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Eredivisie Transfer Update Summer 2022


Summer transfer window was a bit different, this time. We made all the major moves in this window, selling players and hoarding £160m+ in transfer fees. At the same time our competitors were rather quiet and even though there were player movements in and around Eredivisie, most of the clubs weren’t prepared to invest a lot. PSV Eindhoven looked especially quiet and until August they didn’t add a single player to their squad, then signing experienced centre-back Mike te Wierik.

AZ Alkmaar was the one team that suddenly activated in August, allowing some first team players to leave for a decent transfer fee and bringing ex-Ajax player Carel Eiting back to Eredivisie from Belgium. AZ made a good £34m profit in this transfer window and it’s interesting to see if it benefits them in long term or not.


The biggest transfers in Eredivisie

  • Kik Pierie from AFC Ajax to Real Madrid for £58m
  • Andre Onana from AFC Ajax to Tottenham for £50m
  • Naci Ünüvar from AFC Ajax to Everton for £33m (£46m)
  • Calvin Raatsie from AFC Ajax to Hertha BSC for £23,5m
  • Chidera Ejuke from AZ Alkmaar to Norwich City for £14,5m
  • Arnaut Danjuma from AZ Alkmaar to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim for £12m
  • Thomas Buitink from Vitesse Arnhem to Southampton for £8m (£10m)
  • Myron van Brederode from AZ Alkmaar to Hamburger SV for £8,25m
  • Carel Eiting from Charleroi SC to AZ Alkmaar for £7,75m
  • Deyovaisio Zeefuik from Newcastle United to Feyenoord Rotterdam for £7,5m
  • Mike te Wierik from Derby County to PSV Eindhoven for £5,25m
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September 2022


11.09.2022 - AFC Ajax - sc Heerenveen 2:1 (ED) - 3. Lassina Traore, 82. Brian Brobbey - 89. Noud van Kempen

The international window passed and so did the transfer deadline day. We’re back to Eredivisie action and desperate to bounce back with a win, even though sc Heerenveen is a fairly strong team to go against. Our problem in September were injuries and there were so many of them - Dušan Tadic was out for 2-3 weeks with a pulled calf muscle, Stefan van der Sloot was doubtful with a small knock and even though Quincy Promes was close to returning, we had to play this game without him. Good news is that Perr Schuurs is fit again and ready to start.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Rensch, Salah-Eddine (75. Douglas), Marin, van de Beek, Kühn, Gravenberch (65. Ferreira), Fitz-Jim, Traore (37. Brobbey)

We had a great start to the game - Mazraoui’s cross was headed in from close range by Lassina Traore and we took the lead after just a couple of minutes. Traore had another half chance soon after, but then sc Heerenveen showed that they, too, had come to play football. A number of shots on target by Arjen van der Heide and Joshua Brenet required good saves from Gürcan Dere and even though our young goalkeeper did well to parry those shots, those saves weren’t the most comfortable ones. Then we had a brilliant chance to take charge of the game - Lassina Traore was tripped in the box and VAR awarded a penalty, but Razvan Marin made a mess of it. His spot kick was held (yes, held!) by the Heerenveen goalkeeper and experienced Romanian looked extremely embarrassed. The rest of the first half was uneventful, except Lassina Traore’s knock in 37’ that made me take him off as a precaution - more important games were coming and I hoped that he’d recover in a couple of days.

The second half was similarly uneventful - we continued with a balanced mentality and neither of the two teams could find a good chance until sc Heerenveen started to take more risks with ten minutes to go. That was instantly punished by a goal from Brian Brobbey and for a while it took like it settled the result, but late in the game a 16 years old talented striker Noud van Kempen managed to score one for sc Heerenveen (their first clear cut chance of the game) and made the last minutes a little bit nervous. sc Heerenveen continued to throw players in attack and so Nicolas Kühn had a late chance, but his injury time shot went wide of the far post. So, the final result 2:1 was good enough after the Vitesse defeat and I was happy to return to winning ways. I was equally happy to learn that Traore’s knock was indeed a light one and he should be fit for the upcoming Champions League game. What stood out in our post-match analysis was that our attacking midfield was rather poor in this game - not a lot of creativity and lack of chances in the first half is not an encouraging sign. Nicolas Kühn had a poor game, Kian Fitz-Jim got to play full 90 minutes, but failed to impress and Ryan Gravenberch was wasteful with his scoring opportunities.

  • Player of the game: Lucas Schoofs (sc Heerenveen)


14.09.2022 - AFC Ajax - Borussia Dortmund 1:1 (Champions League Group G) - 73. Kian Fitz-Jim - 32. Mykola Shaparenko

Tricky game to start our Champions League campaign with. Morale is a little better after sc Heerenveen win, but we need to get something from every single home game in the Champions League group and Dortmund is probably the best team in the group, so it won’t be easy. To my relief Quincy Promes is fit again and ready to start (although cautioned to last only 75 minutes by my physios). Dušan Tadic is still out, so we have to get by without him.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui (66. Veltman), Schuurs, Blind, Salah-Eddine, Taylor, van de Beek, Kühn, Gravenberch, Promes (66. Fitz-Jim), Traore (81. Brobbey)

The first half looked fairly even. Dortmund had more of the ball, but we had perhaps better chances. Nicolas Kühn saw his attempt being tipped over in 6’ and Ryan Gravenberch had the first good chance to open scoring in 13’ - his long run with the ball finished in the Dortmund box, but the shot was blasted well wide. ex-Ajax player Justin Kluivert is now a Dortmund man and his skills with the ball on our right wing caused us the most problems. Mazraoui and Schuurs tried hard to limit his space, but the goal came from where we didn’t expect it. Dortmund’s Ukrainian midfielder Mykola Shaparenko delivered a low drive into the bottom corner from 20 meters and that was a brilliant strike - just too good for Gürcan Dere. That strike was the difference at half time, but my second concern was the fact that we lost possession 37/63 and it looked difficult to find an equalizer without the ball.

The second half was slightly better from us - Ryan Gravenberch’s close range attempt was blocked in 53’, but I then made substitutions and Kian Fitz-Jim replaced Promes on our left wing. The 19 years old winger looked calm and composed enough for his first Champions League match and his runs caused Dortmund some problems and eventually led to our equalizer. Kian skipped elegantly past two defenders and finished with a lovely strike into the far post. A brilliant goal from the youngster and I was beaming at the sidelines. We had even a bit more initiative and could have found a winner with a little more luck, but when the final whistle was called, both managers had to accept that the draw was probably a fair result.

  • Player of the game: Mykola Shaparenko (Borussia Dortmund)


17.09.2022 - FC Utrecht - AFC Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 45. Oussama Tannane (og), 61. and 81. Lassina Traore

Next up, a rival game with FC Utrecht. It’s been a strange year for Utrecht - they had serious problems in the last season and almost ended up in a relegation battle, but somehow managed to pull themselves together, finishing 14th. You’d think that the board and manager Henk de Jong would address the situation during the Summer transfer window, but they really didn’t. Not a single noteworthy transfer and their squad is the same that they had in the last year, so it wasn’t a big surprise when they started their season with five straight defeats. They finally managed to get their first win against De Graafschap, but it’s clear that de Jong is still experimenting and trying to find a winning formula in terms of best eleven and tactics, so we should be ready for surprises.

We go to this game with a pretty good feeling - we’re third in the table, but have played fairly well in September and our key players are starting to get fit - Quincy Promes starts again, with Dušan Tadic very close to returning Youri Regeer is back in light training, so it could be that for a while the worst injury crisis is behind us.

Squad: Dere, Veltman, Schuurs, Blind, Salah-Eddine (65. Douglas), Taylor, van de Beek, Kühn, Gravenberch (72. Ferreira), Promes (75. Fitz-Jim), Traore 

We started well - Lassina Traore found the first clear cut chance in 11’, but his attempt was blocked - but generally it was a poor first half from us. FC Utrecht looked always just a little bit short of goal and their best opportunity came in 24’ - our defense was picked apart too easily with short passes and it led to an easy chance to their striker Özcan Yasar, but Gürcan Dere (once again) made a great save to deny a clear goalscoring opportunity. We were a little bit fortunate to go in with a 1:0 lead. In the last minute of the first half we had a corner, Ryan Gravenberch sent a header towards goal, Oussama Tannane got his head to it and almost cleared it off the line, but directed it into the goal instead. Lucky goal and I’m not sure we deserved it, but it made my team talk much easier and our second half, too.

I made some tactical changes at half time - switched to balanced and asked Veltman to play as FBs. It made our defense more compact and helped with possession, but the most important moment came in 61’ when we scored our second goal. Anass Salah-Eddine delivered a wonderful cross to near post and Lassina Traore headed it in. That was a massive relief. FC Utrecht needed to attack more and they switched to 3-4-3, but it didn’t help them. Instead, we found space on our counter-attacks and Traore added another goal after a good transition football to make our three points secure. I was very pleased with our second half football after a disappointing first period and I was happy with a 3:0 win from away game.

  • we had 60% possession
  • Player of the game: Lassina Traore - scored twice today and he has now six goals in Eredivisie games, but he’s still just 2 out of 7 in clear cut chances, so there’s plenty of room for improvement


20.09.2022 - Fenerbahce - AFC Ajax 0:2 (Champions League Group G) - 15. pen. Dušan Tadic, 87. Marco Ferreira

Fenerbahce looks the weakest side on paper, at least compared to Dortmund and Inter, but we needed to be tactically on spot, especially in away games. They also had a powerful tall forward in Vedat Muriqi who is a clear danger in every set piece, so we couldn’t afford them too many free kicks. I set our team up in a little bit of an unorthodox 4-2-3-1 formation. Balanced mentality, but focused on counter-attacks with players like Traore and Promes providing both pace and dribbling abilities.

It’s good to see Dušan Tadic back in the starting line-up and it looks like our team is close to full fitness, as Kjell Scherpen also starts a rehabilitation program after his broken foot has now almost healed.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Rensch, Salah-Eddine, Taylor, Marin, Promes Gravenberch (68. Ferreira), Tadic (82. Fitz-Jim), Traore (76. Brobbey)

The game was impacted by an early red card - Fenerbahce’s Miha Zajc lost his cool and elbowed Kenneth Taylor in front of the referee, so Fenerbahce was left with 10 men only 12’ from the kick-off. Soon after we earned a penalty - Tadic was pushed in the box and the experienced Serb took the spot kick himself to make it 1:0. We controlled the rest of the first half, but Fenerbahce got some shots on target, too. Lassina Traore had a chance to double our lead after Razvan Marin found him with an excellent ball over the top, but the striker missed the target completely - another missed opportunity for him. The first half result gave us some confidence and we switched back to possession football for the second half. We limited Fenerbahce chances after the break, but they didn’t surrender and at least tried to find an equalizer. Mohamed Elyonouissi took an ambitious shot from 25 meters that landed against the crossbar and sent a cold shiver down my spine. In the end we started to find chances in their box and substitute Marco Ferreira scored a brilliant goal after an equally skilled pass from Quincy Promes. Great strike from the youngster and that settled the result. I was happy with the outcome, because in a tight group like we had, every point counts and taking all three from an away game helps a lot. I was also delighted with our defensive work and a clean sheet.

  • our shooting was 20/11 in this game and we created 3 clear cut chances
  • Player of the game: Marco Ferreira - came in and scored a brilliant goal
  • PSV is also playing in the group stage and they took their second win in two games, beating AS Roma 2:0 in Eindhoven. Hopefully this will be a good year for Dutch football in the Champions League


24.09.2022 - Willem II Tilburg - AFC Ajax 1:2 (ED) - 90.+1 Venitchio Sint - 52. Marco Ferreira, 75. Lassina Traore

Willem II is a curious team - they look like a minnow, but possess some good players and the core of their first eleven has played together for a while, so in predictions they’re placed safely in 10th place and it means that at least in their southern home they can cause problems to any opponents. I was also aware of the fact that they lead Eredivisie charts with three goals from free kicks, so we made an extra training session and practiced defending set pieces before the game. We have two advantages, though. Firstly the fact that Willem II have their own goalkeeper problems (as do we) - their first choice goalie broke his finger yesterday and so 21 years old inexperienced Connor van den Berg is set to make his debut. Secondly, their quick winger Che Nunnely is suspended for this game after being sent off in their previous match.

Tactically I anticipated defensive 4-2-3-1 with two DMC-s and wasn’t disappointed. I tried to find a good balance between applying pressure to their formation and guarding against counter-attacks and went for a balanced mentality, but the biggest change was starting with Marco Ferreira in AMC position with APs instructions, hoping that his vision and creativity could make a difference against that defensive wall of players.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Rensch, Salah-Eddine, Taylor (69. Marin), van de Beek, Kühn, Ferreira, Promes (75. Fitz-Jim), Traore (75. Brobbey)

The first half was pretty much as I expected - we enjoyed a lot of possession and limited Willem II chances, but had difficulties to create something in attack. Set pieces looked promising, as Marco Ferreira can deliver mean corners, and Perr Schuurs found a couple of chances from those, but his headers were held by Connor van der Berg. Lassina Traore found one opportunity on the break and his attempt looked fairly good, but van der Berg parried it and so the score remained 0:0 at the half-time.

I knew we had to change something and I asked the team to shoot on sight - if we can’t crack them open to a clear cut chance, at least let’s have a go and put their young goalkeeper under pressure. That approach brought dividends in 52’ - Lassina Traore’s first attempt was blocked, but Marco Ferreira arrived into the box to finish from 14 meters with a lovely strike that stunned van den Berg and so we were in control of the game. van den Berg showed that he was indeed error-prone, when he couldn’t collect Nicolas Kühn’s fairly easy header and Traore finished it from the rebound. With 2:0 it looked like a game over, but of course, it wasn’t. Noussair Mazraoui got too carried away and took two yellow cards inside the final 20 minutes to be sent off in 82’. We had around ten minutes to go with 10 men and no right-back. I moved Razvan Marin to fill the DR position, but Willem II smelled their chance and instantly tried to apply pressure to us. That worked in injury time - at first Venitchio Sint won an aerial duel against Anass Salah-Eddine to score a close range header and in the third minute into the injury time Keziah Veendorp got through (Salah-Eddine ‘forgot’ to foul him in midfield) on a counter and was one-on-one against Dere. Our goalkeeper came out of his line well to make the angle as narrow as possible and luckily for us Veendorp’s shot was a defender’s finish and went wide of the post. With that little scare in the end of the game my happiness about our first 75 minutes disappeared and at the time we got into the dressing room I was furious with Mazraoui - we  nearly dropped two points because of his foolishness. But, after calming down, I have to say that our first 75 minutes were composed and we controlled the game well - exactly what is needed in an away game, so I can’t fault the performance until the red card.

