For that purpose you could check squad update posts. For van der Plas, he's probably measured against our best winger Johan Van Dalen (who is close to his full potential and rated 3*). But I'll keep it in mind and perhaps include squad report page to next squad update posts (with stars, so you could spot strong and weak points in the team).

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September 2033


 

09.09.2033 - AFC Ajax - FC Groningen 4:2 (ED) - 4. pen. Engin Ceylan, 37. Edward Schans, 48. Dirk van Grinsven, 61. Nketsi Matal - 52. Pim de Reuver, 64. Virgil Tichelaar

Our form in August was pretty good and I hoped that small international break doesn’t disrupt our rhythm. We were back to Eredivisie action and hosted FC Groningen in Amsterdam Arena. FC Groningen are predicted to finish 13th in this season and they boast with the best work rate in Eredivisie. It means we could have more trouble keeping possession and feeling comfortable with the ball.

Unfortunately, during international break Johan van Dalen managed to hurt himself in training and fractured ribs will keep him out of football for 5-6 weeks. With both our left wings injured, I had to go with Dirk van Grinsven on our left flank. Engin Ceylan looked a bit tired after his games with Holland U-21. All the injuries left us with only 5 substitutions for this game.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman (69. Lichaba), Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (61. Stekelenburg), Janssen, Matal, van Grinsven, Engin Ceylan (76. Stan Knol)

Soon after kick-off Dirk van Grinsven was tripped in the box by Jelmer Koning and we got early penalty. Engin Ceylan have not used his chances well in this season, but he took that spot kick well and got himself on the score-sheet. Hopefully that boosts his confidence and more goals will come. Edward Schans doubled our lead with a header from corner and we went to half time with 2:0 lead. First half was actually quiet and we didn’t create any chances from open play, but two set piece goals put us in a good position. We lost possession battle 46/54 and we need to improve that.

I changed tactics at half-time, reduced overlapping and asked the team to retain possession. We continued well at first - Dirk van Grinsven scored another goal after our counter-attack, but then we allowed FC Groningen into game. Pim de Reuver scored in 52’ - Fred Koeman was too slow to react to a through ball. In 61’ Nketsi Matal (probably the shortest player on the pitch) headed in our fourth goal, but still FC Groningen had an answer. Virgil Tichelaar won a header and scored from free kick despite both Pieter Stekelenburg and Fred Koeman going into that duel. Koeman didn’t impress me in this second half, because both goals came from his area. Dirk van Grinsven wasted his clear cut chance in 82’, but then Engin Ari got injured and had to come off and we were left with 10 men, so we were satisfied to see this game out as it was.

I’m pleased with three points and our goals, but defensive mistakes were also evident and we have to improve our defense in the coming cames. Possession was better in second half, so our changes probably worked well.

  • Nketsi Matal had a great game for us
  • Engin Ari is out for 5 weeks with sprained ankle


 

14.09.2033 - AFC Ajax - Paris Saint Germain 0:2 (Champions League Group G) - 51. pen. Charlie Turner, 67. Maurizio Tombari

Champions League season started with the game against PSG. Gap between clubs is big enough to treat this match very carefully. We practiced defensive positioning in training and I used our Champions League tactics from the start. That means - fullbacks on support, standard approach and more disciplined mindset.

Our problem is that we had too many players missing - Leslie Lichaba was suspended and several injuries limited my options in squad selection. Eugene Talea returned to fitness, though and was available for this game.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne (71. Siereveld), Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo (53. Stekelenburg), Janssen (67. Talea), Matal, van Grinsven, Engin Ceylan

PSG came against us with pretty standard 4-4-2 tactics. First half was rather quiet, but both teams had one good chance to score. In 24’ Engin Ceylan found Clyde Sastrodimedjo with a good through ball, but central midfielder saw his shot being saved by goalkeeper. In 40’ Mario de Groot lost Charlie Turner for a moment and brilliant save from Ismet Gluhalic denied that opportunity. I was pretty happy with goalless first half and I felt that we contained PSG well.

It changed in second half. PSG were awarded a penalty for a foul by Edward Schans, but all replies showed that it was a VERY harsh decision. Charlie Turner converted the spot kick and PSG took the lead. It was a very difficult pill to swallow, because we played well until that point. In 67’ Maurizio Tombari skipped past Edward Schans and fired his shot past Gluhalic. We had our best chance of the game in 70’ - Nketsi Matal had a clear cut chance. His shot was saved, but Dirk van Grinsven collected the rebound and somehow managed only to hit post from tight angle.

Final result was a home defeat and not the best start to our campaign, but I feel that we were very unlucky in this game. Referee decision was a turning point in second half and considering our injuries and that we were missing at least four first team players we did well enough.


 

22.09.2033 - SVV Scheveningen - AFC Ajax 0:6 (Dutch Cup 2nd round) - 2. Raimond Burg, 27. and 38. Dirk van Grinsven, 30. Engin Ceylan, 60. and 75. Tarik de Wit

Second round game in Dutch cup is more often than not against some amateur team and this year wasn’t different. I used this opportunity to play rotation players and youngsters and they did well enough. Young defender Rick Hendriks started in this game and Raimond Burg got a chance to show his skills on our right flank. Tarik de Wit returned from injury break and I gave him some minutes to regain match fitness.

Squad: Florentina, Drost, Siereveld, Hendriks, Koeman, de Groot, Talea, Stekelenburg, Burg, van Grinsven, Engin Ceylan (46. de Wit)

It was easy game as anticipated. Debutant Raimond Burg to himself to score sheet already in 2’ and Tarik de Wit came on for second half to score brace. Engin Ceylan took care of the most beautiful goal of the evening - his bicycle kick in 30’ could easily be one of the best goals of the season.

  • our shooting was 36/19
  • we had 8.80 average rating
  • we gave 54 key passes
  • Dirk van Grinsven, Raimond Burg, Tom Drost, Pieter Stekelenburg, Fred Koeman, Eugene Talea and Mario de Groot had outstanding game
  • we were drawn against another amateur team Venray in 3rd round


 

27.09.2033 - Dynamo Kyiv - AFC Ajax 1:1 (Champions League Group G) - 23. Joao Gabriel - 81. Tarik de Wit

Cup game was a good way to regain our goalscoring confidence before long trip to Ukraine. Dynamo Kyiv want to get into top two in this group and both teams know that those two games could be key fixtures that decide final standings in this group. We’ve done well against our opponents in the past, but to be honest their squad looks stronger and more balanced than we are in this season, so no wonder that we’re underdogs for away game. We continued with defensive positioning training and used our Champions League tactics.

Omar van der Aar returned to training before this game, but Engin Ari and Johan van Dalen were still out.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, de Groot, Stekelenburg (57. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, Matal, van Grinsven (57. van der Aar), Engin Ceylan (46. de Wit)

Dynamo started well and they almost got the first goal in 3’ - Cleber had a great chance to score, but Ismet Gluhalic made a good save to stop this attempt. We defended most of the first half and our opponents opened scoring in 23’ - Joao Gabriel didn’t have especially good look, but his shot from 14 meters still did beat Gluhalic. First goal gave Dynamo confidence and they almost added another in 36’ - Joao Gabriel again beat our defenders to get first to ball, but his shot hit the post. First half finished 0:1 and we looked like we’re in survival mode. Partly it was a problem of tactics - Dynamo used unconventional 4-3-3 and it cut us apart like a knife. I had no idea how to stop that bleeding and try to get some possession to ourselves. Dynamo right-back Eugene Shyryaev was a nightmare - his crosses caused a lot of problems in our box and Leslie Lichaba couldn’t handle him or close him down.

I changed tactics at half time - back to our more familiar flexible/control setup that we use in Eredivisie. We looked slightly better in second half, although Shyryaev got one great chance in 62’ (great save from Gluhalic). We didn’t get many shots or opportunities in attack, but in the final ten minutes somehow managed to find an equalizer. Nketsi Matal delivered a cross to the box and Tarik de Wit sent a powerful header into the net. Dynamo players were clearly frustrated, but they had too few minutes left and final whistle meant that we’ve stolen a point from Kyiv, even though we probably didn’t deserve that.

  • we didn’t create any chances in this game and that’s a problem, looking into the future
  • Tom Drost stood out with 7 individual errors
  • Nketsi Matal will be out for a week with bruised head


 

Only four games in September and although I’m not too pleased with our performances, I cant’ really complain about results. Getting points against PSG was rarely on the cards and to get one point from Kyiv is not too bad. Considering our problems with injuries and suspensions I’m rather happy to get through this difficult period without losing too many points and I hope that things will get better in October.


 

Eredivisie

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We’re the only team without defeat. The table is a complete mess in that point, because teams have so different number of games played. PSV and Feyenoord are both in contention, FC Twente have improved a lot (they finished 17th in the last season) and AZ with Sparta are perhaps the biggest underachievers so far.

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October 2033


 

01.10.2033 - sc Heerenveen - AFC Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 1. Angelo - 58. Edward Schans

October started with trip to sc Heerenveen. Diego Rivas (my assistant) advised us to practice defending set pieces before that game and that was a bit surprising, because we should have been favourites for this game and sc Heerenveen are ranked just 14th in Eredivisie by pundits. They have started their season really well and to be fair it is difficult to understand why such a low rating.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Lichaba (46. Koeman), de Groot, Sastrodimedjo (54. Stekelenburg), Janssen (71. Talea), van Grinsven, van der Aar, de Wit

We weren’t ready for kick-off and allowed sc Heerenveen to surprise us on their first attack. Cross came in from our left wing and Angelo was completely unmarked in our box. Easy finish and early goal that left me standing with spread arms at the sideline - really, guys, wtf was that?? sc Heerenveen defended well in the first half and we didn’t get too many chances. Edward Schans saw his header going inches wide of goal post in 16’, but we didn’t create anything doo dangerous. Lack of understanding in defense was also evident and first half in summary was a big disappointment.

I made changes for second half - asked fullbacks to overlap and play with higher tempo. Edward Schans equalized for us in 58’ - although sc Heerenveen managed to clear our corner we regained possession and Dirk van Grinsven delivered another cross into box to find Schans. Central defender had the ball at his feet and sent his shot right next to post - very good finish for a defender. Both teams looked rather nervous in second half and there wasn’t much beauty in this football - we couldn’t find the winning goal in remaining 30 minutes and had to return with frustrating draw. I was clearly not happy with the result and performance. Poor start of the game cost us valuable points.

  • we made 30 fouls (Tom Drost 7, Leslie Lichaba 6) - unacceptable number
  • Mario de Groot made his 100th appearance for Ajax


 

We’ve been looking for another U-19 coach for a while now and in the beginning of October signed ex-Ajax player Mitchell Dijks on that position. Good addition to coaching staff.



 

15.10.2033 - Telstar - AFC Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 34. Tarik de Wit, 42. Omar van der Aar, 63. pen. Mario de Groot

International break was welcomed and allowed us to take a break. Players arrived back from injuries - Johan van Dalen and Engin Ari returned to full training. It was exciting time for Clyde Sastrodimedjo who collected his first cap for Holland.

Telstar game is one of the must-win fixtures in our season. Newly-promoted Telstar are predicted to finish 18th in this season and to be fair they are a bit out of their depth in higher division.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, de Groot (67. Engin Ari), Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven, van der Aar (58. van Dalen), de Wit (58. Engin Ceylan)

We controlled the game from start to finish and it was quickly clear that Telstar defenders can’t handle our quicker and more technical forwards. Omar van der Aar dribbled into the box in 23’, skinned two defenders and had a great look on goal, but his shot from close range was saved. Tarik de Wit opened scoring with a powerful header from corner and near the end of the first half we doubled our lead - de Wit intercepted Telstar throw in and laid it left for the run of van der Aar who had goal at his mercy. We scored two good goals in the first half, but at the same time allowed them too much time with the ball and only put them under real pressure in the last 15 minutes.

I asked players to retain possession in second half. Near 60’ mark Telstar got their two best shots on target - substitute Rudy Hol found too much space near our goal and his second shot demanded a brilliant save from Ismet Gluhalic. But few minute later Telstar’s Dino Koeman fouled Johan van Dalen in the box and de Groot’s penalty put the game beyond doubt. Good result in the end - three goals and a clean sheet.