  • we had 73% possession in this game, with 94% (700+) passes completed
  • Player of the game: Marco Ferreira - a great goal from him, good corner deliveries and 6 key passes as an advanced playmaker - very good performance


27.09.2022 - Inter Milan - AFC Ajax 1:3 (Champions League Group G) - 13. Sebastiano Esposito - 4. Lorenzo Pellegrini (og), 26. and 70. Quincy Promes

Our third game of the group and a bit different challenge than our previous games. What makes it tricky is the 5-3-2 WB formation that Inter uses so efficiently and it’s been a while since we played against it the last time. I expect it to be a very tough game at San Siro and we’d be very happy with a point from this match. Our main concern is Inter’s wonderkid Sebastiano Esposito - he looks impossible to handle in attack. At the same time, other teams have had relative success against them with a 4-2-3-1 formation and could be shut down.

Good news first - Kjell Scherpen and Youri Regeer are still in rehabilitation, but all the other players are ready and fit enough to start, so I have a good selection available and a number of possible tactical solutions.

Squad: Dere, Veltman, Schuurs, Rensch, Blind, Marin, van de Beek (82. Taylor), Promes, Gravenberch, Tadic (70. Fitz-Jim), Traore (82. Brobbey)

We had a great start to the game. Well, in truth, we had a really lucky start. Dušan Tadic sent a free kick into the opponent’s box and it took a mean deflection from Lorenzo Pellegrini to bounce into the goal. Really lucky goal for us and it instantly eased some pressure from us. Inter weren’t rattled and their wonderkid Esposito headed in from a corner in 13’. Inter dominated the possession and at times it looked that in their formation all seven players were in attack, so we switched to counter-attack and it brought dividends - Lassina Traore moved the ball into the box in a counter, got a shot on target and even though it was saved, Quincy Promes was there to finish from a close range. We managed to hold on in defense and went to the break with a 2:1 lead that I was delighted with.

The second half continued in a similar fashion - Inter tried to attack, we defended fairly deep (despite our 4-2-3-1 formation) and tried to find counter-attacks. We didn’t find a counter, but got a goal instead. Some patient possession and passing and in the end Donny van de Beek found Quincy Promes in the box. The winger had his back towards the goal, but he turned around quickly and fired it in with a fierce shot! A brilliant goal and with just twenty minutes to go, Inter were in big trouble. In the end they didn’t recover from our third goal and their attacks led to just a couple of half chances. Their most dangerous moment came when their centre-back Milan Skriniar found the post from an IFK, but that was it - the final whistle was called and we fought ourselves a brilliant result from the away game. Yes, the first goal was a bit lucky, I have to admit, but we were very good tactically during the game and I feel like it was a brilliant manager’s win. It’s such a great feeling to get things right in the Champions League in a game like this and I was delighted with the team for pulling this out.

  • we had 60% possession, even though Inter were more attacking of the two teams
  • Player of the game: Quincy Promes - scored two important goals and deservedly the best player tonight



I’m really happy with our September. Yes, it has been a struggle at times and we have had to dig deep to get the results in some games, but everything has come our way and we’re getting better and more confident as this run goes on. I’m especially delighted with our standings in the Champions League - seven points from the first three games and we’re leading the group. I just hope that we won’t mess this up in the next round of games.




Feyenoord have climbed to lead the table and it’s still a contest between them, us and Vitesse. At the bottom of the table FC Utrecht and FC Groningen are still struggling to get enough points to climb higher in the table, while Fortuna Sittard looks like the main candidate for relegation in this season.

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October 2022


There’s six games in October and it’s one of those months that balances tough with (supposedly) easy. Two difficult Champions League games, but our Eredivisie schedule gets easier and offers us a variety of smaller teams, both home and away.


02.10.2022 - FC Twente Enschede - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 53. Lassina Traore, 90.+3 pen. Kenneth Taylor

FC Twente hasn’t changed much - they still use 4-2-3-1, no major transfers and perhaps one thing to note is that they have started most of their games with a towering striker Jay-Roy Grot in the front. He was mostly on the bench in the last season, but has made his breakthrough now and even though he only has one Eredivisie goal in his name this season, I have to be aware of his jumping attribute (17).

We have two players missing for this game in addition to Youri Regeer and Kjell Scherpen. Noussair Mazraoui is suspended and Brian Brobbey pulled his ankle ligaments in training and will be out for a couple of weeks, so a little bit limited squad selection, but most of the players are still available and fit to start.

Squad: Dere, Veltman, Schuurs, Rensch, Salah-Eddine (75. Douglas), Taylor, van de Beek, Promes (68. Kühn), Ferreira, Tadic, Traore

The first half was poor, let’s be honest. We didn’t put enough pressure on FC Twente and allowed them to build from the back and Marco Ferreira’s role as APs was ineffective, in retrospect. FC Twente got to float crosses in our area and their strikers Jay-Roy Grot and Ondrej Mihalik were extremely dangerous with their headers. The best chance for our opponents came in 30’ when Grot got a free header on target from close range, but Gürcan Dere once again did very well to parry it.

I made tactical changes at half time, tried to wake up the players and things improved a lot after the break. Quincy Promes found his first clear cut chance of the game in 51’ when Dušan Tadic delivered a beautiful deep cross to him, but the winger couldn’t finish from close range. Traore’s strike gave us the lead soon after and we controlled the second half much better - FC Twente struggled to break into our third, we had much more possession and created attacks after attacks. Late in the game Lassina Traore had a great opportunity to double our lead after substitute Kian Fitz-Jim found him with a long ball forward and finally in injury time we scored the second goal. It came from the penalty - Lassina Traore was tripped in the box, the referee consulted with VAR, but awarded the penalty and Kenneth Taylor stepped up and converted it calmly to wrap things up.

  • we had 61% possession in this game
  • our shooting was 19/12 - for away game it is pretty good
  • we created 3 clear cut chances
  • Player of the game: Perr Schuurs - very solid in defense, 2 key tackles and 4 key headers, he really leads the defensive line for us


15.10.2022 - AFC Ajax - De Graafschap 1:0 (ED) - 82. Nicolas Kühn

One of the easiest games (on paper) in our schedule. Newly-promoted De Graafschap have actually done well and find themselves in the 14th position after nine games. Their squad doesn’t look good enough to stay in Eredivisie, though, but they have taken points when possible and, compared to other small teams, do fairly well.

We enjoyed the international break and I felt that we have a luxury to rotate a little in this game, but at the same time several players who carried the load in their international games returned a little tired, so Noussair Mazraoui, Daley Blind and Razvan Marin were rested anyway. Good news is that Youri Regeer is back in full training and he should be fit enough to contribute on a pitch in a week.

Squad: Dere, van der Sloot, Schuurs, Rensch, Salah-Eddine, Taylor, van de Beek, Promes (75. Kühn), Ferreira (68. Gravenberch), Tadic (75. Fitz-Jim), Traore

Our first half-chance came in 6’ when Marco Ferreira had a crack after IFK, but his attempt was blocked and …. it remained our only chance of the first half. We dominated the game completely, got a number of shots on target and looked dangerous from set pieces, but all of the attempts were dealt by De Graafschap goalkeeper Guus Vaags. We just lacked the cutting edge and creativity, even though it often looked like we’re just about to score. Donny van de Beek’s header from a corner hit the post after Guus Vaags got a hand to it and the frustrating first half finished 0:0.

I switched to attacking 4-2-3-1 in the second half and we put even more pressure on De Graafschap box, but without much effect, until substitutions had the desired effect. In 80’ De Graafschap had the possession for a while and tried to build up something in our half, but when they lost the ball we finally had some space to break into. Ryan Gravenberch ran with the ball and found Nicolas Kühn on the right with a beautiful pass. Kühn didn’t hesitate and finished the move with a placed shot into the near bottom corner. Lovely. For a long time it looked like we couldn’t score a goal and in the end we got a breakthrough. It remained 1:0 and despite our win I had no reason to share praise in our dressing room after the final whistle. We had been pretty lacklustre and we need to do better in our next games.

  • we somehow lost possession 45/55 - De Graafschap played slow possession game with the ball
  • our shooting was 30/15 in this game
  • we didn’t give De Graafschap any goalscoring opportunities - they had just one attempt in the whole game
  • our average rating was 6.79 - not impressed, but good reflection of our performance
  • Lassina Traore made his 100th appearance for Ajax in this game
  • Player of the game: Guus Vaags (De Graafschap) - impressive game from the goalkeeper who did so well until the game


We’re in October, but FC Groningen already lost patience with their manager Ruud Kaiser and let him go after another defeat. They soon appointed Hans-Dieter Flick as their new manager - pretty good deal to get the signature of the ex-Bayern manager to help them climb up from the relegation zone and improve their overall performance.


18.10.2022 - AFC Ajax - Inter Milan 2:2 (Champions League Group G) - 37. Ryan Gravenberch, 87. Quincy Promes - 24. and 90.+3 Sebastiano Esposito

Back to serious challenges - Inter will come to town and we’ll meet them in Johan Cruijff Arena. We did exceptionally well to beat them 3:1 in Milan, so I have every reason to believe that they will come for revenge and try to settle the score. The standings in our Group G is adding another pressure on our opponents - they have now only 3 points and we have 7, so if they should lose this game here in Amsterdam they’d be effectively out of competition and we’d go through with Dortmund.

We have almost all of the players fit for this game - only Kjell Scherpen has some more work to do - and it’s one of those fixtures when tactical preparation and carefully selected instructions could make a huge difference. I went with a balanced 4-2-3-1 and selected my squad accordingly.

Squad: Dere, Veltman, Schuurs, Blind, Salah-Eddine, Taylor, van de Beek (68. Marin), Promes, Gravenberch, Tadic (75. Kühn), Traore (75. Brobbey)

We had a scary moment in 18’ when Sebastiano Esposito headed against the crossbar from an IFK, but generally we did well enough until 24’ when Daley Blind’s lost possession led to a counter-attack by Milan and ultimately a goal by Esposito. Bad mistake from Blind and he left us in trouble for a while, but Ryan Gravenberch equalized with a good header in 37’ and we went to half time with a 1:1 score line. Both teams were careful with attacking and there weren’t too many shots in the first half, so I felt that 1:1 for half time score looked fairly good to us.

The second half was equally careful. Joel Veltman, this time in right-back and FBs role, had an ambitious attempt on target in 53’ - that almost caught Inter goalkeeper Oier Olazabal off guard, but he eventually managed to tip it over from the top corner. It looked like 1:1 was the most likely result until Quincy Promes provided a magical moment late in the game - his cracking attempt from 21 meters twisted and turned in the air and finally went in off the post to give us the lead so late in the game. What a moment of brilliance from Promes and we firmly believed that we’re in control now and just have to see this out for the win. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. Gürcan Dere has been performing extremely well in this season and I half-expected him to make a costly mistake in almost every next game, but here, in injury time, he finally made it. It was a long ball wide by Inter and Dere did well to come out and get there first. The wise decision would have been to just clear it for the throw in, but instead he dallied on the ball for too long until Sebastiano Esposito arrived, took it away and sent it to our empty goal from 30 meters. It was a very good finish, from an angle (almost near the corner flag) and some distance away, but the mistake by Dere was cringeworthy. I should be furious about it, but how can I pour my disappointment over an 18 years old goalkeeper who’s making his first full season and has done so well in both Eredivisie and Champions League so far, without much experience. He was bound to make a mistake sooner or later, just the timing was perhaps the worst possible one. So, with that blunder we gave away the win and didn’t secure our qualification just yet. The draw would have been a good result before the game, but now we just felt robbed. But at the same time there’s no need to panic, because nothing’s lost either. Let’s see how this campaign goes forward.

  • our shooting was 20/10 - we didn’t create any real chances in this game, but managed to score twice against Inter
  • we made only 3 key passes - that’s a cause for concern
  • Player of the game: Sebastiano Esposito (Inter Milan)


22.10.2022 - AFC Ajax - Fortuna Sittard 3:1 (ED) - 19. and 85. Kian Fitz-Jim, 72. Nicolas Kühn - 43. Stijn Meijer

We have a very tight schedule and another Champions League game coming up in just three days, so this is the moment for rotation players and youngsters to show themselves. Fortuna is a small team and we’re heavy favourites, but some risks need to be taken and I expect the lads to be good enough to win this at home. Youri Regeer is now fit and starts his first game after injury.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Veltman, Rensch, Salah-Eddine (77. Douglas), Regeer, Marin, Kühn, Ferreira (71. Gravenberch), Fitz-Jim, Brobbey (67. Traore)

We dominated the first half and had several half chances in the game and one of them led to our first goal. Kian Fitz-Jim reacted quickly to score with a nice volley, but for the first half it remained our only goal. Razvan Marin’s attempt from distance was going into the top corner in 27’ ,but it was tipped away by Fortuna goalkeeper and Brian Brobbey wasted his opportunity in 39’, so in the end of the first half Fortuna found a goal - Stijn Meijer received a long ball forward, our defenders were perhaps too passive to close him down and he fired in a sublime finish from 15 meters. Lovely goal, but I watched it with a grim face. That is what happens when you don’t take your chances.

I sent a message during the half time team talk and in the second half we were even more attacking, constantly pressing poor Fortuna and taking a barrage of shots towards their goal. Most of them were blocked or ended up in the hands of their goalkeeper, so I grew frustrated enough to send in Lassina Traore and Ryan Gravenberch to make a difference. But it was Kian Fitz-Jim who actually made it - his deep cross found Nicolas Kühn at the far post and the German finished with a simple tap-in to put us in front and in 85’ Fitz-Jim scored his second goal of the game with a shot that took a big deflection from a defender. Our attacking pressure in the second half made all the difference we needed and in the end of the game I was fairly satisfied with our win.

  • we had 69% possession
  • we made 27 key passes
  • our shooting was 41/16 - I don’t remember if we’ve ever taken 40+ shots in a game
  • we created one clear cut chance and 9 half-chances
  • Kian Fitz-Jim and Nicolas Kühn were superb for us
  • Kian Fitz-Jim scored his first league goal for Ajax
  • Player of the game: Kian Fitz-Jim - two goals and assist to him - he has got some minutes from the bench in this season and he now looked fairly comfortable and composed with his first start, too


25.10.2022 - Dortmund Borussia - AFC Ajax 1:1 (Champions League Group G) - 4. Maximiliano Romero - 49. Lassina Traore

Before the game I made some calculations and found out that the draw would probably be good enough for us from Dortmund. It would mean that we’re three points ahead of Fenerbahce and with our first game result (2:0) it’s a fairly good position to be before the last round. But getting a draw from Dortmund wasn’t an easy challenge in Amsterdam and it was even more difficult in Germany.

I set the team up with a balanced 4-2-3-1 formation and Joel Veltman was again our right back in that formation.

Squad: Dere, Veltman, Schuurs, Blind, Salah-Eddine, Taylor, van de Beek (71. Marin), Promes, Gravenberch (66. Ferreira), Tadic (74. Fitz-Jim), Traore

Things went wrong right from the beginning. Kenneth Taylor lost a challenge in midfield and the following counter-attack led to Dortmund’s first clear cut chance. Gürcan Dere has shown that he’s really good in one-on-one situations and once again he managed to save our sorry a**, and Taylor was the first to get to the rebound, but instead of whooping it away he allowed Maxilimiano Romero to tackle himself in our six yard box and the ball went over the line. Two massive blunders from the young midfielder and we were behind with less than five minutes from the kick-off.

Dortmund dominated the rest of the first half and attacked our goal. It was still 1:0 at half time, but we had just one shot and it was difficult to see from where our equalizer could come from. Dortmund didn’t have any more clear cut chances, but they constantly threatened our goal and Gürcan Dere had to make some good saves to keep it 0:1. So, I made some tactical changes to our pressing instructions and asked Veltman to play as IWBs to add an extra man to our midfield - we hadn’t been able to keep possession and create anything so far, so we needed to improve a lot in the middle of the park.

There was a moment of brilliance for us in the beginning of the second half. While we couldn’t play through Dortmund midfield, we could play over it, and Daley Blind did just that. He delivered a long ball forward on the run for Lassina Traore and the striker used his chance well - an excellent finish from 16 meters equalized the score for us. Dortmund worked hard throughout the second half to score another goal, but they couldn’t beat Gürcan Dere. Our young goalkeeper had a great second half and he saved Justin Kluivert’s close range shot, Maximiliano Romero’s chance and Thorgan Hazard’s attempt that looked like real chances for Dortmun. We, too, found our opportunities - those were few enough, but still an improvement compared to our first half. Anass Salah-Eddine got a shot on target and Razvan Marin’s attempt from 25 meters was tipped over from the top corner by the Dortmund goalkeeper. It remained 1:1 in the end and while headlines wrote that Ajax was lucky to draw, I was very happy with the result. Yes, Dortmund was the better team in this game, but we finished our chance well and took our best possible result.

  • our shooting was just 6/4 in this game (Dortmund had 23/10)
  • we gave only 2 key passes
  • our average rating was just 6.77
  • we allowed Dortmund to make 30 dribbles
  • Lassina Traore scored his 10th goal of the season - to reach that landmark in October is a great improvement compared to his last season
  • Player of the game: Gürcan Dere - the young goalkeeper made a mistake against Inter, but he was really good today against Dortmund


Even though it’s just October, managerial casualties start to mount in Eredivisie. The next in line was Henk de Jong who was sacked by FC Utrecht.

I also received the news that our training facilities were upgraded - the works were agreed at the end of the last season and are now finished. Hopefully that will improve our training even more.


30.10.2022 - AFC Ajax - PEC Zwolle 3:0 (ED) - 3. pen. Quincy Promes, 12. and 71. Lassina Traore

Back to Eredivisie and another home game in this month we’re clear favourites for. PEC Zwolle has been a decent mid-table side, but recently they’ve dropped to the bottom side of the table (both by quality on paper and by actual results), so for the home game we were clear favourites and I chose a bit more attacking squad and a positive 4-2-3-1 formation.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Rensch (71. Lopes), Salah-Eddine (67. Baas), Taylor, van de Beek, Promes, Ferreira (67. Karahasanovic), Fitz-Jim, Traore

We started off with a flyer - we had an early corner and Perr Schuurs was pushed in the box, so after consulting VAR the referee awarded a penalty and Quincy Promes slotted it in. Zwolle defenders looked a little shocked after conceding so quickly and the following minutes were a real nightmare for them. Lassina Traore found another clear cut chance in 6’ - his attempt from close range was blocked, but our attack continued and Mazraoui’s header found Marco Ferreira in front of the goal. The young midfielder saw his header hit the crossbar and go over. In 12’ we had a free kick deep inside our own half, Noussair Mazraoui hit a clever long ball forward and found Lassina Traore on the run - another chance for us and this time Traore scored easily from a one-on-one situation. Twelve minutes played, two goals and four clear cut chances already - it was completely out of control for Zwolle defense and to be fair they struggled to cope for the most of the first half. Quincy Promes and Lassina Traore were threatening their goal pretty much in every attack and we had full control of the proceedings.

The second half continued in the same fashion - Quincy Promes sent his attempt wide when he had an opportunity, but when Traore scored his second from a loose ball in 71’ it was game over. I sent out the youngsters to wrap things up and that (plus some complacency) allowed Zwolle to breathe a little more easily, but in the end it was a convincing win and we hardly ever gave them a sniff. 

  • we had 60% possession
  • our shooting was 32/17
  • we created 4 clear cut chances and 6 half chances in this game
  • Youri Baas and Alen Karahasanovic made their debut for Ajax
  • Player of the game: Lassina Traore - an outstanding game from the striker, he’s now scored 10 goals in 12 league games in this season



I can be very happy with our October. We’ve maintained our winning streak in the league and taken back the first position and two draws in the Champions League is actually good enough. Yes, that conceded equalizer from Inter is a little disappointment in our month, but overall we’re still doing great and look like we can progress from the group.

Player of the month for me is Lassina Traore - he’s got a good scoring run going and he looks a threat both in Eredivisie and continental level.




Vitesse and Feyenoord are still up there with us, but AZ Alkmaar have also picked up their form and are closing in from behind. FC Utrecht and FC Groningen are still struggling near the relegation zone - let’s see how (if) manager change will help them.

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November 2022


The World Cup is coming up in the following weeks, so we have only two games in November and a pause from Eredivisie games that will last for over two months. On the one hand, it’s very unusual to start our winter break so early, but on the other hand it helps to focus on our most important Champions League game with Fenerbahce.


02.11.2022 - AFC Ajax - Fenerbahce 2:0 (Champions League Group G) - 2. Lassina Traore, 90.+2 Joel Veltman

Quick reminder - we won the away game 2:0, but it was affected by an early red card to Fenerbahce that allowed us to take advantage of the situation. Now we’ll play at home, but it’s 11 vs. 11 again, so we need to be at our best to succeed. To be fair - a draw is good enough to secure qualification, but winning could help us to win the group and go into the knockout stages as the first seeded team.

Tactically there’s nothing new - a balanced 4-2-3-1 with our more experienced players and taller/stronger centre-backs to defend against Fenerbahce’s target man.

Squad: Dere, Veltman, Schuurs, Rensch, Salah-Eddine, Taylor (74. van de Beek), Marin, Promes (74. Kühn), Gravenberch, Tadic, Traore (66. Brobbey)

We had an excellent start - Quincy Promes crossed to the near post and Lassina Traore applied finishing touches. Perhaps that left a mark on the first half, but we had most of the initiative and even though we couldn’t score more, we always looked more in control. Fenerbahce’s Vedat Muriqi got a half-chance in 19’ but it was an isolated moment and Gürcan Dere was never really in trouble.

We managed to improve our game in the second half and got two great chances - Quincy Promes had an easy look after Tadic found him with a deep cross, but the winger messed up his shot and it was comfortably held by Fenerbahce goalkeeper. Lassina Traore was going for a goal after our counter in 59’, but his attempt was met by a great save from the keeper. I had a sense that we needed the second goal to finish this game, but we couldn’t seem to find it. Fenerbahce’s William was sent off in 88’ with his second yellow card and Joel Veltman wrapped things up with a brilliant strike from 19 meters - a very uncharacteristic goal for defender and to see a long range goal from a player like him was a bit miraculous event that brought smile to my face. In summary I was very happy with our display and the result as well - we missed some chances in the second half, but always looked in control and deserved to win. That result secured our win in the group and we will go to the knockout stages with the first seed place.

  • our possession was 60% in this game
  • our shooting was 27/18 
  • Player of the game: Joel Veltman - deserved award after his brilliant strike and solid defensive performance


Champions League Group G

  1. AFC Ajax 12
  2. Borussia Dortmund 9
  3. Fenerbahce 6
  4. Inter Milan 5


09.11.2022 - sc Kozakken Boys - AFC Ajax 0:7 (TOTO KNVB Beker 1st round) - 1. and 33. Ismael Sangare-Aka, 14. Dušan Tadic, 20., 40. and 51. Brian Brobbey, 61. Jaymillio Pinas

That was our last competitive game of the year before the international window begins and the World Cup coming up right after that. It means we have a lot of players missing, both in the Holland NT and in youth teams. A couple of weeks ago my backroom staff asked if I’d like to request postponement of this game, but I didn’t want that and instead went with the team I had in my disposal. Donny van de Beek suffered a small injury in training and he’ll be out for the game, so I brought young Ismael Sangare-Aka from Jong Ajax to fill the gap in our midfield. Dani van den Heuvel starts in the goal and he’s another debutant in this game.

Squad: van den Heuvel, van der Sloot, Schuurs, Dirksen, Baas, Taylor, Sangare-Aka, Kühn, Tadic, Fitz-Jim, Brobbey (52. Pinas)

It was a very one-sided game, as expected. Debutant Ismael Sangare-Aka opened the scoring in the very first minute and doubled his tally in 33’ with an outstanding strike from 24 meters. Dušan Tadic and Brian Brobbey added goals of their own and Brobbey completed a hat-trick in the second half. Substitute Jaymillio Pinas also got himself to the score sheet, so debutants looked fairly good in this win, even though our opponent wasn’t the strongest team. I was pleased with the result and performance as a whole.

  • our shooting was 44/18
  • we created 4 clear cut chances and didn’t give Kozakken Boys any opportunities in attack
  • we had 8.77 average rating 
  • there were a lot of good performances - Brian Brobbey, Dušan Tadic, Ismael Sangare-Aka, Nicolas Kühn, Kian Fitz-Jim and Steven van der Sloot particularly impressed
  • Dani van den Heuvel, Ismael Sangare-Aka, Julius Dirksen and Jaymillio Pinas made their debuts for Ajax
  • we will play VVV Venlo in the 2nd round
  • Player of the game: Brian Brobbey - a hat-trick hero for us



I was delighted with our win over Fenerbahce and very strong performance in the Champions League. It was what the board expected from us, but to me we exceeded all expectations - young goalkeeper Gürcan Dere has done really well and we didn’t miss the players who left in Summer, so we look strong and have plenty of room for development as well.

News from Eredivisie say that FC Utrecht have appointed Jean-Paul de Jong as their new manager and it’ll be interesting to see if they can improve their form in the league. Club football will go on pause for the next 6-7 weeks and all eyes will turn to the World Cup.

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December 2022


Firstly, the World Cup. We had four players in the tournament - Kenneth Taylor, Donny van de Beek, Daley Blind and Quincy Promes. Holland had an extremely successful tournament and they reached into the final where Holland lost to Portugal 0:1 (harsh extra time goal).

The other players remained in the club and trained hard - and had a number of friendlies to practice and keep the match fitness.

Between training sessions I turned my attention to player contracts. We had some contract issues still to resolve with key players and some difficult decisions to make.

The first headache was Donny van de Beek. He had just 6 months left of his current deal and with such a successful World Cup with the Holland team, his agent tried to exploit the situation and ask me wages between £60,000-70,000 p/w. My limit usually goes somewhere around £50,000 and so several negotiations broke down without the agreement, but I knew that we really needed to keep van de Beek around, because of his work rate and leadership. It took us a whole month to iron things out and he finally agreed to £50,000 p/w contract in the beginning of January. So, at least this one I got sorted out.

The second problem was Daley Blind - I blocked his move to FC Barcelona in Summer, but his ambition to join with a stronger team has not disappeared and his agent refused to negotiate. 

So, in December it looked really likely that two team leaders were about to leave the club in next Summer and so I decided to extend the contract of Dušan Tadic for another year. He agreed to a moderate pay cut and I’m satisfied that he’s kept himself in good shape despite his age, but I mostly need his experience and leadership in the training and dressing room.


Some younger players have seen their roles grow in this season and I decided to tie them down for the longer period. Anass Salah-Eddine was one of those players who had a current deal until 2024, but he signed a contract extension until 2027.


Our backroom staff lost one member - some time ago I persuaded the former FC Utrecht manager Sjors Ultee to join our coaching staff, but he now left the club to take manager’s position at FC Den Bosch.

And last, but not least - the year finished with the award ceremony where Lassina Traore was named African Striker of the Year. Congratulations to him and I expect even more goals in the future.

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  • 2 weeks later...

January 2023


The new year has begun and January is so different from the usual transfer window. There is a transfer window, of course, but there’s also no less than 7 games in this month, so our schedule is packed and the games and press conferences are full of transfer talk and speculations. One thing got clear pretty quickly - Daley Blind signed with CF Valencia and he’ll be leaving in Summer. That’s a big loss in our dressing room and I need to think about transition period to find the new captain and develop new centre-back partnerships.

There were decisions made about the future of other players. Nicolas Kühn and Kjell Scherpen are not being offered a new contract and they’re also set for release after this season. I have better (younger) options in their positions and there’s no point in keeping them around for longer.