  • our shooting was 23/9
  • Tarik de Wit stubbed his toe and will be out for a week
  • Dirk van Grinsven was outstanding for us


 

18.10.2033 - AFC Ajax - Panathinaikos 3:0 (Champions League Group G) - 19. and 36. Engin Ceylan, 24. Dirk van Grinsven

A must win game in this group if we want to qualify for knockout stages. I was optimistic, because it was a home game and I expected us to be better team in Amsterdam Arena. We had to get by without Tarik de Wit in this game.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (61. Stekelenburg), van Grinsven (55. MAtal), van Dalen (67. van der Aar), Engin Ceylan

We took the lead in 19’ - Engin Ceylan scored excellent header. It was a deserved goal too, because we had initiative from the start. Despite our good start we were at times sloppy in defence - Panathinaikos striker Guychel Ilunga got to a loose ball first and sent it just wide in 24’. With the next attack we doubled our lead - Johan van Dalen made a good run and cross from our left and Dirk van Grinsven scored with a simple tap in. Defensive errors weren’t over - Leslie Lichaba missed his interception in 27’ and gifted Clement Long a great chance, but Gluhalic held that shot comfortably. Clyde Sastrodimedjo took several shots from distance and those looked fairly dangerous. Panathinaikos goalkeeper had to make good saves to parry them and it wasn’t far away that Sastrodimedjo could have scored a wonderful long shot goals from those attempts. Despite the fact that we allowed Panathinaikos some chances, Engin Ceylan doubled his tally in 36’ and that settled it. We had a comfortable lead at half time and managed to keep things under our control after the break. Very good home win and three points to the table.

  • our shooting was 25/10
  • Tom Drost had a great game

 

22.10.2033 - AFC Ajax - VVV Venlo 2:0 (ED) - 76. and 81. Engin Ceylan

Back to Eredivisie and VVV Venlo are our next opponents. We’re clear favourites for this game, VVV are predicted to finish 10th in this season, but home advantage should be enough to take three points without much fuss.

All players were fit (although de Wit looked a bit tired after his week off) and we went to this game with overlapping fullbacks and attacking mindset.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (54. Stekelenburg), Janssen, van Grinsven (63. Matal), van Dalen (69. van der Aar), Engin Ceylan

First half began with high tempo, end-to-end football that I didn’t like particularly, because I would have liked to control possession better, but in conclusion the first half offered no real chances and was drab football from both sides. We weren’t able to put VVV under pressure and couldn’t create anything dangerous.

I asked players to step up the pace and play with higher tempo after break. That started to have effect after first minutes. Dirk van Grinsven got our first clear cut chance of the game in 59’, but his shot was saved. Edward Schans had an attempt from corner that was blocked from close range, but at last we applied pressure to VVV goal. Their defense finally broke in 76’ - substitute Pieter Stekelenburg moved into the box with ball and did well to cross it. Engin Ceylan headed it well and it was 1:0. Five minutes later it  was again Stekelenburg who created a great chance for Nketsi Matal. Matal had two shots on target, but couldn’t score and then Engin Ceylan arrived to finish from rebound. That goal settled it. Although it was hard work until the end, we turned this game to our way and collected all three points. Pieter Stekelenburg changed the game in second half - started to create chances from midfield and lead our attacks a lot better than we managed before that.


 

25.10.2033 - Venray SV - AFC Ajax 0:6 (Dutch Cup 3rd round) - 6. and 8. pen. Mario de Groot, 9. and 48. Omar van der Aar, 20. Nketsi Matal, 80. Engin Ceylan

Another easy game in cup game where rotation players and youngsters got their chance to impress.

Squad: Florentina, Alleyne, Siereveld, Hendriks, Koeman, de Groot, Talea, Stekelenburg, Matal, van der Aar ,Engin Ceylan

Not much to report from this game. We were in complete control after first ten minutes. Mario de Groot managed to get to score sheet twice and his attempt in 45’ bounced back from the post. It could have been a great hat-trick.

Engin Ceylan snatched his chances in second half until his placed shot in 80’ finally ended up in goal. Six goals in total and confident win against amateur side. Great performances all around - most of the players recorded 9.0+ ratings.

  • we enjoyed 63% possession
  • our shooting was 28/12
  • our average rating was 8.88
  • we made 56 key passes and 35 dribbles
  • we didn’t allow Venray any chances
  • our next opponent in December is Helmond Sport


 

29.10.2033 - Feyenoord Rotterdam - AFC Ajax 1:2 (ED) - 85. Screve N’Goma - 25. and 43. pen. Tarik de Wit

October finished with the most important game of the month. While we’ve been favourites in the most fixtures, this was the first game when commentators expected us to lose. And they had good reason to believe so, because Feyenoord have been on a long winning streak and they look really strong. On the other hand - playing in Eredivisie and Europa League has left their squad a bit tired and they had one less day to rest after their cup game, so no wonder their midfielders look tired before the game.

Because of standings in the table it’s a true six-pointer and we want to win at De Kuip to take revenge for Super Cup defeat.

We practiced attacking set pieces before this game and it’s good to see that all players are fit for so important game.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (64. Stekelenburg), Janssen, van Grinsven (70. Matal), van Dalen, de Wit (70. Engin Ceylan)

Both teams are known by their well organised defense and it took time before something really dangerous happened in front of goal. Tarik de Wit opened scoring when Dirk van Grinsven found him with a good cross and our complete forward snuck it in at near post. Leslie Lichaba missed his interception in 35’ and allowed Maurice Jenner a great chance, but Gluhalic parried that shot well. Right before half time whistle it was Jenner again to make a mistake - this time in defense. He tripped Tom Drost in the box and Tarik de Wit converted our penalty to give us 2:0 lead at half time. I was very happy with our lead and performance in first half. We’ve been slightly better and our right wing has caused Feyenoord some problems. Their left-back Jan Sanafikhah has not done well to handle Dirk van Grinsven. Maurice Jenner has been unfortunate in the first half - he missed his chance and caused our second goal.

Second half was again good defense from both sides, although as game progressed Feyenoord started to take more risks. Substitute Engin Ceylan had a great chance in 83’ - he got two attempts on target, but couldn’t score and almost began to regret it when Feyenoord managed to got a goal back two minutes later. Pieter Stekelenburg lost a header while defending corner. Kaj Wassenaar headed against crossbar and Screve N’Goma finished from rebound. That goal allowed Feyenoord back into game, but we held our lead for the last five minutes and took a valuable away win in the derby. That could be a crucial result in our campaign and I’m very happy with that game.

  • our attacking movement could have been better - space opened up for us in second half, but we moved too early and were called for offside 11 times

 



 

October has been a great month for us. I can complain only about sc Heerenveen result and performance, but otherwise we’re in great form, players are all fit and we look really strong now.


 

Eredivisie

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We still have several games on hand, but look at the goal difference. Three giants are well above everyone else.

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19 hours ago, rimok said:

loving this thread. please post update more frequently if you can . thanks

Thanks for support. As you might have noticed, I've taken this save slowly, because I enjoy process - preparing for games, scouting opponents, developing youngsters, contract negotiations (keeping my team for the next seasons in mind) etc. Keeping this story alive here is just one more way to maintain this depth - rewriting my games and seasons and what have happened is just like reliving it again.

I'm not a teenager and have responsibilities outside FM, both at work and with family, so I've limited myself to one match per day (which is taking me roughly 1 hour) and to be honest there are enough days in a week when I have to skip it, so to get around 5 matches per week is already good enough and usually sums up one month in FM season. Considering all this you can expect one post per week on average.

I could rush this (let's say, watch games on fewer details or play games with only one pre-determined tactics or rush through pre-seasons), but that would take all enjoyment out of the game and also ruin balance between writing and actual playing.

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November 2033


 

02.11.2033 - Panathinaikos - AFC Ajax 2:2 (Champions League Group G) - 22. Pieter Stekelenburg (og), 74. Nico Cox - 67. and 90. Omar van der Aar

We defeated Panathinaikos convincingly at home and I hoped that we could repeat that sort of performance in Athens.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Stekelenburg (56. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (63. van der Aar), de Wit (71. Engin Ceylan)

We got the first chance of the game in 8’, but de Wit’s shot was brilliantly saved by Panathinaikos goalkeeper. We seemed to play slightly better, but we gave Panathinaikos the lead ourselves. Panathinaikos had a free kick and Pieter Stekelenburg headed it so unfortunately towards our goal that it went over Gluhalic and landed in the net. That unfortunate own goal was the difference at half time. We enjoyed most of possession, but couldn’t create enough chances. Panathinaikos had no shots on target in the first half, yet they were leading.

We started second half with more motivation and chances started to come - Dirk van Grinsven had a great opportunity to equalize in 54’, but his shot was saved. We found the goal in 67’ - substitute Omar van der Aar scored with a simple tap-in - his first touch of the game. Excellent counter-attack, good run and cross from Simon Janssen created that goal. Panathinaikos players got nervous and I smelled that we could score a winner, but it was Panathinaikos who scored another goal - they got another free kick, Sergio Alleyne didn’t clear it properly and loose ball fell to Nico Cox. I was furious with that goal and our sloppy defending. In the end we managed to save a point, but only just. Dirk van Grinsven had ambitious attempt on target in the last minute. It was saved with difficulties by keeper, but rebound fell to van der Aar, who finished his chance and scored his second goal of the game.

In the end I was pleased with our late equalizer. I felt we didn’t deserve to lose, but those two defensive blunders cost us dearly and if we couldn’t get three points from this game, our chances in this group just turned a lot dimmer. Dynamo Kyiv stunned PSG in Ukraine and they gained points in comparison.

  • our shooting was 20/13 - it’s a shame we couldn’t score more goals

 

After this game we had a conversation with Engin Ceylan and it didn’t go well. Young striker was just recently labeled as wonderkid and he now feels that he’s too good for Ajax and wants to move to bigger club. I don’t want to give him up at only 18 years and he ended up being unhappy about that issue. The rest of the team backs me in this fight, but it’s for the best if he’ll not start too many games in the near future.


 

05.11.2033 - AFC Ajax - Go Ahead Eagles 2:1 (ED) - 22. Dirk van Grinsven, 30. Johan van Dalen - 80. Johan de Nooijer

Back to Eredivisie and it’s the last game before international break. We’re heavy favourites, because Eagles are predicted to finish just 15th in the league. They are fighting for survival after bouncing back from Jupiler League in this Summer. We started with attacking tactics and overlapping instructions.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven (54. Matal), van Dalen (54. van der Aar), de Wit (68. Engin Ceylan)

We played very good first half, controlled midfield and possession and scored two goals. Good combination from our right wing led to the first one - not the best look for van Grinsven, but he squeezed it in. Johan van Dalen doubled our lead in 30’ - his header took a big deflection and bounced into the goal. I would have liked more good chances than we got, but I was pleased with our lead at half time.

I asked players to return to normal tempo and retain possession in second half. Engin Ceylan has not used his chances well in this season and he wasted another one in 70’ - he did extremely well to skip past his defender and get himself 1-1 against goalkeeper, but his shot went too straight in the middle and was saved by the keeper. And as it so often happens in games like that, Eagles got one goal back before the end. Cross came in from our left, Germain Siereveld missed his interception and it was easy chance for Johan de Nooijer. Gifted goal and a schoolboy error from Siereveld. We didn’t allow it to derail ourselves and got opportunities to score the third goal. Nketsi Matal forced a brilliant save from goalkeeper in 88’ and Engin Ceylan wasted another great chance in 90’. I was not happy with our second half - gameplay was OK, but one costly error in defense and wasted chances in attack.

  • we had 63% possession
  • we had 17 corners, could have used them better
  • Simon Janssen had a great game - he created attacks from midfield and gave 15 key passes


 

We finally managed to get agreement with Dirk van Grinsven and experienced right winger extended his contract for another year. He also agreed to significant cut of his wage, so I’m starting to reach to my target of £400,000 p/w salary funds. Captain Tom Drost also signed a contract extension and I’m happy to rely on him until 2035.


 

18.11.2033 - AZ Alkmaar - AFC Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 60. pen. and 90. Tarik de Wit, 64. Edward Schans

International break went well and we could prepare for our game against AZ Alkmaar. AZ were predicted to finish 6th before the season, but they started their campaign poorly and only recently started to do better and have moved away from relegation zone. It was a chance for me to see our loan star Kevin de Jonge in action.

We practiced attacking set pieces before this game and I hoped we could take advantage of dead ball situations.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (46. Stekelenburg), Janssen, van Grinsven (64. Matal), van Dalen (68. van der Aar), de Wit

We looked a little nervous in the first half, but had two good shots on target. AZ goalkeeper made a brilliant save in 31’ to deny Tarik de Wit powerful shot. de Wit got a clear cut chance after counter in 44’, but again his shot was denied brilliantly. Engin Ari took attempt from the edge of area soon after and saw his shot bounce back from crossbar. At half time I felt that we were a little bit unlucky. AZ young goalkeeper Jorg Derksen had been brilliant so far and kept clean sheet.