04.01.2023 - PSV Eindhoven - AFC Ajax 1:0 (ED) - 36. Olivier Boscagli

The first game after a long Winter break was the big one - away trip to Eindhoven to face PSV on their home ground. It’s always one of the most difficult games of our Eredivisie campaign and it was made worse by two things - I didn’t know where we stood in terms of form (we had no competitive games in previous six weeks, so no momentum to gain from that period) and we had a long list of injuries, especially on our right flank. Quincy Promes was out for a month with sprained ankle ligaments, Nicolas Kühn pulled his calf muscle and will be sidelined for two weeks, so I had to go with young Alen Karahasanovic even though I knew he wasn’t good enough against PSV.

Squad: Dere, Veltman, Schuurs, Rensch, Salah-Eddine, Taylor (8. Marin), van de Beek, Karahasanovic, Gravenberch (58. Ferreira), Tadic (58. Fitz-Jim), Traore

The game started with another injury - Kenneth Taylor limped away after just eight minutes and Razvan Marin took his place in midfield. We had a couple of promising moments in the first half - Lassina Traore found a half-chance, but sent his shot wide and Anass Salah-Eddine had an ambitious attempt on target, parried against the crossbar by PSV goalkeeper. It looked like we had a small edge in the first half, but then PSV scored their goal - Olivier Boscagli won a header against Perr Schuurs when we had to defend a free kick and sent it against our crossbar. It came back down and Boscagli was there to finish into the empty goal. I was surprised and disappointed at the same time, because Schuurs is so good in the air and for him to lose an aerial duel was a little bit unexpected. After that goal I felt that we were a little bit unlucky to go to the half time break with a 0:1 score.

In the second half it came obvious that our one goal deficit wasn’t the real problem. The real issue was the player’s mental ability (or lack thereof) to cope with the situation. A few of them expressed nervousness on the pitch and my team talk didn’t help to calm them down, so I had no real hopes that we could turn things around like that. And we couldn’t. PSV defended well in the second half and didn’t give us any proper chances, even though we controlled possession. I know that PSV can defend really well, when they feel confident, but after the break we never posed a real threat in attack, so our year began with a disappointing rival defeat. I just hope that this insecurity doesn’t extend into the next games. Alen Karahasanovic looked rather poor on our right wing (as I was expecting) and that didn’t help either.

  • we had 65% possession in this game
  • our average rating was just 6.76
  • we gave only 3 key passes
  • Kenneth Taylor will be out for 3-4 weeks with sprained ankle ligaments
  • Player of the game: Olivier Boscagli


07.01.2023 - FC Emmen - AFC Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 23. Lassina Traore, 37. Kian Fitz-Jim, 76. pen. Razvan Marin

The next game was against FC Emmen on away ground and our main task was to leave that disappointing defeat behind us and play our usual games. Those re-starts after mid-season break are always like the new beginning and as a team you start without momentum - you need to gain it. So, to begin with a defeat was bad in itself, but to drop points in two consecutive games would have been disastrous.

FC Emmen is a decent mid-table team that plays a highly structured 4-4-2 formation, so I expected them to be highly organized in a home game. Our problems with AMR position worsened when Alen Karahasanovic pulled his hamstring and so Steven van der Sloot was the only viable option there.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Blind, Salah-Eddine (70. Baas), Regeer, van de Beek (70. Marin), van der Sloot, Ferreira, Fitz-Jim, Traore (55. Brobbey)

It took some time for us, but in 23’ Marco Ferreira found Lassina Traore on the run with a lovely forward pass and Traore converted his one-on-one chance into the goal. In 37’ Marco Ferreira had a good opportunity himself - his attempt was blocked, but the ball fell to Kian Fitz-Jim who had time and space in the FC Emmen box and he doubled our lead. We looked fairly well in control, but almost gave Emmen a way back into this game when in the end of the first half Vince Duits showed a clean set of heels to our defense and FC Emmen counter-attack led to a great goalscoring opportunity. Gürcan Dere was ready and made a good save to parry this one-on-one situation, so we went to the half-time with a solid 2:0 lead. To be fair I expected a little better performance, but I was happy with our finishing and the score sheet. 

FC Emmen were dangerous only once in the second half - Adrian Dalmau found a crack and fired into the near post, but the ball was brought out well by Dere. In the following attack Marco Ferreira was pushed in the FC Emmen box and after Razvan Marin converted a penalty, it was game over. Substitute Brian Brobbey had a couple of good chances in the final ten minutes to extend our lead. He was wasteful with the opportunities, but it didn’t matter too much.

After the final whistle I was very happy with the game and result - we created chances, finished well and kept a clean sheet.

  • we had 61% possession in this game
  • we managed to create 4 clear cut chances
  • we made 30 dribbles - another good stats
  • Player of the game: Marco Ferreira - an outstanding performance from the youngster. His playmaking was joy to watch and he laid the groundworks to all of our goals


10.01.2023 - AFC Ajax - VVV Venlo 3:2 (TOTO KNVB Beker 2nd round) - 17. pen. Razvan Marin, 62. Brian Brobbey, 83. Nicolas Kühn - 8. Elias Mar Omarsson, 84. Lion Kalentjev

The cup game against a lower division team gave me a good reason to rotate and rest some players. We had a really tight schedule in January and it’s better to keep the players fresh. We started with our usual positive 4-2-3-1 formation and I was eager to see how some players use their opportunity to show their skills. Another thing that contributed to rotation was injuries - Kenneth Taylor, Quincy Promes, Alen Karahasanovic and Nicolas Kühn were all out with more or less serious issues. Kühn was actually almost fit, but not ready to start.

Squad: Scherpen, Mazraoui (73. Veltman), Rensch, Lopes, Douglas (68. Baas), Regeer, Marin, van der Sloot (78. Kühn), Gravenberch, Fitz-Jim, Brobbey

Perhaps against odds, but VVV started the game better. They found the first clear cut chance of the game in 8’ and although Carlos Manuel Lopes did well to arrive late and block it, the following corner still gave them a lead. Kjell Scherpen made a bad mistake - his poor judgment and mistimed interception allowed Elias Mar Omarsson to head it into the empty goal. Good for us that we found an equalizer and did it fairly quickly - Razvan Marin was tripped in the box and converted the penalty himself, so at half time we were at least level. I was a bit calmed by our come-back, but being critical - the first half wasn’t good enough. We couldn’t get our shots on target, both of our centre-backs were booked and we lost possession, too.

I knew that we had to switch something and we started the second half with an attacking 4-2-3-1 setup. Not sure if it was tactical change or my team talk, but the players looked more motivated and the goals we needed to come, arrived too. Brian Brobbey showed some magic with his brilliant strike from 20 meters to put us ahead and substitute Nicolas Kühn made it 3:1 with less than 10 minutes to go. It looked like it was game over, but we lost concentration and allowed Venlo to stun us back in the very next attack - Youri Baas lost a header and Lion Kalentjev scored the second goal for Venlo. I was furious at the sideline and players knew that they’d messed up. That was the last goal of the game, however, and we held onto our lead until the final whistle.

At the first sight I could be satisfied with the result, because we won and that’s what you hope when you rest your key players for a cup game, but our concentration in defense was not up to our standard and we didn’t look in control enough, so there were many areas of the game I felt we needed to improve.

  • we lost possession 44/56 - against Eerste Divisie team, how?
  • our shooting was 23/13 - our accuracy improved a lot in the second half
  • we made only 7 key passes in this game
  • we’ll play FC Twente in the next round - that’s just in a week
  • Player of the game: Razvan Marin - he gave 3 key passes, earned and converted a penalty and showed good leadership in midfield


14.01.2023 - AFC Ajax - Feyenoord Rotterdam 1:0 (ED) - 34. Marco Ferreira 

The second crucial game in January - Klassieker Derby against Feyenoord. I used our previous games to select in-form players for this fixture and put together the winning eleven. Feyenoord looked like a title contenders with their form and they spent some £15m in Summer to improve their squad, so while PSV looked occupied in the Champions League, it was Feyenoord who had a decent shot for the title in this season. I went with our usual balanced 4-2-3-1 despite our home advantage.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Blind, Salah-Eddine, Regeer, van de Beek (71. Marin), Kühn, Ferreira, Tadic (66. Fitz-Jim), Traore (78. Brobbey)

It was a tight game from start to finish and I expected that, because Feyenoord have always been very organized and they could defend well. At the same time our balanced mindset also kept things under control in defense. Our best chance in the first half came in 34’ - Nicolas Kühn delivered a great cross and Marco Ferreira poked his head out in the six yard box to direct the ball past the Feyenoord goalkeeper. That gave us the edge at half time and some confidence for the second half. The second half was similarly quiet and the only good goalscoring opportunity came to Lassina Traore in 78’, but this time our Burkinabe striker wasted his opportunity and saw his one-on-one moment to be parried by Feyenoord keeper. We held on to our narrow lead, defended well and at the final whistle I was fairly happy with that. It was a very important win both to our fans and to our table standings. Marco Ferreira has been brilliant in recent games and his goal made all the difference here as well.

  • we had 65% possession in this game
  • we didn’t give Feyenoord any goalscoring chances in this game and they collected 10 offside calls - that shows how good our defensive teamwork was
  • Player of the game: Marco Ferreira


18.01.2023 - FC Twente Enschede - AFC Ajax 0:2 (TOTO KNVB Beker 3rd round) - 33. Razvan Marin, 57. Ryan Gravenberch

Another cup game in a week and again I went for rotation players. Our problems with AMR position persist, with Alen Karahasanovic picking up a recurring pulled hamstring that will keep him out longer than expected. Quincy Promes is close to return, but I prefer not to use him in this game and Nicolas Kühn is fit, but really tired from our last match, so it’s again Steven van der Sloot who fills the gap on our right flank.

Squad: Scherpen, Veltman, Schuurs (81. Rensch), Lopes, Douglas (72. Baas), Regeer, Marin, van der Sloot, Gravenberch, Fitz-Jim, Brobbey

It was a fairly close game in the first half. Brian Brobbey had a couple of half-chances before Razvan Marin broke the deadlock with a beautiful volley from outside of the box. Marin has been in great form in the recent games that he started and that was another sign of his abilities right there. Steven van der Sloot sent his header way over just a minute later to show that full-backs can play as wingers, but their finishing might not be up for the task. FC Twente had a couple of good moments around 37’ - at first Jay-Roy Grot’s header was tipped over by Kjell Scherpen. Grot was left unmarked at the far post in a following corner situation, but his attempt was again saved by Scherpen, so danger was averted. FC Twente struggled with attacking movement and their strikers were often called for offside, limiting their attacks and cancelling out shots (that at times looked dangerously good). Marin’s brilliant goal was enough to take us to half time with a 1:0 lead and so far I was pleased with our performance.

We had things under control after the break. FC Twente couldn’t create much in attack and our counter in 57’ led to our second goal - Terrence Douglas got a shot on target that was saved, but the FC Twente goalkeeper dropped the ball and Ryan Gravenberch arrived on time to tuck it in. Gravenberch looked much active in the second half and his run through the middle in 85’ led to a promising attempt from 20 meters that unfortunately came back from the crossbar. It looked like 2:0 was a fair result and we fully deserved to win this game. I was happy with our overall control of the game and with how good our rotation players looked on the pitch.

  • we had 61% possession in this game
  • we will play PEC Zwolle in the quarter final - a very favourable draw for us
  • Player of the game: Terrence Douglas - he created three chances for others in this game (2 CCC-s) and looked formidable in our left defense


22.01.2023 - AFC Ajax - AZ Alkmaar 0:0 (ED)

After some good wins in both home and away games we host AZ Alkmaar and that was a true title showdown. AZ are currently 2nd in the table and their young, talented and ambitious team looks eager to challenge us in this season. It counts as the Noord-Hollandse derby as well (although Feyenoord are our fiercest rivals).

I used the similar tactics that served us well against Feyenoord - a balanced 4-2-3-1 formation with the best available players.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Blind, Salah-Eddine, Regeer, van de Beek (72. Marin), Kühn, Ferreira (77. Gravenberch), Fitz-Jim, Traore (65. Brobbey)

In the first half AZ Alkmaar proved that they, too, can play very patient, defense-oriented and well organized football. We had a small initiative, but rarely got a good chance and Marco Ferreira’s shot after our corner that hit the post was our best opportunity in the first period.

In the second half we saw a little bit more attacking football (or some defensive errors), but neither of the two teams could use their half-chances, so it remained goalless until the end. It left the feeling that we should have won this game, perhaps, but we didn’t want to take too many risks and to be fair a draw is not the worst result to take away from this.

  • our average rating was just 6.78 in this game - as expected with less than exciting football in display
  • AZ Alkmaar were a little passive against us, but with that draw they’ve extended their unbeaten streak to 16 games
  • Player of the game: Noussair Mazraoui - in fact there weren’t any noteworthy performances, but he did OK


25.01.2023 - De Graafschap - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 43. and 63. Lassina Traore

Next up, overachieving De Graafschap. Our opponents were predicted to fight against relegation, but sit comfortably a few places higher in the table and have been taking points where possible. Our own youngster Christian Rasmussen has featured often for them and is doing well at Eredivisie level. I decided to rotate a little, but keep going with my usual positive 4-2-3-1 setup. Good news is that Quincy Promes and Kenneth Taylor are fit again and my physios gave them a clearance for 45 minutes of football, so Promes will start on our right wing.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs (71. Lopes), Rensch, Salah-Eddine, Regeer (71. Taylor), Marin, Promes (46. van der Sloot), Gravenberch, Tadic, Traore

De Graafschap surprised me with how well organized they were defensively. Our only goal in the first half came from a header from IFK - Lassina Traore directed it into the goal, but otherwise we were limited to ambitious attempts from distance and we struggled to create anything in their box. But even though their defense looked organized, De Graafschap couldn’t build proper attacks either, so we looked fairly comfortable with our 1:0 lead and added another goal to that in the second half. Substitute Steven van der Sloot made a good run from right and delivered a cross to Lassina Traore, who scored his second goal of the game. That was good enough and a 2:0 win over a smaller team is “a decent, routine win” in my books. Job well done.

  • we somehow lost possession 47/53
  • our shooting was 22/10 in this game
  • we didn’t give De Graafschap any real chances, but allowed them to make 26 dribbles
  • Player of the game: Lassina Traore - scored a brace, well done


We’ve now played 17 games in the league and have collected 41 points. That’s pretty good (I aim for 40 in the first half of the season), just AZ Alkmaar is doing almost as well in their campaign.