We continued to play good football in second half. Tarik de Wit was fouled in the box - soft penalty from referee, to be honest - and he converted the spot kick. Edward Schans doubled our lead from corner four minutes later and we pretty much secured all three points with that goal. Tarik de Wit took the ball down nicely and laid it to Schans - central defender smashed it in with real power and that was a very good shot. Substitute Nketsi Matal wasted his chance in 87’ and managed only to hit the post. de Wit doubled his tally in the last minute with excellent strike from 20 meters out. Final score was 3:0 and I was pleased with our second half performance. It was a very good result for away game and even though we were helped by referee decision, we scored two set piece goals.

  • we lost possession 46/54 - AZ played good possession football and it worked well for them in first half
  • Tarik de Wit had a great game for us


 

22.11.2033 - Paris Saint Germain - AFC Ajax 2:1 (Champions League Group G) - 68. Azel Heinrich, 78. Jose Maria - 82. Tarik de Wit

Success in Paris was always a long shot for us. We practiced attacking set pieces before this game and used our Champions League tactics for us.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari (68. de Groot), Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven (62. Matal), van Dalen (62. van der Aar), de Wit

To be fair, PSG dominated the first half. They had plenty of chances to score and Ismet Gluhalic made a string of brilliant saves, often two in a row, because PSG strikers also got to rebounds too often. It was survival mode for us and when half time whistle called with 0:0 score sheet I was really relieved. PSG had 6 clear cut chances in the first half and Gluhalic was just brilliant.

We had our first good opportunity in 65’ - Omar van der Aar had a great chance to score, but this time it was time for PSG goalkeeper to make a brilliant save. PSG finally got what they wanted in 68’ - Axel Heinrich was unmarked in our six yard box and it was easy finish from close range. In 78’ Jose Maria played past Tom Drost and Sergio Alleyne and scored PSG second goal - individual skills of PSG strikers were just too much for our defenders. Tarik de Wit scored our goal with a header from corner. Final score didn’t look too bad, but it was deserved win for PSG and we never looked like winning in the first place. Too many clear cut chances and only heroic performance from Gluhalic kept things respectable for us. Motivation and spirit were there, but PSG was just too good. I praised players for effort to keep heads up and move forward from this game.

  • we gave PSG 8 clear cut chances in this game
  • Tarik de Wit scored his 10th goal of the season


26.11.2033 - AFC Ajax - ADO Den Haag 2:0 (ED) - 28. Tarik de Wit, 36. Dirk van Grinsven

We have to focus back to Eredivisie after returning from paris, but it was a bit of celebration before this game, because it was my 900th game in management and of course I hoped to finish it with a win. ADO Den Haag are predicted to finish 7th in Eredivisie and they have a very good and young squad, so we have to be prepared against them.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, Engin Ari (54. de Groot), Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (69. Stekelenburg), van Grinsven, van der Aar, de Wit (59. Engin Ceylan)

I said that we had to be prepared, but we actually wasn’t and almost gifted ADO an early goal. Their best striker Anthony Smith skipped past Edward Schans too easily in 3’ and had a great chance to score, but Ismet Gluhalic made a great save to deny him. Three minutes later Tarik de Wit got our first chance after elegant pass from Simon Janssen, but this shot was also saved. ADO’s Luke Doekhi then had an attempt from distance that forced Gluhalic to make a great save. With chances fairly equal after first 12 minutes the game started to calm down and slowly come under our control. Tarik de Wit scored our first goal in 28’ - Omar van der Aar gave a good pass to him, but de Wit had a great shot from first touch. Excellent strike and great team goal. In 36’ it was again van der Aar who worked well on our left flank, gave a cross into six yard box and Dirk van Grinsven slided into it, got the ball and it went over goal line. A bit clumsy, but goal is a goal. Both goalkeepers got plenty of action in the first half and first 15 minutes could have gone either way, but at half time we had two goal lead and that adds confidence.

I tweaked tactics at half time, asked players to play with normal tempo and regain possession. We had one good chance in second half - substitute Engin Ceylan made a solo run from midfield and had a great look, but his shot was saved. It was another occasion where Engin Ceylan just failed to convert his clear cut chance. Final score marked our solid win and I was pleased with performance.

  • our shooting was 16/10 - good number of shots on target

 

30.11.2033 - FC Twente Enschede - AFC Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 71. Ahmet Yilmaz - 4. Dirk van Grinsven

FC Twente have a great season so far - they’re predicted to finish just 12th in this season and although they lost their wonderkid Jonathan Pengel in this Summer, they invested this money wisely and improved several areas of their squad. Their most dangerous striker Isaac Osei has just returned from injury and looks too tired to start this game.

I chose attacking formation and asked fullbacks to overlap more. FC Twente started with 4-2-3-1 formation and we needed to take their AMC out of the game.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven (55. Matal), van Dalen (70. van der Aar), de Wit (65. Engin Ceylan)

We started this game very well. Good cross from Johan van Dalen found Dirk van Grinsven at the far post and simple tap-in was all too easy to take the lead. Several half chances in first half didn’t bring more goals and it was mostly drab football after goal.

We could and should have extended our lead in second half. Tarik de Wit headed against post from corner in 49’. In 56’ de Wit was fouled in the box - Rik Nijs took him down as the last man and was sent off for professional foul. de Wit went to take the penalty himself, but FC Twente goalkeeper Azar Haciyev saved his spot kick. That was a great chance and he should have taken it better. FC Twente took encouragement from that and they found equalizer in 71’ - Ahmet Yilmaz scored with a good header from IFK. Omar van der Aar lost this aerial duel. We couldn’t find another goal in remaining time and had to return with frustrating draw. We should have finished our chances better and to drop points against 10 men is unacceptable.

  • our shooting was just 16/5
  • we didn’t give FC Twente any good chances to score, but yet they found the goal
  • we committed 20 fouls - too many and in the end we were punished from set piece
  • we made 20 individual mistakes in defense - need to be more focused in the future



 

Despite that last result I feel that we should be pleased with our run in Eredivisie. We’re still undefeated in the league and have played well in domestic competitions. In Champions League level, though, we look like we’re a bit short of quality and execution to get the results that we need. We were no match for PSG in this season and should have won against Panathinaikos. We still have a chance to qualify from our group, but we need a win against Dynamo Kyiv in our last game to do that.

What is most noteworthy from stat sheet is our poor execution from clear cut chances. Engin Ceylan especially stands out as very wasteful. We could score a lot more goals if we improve that area of our game. Set piece goals have helped us a lot and we’re fairly dangerous from corners.


 

Eredivisie

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No surprises in the table, aside of poor position of MVV Maastricht. We have a few games in hand, as well,  so we can feel pretty confident.

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  • 2 weeks later...

December 2033


 

03.12.2033 - AFC Ajax - PSV Eindhoven 1:0 (ED) - 23. Johan van Dalen

December started with Topper derby - decisive battle against top team. PSV, of course, will come to this game from home defeat against FC Groningen, so they could be a little fragile and I hope to take advantage of that. They also look really tired - their successful results in Europe have taken a toll of their squad and fatigue starts to affect them.

We practiced attacking movement before the game and I knew that PSV will use their signature 4-4-2 setup against us.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Lichaba, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (62. Stekelenburg), van Grinsven (60. Matal), van Dalen, de Wit (65. Engin Ceylan)

We started the first half well. Tarik de Wit had a fierce shot in 6’ and he was really unlucky only to hit the post with that. We looked dangerous from set pieces and won headers in PSV box. Most of our attacking moves came from our left wing (unusual) and Johan van Dalen was in the middle of action in the first half. He was first to react to loose ball in 23’ and squeezed his shot in from near post. van Dalen got several clear cut chances in the first half (three, to be exact), but he couldn’t finish from those opportunities. When first half was about to end, PSV got their best chance of the game - Leslie Lichaba lost possession in midfield and following counter-attack ended with Kees van der Werff open in our box. Brilliant save from Ismet Gluhalic kept our clean sheet and allowed us to regain our composure at half time.

PSV did better in second half and they got their defense organised. PSV’s Timothee Carree had a great chance in 68’ (another great save from Gluhalic). We instantly moved to counter-attack and Engin Ceylan run alone with the ball from midfield to PSV box. He had a great opportunity to score, but his shot too was saved and Nketsi Matal sent his shot directly to PSV goalkeeper. So second half was fairly even in terms of chances and gameplay. Narrow win for us in the end. We were very good in the first half and should have finished our chances better. I’m still pleased with our win and performance.

  • we created 5 clear cut chances - good stats against PSV Eindhoven


 

07.12.2033 - AFC Ajax - Dynamo Kyiv 1:2 (Champions League Group G) - 85. Simon Janssen - 17. Lawrence Babatunde, 24. Walter Medina

It was a decisive game in our Champions League campaign. Our task was pretty straightforward - we needed to win at home to qualify from the group. We practiced attacking set pieces before the game and I tried to find answer to Dynamo’s attacking 4-3-3 formation. Because it was home game I used our regular control-possession tactics with attacking full-backs.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (51. Stekelenburg), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (60. van der Aar), de Wit (69. Engin Ceylan)

First 15 minutes were quite open football and both teams got shots on target. Olexyi Datsyuk had a good attempt in 9’ and Ismet Gluhalic made a brilliant save to deny his shot. Unfortunately it was Dynamo who took the lead in 17’ - Lawrence Babatunde header was not too dangerous, but Ismet Gluhalic dropped the ball and Babatunde finished with second attempt. Poor mistake from Gluhalic and it could be costly. Seven minutes later and Walter Medina scored another goal with a header. Johan van Dalen had the best opportunity for us in 32’, but his shot went wide, so at half time we were trailing by two goals. Problems were on both ends - we allowed Dynamo too many shots on target and didn’t finish our chances. Gluhalic mistake also was unexpected - he is not usually error-prone, but this time he let us down.

We controlled midfield and possession in second half, but Dynamo defended well and we couldn’t create chances. Simon Janssen’s goal in 85’ landed in goal and it was our only consolation, but it was too little, too late. With final whistle we had to accept our defeat and the fact that Dynamo deserved qualification more than we did. We need to improve in the next season if we want to be in contest in Champions League.


 

Champions League Group G

  1. Paris Saint Germain 13
  2. Dynamo Kyiv 11
  3. AFC Ajax 5
  4. Panathinaikos 3

 

That result proves that we need rebuilding. Some first team players are above 30 years already and unlikely to get better. Youngsters need a lot more playing time to improve their game further.



 

10.12.2033 - AFC Ajax - Fortuna Sittard 2:0 (ED) - 3. Tarik de Wit, 45. Simon Janssen

With Champions League campaign finished we continue with Eredivisie. We’re clear favourites against Fortuna Sittard - even more so because their first team goalkeeper Barry Tuitel was injured and replaced by 19 years old youngster. I used our attacking formation with overlapping fullbacks and tried to rotate players to distribute playing time more evenly.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (57. Stekelenburg), Matal (31. van Grinsven), van der Aar, de Wit (57. Engin Ceylan)

We had a great start to the game - Tarik de Wit gave us the lead with a fierce shot. It went fairly straight to goalkeeper, but the youngster’s hands were too soft and he couldn’t make a save. Good combination from our right wing finished with a shot from Nketsi Matal - that rattled crossbar. Matal was unfortunately forced off in 31’ with injury. Tarik de Wit’s shot in 36’ was brilliantly saved by young keeper. I hoped to see our second goal and Simon Janssen found the target with his header just before half time. First half was completely under our control in midfield. I would have liked more clear cut chances, but two-goal lead is good and that second goal before half-time whistle was important.

Second half didn’t offer too many exciting moments. Fortuna Sittard got their best opportunity to score in 80’ - Frank de Vlugt got a half chance after good combination. His shot did beat Ismet Gluhalic, but landed against goal post. Final score marked a solid win for us, but I feel there is enough room for improvement. Some of the players did worse than i expected.

  • our shooting was just 20/5
  • we had 19 corners and couldn’t make anything dangerous out of those
  • Nketsi Matal is out for at least 3-4 months with damaged achilles tendon. I included young winger Raimond Burg to first team to cover that loss


 

To pieces of news after that game. Joey Pelupessy was unveiled as new MVV Maastricht manager. Europa League knockout round draw was made and we will meet Chelsea in the first round. That’s a tough draw and probably one of the strongest teams in the mix. Well, no pressure, then.


 

13.12.2033 - Helmond Sport - AFC Ajax 2:6 (Dutch Cup 4th round) - 52. Ludovicus Depuydt, 85. Lorenzo Kleijn - 38., 47. and 85. Omar van der Aar, 67. and 83. Engin Ceylan, 90.+1 Germain Siereveld

December continued with a cup game against Helmond Sport. We had just a few days to prefer and I selected younger players for this game, to give first team players more rest days.

Squad: Gluhalic, Alleyne (59. Herder), Siereveld, Hendriks, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo (70. Talea), Stekelenburg, van Grinsven (59. Burg), van der Aar, Engin Ceylan

It took some time for us to create something really dangerous - Omar van der Aar had our first clear cut chance in 28’, but his shot was brilliantly saved by Helmond Sport goalkeeper. Young defender Rick Hendriks had a chance from following corner - ball fell to his feet, but his shot was blocked. van der Aar finally opened scoring in 38’ - excellent cross found him in six yard box and simple tap-in was all that was needed. Helmond Sport made their situation worse in 41’ when their Marcel Rutgers received straight red card for ugly two-footed challenge. I was not happy with our attacking play in the first half - too many offsides and we wasted our chances. However, I expected things to become easier against ten men in second half.

We started second half much better - Omar van der Aar doubled his tally with awkward goal (he scored with his chest), but in 52’ Helmond managed to score one goal themselves. Clyde Sastrodimedjo lost the ball in midfield and good combination gave a great chance to Ludovicus Depuydt. Helmond’s best striker didn’t waste his opportunity and score was 1:2. Engin Ceylan then took over and scored two goals. When game started to end, we gave another clear cut chance to Helmond and Lorenzo Kleijn scored their second goal. It was obvious that our defensive line had not played together too often. Still, we finished the game strong - van der Aar completed his hat-trick with a great shot from the edge of area and defender Germain Siereveld scored from corner in injury time.

I was not happy with our defense in second half - complacency was evident. However, we scored a lot of goals and used our chances well. Good result with weakened team. Young right-back Nabil Herder played in second half.

  • our shooting was 32/16
  • our average rating was 8.00
  • we created 5 clear cut chances
  • Omar van der Aar and Engin Ceylan had a great game for us
  • we will play Sparta Rotterdam in quarter finals

 

 

17.12.2033 - FC Utrecht - AFC Ajax 2:0 (ED) - 11. and 78. Juddy Menga

FC Utrecht are really strong team and that wasn’t going to be easy game for sure. They were predicted to finish 4th in Eredivisie and have done well so far in Europa League too. We practiced defending set pieces before the game. I hoped to see our loan player Steven Otten in action for FC Utrecht, but that was not going to happen - he was not in FC Utrecht’s starting line-up against us.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari (56. de Groot), Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven (71. Burg), van Dalen (56. van der Aar), de Wit

We didn’t have the best start to this game. Juddy Menga was first to react to loose ball in our box in 11’ and opened scoring. FC Utrecht had another great chance in 15’, but Clyde Drenthe sent his shot wide. I was a bit worried at this point - we controlled possession, but couldn’t get shots on target and FC Utrecht defended really well. Tarik de Wit saw his header flicking crossbar in 32’ and Johan van Dalen had a great chance in 40’ after IFK, but his shot was too weak and was held by Utrecht goalkeeper.

First half was a disappointment - we should have finished better and needed more chances. We had 58% possession in the first half, but couldn’t convert it into chances.

I asked players to play with higher tempo after half time break, but that didn’t give us anything in second half. Substitutions didn’t make an impact too and when Juddy Menga doubled his tally from IFK in 78’ I knew that this game was over. Juddy Menga is one of the best goalscorers in Eredivisie and he only needed two half-chances against us to score two goals. That shows something.

It was deserved goal for FC Utrecht - they played really well in defense and were patient enough to wait for their chances. It was our first league defeat of the season and something to learn from.

  • our shooting was 16/3 - 9 long shots
  • young winger Raimond Burg played in his first league game for Ajax


 

21.12.2033 - AFC Ajax - FC Volendam 2:0 (ED) - 11. Dirk van Grinsven, 26. Tarik de Wit

We wanted to shrug off FC Utrecht defeat and we were clear favourites at home against FC Volendam. Volendam have done well so far and occupied 11th position in the table. Their target man Veljko Ostojic is leading Eredivisie scoring table and it’s a tough challenge for our central defenders to beat him in the air. However, Volendam looked a bit tired before this game and our bigger team and rotation is a clear advantage for us. We went to this game with attacking formation and overlapping instructions, but I made some changes in line-up, because Johan van  Dalen and Engin Ari have not been good enough in recent games.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (69. Stekelenburg), van Grinsven (42. Burg), van der Aar, de Wit (63. Engin Ceylan)

We controlled things well in the first half and the first chance came in 11’. Tarik de Wit fired a volley towards FC Volendam goal. The shot was saved, but Dirk van Grinsven was there to finish from rebound. Omar van der Aar wasted his clear cut chance just a minute later, but Tarik de Wit doubled our lead in 26’ and we went to half time feeling pretty confident. Second half was more quiet, but we kept things under our control until the final whistle and secured all three points.

  • we didn’t give FC Volendam any chances in attack
  • Dirk van Grinsven suffered damaged foot in 42’ and needs to rest for at least 2-3 weeks
  • we’ve collected 42 points from the first 17 games - great number for any season


 

28.12.2033 - AFC Ajax - Vitesse Arnhem 3:0 (ED) - 14. and 19. pen. Tarik de Wit, 90. Simon Janssen

Last game of the year is against Vitesse Arnhem after Christmas. January transfer window is approaching and there’s a lot of speculations in the air, so better part of my press conferences are spent on commenting possible moves of one or another player.

Vitesse is a tough opponent - they’ve predicted to finish 5th and with a good reason. They brought £10m worth of new players in during Summer, including Polish striker Kamil Zalewski and more-less made this bunch of players work like a team.

We practiced defending set pieces before this game and difficult choice for me was AMR position - is young winger Raimond Burg ready to start for the team in this game?

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, Engin Ari (68. de Groot), Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, Burg, van Dalen (61. van der Aar), de Wit (68. Engin Ceylan)

We took the lead in 14’ - it was a moment of transition and new man Raimond Burg delivered excellent ball behind defensive line, right on the path for Tarik de Wit, who put it in from near post. Five minutes later we received a little help from the referee - Engin Ari was fouled in the box and penalty was awarded, even if it looked a bit dubious. Tarik de Wit converted the spot kick and we held two-goal lead at half time. Vitesse had some shots in the first half, but nothing too dangerous and our second goal clearly took away some of their spirit.

Right after second half kick-off Vitesse danger man Kamil Zalewski showed off his skills. He skipped past Edward Schans way too easily and found himself one-on-one against Ismet Gluhalic, but somehow sent his shot wide. Zalewski got another good chance in 78’ - this time his shot hit the post. Polish striker probably felt that better finishing from his part could have changed the game, but in the last minute Simon Janssen made it 3:0 and final result marked a very convincing win for us.

  • Tarik de Wit made his 200th appearance for Ajax
  • Simon Janssen had a great game for us

 

In the end of the year we extended Omar van der Aar contract until 2037 to end transfer speculations around him. I believe that 20 years old winger has plenty of time to improve and he could be part of our future for upcoming years.


 

Eredivisie

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FC Utrecht have finished their year strong and they’ve climbed to second position. After both PSV and Feyenoord have dropped some points and especially after our defeat to Utrecht, they look the most likely challengers, but we still have comfortable lead in the table.

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January 2034


 

04.01.2034 - AFC Ajax - FC Utrecht 2:0 (ED) - 90.+2 and 90.+4 pen. Engin Ceylan

Two games against FC Utrecht are very close in calendar and it was our chance to take revenge for defeat in December. FC Utrecht made a very good December, so this game here is like a six pointer in title race. Fred Koeman is suspended for this game and Dirk van Grinsven was not yet ready to start, so youngster Raimond Burg has to start on our right wing.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost,  Siereveld, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (70. Stekelenburg), Janssen, Burg, van Dalen (58. van der Aar), de Wit (66. Engin Ceylan)

First half was rather quiet. We managed to get a few good attacks, but the first shot on target came from Tarik de Wit when already 39 minutes were played. FC Utrecht defended really well and as the game progressed, some of our players started to look more nervous. I offered some words of encouragement in half time team talk and in second half we started to look more dangerous. Simon Janssen had a good shot on target in 50’ that was saved brilliantly by FC Utrecht goalkeeper. Equally outstanding save was needed two minutes later, the shot came from de Wit that time. We looked well in the first 15 minutes after half time, but then FC Utrecht composed themselves and closed their defense more. It took all 90 minutes before we got a really good chance - young winger Raimond Burg had a great look in 90’, but his shot was saved. The final whistle was near, but we didn’t give up. Engin Ceylan worked well to keep FC Utrecht defenders under pressure and it brought dividends in injury time, when he intercepted a poor backpass from Ron Bosman and tucked it in from close range. FC Utrecht players looked in despair and two minutes later Danny Eind fouled Raimond Burg in the box and injury time penalty was awarded. It was a bit harsh call, but decision was made and Engin Ceylan doubled his tally from the spot. And after the penalty final whistle called and we had won with a fantastic finish to this game. It was a very important win for us. I was really proud for the players, because they worked hard until the end and didn’t give up and for that we were rewarded.

  • our shooting was 22/7
  • we didn’t give FC Utrecht any scoring opportunities
  • Simon Janssen had a great game for us
  • Engin Ceylan scored his 10th goal of the season
  • Pieter Stekelenburg made his 400th appearance for Ajax in this game




21.01.2034 - AFC Ajax - Helmond Sport 1:1 (ED) - 56. Tarik de Wit - 63. Ludovicus Depuydt

It’s the third time we meet with Helmond Sport in this season. While they’ve playing slightly above expectations and are currently 14th - few places above relegation zone - we did beat them 6:2 in a cup game in December and I felt fairly confident before that game. I selected attacking formation with overlapping fullbacks and expected us to beat them comfortably in Amsterdam Arena. Johan van Dalen was injured before this game, Leslie Lichaba was back in full training (but not ready to start) and Dirk van Grinsven returned to full fitness and starting line-up.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, de Groot (68. Engin Ari), Sastrodimedjo, Stekelenburg (56. Janssen), van Grinsven, van der Aar, de Wit (62. Engin Ceylan)

First half was a drab football and poor attacking movement. Our only good chance came in 9’ when Tarik de Wit sliced Helmond defense with a wonderful through ball to find Pieter Stekelenburg opening behind defensive line. However, our playmaker couldn’t use his chance and shot went straight to goalkeeper. I wasn’t too happy with 0:0 scoreline at half time and asked the team turn up tempo for second half and break Helmond defense with pace.

It took some time but we found a way through - Tom Drost delivered a cross and Tarik de Wit headed towards goal - not the best of headers, but ball somehow squirmed through Helmond’s goalkeeper and went in. Vital goal for us and with that opportunities start to come. Omar van der Aar had a great chance to extend our lead in 60’, but his shot was blocked and then, out of nowhere, Helmond found and equalizer. A number of one-touch passes made a good combination and their danger man Ludovicus Depuydt finished with a good shot that Ismet Gluhalic was unable to save. We almost gave up another goal when Thibaud Simon was left too open in our area, but fortunately his shot went wide. We too had our chances to win this game - Simon Janssen was first to get to loose ball in the box in 73’, but his shot was saved brilliantly by Helmond’s goalkeeper. In the end we had to settle with disappointing draw - that result was clearly not good enough and I was disappointed with our performance. Our defense in second half was sub-par and we didn’t take our chances in attack. Substitutions failed to make positive impact and that’s a sort of thing that needs to improve, too.

  • our shooting was 20/8
  • we had 54 key passes - couldn’t convert that to chances



25.01.2034 - Sparta Rotterdam - AFC Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 25. Tasos Kolonis - 33. Tarik de Wit

Next up is Sparta Rotterdam in away game. We will meet them soon again in cup quarter finals that’s being held in a week, but I expect Sparta to be more dangerous in home and they probably are more attacking, too.

We have Leslie Lichaba back in full fitness and he can start in left defense for us. In opposition it’s interesting to see our loan players Jaap Hoogdorp and Sjoerd de Jong in action.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Lichaba (67. Koeman), Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (72. Stekelenburg), van Grinsven, van der Aar, de Wit (64. Engin Ceylan)

First fifteen minutes made me a little worried, because we gave Sparta too many corners. Sparta’s goal eventually came from open play - Edward Schans missed his interception and Tasos Kolonis calmly finished his chance. It looked like we just woke up after conceded goal and immediately started to look more dangerous in attack. Tom Drost made a smart run and laid excellent pass to Tarik de Wit and de Wit finished well to equalize. In 40’ Simon Janssen had a great chance to give us the lead, but his shot was saved, so first half finished with 1:1. I was not happy with our finishing (and in fact with the whole first 30 minutes of the game).