29.01.2023 - ADO Den Haag - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 24. Perr Schuurs, 44. Lassina Traore

Another away game, another mid-table side and trip to Haag will end our long line of games in January. ADO actually has some interesting young players (like striker Splinter van As) that have caught my attention and if they manage to keep hold of their youngsters, they could become a much stronger team. But at this point they’re not a considerable threat and I continued with our usual positive 4-2-3-1 formation.

Good news is that players are starting to get fit - Kenneth Taylor and Quincy Promes are good to go for around 60 minutes and our injury problems look to be behind us for a while.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui (70. Veltman), Schuurs, Lopes, Salah-Eddine, Taylor (59. Regeer), van de Beek, Promes (59. van der Sloot), Ferreira, Tadic, Traore

The game was held in heavy rain and that kind of wet pitch is not suitable for our possession-based technical football. Quincy Promes denied a great goal in 12’ when his attempt from 20 meters hit the crossbar. We took the lead in 24’ when Perr Schuurs headed in from a corner and Lassina Traore doubled our lead after a lovely pass from Marco Ferreira. At the half time I was very happy with our two goal lead - we looked dangerous from set pieces, scored from a corner and Marco Ferreira had a brilliant first half (once again), dishing out two assists.

The first 15 minutes of the second half were equally good, but we couldn’t score our third. Lassina Traore had a great chance in 54’, but his shot was saved and after Marco Ferreira was pushed in the box, Dušan Tadic stepped up to take the penalty, but sent it wide of the post. Our confidence seemed to falter after those missed chances, and perhaps ADO changed something in their tactical setup, but the game turned around near the 60’ mark and ADO started to find good chances. Splinter van As found himself in a one-on-one situation after a counter-attack, but Gürcan Dere made a great save to deny him. Evan Rottier had a similar chance from a counter in 75’ after Perr Schuurs lost a challenge in midfield, but again Dere was up to the task and when Endy Opoku Bernadina wasted another opportunity in injury time, it was clear that our defense was completely broken in the last 30 minutes of this game, but Gürcan Dere was just the man between sticks that ADO just couldn’t get past from. The final score 2:0 looked decent enough, but I was clearly not happy with our second half performance. Missed penalty gave ADO the way back into this game and we were under pressure since then. Some massive saves and great goalkeeping from Gürcan Dere to keep our clean sheet.

  • we created 3 clear cut chances in this game, but conceded 3 CCC-s and 5 half-chances - defense completely broken in the second half
  • Player of the game: Marco Ferreira - brilliant first half performance



It was a bad start to the month, but I’m fairly happy how the rest of this January turned out. We regained our confidence and picked up a good form and went from strength to strength and collected good points to the table, taking back our leading position. Our injury problems and over for now and it looks like we’re prepared for the second half of the season.

I turned my attention to player contracts as well - young centre-back Carlos Manuel Lopes signed a contract extension until 2027 (£6,000 p/w) after I rejected aggressive bids from PSV for him.




We’ve got a small advantage over AZ Alkmaar, but Vitesse and Feyenoord have dropped off from the title race. PSV Eindhoven have gained momentum after their win over us and they’re back in the top three after a slow start in Autumn.

Surprisingly, FC Groningen and FC Utrecht are still struggling in relegation zone and they can’t pick up point from anywhere at the moment.


The January transfer window was busier than expected for some Eredivisie teams - AZ Alkmaar and PSV Eindhoven made some big money moves, but most of the teams didn’t make a single transfer. The biggest deals in this window:

  • Mohamed Ihattaren from PSV Eindhoven to Juventus for £56m
  • Mohamed Taabouni from AZ Alkmaar to PSG for £41m
  • Milan van de Riet from PSV Eindhoven to AZ Alkmaar for £7,5m
  • Mauro Junior from PSV Eindhoven to Palmeiras for £6,5m
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February 2023


Another month with a packed schedule. We have a good list of opponents in Eredivisie - in those games we should be comfortable favourites - but month finishes with fixtures with Real Madrid and Feyenoord that’s supposed to offer a different kind of challenge


01.02.2023 - AFC Ajax - FC Twente Enschede 4:0 (ED) - 17. Lassina Traore, 45.+2 Razvan Marin, 62. pen. Quincy Promes, 90+2 Kian Fitz-Jim

We’re in good form and there’s no reason to think that we couldn’t get a result against FC Twente. Our opponents came against us with a 4-4-1-1 2DM formation, graciously leaving us all control of the midfield, so our positive 4-2-3-1 tactics looked like a good answer to it.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Lopes, Salah-Eddine (72. Douglas), Taylor (63. Regeer), Marin, Promes (63. Karahasanovic), Ferreira, Fitz-Jim, Traore

FC Twente tactical formation gave us full control of the midfield. They sat really deep with their two midfielders and we enjoyed unopposed possession, so goals were just a matter of time. Lassina Traore opened the scoring after an excellent cross from Marin. Marco Ferreira saw his header hit the crossbar and Marin doubled our lead after a lovely combination. The second goal sent us to half time and pretty much settled the result.

The second half continued in the same fashion. Quincy Promes scored from the spot after Kian Fitz-Jim was brought down in the box and Fitz-Jim completed the rout with another injury time goal - close range volley from Alen Karahasanovic’s cross.

It was a really good win that never looked in doubt. A great start to our month.

  • our shooting was 22/10 in this game
  • Player of the game: Razvan Marin - great midfield performance from him


04.02.2023 - NEC Nijmegen - AFC Ajax 3:4 (ED) - 58. Stan van Ballegooij, 80. Anthony Musaba, 86. Nicky Souren - 12. Donny van de Beek, 16. and 44. Ryan Gravenberch, 18. Carlos Manuel Lopes

Next up, a trip to Nijmegen. NEC is one of the biggest overachievers in this season - they’re predicted to finish 16th, but find themselves in 8th position. They’re also one of the several teams that seem to do well with a target man (or two) in attack, so I selected taller centre-backs and tried to protect against that aerial threat that is named Ole ten Haar Romeny.

Squad: Dere, Veltman, Schuurs, Lopes, Salah-Eddine, Taylor (58. Regeer), van de Beek, Promes (58. Karahasanovic), Gravenberch, Fitz-Jim, Traore (58. Brobbey)

The first half was brilliant. And it started with a brilliant ten minutes. Donny van de Beek scored a great goal to finish right next to the post from 15 meters. Ryan Gravenberch continued with an equally brilliant goal into the top corner and young Carlos Manuel Lopes headed in a free kick before the game clock turned to 20 minutes. NEC Nijmegen was sinking without trace and we were cruising. Kian Fitz-Jim almost headed in, but saw his attempt hit the crossbar and we were generally the dominant side in the first half until Gravenberch doubled his tally with another great strike to make it 4:0 at half time. It was a great first half performance and Ryan Gravenberch looked just unstoppable in attack, so I safely assumed that the game was over with that.

NEC finally got themselves into the game in the second half - Joel Veltman lost his challenge and the following attack led to a chance to Stan van Ballegooij that the young forward took expertly. I panicked and switched to a balanced 4-2-3-1, all of our substitutions were made and I somehow missed the tactical changes that NEC made at the half-time. All of the initiative turned to our opponents and our defense were continuously carved open by their silky running and accurate crosses. Anthony Musaba added the second goal with ten minutes to go and after NEC scored their third it was a full panic. Fortunately, the final whistle came before the equalizer, so we left with all three points, but I was confused and furious at the same time because of our second half collapse. That was a close call.

  • we had 65% possession
  • our shooting was 19/13 in this game
  • NEC shots were 17/10 - we were just awful defensively
  • Carlos Manuel Lopes scored his first ever goal for Ajax
  • Player of the game: Ryan Gravenberch - great performance from the attacking midfielder

07.02.2023 - AFC Ajax - PEC Zwolle 6:0 (TOTO KNVB Beker Quarter Final) - 28. Brian Brobbey, 30. and 45.+1 Quincy Promes, 40. Razvan Marin, 77. Alen Karahasanovic, 81. Marco Ferreira

We have two back-to-back games against PEC Zwolle. I expect us to win both. The first one of those is a cup quarter final that’s held at Johan Cruijff Arena. Because it’s a cup game I chose to rotate players a bit more freely, but some of my choices were forced - Kian Fitz-Jim injured himself in training and he’ll be sidelined for a couple of weeks. That’s a shame, because he was in good form and started to impact games in a positive way, but now he has to skip some games and Dušan Tadic starts on our left wing.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui (61. van der Sloot), Rensch, Lopes, Douglas (61. Baas), Regeer, Marin, Promes (61. Karahasanovic), Ferreira, Tadic, Brobbey

We almost took an early lead - in the very first minute Brian Brobbey saw his header from IFK deflect the crossbar. The next 25 minutes were more quiet, although we completely controlled the midfield and Zwolle rarely had any attacks in our third. In 28’ the action finally started. Brian Brobbey scored with a calm finish after a beautiful pass from Marco Ferreira and two minutes later Quincy Promes doubled our lead with a close range header from a corner. Two goals put us in control of the game and that allowed us to play with more freedom. Razvan Marin added the third goal with a fabulous strike from just outside of the box and right before the half time whistle Quincy Promes added another magnificent goal. His solo run from the halfway line finished with a lovely goal from 20 meters out. That seriously undid all Zwolle’s efforts to get back into this game.

Our big lead allowed me to make all three substitutions in 61’, but the scoring didn’t stop. Alen Karahasanovic added our fifth goal and Marco Ferreira headed in another to complete the rout. A thoroughly great win and I was really happy with our superb attacking performance.

  • we had 61% possession in this game
  • our shooting was 28/11
  • our average rating was 8.43
  • a number of great performances - Marco Ferreira, Quincy Promes, Brian Brobbey, Razvan Marin, Carlos Manuel Lopes, Devyne Rensch
  • Player of the game: Marco Ferreira - a goal and assist to his name from tonight’s game
  • we will play NEC Nijmegen in the semi final


12.02.2023 - PEC Zwolle - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 30. Lassina Traore, 73. Quincy Promes

The second game against Zwolle, this time on away ground. I was curious how much different approach Zwolle will take into this game after a heavy defeat less than a week earlier. At the same time I was well aware that the score was again 0:0 at the kick-off and we shouldn’t expect another easy win. Zwolle staff had learned from this experience and their players were obviously ready to set things right in front of their home fans.

I switched back to our more familiar starting line-up, but remained true to our positive 4-2-3-1 formation. Brian Brobbey twisted his ankle in training and he’ll be out for several weeks. I’m disappointed because of that - he did really well in our cup game and looked in good shape.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui (70. van der Sloot), Schuurs, Lopes, Salah-Eddine, Taylor (70. Regeer), van de Beek, Promes, Gravenberch (64. Ferreira), Tadic, Traore

That away game lacked the fireworks of our previous match. Instead, it was a fairly routine away win, as those games often turn out. We opened scoring after a good combination from our right - Quincy Promes found Lassina Traore with a good pass and Traore placed his shot well past the goalkeeper. In the second half Promes added another goal after a good cross from Dušan Tadic and it was game over. Promes had another good attempt from 18 meters in 75’, but this one came back from the crossbar. Despite that we had good control of the game and our two goal lead was good enough to take all three points. The worst moment of the game happened in injury time - Quincy Promes was coming away from the pitch in obvious pain and his game was over before the final whistle. That injury left its mark on an otherwise good game.

  • we had 68% possession
  • we didn’t allow PEC Zwolle to create any real chances
  • Quincy Promes will be out for almost two months with broken ribs
  • Player of the game: Quincy Promes - a goal and assist to him, sad to see him injured for so long after such a good performance


18.02.2023 - AFC Ajax - Sparta Rotterdam 0:1 (ED) - 22. Mohammed Tahiri

After two wins over Zwolle I felt that we’re on a really good run. It also helped that all of the other contenders have dropped points in the recent games and we’ve built a decent lead in the table, so we were really confident when Sparta came to visit. We had still some players missing due to injuries - Quincy Promes, Kian Fitz-Jim and Brian Brobbey were out, but I felt that they weren’t the key factor against Sparta. We started with our usual positive 4-2-3-1 setup and expected to see some goals.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Lopes, Salah-Eddine, Taylor, Marin (60. van de Beek), Kühn (60. van der Sloot), Ferreira (73. Gravenberch), Tadic, Traore

We started well and in 7’ we got our first clear cut chance of the game. Dušan Tadic sent a close range header on target, but it was tripped over by the Sparta goalkeeper. We had initiative, but it was Sparta who scored the goal - Anass Salah-Eddine lost a tackle near the corner flag and the following cross found Mohammed Tahiri unmarked in our six yard box. Easy tap-in for a finish and we were left searching for the equalizer. Soon we got close, but Lassina Traore’s header deflected away from the crossbar and at the halftime we were still trailing. The biggest problem seemed to be that we couldn’t manage to gain enough possession - Sparta looked comfortable with the ball and despite our high pressing we couldn’t get the ball back quickly enough. I switched to attacking 4-2-3-1 in the second half, but it didn’t help - a couple of good attempts on target from Tadic and Traore, but that was not good enough. Even late in the game, after Sparta’s Leeroy Owusu was sent off after his second booking, we couldn’t create enough pressure on goal to find a goal and were left empty-handed. I was frustrated and really upset, because it was a humiliating defeat in front of our home fans and we lacked both tactical wit to make a change (that one’s clearly the manager’s fault), but our players lacked determination and confidence as well. Perhaps we deserved a point from this game, but we should have been a lot better against Sparta and there’s no excuse for this defeat.

  • we lost possession 39/61 - something extremely rare in Johan Cruijff Arena
  • our average rating was 6.69 - fair assessment of the game
  • Player of the game: Mohammed Tahiri (Sparta Rotterdam) - didn’t do much, but scored the winner and that’s good enough


21.02.2023 - Real Madrid - AFC Ajax 1:3 (Champions League 1st knockout round 1st leg) - 26. Mauro Icardi - 76. Steven van der Sloot, 89. Lassina Traore, 90.+6 Anass Salah-Eddine

After our poor display against Sparta at home, we travelled to Santiago Bernabeu to meet Real Madrid in the Champions League. It was a very tough draw for us, without a doubt, and it was a shame that Quincy Promes was injured for those important fixtures. I had a feeling that we’d do fine without him in Eredivisie, but in the Champions League we really needed attacking players like him against big teams.

To be honest, I didn’t expect much from the away game against Real. Our opponents were clear favourites at home and I just hoped that a narrow defeat could leave us something to play for in Amsterdam. So I opted for a balanced, more careful 4-2-3-1 formation with a few tweaks and relied on more experienced players in this game.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Blind, Salah-Eddine, Taylor, van de Beek (73. Marin), Kühn (73. van der Sloot), Gravenberch (58. Ferreira), Tadic, Traore

We almost scored a flyer - Nicolas Kühn found some space in the box after our good combination, but his attempt was parried wide by Thibaut Courtois. Real soon showed that they can be dangerous when Mauro Icardi sent his close range shot against the post in 5’. The first half looked fairly even football until Icardi scored the first goal in 26’ - he won the aerial duel against Perr Schuurs and headed in a cross from our left flank. The goal seemed to give Real some confidence and they looked to have initiative after that, so at half time I knew that we had to change something. Ryan Gravenberch completely disappeared in attack, so I brought in Marco Ferreira in the second half and changed some individual instructions to players. Noussair Mazraoui switch to IWBs to give us numbers in midfield and it was his clever pass that found substitute Steven van der Sloot behind Real defense - van der Sloot has played some games in AMR, but he now scored his first goal of the season with a calm finish. What a moment for the youngster to finally find the net. Real grew anxious after our equalizer and they switched to very attacking 4-3-3, taking some risks in the process and so they left a lot of space in their own half. We could exploit that and we took full advantage late in the game. Anass Salah-Eddine crossed for Lassina Traore and Traore headed in from the near post to score his 20th goal of the season. And deep in injury time (6 additional minutes were given because of injuries to Raphael Varane and Eden Hazard) Salah-Eddine made something sensational - his ambitious strike from 23 meters was drilled into the top corner and Courtois was helpless. Three - one! THREE goals in Santiago Bernabeu. All scored inside the last fifteen minutes and all count as away goals in this tie. Wow. Real looked beaten and we were delighted. Brilliant fifteen minutes to turn it around and stun Real in their own home. I’m not sure that anybody expected that and Carlo Ancelotti was understandably grim and humbled in his press conference. That’s the best result in a while and we have all the chances to get this aggregate win in Amsterdam now.

  • we didn’t have any real chances in this game, but managed to score three goals
  • our shooting accuracy was pretty good, but we made only 7 key passes
  • Lassina Traore scored his 20th goal of the season
  • Player of the game: Anass Salah-Eddine - brilliant ten minutes from him in the end


26.02.2023 - Feyenoord Rotterdam - AFC Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 15. Dušan Tadic

No chance to celebrate that last win for too long, as we now had another Klassieker Derby coming up. We had just played Feyenoord in January and took a narrow 1:0 win in Johan Cruijff Arena, but I expected them to put up a more serious fight in De Kuip. I continued with a balanced 4-2-3-1, because it was an away derby and selected our best players who could make a difference in this game. Kian Fitz-Jim was also fit again after his injury and he was ready to come on from the bench.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui (46. Veltman), Schuurs, Blind, Salah-Eddine, Taylor, van de Beek, Kühn (71. van der Sloot), Ferreira, Tadic (71. Fitz-Jim), Traore

It was a tight game, as usual between us and Feyenoord. We got a half-chance in 15’ when Nicolas Kühn found Tadic at the far post and the experienced Serbian made it 1:0 with a good volley. It was our first chance of the game and we were clinical with finishing. Tadic sent his header from a corner against the crossbar late in the first half, but chances were few for both teams and so were attempts in general.

We managed to keep hold of our lead in the second half. There weren’t many chances, but I witnessed some good defending - key headers and key tackles from our defensive line to keep pressure to our goal minimal and while we couldn’t add another goal ourselves, it was just good enough to scrape it. Not too many beautiful attacks and definitely not entertaining football, but plenty of duels and challenges and the desire from players to give their everything was clearly evident. I was very happy with our narrow win and even more so because AZ Alkmaar dropped another two points at the same time.

  • we had 60% possession - good enough
  • Player of the game: Perr Schuurs - good defensive performance from him



Just like in January we had one bad result this month, but generally I’m very happy with our form. Important thing is to win big games and we did exactly that against Real and Feyenoord and we have a solid lead in the Eredivisie table as a result. Our Champions League campaign is far from over and we are eager to match Real again in March.

We have plenty of positives to note in our performances, too - good number of clean sheets and excellent goalscoring form is something I hope we can maintain in the coming weeks.

There are a few notes about players that I’d like to point out. Firstly, Lassina Traore - his now reached 20 goals in this season, he’s leading Eredivisie scoring chart and has finally found his rhythm for Ajax. The second thing is that after the January transfer window we have some sort of long vision emerging of what sort of team we will be after this Summer. Three players are surely leaving and I’m choosing replacements within the ranks. It’s also obvious that young 18 years old centre-back Carlos Manuel Lopes is one of the brightest talents in the squad and he’s shown that he’s better than Devyne Rensch in the DLC position. He could be our long term replacement for Daley Blind and no wonder that PSG was already lurking and hoping to sign him. There are a number of players who have a chance to impress, but they just have to step up and take it. In some games (like against Real) we saw the younger generation taking over and showing what they can do, but then in the Klassieker Derby we once again relied on experienced veterans to make the difference.




Curious table at the end of February. AZ Alkmaar have drawn four games in a row and PSV Eindhoven is climbing up quickly to push them to third place. Vitesse Arnhem is also dropping like a stone - without a win in the last five games, with three straight defeats. Hard to believe that they were contenders in Autumn. FC Groningen have finally picked up some wins and they’re now on the course to reach the top half of the table and FC Utrecht have also won three games straight. They’re still in the relegation zone, but they’ve regained some confidence and that helps them forward to get the next results. That leaves Fortuna Sittard and De Graafschap as the main relegation candidates when there’s 11 games to go.

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March 2023


Six games in March and they’re all home games. That’s the first month like that I’ve seen in my career. But it’s good to travel less and concentrate on both training and matches. Second leg game with Real Madrid is the big test this month. Eredivisie fixtures offer a variety of bottom half clubs that should be easy to deal with.


02.03.2023 - AFC Ajax - NEC Nijmegen 8:1 (TOTO KNVB Beker Semi Final) - 17. Kian Fitz-Jim, 24., 61. and 69. Lassina Traore, 42. and 49. pen. Razvan Marin, 59. Youri Regeer, 67. Alen Karahasanovic - 62. Aziz Ceylan

NEC wasn’t the strongest opponent for us, but it was a big enough fixture - the cup semi final is a stage where anything could happen, so you have to be prepared. We started with our usual positive 4-2-3-1 formation and treated this game as any other league fixture, perhaps rotating a little bit more than usual.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui (59. van der Sloot), Rensch, Lopes, Douglas (59. Baas), Regeer, Marin, Kühn (59. Karahasanovic), Gravenberch, Fitz-Jim, Traore

I’m not really sure where NEC did wrong. Perhaps they came to this game with a little too optimistic, little bit too attacking mindset, but after we opened scoring in 17’ with an excellent counter-attack (and calm finish from Kian Fitz-Jim), their defense were carved open. Our midfielders frequently found Lassina Traore on the run and Traore had plenty of space to run into. The first Traore’s goal came from such a pass and in the end of the first half, when Razvan Marin fired from the edge of the area, it was 3:0 and virtually game over.

When NEC’s defense looked fragile enough in the first half, they completely collapsed after the break. Mistakes were coming and goals flooding and NEC’s consolation goal in 62’ was their only bright moment in this game. I pretty much switched off after making all three substitutions in 59’, but our attacks didn’t stop. Lassina Traore completed his hat-trick and substitute Alen Karahasanovic got himself to the score sheet to make it 8:1. Ridiculous score for the cup semi final and NEC squad probably feels pretty ashamed after that kind of beating.

  • our shooting was 33/18 in this game
  • we created 6 clear cut chances - it looked way too easy
  • our average rating was 8.59
  • Player of the game: Lassina Traore - in a match where more than half of the players recorded 9.0+ ratings, Traore stood out with his hat-trick


05.03.2023 - AFC Ajax - Willem II Tilburg 4:0 (ED) - 27. pen. Kenneth Taylor, 42. and 61. Lassina Traore, 69. Alen Karahasanovic

Willem II could be a mid-table side, but they’ve sunk to 14th in the recent weeks. One part of that might be the fact that they allowed their best midfielder Dries Saddiki to part for CSKA Moscow in January (that transfer took place after Eredivisie transfer window was already closed) and they lack depth to recover from that loss.

We, on the other hand, felt invincible. Our recent run of good wins in important games and 8:1 trashing of NEC Nijmegen kept us going high and we were really, really confident going against Willem II. We still missed Quincy Promes and Brian Brobbey due to injuries, but we had enough good players to get the result without them.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Rensch, Lopes, Salah-Eddine (67. Douglas), Taylor (67. Regeer), van de Beek, Kühn (59. Karahasanovic), Ferreira, Fitz-Jim, Traore

We started well, but in 10’ Willem II found the first clear cut chance of the game: Mats Köhlert got away from Devyne Rensch too easily and found the open goal in front of him, but Gürcan Dere did very well to parry his shot wide. Lassina Traore found a first good moment in 23’, but he sent his shot wide of the post and missed the opportunity. However, we took control in 27’ - Traore was tripped in the box after our promising attack, and Kenneth Taylor converted the penalty. Traore got himself into the score sheet in the end of the first half when Kian Fitz-Jim delivered a great ball on the run for him and Traore finished calmly. We had a comfortable 2:0 lead at the half time and it was well deserved. Fitz-Jim and Traore looked difficult to handle for Willem II defense and we had full control of the game.

Köhlert tested our goalkeeper again right after the second half kick-off, but that was the last good moment to Willem II in attack. Lassina Traore scored his second goal of the game with an outstanding chip from 15 meters and substitute Alen Karahasanovic added another goal with a lovely strike to make it 4:0. It was a really confident win and consistent with our recent form, so pretty much what was expected from us. 

  • our shooting was 23/9 in this game
  • we made 22 individual mistakes - I didn’t like that stats
  • Alen Karahasanovic scored his first career league goal for Ajax
  • Lassina Traore scored his 25th goal of the season
  • Donny van de Beek made his 200th league appearance for Ajax
  • Lassina Traore and Kian Fitz-Jim had a great game - both had a 9.0+ rating
  • Player of the game: Lassina Traore - scored a brace, could have been a hat-trick


08.03.2023 - AFC Ajax - FC Emmen 2:0 (ED) - 9. pen. Dušan Tadic, 45.+1 Nicolas Kühn

Next team in line was FC Emmen - another mid-table side. We were confident before the game, especially because FC Emmen had no less than six players missing - three due to injuries and three suspended. We missed Donny van de Beek due to a small injury. Good news is that Brian Brobbey is back in full training and he was on the bench for this game.

Squad: Dere, Veltman, Schuurs, Lopes, Salah-Eddine (56. Douglas), Taylor, Marin, Kühn (67. Karahasanovic), Ferreira, Tadic, Traore (63. Brobbey)

We took the early lead - Lassina Traore got through on a counter and he was tripped in the box by late-arriving Greg Leigh. VAR confirmed it was a penalty and Leigh was booked. Experienced Dušan Tadic converted from the spot and we were in control of the game for a while. FC Emmen had a great chance to score an equalizer in 26’, but Kaj de Rooij scooped his shot well over the bar. Greg Leigh received his second yellow card in 45’ and that was it - it looked really difficult for FC Emmen to come back in the second half with 10 men. To make it worse, we sent them to their dressing room with another goal. Nicolas Kühn cut in from the right and finished with a fabulous strike from 19 meters to make it 2:0 and with that, it was a game over.

We controlled the game well in the second half and FC Emmen couldn’t create anything dangerous with just 10 players. We had two good chances to score more goals, but both Kühn and Razvan Marin didn’t execute well enough. Nevertheless, 2:0 is a decent score and I was satisfied with the performance.

  • we had 66% possession in this game
  • our shooting was 23/10
  • Player of the game: Marco Ferreira - constantly delivered key passes and set up Kühn’s goal


12.03.2023 - AFC Ajax - FC Utrecht 1:0 (ED) - 40. Perr Schuurs

Next up, the struggling FC Utrecht - our opponents were 16th currently and fighting against relegation. Their form was improving, though, and they’ve collected three wins from their last five games, so that was a sign of confidence and, perhaps, tide turning for them. I didn’t worry too much about the result and shuffled our line-up a little, already thinking of the upcoming Champions League game. We had Carlos Manuel Lopes suspended for this league game and Donny van de Beek was doubtful because of a small knock, so I decided to give him a day off.

Squad: Dere, Veltman, Schuurs, Rensch, Salah-Eddine (74. Douglas), Regeer, Marin, van der Sloot (64. Karahasanovic), Ferreira, Tadic, Traore (69. Brobbey)

It was a really drab match from start to finish. I lack noteworthy moments to report about it, other than Lassina Traore’s first half header that hit the post and Perr Schuur’s winner - another header from a corner that secured us all three points in this game. Both teams struggled to create moments and in the end we scraped it 1:0, but it wasn’t a pretty game of football by any terms.

  • we had 60% possession, so we controlled the ball, at least
  • we didn’t give FC Utrecht any chances in this game, so I can be happy with our defense
  • Player of the game: Perr Schuurs


15.03.2023 - AFC Ajax - Real Madrid 2:2 (Champions League 1st knockout round 2nd leg) - 25. Donny van de Beek, 90.+2 Lassina Traore - 77. Luka Jovic, 90.+3 Rodrygo

There it was, the big game. Real Madrid came to Amsterdam, knowing that they needed to score at least three goals in the away game, to have a chance of aggregate win. We knew that defending well and keeping possession was more important than scoring, so we went for a balanced and careful 4-2-3-1 formation. Anass Salah-Eddine, who scored a brilliant goal in Santiago Bernabeu, was suspended for this game, but Donny van de Beek was fit and started in the midfield.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui (87. Veltman), Schuurs, Blind, Douglas, Taylor, van de Beek (74. Marin), Kühn, Gravenberch (66. Ferreira), Fitz-Jim, Traore

The first 20-30 minutes were careful from both sides, but looking at it from the sidelines I had a sense that we had more control over the proceedings and we looked comfortable with possession. We scored a great team goal in 25’ - good attacking combination from the left and Kian Fitz-Jim knocked it back to the edge of the area, where Donny van de Beek arrived into the box to hit it brilliantly. A really outstanding goal and Real looked even more disheartened by it. We almost got the second in 33’ - Lassina Traore took the ball to a counter-attack, his attempt from close range was parried and so the first chance was wasted, but Ryan Gravenberch was there to finish it off from the rebound, only to see his attempt being blocked and then the ball was scrambled away by defenders. We had two of the best moments in the first half and held a narrow lead at the half time, but Real didn’t have a single chance in the first period. Their shots were just 2/1 in the first half and I was even more happy with our solid defense than I was with van de Beek’s goal.