Second half didn’t start better for us. We were too slow to react in IFK situation and gave Sparta’s central defender Nick Prent too shots on goal. Good save from Ismet Gluhalic rescued us. Then started a good period when we managed to put Sparta under real pressure. Dirk van Grinsven had two great chances in 67’ and 68’, but his shots weren’t even on target and experienced winger let us down on those occasions. Sparta managed to organize their defense better in the final 20 minutes and we had to settle for another poor draw. It was like a carbon copy of Helmond game - poor defensive mistake coupled with poor finishing in attack. I saw some very uneven performances on the pitch - some players looked really nervous. I asked Edward Schans aside after this game to give him some personal critique about his poor performance in defense. I hope he’ll take it the right way and improve in the future.


 

28.01.2034 - AFC Ajax - MVV Maastricht 2:0 (ED) - 37. pen. Tarik de Wit, 58. Omar van der Aar

I want to finish January on a more positive note and it’s a good opportunity to do so against MVV Maastricht, because we’re clear favourites in this game and MVV are clearly underperforming in this season, even after they replaced their manager. MVV are now 17th in the table and in danger of relegation, if they can’t improve their form quickly enough.

We have Johan van Dalen back in the squad and ready to start. Omar van der Aar has not impressed in recent games, so it’s a welcome news.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (65. Stekelenburg), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (2. van der Aar), de Wit (60. Engin Ceylan)

We were only two minutes into the game when Johan van Dalen limped off the pitch and had to be replaced by Omar van der Aar. I was happy to see him in the starting line-up, but he got injured so fast and I had to take him off and at first sight it looks pretty bad one. Perhaps this injury derailed us, but our first half was a drab affair - we couldn’t create chances and our attacking efforts were futile. It took all the way until 37’ to find a breakthrough and we needed a penalty for that. Fred Koeman used his acceleration to skip past defender and he was tripped in the box. Tarik de Wit looked a bit complacent when steading himself for the spot kick, but he scored nonetheless and we had the lead at half time. That goal aside I have nothing good to report from the first half.

Second half was similarly uneventful, only one outstanding moment of brilliance by Omar van der Aar. He received a pass and took the shot just inside the area and that was a great strike - sent into the roof of the goal with power. Unstoppable shot for any goalkeeper and at this point that strike secured us the result that we wanted. Substitute Engin Ceylan had a few good moments in second half, but no real chances came from those. He has unique ability to create space around him, turn around defenders or beat them with pace and skills, but he often doesn’t use opportunities that he gets, waiting too long with his shot or just putting it wide.

I’m still not happy with our display and performance, but at least the result is good in this game.

  • Johan van Dalen is sidelined for at least 5-6 weeks with sprained ankle



 

MVV result was slightly better finish to fairly poor month. Results I can take, but our performance was rather poor and with players in my disposal at the moment I’ve run out of ideas how to improve it quickly.

Few things have become clear in this season, especially after we dropped out of Champions League. We need to rebuild and bring new talent up quicker. It means that I’m not going to offer new contracts to several veteran players and they are heading out of the club in next Summer - Sergio Alleyne, Nketsi Matal and Pieter Stekelenburg are now free to sign new deals with other clubs.



 

Eredivisie

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Despite our results we’re safely 7 points clear above Feyenoord. MVV Maastricht are sinking without trace and new manager has not been able to turn things around for them.



 

Transfers January 2034


For us it was a fairly quiet transfer window. I was not able to find a new club to Eugene Talea and he remains in the squad until Summer. There wasn’t much interest in our first team players and I had no difficult choices to make, regarding transfers or contracts. We sent three youngsters out on loan in this January:

  • central defender Rick Hendriks went to Telstar
  • talented goalkeeper Rob Pluim joined Go Ahead Eagles for six month
  • Erwin Vormer made a temporary move to Go Ahead Eagles

 

PSV Eindhoven had the busiest transfer window. They sold their best striker Jaume Prada to Lazio for impressive £11m and brought in Chijoke Obafemi from Olympique Lille as a replacement, paying £4,2m for him. £4,2m is a big fee in Eredivisie terms, but PSV obviously made a huge profit out of this move.

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February 2034


 

01.02.2034 - AFC Ajax - Sparta Rotterdam 2:0 (Dutch Cup Quarter Final) - 34. Raimond Burg, 90.+2 Omar van der Aar

February started with cup quarter final against Sparta Rotterdam. We drew them in away game, but this time we met in Amsterdam Arena and home crowd turned things in our favour. I made few changes in our line-up, but no big surprises. Young winger Raimond Burg got his chance to impress, because van Grinsven’s form has been sub-par recently.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo (72. Engin Ari), Janssen (58. Stekelenburg), Burg (67. van Grinsven), van der Aar, Engin Ceylan

We controlled the game very well in the first half, looking very solid in defense and midfield, but chances were rare and it took some time to get our shots on target. It improved around 30’ mark and in 34’ Clyde Sastrodimedjo found Raimond Burg with his pass and young winger tucked away his half-chance. Very well down from the youngster, good strike.

In second half Sparta got their best chance in 68’ - substitute striker Sebastian Wozniak got past Sergio Alleyne and went 1-1 against our goalkeeper, but his shot landed in side-netting and we were safe from there. Overall we looked much better in second half and created better chances. Sparta young goalkeeper had to make several brilliant saves to deny first Omar van der Aar, then Pieter Stekelenburg’s shot and then he stopped Engin Ceylan scoring from clear cut chance. The keeper later bagged player of the match award for his performance, but that didn’t save Sparta from defeat. In injury time when Sparta took more risks in attack, we scored our second goal - Dirk van Grinsven found van der Aar with his cross and simple tap-in from our left winger settled this game.

  • we had 62% possession
  • our shooting was 22/8
  • Omar van der Aar scored his 10th goal of the season
  • we will play against ADO Den Haag in the semi final


 

05.02.2034 - FC Groningen - AFC Ajax 2:0 (ED) - 2. Klevis Dema, 37. Gerry Schuur

We have three away games in a row in Eredivisie in February and the first of those is a pretty tough game against FC Groningen. They are one team I admire so far in this league - very young and talented team with some very interesting players. They have invested a lot in their youth system and they start getting good players from U-19 because of that. FC Groningen occupy 6th place in the table at the moment. Their weak link could be their inexperienced goalkeeper and I hope if we could get enough shots on target we can also find some goals.

Groningen welcomed us with damp and rainy weather and muddy turf - not the best conditions, but it’s almost inevitable that we have to play at least 1-2 games in a season with weather like that.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Lichaba (46. Koeman), Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, Burg (46. van Grinsven), van der Aar, de Wit (58. Engin Ceylan)

We had the worst possible start to this game. We made many unnecessary fouls and in IFK situation Clyde Sastrodimedjo lost his header against Klevis Dema. Ball went in right next to goal post and even though it wasn’t the strongest header there was nothing that Ismet Gluhalic could do about it. Our defense always looked a bit fragile and in 37’ FC Groningen extended their lead - Edward Schans missed his interception and Gerry Schuur got the hance as a result.

I was very unhappy with our first half - we never really tested FC Groningen goalkeeper and two defensive mistakes did cost us two goals.

I tried different tactical approach for second half - asked fullbacks to overlap and play with higher tempo, but that didn’t help. FC Groningen defended well and we didn’t get a single clear cut chance in this game. When final whistle called I was furious and rightly so - it was probably the worst performance that I’ve witnessed in this season.

  • we lost possession 49/51
  • our shooting was just 12/3
  • our average rating was 6.79 - safe to say that whole team played poorly


 

11.02.2034 - Vitesse Arnhem - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 3. Dirk van Grinsven, 29. Tarik de Wit

Another tough game and it’s difficult to be too optimistic. Results have not been good recently and even our fans are starting to show insecurity about our recent form. We need to turn things around sooner rather than later.

I made some changes in the squad - Leslie Lichaba was benched, Dirk van Grinsven started ion our right wing and Pieter Stekelenburg replaced Clyde Sastrodimedjo, but Edward Schans was not replaced despite his poor display at Groningen.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, Engin Ari (65. de Groot), Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven (71. Burg), van der Aar, de Wit (68. Engin Ceylan)

This time we had a great start. Tom Drost found Dirk van Grinsven in the box with his cross and experienced winger scored with a fierce shot from close range. It seems that experience does make a difference sometimes. That goal gave whole team a lot of confidence, but Vitesse tried to react too and we almost allowed them an equalizer from counters. Felix Wohlert had a great chance in 13’. His shot did beat Gluhalic, but bounced back from the post. In 27’ Sven Dijkstra got his clear cut chance (another mistake from Edward Schans there), but he blasted his shot well over crossbar. And while Vitesse can rue their missed chances, we doubled our lead two minutes later when Tarik de Wit scored with a well placed shot. We looked in control of the game after our second goal - de Wit tested Vitesse goalkeeper in 32’ (needed a brilliant save to deny that shot) and we went to half time with two goal lead.

I asked players to retain possession in second half, because we had nowhere to hurry, but despite that Vitesse got some half-chances early in second half. Ilunga Gödeken had two shots on goal, but those were saved and in 56’ Vitesse’s most dangerous striker Kamil Zalewski got away from our defenders - this time his shot was parried by Gluhalic. Despite those moment we had things fairly well under our control later in the game. We didn’t have to take too many risks in second half and I was happy with our clean sheet and two goals. In fact, it was a very good result for us and I hoped that players regain some confidence from that performance

  • we had 63% possession in this game
  • Tom Drost had a great game for us
  • Tom Drost now has made 10 assists in this season


 

AZ Alkmaar lost patience with their manager Pepijn Linders after this matchday and he was sacked. It had been coming, because AZ were underperforming and are dropping dangerously close to relegation zone.


 

16.02.2034 - AFC Ajax - FC Chelsea 2:3 (Europa League 1st knockout round 1st leg) - 31. and 55. Tarik de Wit - 29. Axel Mathieu, 53. and 88. Camilo Villa

I don’t regard Europa League too important in our campaign and our task is almost impossible against Chelsea. Chelsea are currently leading Premier League and head and shoulders above our current level of football, so I just hoped to see good enough performance so that it won’t get too embarrassing. We practiced defending set pieces before this game and I used our well-tested Champions League tactical setup.

Holland boss Roberto Martinez was present for this game and that meant we have at least some players in the squad who have something to prove on the pitch.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost (69. Alleyne), Siereveld, SChans, Lichaba (52. Koeman), Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven, van der Aar, de Wit (69. Engin Ceylan)

We had a good moment early in the game, in around 7’ - Germain Siereveld and Simon Janssen saw their shots being blocked and Engin Ari sent his shot on target from distance, but Chelsea goalkeeper made a good save to deny him. After that Chelsea regained control of the game, as expected. Chelsea central defender Pituca headed against upright in 19’. However, we got some shots on target and showed that we can create dangerous attacks if we get the ball. Clyde Sastrodimedjo had a good shot in 24’ that was brought out of low corner by Chelsea goalkeeper, but in the end it was Chelsea who took the lead. Excellent through ball cut through our defense and Axel Mathieu scored with his first touch. Nothing much we could do about that goal, but at least we replied quickly. Tom Drost found Tarik de Wit with his cross and de Wit equalized with his 20th goal of the season. It was a good moment to score and quick equalizer turned some Chelsea players nervous, so at half time I felt pretty good about our game. We looked good with ball and our transition attack created some problems to Chelsea.

Chelsea gained initiative after half time. Camilo Villa had too much time with the ball in our box and his shot took a big deflection from Germain Siereveld and went in. Ismet Gluhalic couldn’t possibly save that shot. But once again we answered quickly - Tarik de Wit doubled his tally with a fierce shot that went in through the hands of goalkeeper. It was 2:2 for a long time and it looked like a fair result, but in the end Chelsea found another goal - Camilo Villa was unmarked at far post in Chelsea counter and it was easy finish from there to score a late winner. A little bit disappointing finish to otherwise good game, but I can’t be too critical with our performance. Chelsea is a strong team and beating them over two legs was never easy task, but with conceding three goals at home we have given them a huge advantage before second leg.


 

19.02.2034 - FC Volendam - AFC Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 18. Raimond Burg, 45. Simon Janssen, 88. Clyde Sastrodimedjo

We needed a win to get some confidence back and I felt we needed to rotate to to be fresh against Chelsea in our second game in London. Interestingly, FC Volendam, who are currently 10th in the table, were marked as favourites for their home game and even though our form has been inconsistent and they’re playing above expectations, that’s a big statement from bookies. As always against FC Volendam, the key is to limit their target man Veljko Ostojic - he has already scored 20 goals in Eredivisie and can be lethal in front of goal.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost (67. Siereveld), Alleyne, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Stekelenburg, Janssen (56. Sastrodimedjo), van Grinsven (9. Burg), van der Aar, Engin Ceylan

We had to make early substitution in 9’, because Dirk van Grinsven had to come off with injury and youngster Raimond Burg took his place on our right wing. I wasn’t confident about that change, but it was Burg who opened scoring for us in 18’ - Fred Koeman found him with his cross and Burg headed it in from close range. Sergio Alleyne headed against crossbar from corner and Simon Janssen extended our lead right before half time after good transition attack. It was a good moment to score, because if FC Volendam hoped to regroup at half time they found themselves with two-goal deficit and that was more difficult to turn around. We didn’t put FC Volendam under serious pressure in first half, but at the same time we defended well and controlled midfield and I was happy with that.

Second half was fairly similar - Velijko Ostojic was mostly isolated in attack and didn’t cause us much trouble. Very good attack in 88’ gave us our third goal. Raimon Burg cut his cross back from byline and found Clyde Sastrodimedjo in the box, who timed his arrival very well and finished his clear cut chance calmly. Final result was really good for us - I was happy with three goals and our clean sheet. For away game and considering our weakened team it was excellent performance.

  • our shooting was 20/5
  • Raimond Burg scored his first ever league goal for Ajax
  • Dirk van Grinsven will be out for 2 weeks with damaged neck


 

23.02.2034 - FC Chelsea - AFC Ajax 2:0 (Europa League 1st knockout round 2nd leg) - 53. and 60. Axel Mathieu

There wasn’t much to gain from this game, just to suffer through 90 minutes and try to keep the score respectable. We practiced defensive positioning before the game and didn’t hope for a win. In addition our squad selection was limited, because Sergio Alleyne and Simon Janssen were suspended for this match and so we had to play with less attacking midfield than we’ve used to.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman (61. Lichaba), Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Stekelenburg, van der Aar (68. van der Plas), Burg, de Wit

Chelsea got their best chance in the first half already in 6’ - Santiago Medeiras had several shots on target, because our defenders couldn’t clear the ball properly. Ismet Gluhalic, however, was well prepared and made a string of fantastic saves to keep us in this game. The rest of the first half was uneventful. Our best shot came in injury time, when Clyde Sastrodimedjo sent his long shot just inches wide of goal post.

Chelsea took control of the game early in the second half. We couldn’t control Axel Mathieu’s movement behind defensive line and he had a few good chances to score in 50’-60’. Some were saved, but two goals came from those opportunities. Just individual brilliance and difference in level of football between players and teams were evident in this period. Our best chance came in 78’ - Pieter Stekelenburg had a great look, but his shot was saved. Pressure was out of the game after Mathieu’s second goal and both teams settled to 0:2 scoreline.

Sports pages criticized our performance in the next day, but I have to say that we did fairly well against Chelsea in those two games. Chelsea just switched to next gear in second half and I can’t seriously believe that anybody expected us to beat Premier League leaders over two legs.

  • young left winger Mark van der Plas made his debut for Ajax in this game


 

26.02.2034 - AFC Ajax - sc Heerenveen 1:0 (ED) - 22. Raimond Burg

Despite our low expectations, our morale took some hits because of those Chelsea defeats and I wanted to finish February with a win. sc Heerenveen are 9th in the table and not the easiest opponents. We practiced defending set pieces before the game, but our tactics were more attacking and I instructed full-backs to overlap more.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman, Engin Ari (67. de Groot), Stekelenburg (64. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, Burg, van der Aar, de Wit (60. Engin Ceylan)

We started first half well and had a couple of half chances. Tarik de Wit played himself past two defenders in 21’, but his strong shot bounced back from goal post. That didn’t matter too much, because we opened scoring just a minute later - Raimond Burg’s shot took a big deflection from defender and goalkeeper couldn’t save it any more. It was a bit of lucky goal for us, but it had been coming. First half was pretty good for us - I would have liked more chances, but we controlled possession and kept things in order in defense.

We almost scored our second goal after half-time break. Omar van der Aar had a great chance in 47’, but his shot went well wide. Substitute Engin Ceylan had a shot on target 63’ - goalkeeper made a brilliant save to deny it, but couldn’t keep it and eventually the ball hit the post and bounced away. Again unlucky. With all those missed chances and some poor finishing we almost blew it in 84’ - Sergio Alleyne was caught in possession, ex-Ajax striker Sieme Plat took the ball and had a fierce shot on target. Ismet Gluhalic was ready, made a save and pushed the ball to post. It was our time to be lucky on that occasion. So, when final whistle called it was more of a relief. We could have played a lot better, but I’m pleased with result.

  • our shooting was 21/7
  • we gave no real chances for sc Heerenveen


 

February offered mediocre results - poor defeat from FC Groningen was low point in our February and Chelsea games didn’t offer much positive confidence either. Our football was obviously hampered by injuries - Raimond Burg did fairly well to fill for Dirk van Grinsven, but I expected more of Omar van der Aar. Left winger didn’t use his opportunity to impress.

 

Eredivisie

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We have solid lead in the table and with European Campaign finished we can concentrate on Eredivisie games in the last few months.

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March 2034


 

01.03.2034 - ADO Den Haag - AFC Ajax 1:0 (Dutch Cup Semi Final) - 90. Anthony Smith

Just two days to prepare for cup semi final against ADO Den Haag. Both teams look a bit tired and we need to rotate and use players who are more fit. Johan van Dalen and Dirk van Grinsven are still recovering from injuries.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba (46. Koeman), Engin Ari (46. de Groot), Stekelenburg, Janssen, Burg, van der Aar, Engin Ceylan (70. de Wit)

Our game in the first half didn’t work out at all. Perhaps we missed Tarik de Wit in front, but we couldn’t create chances and although ADO didn’t pose a threat in front of our goal, I was not pleased with what I saw.

We got a little bit closer to goal in second half. Engin Ceylan saw his header clip crossbar in 61’. Drab football and lack of smooth attacking play continued until the end of the game, but ADO Den Haag then found the breakthrough. Sergio Alleyne lost possession carelessly and there wasn’t a defender to make strong challenge on Smith when he moved towards our box and took a shot that went into the net. Ismet Gluhalic let it slip through his hands too, so poor defensive effort as a whole from us.

Frustrating defeat after conceding a late goal, but to be fair we played below our usual level of football and didn’t make enough to win this game. ADO Den Haag defended patiently and waited for their chance and when they got it they used it well better than we did. Our performance in attacking third was a big disappointment.

  • our shooting was 17/6
  • we allowed 27 dribbles to ADO players and that is too much
  • with that defeat our dream run in Dutch Cup is over - nearly 30 straight wins and 4 cup wins in a row


 

04.03.2034 - AFC Ajax - Telstar 3:0 (ED) - 13. pen. and 45.+1 Tarik de Wit, 66. Dirk van Grinsven

We needed to bounce back from cup defeat with a win and we were strong favourites in home game against Telstar. I chose attacking formation with overlapping full-backs and I’m pleased to say that both Dirk van Grinsven and Johan van Dalen are in starting line-up for this game. It’s also nice to see Rick Hendriks in action for Telstar. I see him more as DC, but Telstar have used him as DL and he has definitely give them something extra in defensive line.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman (61. Lichaba), Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (61. Stekelenburg), van Grinsven, van Dalen (70. van der Aar), de Wit

Start of the game was made easier for us in 13’ when Clyde Sastrodimedjo was tripped in the bo and referee awarded a penalty. Tarik de Wit stepped up and converted it confidently and we took control from there. de Wit was unlucky just to hit the post from his clear cut chance in 37’ and then two minutes later Sastrodimedjo saw his shot bounce back from upright. However, we went to half time with 2:0 lead, because de Wit got another chance in injury time and that secured our lead.

We were pretty relaxed in second half and Dirk van Grinsven scored our third in 66’ - he needed two attempts on target, but managed to get it in with second attempt. It started to rain in second half and it was more difficult to play technical football, but we had no pressure by then. It was easy win, confident performance and good result after cup defeat.

  • we created 5 clear cut chances in this game
  • Dirk van Grinsven scored his 10th goal of the season
  • Tom Drost had a great game for us


 

11.03.2034 - VVV Venlo - AFC Ajax 2:2 (ED) - 62. Rogier Steemers, 83. Donovan Jap A Joe - 20. and 40. pen. Tarik de Wit

Confidence was back after Telstart game and we had more time to prepare for our next fixture against VVV Venlo. We had almost full squad for this game - only Nketsi Matal was injured, but he too was close to return. It means that we could send out our best team against VVV in what could be a tricky tie, because our opponents are 7th in the table and have played really well against strong teams in this season.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman (68. Lichaba), Engin Ari (68. de Groot), Sastrodimedjo, van Grinsven, van Dalen (59. van der Aar), de Wit

Tarik de Wit has been in a good form recently and he continued his scoring run with excellent opening goal in 20’. He turned around two defenders in the box and then fired in a fierce shot. VVV goalkeeper had nothing to do against that. First half was not too exciting and didn’t offer too many chances until 40’ - van Grinsven was brought down in the box and penalty was awarded. Replays showed that it was a poor decision from referee and the fall looked more like a dive on the second look, but decision was made and de Wit doubled his tally from the spot. It was a solid first half for us and I felt confident at half time.

Things started to fall apart in second half. In a game where chances were rare from open play, VVV found their first goal from set piece. Rogier Steemers won a header in free kick situation and directed it so well next to post that Gluhalic had no way to get that. In 74’ VVV’s Ruud Dijkhuizen had a great chance to equalize, but to our relief he hit the post from point blank range. Despite that we couldn’t held onto our lead - Donovan Jap A Joe headed in from corner late in the game and VVV equalized with resilient display in second half. That was it - we squandered two-goal lead and I was furious at the sideline. We gave VVV two goals from set pieces and just gifted our three points away. I saw no signs of complacency on the pitch, but our game lacked decisiveness in second half and we didn’t create good chances in attack, so VVV definitely deserved that point for their fightback, but that’s not good enough for us - our standard should be higher.


 

24.03.2034 - AFC Ajax - Feyenoord Rotterdam 3:1 (ED) - 2. and 7. Tarik de Wit, 49. Johan van Dalen - 37. Kevin Drent

International break passed and the last game of March was Der Klassieker Derby at home. There was 7 points between teams, so it could be labelled as title six-pointer, because if Feyenoord want to have any realistic chance to win Eredivisie they had to win this game in Amsterdam Arena. Players were fit, ready and looked determined to prove the point to both fans and pundits. Only Engin Ari was missing, because he hurt himself in the gym and will be out for a while with strained stomach muscle. On the other side - Feyenoord missed two of their best players - most dangerous striker Georges Kongnyuy and Screve N’Goma were both away on international duty

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman (64. Lichaba), de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (70. van der Aar), de Wit (70. Engin Ceylan)

We started with a flyer - Tarik de Wit headed in from corner follow-up situation. Feyenoord defense looked in shambles and de Wit dominated them in the air - his second header five minutes later made it 2:0 and the game was under our control after that. I was generally happy with what I saw on the pitch, but we gave Feyenoord a way back into this game in 37’. Edward Schans was caught in possession and Kevin Drent stole the ball away from him to calmly finish his scoring chance.

We made amends in the beginning of second half. Dirk van Grinsven found Johan van Dalen with his cross and easy finish from close range secured our position. We controlled the rest of the game, although there wasn’t any clear cut chances for the rest of the second half.

It was excellent result in derby game and that win pretty much secured the title in this season.

  • our shooting was 17/4 - we used our good chances well, but generally Feyenoord defended well to limit our chances in front of goal


 

Only four games in March and while Eredivisie season goes on well, I’m disappointed that we couldn’t continue our streak in Dutch Cup. We have been lucky with draws in the cup and ADO Den Haag should have been easy enough opponent for us, but we didn’t deliver in this game.


 

Eredivisie

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We’re now 10 points above Feyenoord in the table. MVV has improved their form and have now climbed up from relegation zone while Fortuna Sittard has been terrible in recent weeks and they have dropped to 17th position.

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Youth Intake 2034


 

I took a serious look to our squad before new youth intake and found that while we have good enough talent in most position, two of those still need improvement.

Firstly, our left-backs are not up to the task - while Leslie Lichaba and Fred Koeman can play well in Eredivisie, they fall short in Champions League level. Secondly - our talented strikers seem to move on to bigger teams so quickly that we need constant stream of new options in that area, especially because it takes some time before those youngsters can adapt to complete forward role.

 

In this March we got the following bunch.