The second half was more quiet and Real didn’t press us too hard until their substitute Luka Jovic equalized in 77’. It was a counter-attack after our corner and our defenders were caught napping there by quick movement of Real players. That goal gave Real some hope and for the last ten minutes they switched to 4-3-3. That gave us more space in attack and substitute Razvan Marin tested Thibaut Courtois with two good attempts, both saved brilliantly by the Belgian goalkeeper. Lassina Traore got through in injury time and his decisive finish was a pure class - Courtois was helpless against it and I was delighted with the late winner, but it wasn’t to be our victory just yet. Rodrygo managed to equalize with a fine strike from an IFK and so the final score was 2:2. I wasn’t too disappointed and Real players looked relieved not to lose the second game against us, but in aggregate we still went through into the quarter finals with a comfortable 5:3 win.

  • our shooting was 15/11 in this game and we created 3 clear cut chances - not too bad against Real Madrid
  • Player of the game: Donny van de Beek


19.03.2023 - AFC Ajax - Heracles Almelo 3:0 (ED) - 15. Nicolas Kühn, 44. Marco Ferreira, 90.+3 Kian Fitz-Jim

The last game before international break and I hope to finish our month strong, because PSV Eindhoven are on the winning streak. They’re still some points behind us, but their form makes me feel that we can’t slip up and give them the chance to close the gap. Heracles, at the same time have somehow climbed up to the 4th place and it’s fair to say that they’re the surprise package of the second half of the season.

There’s also a reason to celebrate, as this is my 200th game in management.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui (69. van der Sloot), Schuurs, Lopes, Salah-Eddine, Taylor, van de Beek (69. Marin), Kühn (69. Karahasanovic), Ferreira, Fitz-Jim, Traore

It was a routine win for us. Nicolas Kühn scored the first goal after Ferreira brought the ball down cleverly right onto his path and Ferreira himself doubled our lead with a header in the end of the first half. We had initiative for the most part of the first half. Heracles played for counter-attacks, but that didn’t work out too well for them. Marco Ferreira was the creative force in our attack and played part of both goals.

Heracles had one good chance to score in the second half. Carlos Manuel Lopes spent a little bit too long with the ball, Cyriel Dessers took him away from him and went for a goal, but Gürcan Dere saved the clear cut chance and parried it away. Kian Fitz-Jim completed the rout in injury time after a fine counter attack and that wrapped things up well. A solid win for us and another three points in the bag.

  • we had 62% possession in this game
  • we allowed Heracles to make 27 dribbles - way too many
  • Player of the game: Marco Ferreira - great game from the attacking midfielder - he was part of two goals, made 8 key passes and 7 dribbles



Really successful March in all competitions. Win over Real Madrid was unexpected and will give us a lot of reputation and coefficient points in the UEFA table. Players are starting to get fit, and are in good form. We score plenty of goals and generally look confident and composed on the pitch.




PSV Eindhoven is still going strong. They’re undefeated since October (sic!) and with just 6 points between us, waiting eagerly for us to slip up and give away our advantage. Heracles remain 4th, surprisingly. Vitesse is dropping through the table like a stone - they looked like contenders in Autumn, but now could easily end up in the middle of the table. FC Groningen have leaped up from the relegation zone, but FC Utrecht is still fighting their battle against relegation.

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Youth Intake 2023


The preview that our HoYD showed me in Winter looked fairly average.



When the new bunch of kids finally arrived at the academy in March, I was a little bit shocked. The actual level of talent was nowhere near of what was promised and according to my staff, the most promising player was the left winger Remy Boer with around 2,5* potential. Two players who are potentially 3* are both 17 years old (already), so we lack time to develop their talent properly before age starts to kick in.

I feel robbed. Where is that golden generation that was promised? Where was the talent of the central midfield? I haven’t been so empty handed in March before in that save, and that was a big blow to our long term ambitions.





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  • 2 weeks later...

April 2023


Our schedule was packed in February and March, but April is something else. Nine (yes, nine!) games in the month, with two Topper derbies with PSV Eindhoven and two important games against Manchester City coming up within two weeks. It’s important to balance our training schedule between games and keep our key players fresh for the next fixture. It’s the most important part of the season, too - our league game against PSV is a title six-pointer and I assume that the Eredivisie champions will be crowned before the end of April.


02.04.2023 - Fortuna Sittard - AFC Ajax 0:4 (ED) - 11. Marco Ferreira, 34., 45. and 53. Nicolas Kühn

In the tough month that’s probably one of the easiest games for us. Fortuna are the last in the table and we’re clear favourites for the game. We missed Noussair Mazraoui and Quincy Promes who still needed a little bit more time to regain full fitness..

Squad: Dere, van der Sloot, Veltman, Lopes, Salah-Eddine (60. Douglas), Regeer, Marin, Kühn (60. Karahasanovic), Ferreira (28. Gravenberch), Fitz-Jim, Traore

We almost scored a flyer in the first minute after the kick-off. Good build-up from left led to a chance to Lassina Traore. The attempt was blocked, but the follow-up shot from Kian Fitz-Jim forced Fortuna goalkeeper to make the first good save of the game. Fortuna got their best chance of the game in 9’ - Stijn Meijer’s attempt was well held by Gürcan Dere, and then we took control of the game. Good transition football from Kian Fitz-Jim, Marco Ferreira danced his way past the defender and finished with a very well placed shot. Good goal. Nicolas Kühn doubled our lead with a volley from the far post (cross from Anass Salah-Eddine) and Kühn’s header right before the half time whistle sent us to the break with a comfortable 3:0 lead.

We never looked back. Kühn was on the hunt for the hat-trick and while he blew his first chance to complete it in 51’, he scored his third goal four minutes later with a beautifully curled strike from the edge of the area. We then relaxed and I made all substitutions in 60’ to give our key  players some rest ahead of the big games. A fairly comfortable win and good start to our month.

  • we had 61% possession in this game
  • our shooting was 26/15
  • we made 24 key passes and created 3 clear cut chances - that always helps
  • Nicolas Kühn and Razvan Marin were outstanding in this game
  • Player of the game: Nicolas Kühn - hat-trick hero


05.04.2023 - Manchester City - AFC Ajax 1:1 (Champions League Quarter Final 1st leg) - 27. Aymeric Laporte - 44. Nicolas Kühn

Big game. Tough game in the Etihad Stadium. Our tactical choices were easy - we went with the same balanced 4-2-3-1 that served us well against Real Madrid. Our team selection was more difficult - Noussair Mazraoui was not yet fit to start, Kenneth Taylor was suspended, so we missed two first team players, but Quincy Promes is finally back and he’ll start on the bench. I opted for Terrence Douglas in left-back, because he’s a more physical player than Anass Salah-Eddine and I expected us to need that against strong and quick players of City.

Squad: Dere, Veltman, Schuurs, Blind, Douglas, Regeer (86. Marin), van de Beek, Kühn, Gravenberch (67. Ferreira), Fitz-Jim (79. Promes), Traore

Terrence Douglas almost got himself to the headlines in the beginning of the game. His raid to the City box led to a fierce shot that was tripped over by Ederson and so the left-back denied a great goal in the highest level. Ryan Gravenberch saw his close range attempt being blocked and for a moment it looked like we’re doing really well, but that illusion was erased in 12’ - Erling Haaland was unmarked at the near post when the cross came from our left, but his close range shot hit the post and so the chance was missed. Leroy Sane saw his header hit the crossbar in 22’ and when Laporte headed in from a corner, it looked like the inevitable finally happened. Against all odds, we managed to equalize before the half-time and it was again Nicolas Kühn for the rescue - his ambitious attempt from 20 meters was just too good for Emerson to save and it was another beautiful goal for the winger. Manchester City were clearly the better team in the first half, but we scored an important goal and everything still looked possible for us.

The second half continued in the same fashion - City had initiative, but their body language did miss something - determination and motivation just wasn’t there. They got some good shots on target, but Gürcan Dere looked ready and kept his awareness until the final whistle, so we returned from Manchester with a 1:1 draw that felt like a small win. I was very happy with the result and with the fact that we had something to play for in the second leg.

  • we gave just 5 key passes in this game
  • Player of the game: Nicolas Kühn - good equalizer from the right winger


08.04.2023 - AFC Ajax - PSV Eindhoven 3:1 (ED) - 17. Lassina Traore, Donny van de Beek, 33. Nicolas Kühn - 18. Michal Sadilek

It was a title six-pointer between two Manchester City games. We have a six points lead in the table with one game in hand, so to really challenge for the title PSV had to win this game. We could settle with a draw, but home advantage gives us the edge and we really owe to PSV after they defeated us 1:0 in Eindhoven back in January.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Lopes, Salah-Eddine (78. Douglas), Taylor, van de Beek, Kühn (68. Promes), Gravenberch (61. Ferreira), Fitz-Jim, Traore

It looked an even game in the first 15 minutes - no real chances and teams traded attacks. Perr Schuurs directed a header from IFK against the post in 10’, but the breakthrough came in 17’ - Donny van de Beek, who wore the captain’s armband today, gave a lovely through ball to Lassina Traore and the striker finished calmly. 1:0 didn’t last too long - PSV got a corner and Kenneth Taylor lost Michal Sadilek in the box. The PSV midfielder got to the ball at the near post and headed it in before the  full minute had passed since our goal. I cursed at the sidelines, but nothing to do now - just dig deep, try to play our game and search for another goal. For the next 10 minutes after the equalizer it looked like PSV got initiative in the game, but then thunder struck twice. Donny van de Beek had a little bit of space in midfield and his screamer from 24 meters landed right next to the post. Nothing that PSV goalkeeper Lars Unnerstall could do about it. Unnerstall had to pick another ball out of his goal five minutes later - this time it was Nicolas Kühn who did the damage. He received the pass with his back to the goal, turned around and drilled it home from 24 meters into the bottom corner. Two outstanding strikes within five minutes and with that, PSV were undone. The stat sheet reflected a fairly even game, but we went to the half time with a 3:1 lead.

The second half was more quiet - both teams tried, but nothing too dangerous emerged and we always had a little bit more control over possession, so it remained 3:1. It was a very important win for us on the road to secure another Eredivisie title and a bad omen to PSV Eindhoven ahead of the cup final in about one week’s time.

  • we had 60% possession in this game
  • our shooting was 18/10 - good accuracy
  • Nicolas Kühn scored his 10th goal of the season
  • Player of the game: Donny van de Beek - true leader in midfield, scored a stunning goal and played worthy of the armband


11.04.2023 - AFC Ajax - Manchester City 1:0 (Champions League Quarter Final 2nd leg) - 13. Lassina Traore

Good news is that all players are fit for this game and Johan Cruijff Arena was packed with fans that were eager to see if we could beat such a big club as Manchester City in the home game. I went for the usual balanced 4-2-3-1 tactics, but tweaked some corner instructions to prevent counter-attacks. It’s curious that Nicolas Kühn is still without a contract even though he’s been superb against big oppositions in recent games. It shouldn’t take long before he attracts some attention.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Blind, Salah-Eddine, Taylor, van de Beek (74. Marin), Kühn (56. Promes), Gravenberch (65. Ferreira), Fitz-Jim, Traore

Surprisingly, we took the lead in 13’ - Lassina Traore headed it in from a cross by Kian Fitz-Jim. The goal gave us a lot of confidence, even though Manchester City almost equalized two minutes later. I knew that we took the risk, playing with the high defensive line, even though it wasn’t constantly exploited by our opponents. Still, one defense-splitting long ball found its way to Gabriel Jesus, who had a good look on our goal, but Gürcan Dere did well to parry his shot away. We had our best opportunity of the first half in 39’ - Lassina Traore broke the offside trap and got through, but was also stopped by Ederson and his second attempt landed comfortably in the City goalkeeper’s hands. The first half looked fairly even - both teams had one good chance, but Traore’s header gave us the edge and some confidence for the second period.

The second half continued in the same fashion - both teams looked fairly equal (perhaps Manchester City had a little bit more attacks), but the first really good chance came for us when there was less than 15 minutes to play. Marco Ferreira did well to win the challenge and his ball put Lassina Traore in a great position, but the forward made a mess out of his shot and sent the ball straight at the goalkeeper. Manchester City started to take more risks in the final minutes. Sergio Agüero showed his skills to run into our box in a counter-attack. Mazraoui (already booked) didn’t dare to foul him and Agüero found space at the near post, but Gürcan Dere made a fine save to deny him. Lassina Traore had two more easy chances in injury time to bury this, but the first attempt was blocked and the second well saved by Ederson. It remained 1:0 and this narrow win got us the ticket into the semi final. Huge moment and I was obviously delighted with our solid defensive performance and with all of the players.

  • our shooting was 18/10 - not bad at all
  • we managed to create 4 clear cut chances against Manchester City (!), but missed them all
  • we’ll play Atletico Madrid in the semi final
  • Player of the game: Lassina Traore - scored the winner, that’s enough


16.04.2023 - AFC Ajax - PSV Eindhoven p1:1 (TOTO KNVB Beker Final) - 83. pen. Quincy Promes - 57. Johan Bakayoko

The cup final was held at De Kuip, so it was really a neutral ground for both teams. PSV were obviously hurting after the league defeat and itching to get the record straight. We were on a high after beating Manchester City and with five days to prepare for the game, looked fit and ready for the battle.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui (103. Veltman), Schuurs, Blind, Salah-Eddine, Taylor, van de Beek (103. Marin), Kühn (57. Promes), Ferreira (71. Gravenberch), Fitz-Jim, Traore

We had a small initiative in what was generally an even first half, but towards the end of the period we got two great chances to score. First Lassina Traore received a cross at the near post, but his attempt from close range was blocked and then Marco Ferreira blew his one-on-one opportunity after our counter. Teams went to the half time with a 0:0 score, but it was an encouraging period and it felt like the goal was just a matter of time and I had a feeling that one goal could be all that was needed in this game.