 

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Peter Lemmens

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Very similar right winger to Nketsi Matal. Can play in all positions from WB to AMR. Very determined and naturally fit. Can cross the ball and my coaching staff reports he’s very consistent with his performances. He was signed to professional deal immediately, because he turned 17 in this March.

 

Ifenildo Deyl

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I can’t understand from where these sort of names come from. Young central defender with very good attributes for heading, marking and tackling. Also very consistent and driven by nature, but could be more professional with his attitude and he falls to the category of players who don’t have high work rate and teamwork. That’s an area for improvement.

 

Ronald Jansen

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Another central defender. Good at marking and tackling, but doesn’t possess as much talent as Deyl has. Low determination can be improved by tutoring. Could be good player in the future, but possibly lacks that something extra that make a great player.

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April 2034


 

01.04.2034 - Go Ahead Eagles - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 13. Germain Siereveld, 45.+2 Tarik de Wit

Feyenoord win gave us a lot of confidence and we started our April with visit to Deventer. Go Ahead Eagles are last in the table and most likely will be relegated in this season. It was also nice to see our youngsters Rob Pluim and Erwin Vormer in action for Eagles.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven (61. Burg), van Dalen (61. van der Aar), de Wit (66. Engin Ceylan)

We took the lead in 13’ - Dirk van Grinsven got a shot in after our corner and it went against crossbar. What followed was a lot of mess in Eagles’ six-yard box. Tarik de Wit and Germain Siereveld fought for the ball and in the end it fell to Siereveld who tucked it in from close range. Fred Koeman took ambitious volley in 19’ that went on target and needed a great save from Rob Pluim. Eagles got their best chance in the game in 24’ when one of their deep crosses went right behind our defensive line. Wessel van de Ven timed his movement perfectly, but Ismet Gluhalic made a good save to parry his shot. In the last minutes of the first half Tarik de Wit was pushed in the box and we got the penalty. de Wit went to take it himself, but his shot went straight to the middle and was initially saved. However, de Wit himself scored from the rebound and so we went to half time with two-goal lead.

We had two set piece goals in the first half, but the game itself was fairly even. I felt that we need to change something, because Eagles crossed well and it caused us some problems. So, we went to half time with normal tempo and I ordered players to retain possession.

We had only one good chance in second half. Young winger Raimond Burg made a good interception in 69’ and got a great scoring opportunity, but his shot hit the post and ball was then cleared by Eagles defenders.

In the end it was a solid away win. I was pleased with our clean sheet and I feel that the changes that we made in half time were right.

  • our shooting was 20/9
  • we created 6 clear cut chances in this game
  • Germain Siereveld scored his first ever league goal in this game
  • Go Ahead Eagles sacked their manager Jordy Clasie after this game


 

07.04.2034 - AFC Ajax - AZ Alkmaar 3:1 (ED) - 5. Tarik de Wit, 7. Raimond Burg, 59. Clyde Sastrodimedjo - 20. Robin Claeys

We needed just one point to secure Eredivisie title and it would be nice to do it in front of our home fans in Amsterdam Arena. We hosted AZ Alkmaar with Kevin de Jonge doing well in their ranks on his loan period. Our team news is that Johan van Dalen twisted is ankle in training and will be sidelined for a couple of weeks.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost (68. Alleyne), Siereveld, Schans, Koeman (60. Lichaba), de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, Burg, van der Aar, de Wit (60. Engin Ceylan)

We started this game firing from all cylinders. Tarik de Wit did well to anticipate Harun Firat’s backpass, intercepted it easily and fired in a great shot. Two minutes later he had another attempt on target. It was saved, but Raimond Burg collected the rebound and finished it. We eased off a bit after our second goal and allowed AZ back into the game with a goal from set piece. Robin Claeys was first to get to IFK and scored with well executed shot. Clyde Sastrodimedjo had a great chance from counter in 44’, but he skewed his shot well wide, so first half finished 2:1. We looked better on the pitch, but narrow lead is always fragile and I had a sense that we gave AZ some hope with that goal they scored.

Whatever doubt there might have been, it was put aside in 59’ when Sastrodimedjo scored oru third goal and what a goal that was! A screamer from 22 meters that AZ goalkeeper had no hope to save - probably one of our most beautiful goals of the season. That goal pretty much settled the game. We collected the win and the title with it and I was pleased with what I saw on the pitch.

  • our shooting was 20/8
  • Clyde Sastrodimedjo and Tarik de Wit were outstanding for us


 

14.04.2034 - ADO Den Haag - AFC Ajax 0:4 (ED) - 14. and 22. Engin Ceylan, 25. Raimond Burg, 49. Leslie Lichaba

We meet again with ADO Den Haag and I feel that even though we’ve secured our league title, a small revenge is in order because our defeat in the cup semi final, so that this game wouldn’t be so relaxed event as it would have been otherwise. Engin Ari is fit and ready to start this game.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Lichaba (67. Koeman), Engin Ari (67. de Groot), Sastrodimedjo (57. Stekelenburg), Janssen, Burg, van der Aar, Engin Ceylan

ADO have definitely capability of stunning everyone if they’re underestimated. We didn’t exactly do that, but still allowed them to get the first scoring opportunity from their very first attack. Cross came in from our right and their danger man Anthony Smith was in the box to fire it on target. Reaction save from Ismet Gluhalic saved us this time. After this heart-stopping moment we took control of the game and chances started to come our way. Tarik de Wit and Engin Ceylan are two very different type of lone strikers. Engin Ceylan, while used as complete forward, still acts like AF - his pace and off the ball attributes makes him perfect for this and Simon Janssen often found him with good balls behind defensive line. One of those direct passes lead to our first goal - Engin Ceylan got to run away from central defenders and tucked it in with calm finish. Second goal was from training ground too - Raimond Burg delivered a cross to near post and Engin Ceylan arrived on time. And when Burg himself showed maturity beyond his years to turn around defender in the box and fire it into the far post corner in 25’, we were cruising - ADO defense had nothing to offer against our attack. After our third goal we relaxed a little bit too much and almost gifted ADO a goal in 40’. Germain Siereveld gave a poor header backwards - it was easily intercepted by Anthony Smith and ADO striker went 1-1 against Ismet Gluhalic, but his shot went completely wide of goal and Smith looked disgusted with himself. That moment made me get out of my seat at the sidelines - we’ve made too many terrible mistakes like that in the past games and we’ve been very fortunate that our opponents have not used those chances better.

We looked better again in second half. A good combination and string of one-two passes released Leslie Lichaba in the box and left-back sent the ball past ADO goalkeeper from near post - he doesn’t score too often and that was just his first goal of the season, but it summed up our good performance and win in away game. Engin Ceylan had a great chance to complete his hat-trick in 84’, but his free header from point blank range went over and that opportunity was missed.

Final result 0:4 was definitely flattering. How about that for a revenge? Nice to see that we can continue our winning streak even though title has been decided. Engin Ceylan has wasted a lot of chances in this season, but his brace was a sign of much more composed player - I hope that he will continue in this fashion.

  • we had 8.17 average rating
  • Engin Ceylan and Raimond Burg were outstanding for us



 

30.04.2034 - AFC Ajax - FC Twente Enschede 3:0 (ED) - 21. Clyde Sastrodimedjo, 25. Omar van der Aar, 38. Edward Schans

International break is over and we have one more game in April - last home game in this season and we’re hosting FC Twente. Tom Drost and Leslie Lichaba were suspended for this game. Substitute goalkeeper Zeus Florentina broke his arm in Jupiler League game and he’s out until Summer, but the rest of the squad was ready.

Squad: Gluhalic, Alleyne, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, Engin Ari (62. de Groot), Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, Burg, van der Aar (69. van Dalen), de Wit (36. Engin Ceylan)

We came out of the gates with all guns blazing. Raimond Burg can be unexperienced, but his movement caused problems to FC Twente defense and he found himself in one-one-one situation already in the first minute into the game. Nerves got the best of him that time and his shot was held by FC Twente goalkeeper, but we kept pressure on FC Twente goal and when Clyde Sastrodimedjo finally broke through in 21’ you could say that it had long been coming. Omar van der Aar doubled our tally with a header (fine cross from Sergio Alleyne) and we looked really confident on the pitch. Tarik de Wit had to come off with injury and Engin Ceylan went on. He wasted his first chance in 37’, but Edward Schans headed in from corner after that and we went to half time with 3:0 scoreline. First half had been all Ajax and FC Twente struggled to cope with our pressure and tempo. I was happy with performance, but a little bit worried what physios have to say about de Wit’s injury.

We eased pressure in second half, content to retain possession until the end of the game. Engin Ceylan had a good shot in 54’ that bounced back from crossbar, but there wasn’t much else to report from second half. Nevertheless, I was very happy with our performance, clean sheet and a confident win.

  • our shooting was 25/9
  • we had 60% possession
  • FC Twente didn’t get any chances
  • Simon Janssen had a great game for us
  • Tarik de Wit suffered broken ribs and he’ll be out for a month - unfortunate that he can’t go for his 30th goal of the season
  •  


 

April was a great month for us. We’ve really picked up form and got straight wins in the past games. Not sure if it’s individual performances or the fact that I’ve chosen to play with higher tempo than usual and that’s too much for most Eredivisie sides, but it’s been really effective so far.


 

Eredivisie

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With one matchday to go, things are started to clear up in the table. Go Ahead Eagles are relegated and that’s no surprise.

Dutch Cup final was also held in April. FC Groningen managed to beat ADO Den Haaag in the penalty shoot-out and they won the cup in this season.

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May 2034


 

07.05.2034 - PSV Eindhoven - AFC Ajax 2:1 (ED) - 76. Mark Richards, 80. Rene Lems - 17. Engin Ceylan

It’s the last game of the season and it’s Topper Derby in Eindhoven. I want to finish our season with a win, but it’s the last game for Ajax for several of our players and I want them all to have a chance to say goodbye to fans, hence the squad selection.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Stekelenburg (76. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, Matal (67. Burg), van Dalen (67. van der Aar), Engin Ceylan

Both teams wanted to win and we were very close to our first goal in 5’ when Engin Ceylan headed against post. Unlucky for him, but he had his chance in 17’ - he was quick to react to loose ball in PSV box and he finished it well to make it 1:0. We held our narrow lead until half time, but the first half was fairly even football.

Second half continued in the same fashion. PSV looked like they want to find the equalizer, but both teams defended well and chances were rare. Individual mistakes made the difference in this game and unfortunately those were made by our defenders. In 76’ Leslie Lichaba missed his interception, allowing Mark Richards to equalize and in 80’ Sergio Alleyne lost his challenge against Rene Lems, who followed up and finished his chance. It was a very disappointing finish to otherwise good game and unfortunate that we couldn’t held on to our win. I was disappointed, but fans didn’t mind too much, because they were still celebrating our title.

 

 

With that game our season was finished, but there was almost full month of dealings ahead. Immediately after our last game I sit down with the board and they agreed to invest £2,5m to improve our training facilities - those works should be finished in Autumn.

AZ Alkmaar made their managerial decision and appointed their ex-player Stijn Schaars as their new manager. Meanwhile I declined a job interview with Villarreal.



 

Eredivisie

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Eredivisie play-off games were played out and final result looks like that. Fortuna Sittard couldn’t retain their position in the play-off and they too are relegated to Jupiler League.

 


 

Ajax goals: Tarik de Wit 29, Engin Ceylan 14, Omar van der Aar, 11, Dirk van Grinsven 10

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 12, Tom Drost 12

 

AS Monaco were crowned as the Champions League winners. They defeated FC Barcelona in the final. Manchester City won Europa League with Atletico Madrid being runner-ups, but Tottenham won Premier League title for the first time in years.

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Season Update 2033/2034


I was a little bit disappointed with our season. Yes, we retained Eredivisie and that was a confident season from us - our win was rarely in doubt after January. I can’t complain too much about our cup defeat in semi-final - those long winning streaks are bound to end at some point and we lost in the semis, so it’s not like a huge failure.

My disappointment is mostly caused by our failure to progress from Champions League group and I feel that it’s partly my fault. I waited too long with squad rebuilding and our average age climbed over 25 years in this season. This Summer will make amends, but I feel that I should have reacted earlier and perhaps allowed new young stars to emerge from our youth teams.

 

Stats analysis allow me to point out that we were extremely poor in finishing. Compared to other seasons we wasted huge amount of clear cut chances in Eredivisie - we created only 77 ccc-s which is a low number to start with, but scored only 28 times, which makes conversion rate 37%. Some players like Engin Ceylan stood out with a number of unbelievable misses from point blank range. He found the net only 4 in 17 of his chances.

We scored more penalties than in last season, but were less effective from other set piece situations. That combined with the fact that we were better defensively and allowed only 21 clear cut chances in the league gave the basis of our league win.

In the future I hope to see more goals, better conversion rate and better use of set pieces, if we want to improve our game further.


 

Fans Player of the Season: Simon Janssen

Goal of the Season: Clyde Sastrodimedjo vs. AZ Alkmaar 07/04/2034

Young Player of the Season: Clyde Sastrodimedjo

 

 

Eredivisie Awards


 

Golden Boot:

  1. Screve N’Goma (Feyenoord Rotterdam)
  2. Frank van den Hoek (FC Utrecht)
  3. Simon Janssen (AFC Ajax)

 

Top Goalscorer:

  1. Georges Kongnyuy (Feyenoord Rotterdam) - 25
  2. Veljko Ostojic (FC Volendam) - 23
  3. Tarik de Wit (AFC Ajax) - 22

 

Goalkeeper of the Year:

  1. Ismet Gluhalic (AFC Ajax)
  2. Daan Dos Santos (PSV Eindhoven)
  3. Stijn Bakkenes (VVV Venlo)

 

Young Player of the Year:

  1. Lars Ames (FC Utrecht)
  2. Ilunga Gödeken (Vitesse Arnhem)
  3. Maurice Jenner (Feyenoord Rotterdam)

 

Manager’s Manager of the Year:

  1. Me
  2. Clarence Seedorf (Feyenoord Rotterdam)
  3. Erik Pieters (FC Groningen)
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July 2034

 

There was a major rebuilding ahead in this Summer. When transfer window opened no less than seven players left Ajax for free, including Pieter Stekelenburg, Sergio Alleyne, Eugene Talea, Steven Otten, Moreno Markiet and Nketsi Matal. Pieter Stekelenburg was perhaps the best player of that bunch, but he’s fallen behind Clyde Sastrodimedjo in our squad and I was not willing to pay over £30,000 p/w for rotation player. Those departures freed up over £100,000 p/w in wages, so we’re no comfortably under £400,000 p/w in first team wages.

To fill those positions we had a lot of players returning from loan. Kevin de Jonge had a fairly good season with AZ Alkmaar, Sjoerd de Jong an Stef Veldman will offer competition for AMR position, Mithat Arabaci and Jaap Hoogdorp will bolster our midfield after Stekelenburg’s departure and Rick Hendriks also returned - he and Kevin de Jonge fill play the part of rotation centre-backs in this season.

I promoted Nabil Herder from Jong Ajax - young and inexperienced right-back to be understudy for Tom Drost and become a better player in the first team.

We had two departures in staff. U-19 coach Mark Sale retired with one U-19 physio. I put up an advert to find a new U-19 coach, but in fact we’re not in a hurry to fill this position and we can take some time to find the best replacement.

 

We started our pre-season with training camp in South Africa and sooner than we realized the first friendlies arrived. Training camp itself was a real trouble maker, because I had to select squa to training camp in June and I couldn’t select players who were out on loan at this time, so in the beginning of July I had at least three very upset players who were angry because they were left out of training camp squad and it was virtually impossible to apologize to them or explain them that it was all because of error of the game logic.

Meanwhile, Mithat Arabaci earned his first cap for Turkey - he selected Turkish national team over Holland’s.


 

29.07.2034 - AFC Ajax - FC Groningen 1:1p (Dutch Super Cup) - 24. Johan van Dalen - 18. Gerry Schuur

The season started again with the Dutch Super Cup spectacle. This time the game was played in Amsterdam Arena, so it’s almost like a home game for us. We had played two friendlies so far and won both of them, so I was fairly optimistic. All players were fit, even though match fitness was not yet good enough, but at least we looked ready for this game.

FC Groningen is a good side and I like at least three young and talented players in their squad. They sold their best central defender Ken Bradbook to Standard in this Summer, but they do excellent work training their own youth teams and finding talented players from there. For that reason they’re predicted to finish 6th in this season, so Super Cup could be a serious battle.

Because all players were fit, I could start with the best XI that I’d prefer in the beginning of this season. Note that there are two changes in our line-up: battle for DL position is still on between Leslie Lichaba and Fred Koeman and I’m going to give Lichaba a head start in this season. Sjoerd de Jong have pushed Dirk van Grinsven off from starting line-up and veteran winger will most likely have a backup role in this season.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Lichaba (69. Koeman), Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (78. Hoogdorp), de Jong, van Dalen, de Wit (58. Engin Ceylan)

The game started carefully and we gifted FC Groningen a goal in the first half. Simon Janssen made a poor decision and passed the ball back to Germain Siereveld, putting him under pressure with it and immediately Gerry Schuur tackled it away from him and found himself alone with goalkeeper Gluhalic. Poor error from us defensively, but we reacted well and equalized in 24’ - good cross from Sjoerd de Jong and simple finish from Johan van Dalen. We looked slightly better in midfield and had more possession, but FC Groningen got good chances and in 32’ Pim de Reuver got a fairly good opportunity from their corner. Fortunately for us, the ball bounced back from the post, but it was a clear warning sign that we have to be more concentrated in defense.

First half finished 1:1 and it looked like a fair result. Both teams looked even more motivated after the break - we had more possession (and better control defensively), but FC Groningen also defended well and most of our attempts were taken from distance and were off target as well. No real chances in second half.

Same story continued to extra time. FC Groningen switched to more defensive style. We had one hopeful moment when Engin Ari was left unmarked in a corner situation, but his shot was blocked in the last moment and that summed up our game. Scoreline meant that the cup winner was decided in a penalty shootout and at this point I realized that we have almost no players on the pitch who are at least half-decent from the spot. We started the shootout better and Ismet Gluhalic saved the first penalty, but Clyde Sastrodimedjo and Germain Siereveld missed theirs and FC Groningen won the super cup.

Disappointing result - I feel that we should have played better and decided this game before penalties. Our overall performance was OK, but lack of creativity and almost no goal scoring chances after our equalizer is not good enough. Some new players in the squad - Sjoerd de Jong was the best performer on the pitch, but Jaap Hoogdorp looked nervous in second half and looked a bit out of place in his debut.

  • our shooting was 20/4 - good amount of shots, but only a few good chances
  • Jaap Hoogdorp made his debut for Ajax in this game
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August 2034


 

16.08.2034 - FC Volendam - AFC Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 21. pen. Tarik de Wit, 32. Johan van Dalen, 42. Clyde Sastrodimedjo

Our Eredivisie campaign started with away fixture against FC Volendam. Volendam are placed 14th by media and pundits, but they have established themselves well in Eredivisie and can’t be taken lightly, especially in away games.

We had our first team ready to start with our usual 4-3-2-1 setup and squad selection was fairly easy choice.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld (68. de Jonge), Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, de Jong, van Dalen (60. van der Aar), de Wit (36. Engin Ceylan)

We started well and got a number of shots on FC Volendam goal, but most of them were off target. Our first great chance came in 14’ - Leslie Lichaba found Sjoerd de Jong with excellent diagonal pass, but the winger couldn’t use the opportunity and his shot was saved. We had a corner in 20’ and Edward Schans received the ball in FC Volendam box right before being clattered by Volendam striker Veljko Ostojic. Clumsy foul by Ostojic - getting a goal from open play would have been much more difficult, but penalty gave us easy chance to get this game under our control. Tarik de Wit made things difficult for himself - his spot kick was fairly dubious and goalkeeper almost got his hand behind it, but it just went in, right next to goalpost and we took the lead. Johan van Dalen doubled our lead in 32’, but praise goes to Simon Janssen who delivered a wonderful deep cross to far post for him to tuck it away. Tarik de Wit had to come off with injury and at first look it seemed serious enough to make me worry. The game went on and right when Volendam players were hoping for this half to end, Clyde Sastrodimedjo scored a wonderful shot from 20 yards out, that curled around goalkeeper and landed in the net. With that blow the first half was over and we were in full control of the game.

Second half didn’t give us too many highlights. Some of our players looked complacent and too comfortable with our lead and that didn’t make me too happy. Engin Ceylan had the best chance to score, but his free header from point blank range hit crossbar and went over. That was it and it was a great result to start our Eredivisie campaign, but because of de Wit’s injury it could easily be Pyrrhos’ victory for us.

  • we looked very good defensively and didn’t give FC Volendam any scoring chances
  • Kevin de Jonge made his debut for Ajax in second half
  • Tarik de Wit’s injury was serious - he suffered broken leg and will be out for at least 5-6 months. That’s a real blow to our season, especially for Champions League ambitions


 

20.08.2034 - AFC Ajax - Helmond Sport 3:0 (ED) - 21. and 76. Johan van Dalen, 26. Engin Ceylan

First home game in the league. Helmond Sport uses pretty standard 4-4-2 formation and (as in almost every previous season) they’re struggling to survive in higher division. This season they’re predicted to finish 16th.

I was happy with our game against FC Volendam and didn’t change our starting line-up before this game. Engin Ceylan replaced injured Tarik de Wit, but the rest of the team remained same.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost (70. Herder), Siereveld, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (61. de Groot), Janssen, de Jong (56. Veldman), van Dalen, Engin Ceylan

We took control of the game right from kick-off and were highly unlucky not to score early goal. Johan van Dalen had a free header in 3’ but that bounced back from crossbar and similarly Engin Ceylan hit crossbar with his header in 11’. Helmond Sport were under pressure and it was inevitable that we will score eventually. Johan van Dalen opened goalscoring in 21’ - he skillfully turned away from two defenders and finished calmly. That was his 100th goal for Ajax - what a moment for our left winger. Engin Ceylan extended our lead with a simple finish, but that second goal was all about assist - Tom Drost sent a deep cross to six yard box and all Helmond defensive line could do was just watch it land on the foot of Engin Ceylan. We dominated the first half completely and were a bit unlucky not to score more goals, but I was very happy with our performance so far.

We kept it up in second half. Engin Ceylan missed his clear cut chance in 58’, but he delivered assist to Johan van Dalen’s second goal and 3:0 remained as final score. It was a well deserved win, great team performance.

  • our shooting was 31/15
  • we didn’t allow Helmond Sport to create any chances
  • Simon Janssen gave 21 key passes in this game
  • Stef Veldman and Nabil Herder made their debut for Ajax
  • Johan van Dalen scored his 100th goal for Ajax
  • Johan van Dalen, Engin Ceylan and Simon Janssen were outstanding for us


 

25.08.2034 - ADO Den Haag - AFC Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 9. Clyde Sastrodimedjo, 20. Germain Siereveld, 59. Engin Ceylan

Only three games in August and away battle with ADO Den Haag was our toughest challenge in this month. ADO have lost their danger man Anthony Smith in this transfer window, but they’re still top-half team and are predicted to finish 7th in this season. It would be nice to see our prospects Mithat Arabaci and Raimond Burg in action for ADO.

I had no need to make big changes in starting line-up, so no surprises there.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Lichaba (67. Koeman), Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (61. Hoogdorp), de Jong, van Dalen (61. van der Aar), Engin Ceylan

Both teams tested each other carefully in the first minutes, but in 9’ Clyde Sastrodimedjo did something unexpected - he took the ball from half volley and sent it to top corner from 30 yards out. What a shot! Outstanding effort and unstoppable for any goalkeeper. That goal gave us confidence and soon chances started to come our way. Engin Ceylan gave excellent through ball to Sjoerd de Jong, but wigner couldn’t use his opportunity. Then Engin Ceylan himself had  a great chance in 18’ - he was clear through on goal, but his shot was saved. That was almost a criminal miss from the striker. Sjoerd de Jong had effort on target from corner - that shot was saved with difficulties, but Germain Siereveld was in front of goal to finish off the loose ball. ADO tried to change things and adjust their tactics and they stopped leaking chances after our second goal. At half time I was happy with our lead and performance - we put ADO Den Haag under pressure for perhaps 10 minutes, but it was enough to score goals that we needed.

Engin Ceylan got his name to scoresheet in second half and we could relax a little after our third goal. ADO Den Haag got their best chance to score in 83’ - Jaap Hoogdorp didn’t follow his man back to our box, Mischa Demirel got a pass and a chance, but Ismet Gluhalic made unorthodox save with his feet to save this shot.

In the end we got another great result with great performance.

  • we made 35 dribbles in this game
  • Clyde Sastrodimedjo had a great game for us - second highlight goal in this August


 

I can be really happy with August. Three games and three 3:0 wins under our belt. We’ve looked impressive defensively and we have scored some good goals.


 

Eredivisie

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No surprises in the table. Feyenoord have started strong, FC Utrecht and FC Groningen are also high in the table. PSV Eindhoven have slipped twice and lost some points already. FC Eindhoven and Helmond Sport have lost all their games so far.

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