The second half started in the same way - with our wasted chances. Traore sent his header over the crossbar from point blank range before Daley Blind’s missed interception gave Johan Bakayoko a crack and the PSV winger fired it into the far post. Good shot, but I was gutted, because it came completely against the run of the game. PSV organized their defense well and we tried hard to find the equalizer until we were helped by VAR and penalty - Perr Schuurs was pushed in the box by Wesley Hoedt, the referee checked the replay and awarded the penalty that was expertly converted by Quincy Promes. When the final whistle was called it felt that we were saved by VAR and in the extra time that followed we struggled to create good chances. PSV concentrated on the defense, too, and so the game went to the penalty shoot-out.  In there we looked more calm and confident - all of our four penalties landed in the net. Gürcan Dere saved one penalty and one hit the post, so after four rounds of penalties it was all over - we secured the cup fifth time in a row and even though it was a narrow win, it was well deserved.

  • our shooting was 20/10 in this game 
  • we created 4 clear cut chances - need to finish better
  • Quincy Promes scored his 10th goal of the season
  • Player of the game: Johan Bakayoko (PSV Eindhoven) - a great goal from him, but it wasn’t enough for PSV


19.04.2023 - AFC Ajax - Vitesse Arnhem 3:0 (ED) - 19. Dušan Tadic, 29. Lassina Traore, 87. Carlos Manuel Lopes

That could be the game that would secure our title. Vitesse are a strong team and they’ve added a couple of more loanees from Chelsea to their squad in the January transfer window, but somehow their form has dipped and they’ve won just one game in their past 13 league fixtures. There’s also the question of revenge on the table, as we suffered defeat the last time we played Vitesse. That should add extra motivation to the players.

We had some tired legs in the team after playing 120 minutes against PSV. Noussair Mazraoui and Anass Salah-Eddine definitely needed a day off, and the team was heavily rotated.

Squad: Dere, van der Sloot, Schuurs (63. Rensch), Lopes, Douglas, Regeer, Marin, Promes (70. Karahasanovic), Ferreira, Tadic, Traore (70. Brobbey)

The Vitesse setup looked very defensive and in the first half they didn’t really attack our goal - their first attempt came when more than 30 minutes were played. Their formation was difficult to break and we didn’t create too many chances, but scored two goals in the first period anyway. Dušan Tadic opened things up with a beautiful free kick from 23 meters that curled around the wall and landed next to the post. Lassina Traore doubled our lead with a good header. After the good first half we looked confident in our lead and I didn’t have too many concerns.

We had a chance to extend our lead in 51’ - Steven van der Sloot was tripped in the box, but Dušan Tadic managed to send his penalty wide of the post. That missed chance didn’t cause us any troubles, though, and in the end of the game Lopes’ header from a corner wrapped things up nicely. 3:0 was a comfortable win and that result secured our fifth Eredivisie title in a row.

  • our shooting was 25/13 in this game
  • we gave only 7 key passes
  • Lassina Traore scored his 50th career league goal
  • Player of the game: Carlos Manuel Lopes - very solid defensively, good in the air and scored a goal


22.04.2023 - FC Groningen - AFC Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 73. Brian Brobbey

From now on it seems right to concentrate on the remaining Champions League games and rotation players will get more chances in Eredivisie. The opponents are not the easiest in the next weeks, but that’s a test that they need and our best eleven should be fit and rested before the Atletico Madrid game.

Squad: Dere, van der Sloot (70. Veltman), Rensch, Lopes, Douglas, Regeer, Marin, Promes (59. Karahasanovic), Ferreira, Tadic, Brobbey

The first half didn’t offer entertaining and attacking football. Instead we had a small number of shots and even fewer good chances. Brian Brobbey had one good opportunity in 4’, but his close range attempt landed against the post and another good shot on target late in the first half was brilliantly parried away by the FC Groningen goalkeeper. So, at half time it was still 0:0 and it looked like our backup striker was a little bit rusty on the pitch.

Brobbey continued to get chances in the second half, but unfortunately continued to miss them, too, until the opportunity came in 73’ - backpass from FC Groningen defenders put their goalkeeper under pressure and Brobbey managed to win the ball back and send it into the empty goal from 17 meters. Good strike and that was enough to win the game. Brobbey missed another easy chance in 73’, but it didn’t affect the result in the end. 

I was satisfied with the final result - we had plenty of chances and on a better day Brobbey could have been a hat-trick hero. He missed a lot of opportunities, but he’ll get better with more playing time.

  • our shooting was 14/11 in this game
  • we created 3 clear cut chances and didn’t give FC Groningen any goal scoring opportunities
  • Player of the game: Brain Brobbey - a good goal and man of the match performance despite those missed chances


25.04.2023 - AFC Ajax - Atletico Madrid 1:0 (Champions League Semi Final) - 34. Ryan Gravenberch

I haven’t played in the Champions League semi final before in my career, so obviously it’s a huge opportunity for us, but we’ll take one game at the time and see what happens. It’s important not to concede goals at home, so keeping possession and good organization in defense was crucial to our success. Sadly, Quincy Promes has to miss this game with a minor knock - Nicolas Kühn will start on the right wing.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Blind, Salah-Eddine (90.+2 Douglas), Taylor, van de Beek, Kühn, Gravenberch, Fitz-Jim (81. Tadic), Traore (88. Brobbey)

We played a very good first half. It was a difference in mental preparation that gave us the edge in this game - Atletico players looked nervous, while we were committed and motivated, and that allowed us to take the game to them. We offered a good variety of attacks and shots on target and even though we didn’t create particularly dangerous chances, we always held a small initiative and it was all capped off with a great goal from Ryan Gravenberch. He took the ball into the box in 34’ and fired it in with a great strike.

The same continued after the break. I knew it was more important to keep our clean sheet than try to score another goal, but we were so close to our second - Lassina Traore’s attempt in 48’ was parried by a fine save from Jan Oblak and Gravenberch’s ambitious strike from 25 meters hit the framework in 60’. It was a narrow win in the end, but a really good one, because we played excellent football and showed experience and maturity to cope with the pressure. That win gives us all of the chances for the second leg in Madrid.

  • our shooting was 21/14 in this game - really impressive, although we rarely put Jan Oblak out of his comfort zone
  • we couldn’t create any real chances in this game and gave only 3 key passes
  • Player of the game: Ryan Gravenberch - a memorable strike from him to win this game


27.04.2023 - sc Heerenveen - AFC Ajax 1:0 (ED) - 80. Noud van Kempen

Just two days since our last game and we didn’t have too much time to prepare for this game. We’re favourites, surely, but Heerenveen come to this game after their rather impressive 6:0 win over Fortuna Sittard and even though it’s just Fortuna who are rightly at the bottom of the table, this win must have given them a load of confidence. They also have a couple of really good talented young players in their team, so the away game against them won’t be easy.

My team selection was simple - almost all players were replaced and the first team that did so well against Atletico, got some much needed rest.

Squad: Dere, van der Sloot, Rensch (40. Veltman), Lopes, Douglas, Regeer, Marin, Kühn (68. Karahasanovic), Ferreira, Tadic (73. Fitz-Jim), Brobbey

The game itself was a huge disappointment, mainly because we lacked any motivation and spirit to actually fight in this game. sc Heerenveen got the best chance of the first half when Arjen van der Heide fought his way past Dušan Tadic, got into the area and took an attempt on target, but Gürkan Dere tipped it over. We had a couple of half chances in the first half, but nothing too dangerous and I’m disappointed to say that Heerenveen looked a slightly better team in the first period.

The same continued into the second half - we just lacked any spirit to fight. Noud van Kempen had a chance from close range in 75’ - his shot was superbly saved by Dere, but five minutes later inevitable happened and Heerenveen’s counter-attack led to their winning goal. We had a great opportunity to equalize in 86’, but Marco Ferreira rushed his attempt and sent the ball straight at the goalkeeper. Disappointing defeat and I wasn’t happy at all - second choice players or not, I expected a certain level of commitment and that was just not good enough. 

  • our shooting was just 9/5 in this game
  • we had 6.74 average rating
  • we made just 5 key passes and our crossing was poor throughout the game 
  • we made 22 individual mistakes with Steven van der Sloot being responsible for 5 of those
  • Devyne Rensch was injured in the first half and he’ll be out for 2 weeks with pulled ankle ligaments
  • Player of the game: Noud van Kempen (sc Heerenveen)


30.04.2023 - AFC Ajax - ADO Den Haag 1:0 (ED) - 27. Quincy Promes

The last game of this month was in one way pretty unimportant for us, but I knew that we needed a good performance to keep our confidence and spirit high before our trip to Madrid. Despite that, I used rotation players again and even goalkeeper Dani van den Heuvel was set for his debut for Ajax.

Squad: van den Heuvel, van der Sloot, Schuurs (70. Veltman), Lopes, Douglas (60. Baas), Regeer, Marin, Promes (70. Karahasanovic), Ferreira, Tadic, Brobbey

The game started with a dangerous moment in front of our goal. ADO got a free kick from some distance, but Youri Regeer lost his header in the box and the ball fell to Jurgen Mattheij who managed to fire wide of the post, like was expected from a centre-back. van den Heuvel was also perhaps too boldly moving away from the goal to intercept that cross, so Mattheij had an empty goal in front of him, but we escaped that situation without conceding. The rest of the first half was well under our control, but we struggled to finish off our chances. Or, it is more accurate to say, Brain Brobbey struggled. Quincy Promes was the active spark on our right wing and two of his crosses found Brobbey in front of the goal, but the attempts were saved and/or blocked, so nothing came out of it. Promes had to take matters into his own hands then and his long run from the middle of the pitch in 27’ led to a great solo strike that put us into the lead at the half time.

The second half was very similar - we controlled the game and created chances, but struggled with finishing. Brian Brobbey wasted another chance in 61’. Dušan Tadic had a poor game, but his free kick in 63’ curled around the wall nicely, only to be saved by Peter Leeuwenburgh. ADO Den Haag was left to 10 men in 88’ when Lucas Woudenberg received his second yellow card, but still we couldn’t add another goal. Brobbey saw his volley clip the post and Alen Karahasanovic blew his easy chance in injury time.

In conclusion, it was a good game, but extremely poor finishing from us

  • our shooting was 26/14
  • we created 4 clear cut chances in this game, but missed them all
  • Dani van den Heuvel made his league debut
  • Player of the game: Quincy Promes - outstanding game from him and it’s great to see him back in good form - we’ll need it in Madrid



It was a great month, really. All of the important games came our way and we managed to play our best football when it mattered the most. Our finishing could have been more clinical in some games, but really I can’t complain. Players are fit as well and that’s always something that gives depth to the team and gives the manager more options.




Pretty much the same - we’ve secured the title and the top of the table looks like what was expected before the season.

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May 2023


With such a long April behind us, we have just a couple of games remaining in our schedule and obviously we have the dream to reach the Champions League final after our good performance against Atletico. Let’s see how it plays out.


03.05.2023 - Atletico Madrid - AFC Ajax 3:0 (Champions League Semi Final 2nd leg) - 15. and 40. Joao Pedro, 90.+2 Calvin Stengs

So, the most important game of our season - the players have not been in this stage of the competition so far and I just hoped that nobody will be too nervous or anxious about the occasion. We need to channel this excitement in the right way.

Tactically it was an easy choice - we remained true to our balanced 4-2-3-1 formation.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Blind, Salah-Eddine, Taylor, van de Beek, Promes, Gravenberch (62. Ferreira), Fitz-Jim (72. Kühn), Traore (90.+1 Brobbey)

It wasn’t the worst first half from us, but some stupid mistakes in defense allowed Atletico to score twice. The first goal came after a series of poor decisions - Anass Salah-Eddine missed his interception and the cross came in from our left, Noussair Mazraoui attempted to head it away, but directed the ball against the crossbar, from where it bounced back in front of our goal for Joao Pedro to finish into the empty net. Most of our defenders and the goalkeeper looked disoriented and didn’t know what was happening. The second goal came after Salah-Eddine lost his aerial duel and the ball was knocked to Joao Pedro who finished into the empty net. I started to think that perhaps more physical Terrence Douglas would have been a better choice in our left defense in this game, but it was too late to change those decisions. We were 0:2 down at half time, but nothing was lost - we still needed just one goal to get the win on aggregate.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Atletico maintained their initiative in the second half and even though we had some good attempts on target, there were rarely any really good goal scoring opportunities. The best one came late in the game, in 84’ - long ball forward to Quincy Promes allowed him to get through the defense, but late arriving centre-back blocked his attempt. That was the chance and I knew that we blew it. Atletico’s third goal in injury time completed the rout and we were well beaten in the away game. Our Champions League campaign stopped there and I have to admit that it was a fair result - Atletico was clearly a better team and deserved to win by 2-3 goals. We need to see what we could do better in the future, but to be fair, we did extremely well to reach that far. At least the board was really excited about our continental campaign and, obviously, about prize money, too.

  • our average rating was just 6.74 in this game - nobody played too well


07.05.2023 - AZ Alkmaar - AFC Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 54. Carlos Manuel Lopes

The last game of the season for us was the Noord-Hollandse derby. It’s always preferable to have an easy game as the last of the season to just relax, chill and score some goals on the way and finish the season with good spirits, but in this year it wasn’t the case - AZ are a formidable team and in their own home they’ll going to give us the battle. Therefore I couldn’t rotate our squad as much as I would have done against weaker opponents, but we weren’t too concerned about the result, either. Another reason for changes was yellow cards - Donny van de Beek and Kenneth Taylor had a day off only to avoid their 5th booking of the season and following suspension. 

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui (69. van der Sloot), Veltman, Lopes, Douglas (69. Baas), Regeer, Marin, Promes (69. Karahasanovic), Ferreira, Fitz-Jim, Brobbey

It was a drab first half - we had the initiative, but we failed to create anything dangerous, but AZ at the same time failed to make a single attempt before the break, so for them it was even worse.

The second half looked slightly better in terms of attacking football. Brian Brobbey headed against the crossbar from close range before centre-back Carlos Manuel Lopes scored from Marin’s IFK to put us in the lead. AZ Alkmaar made their first shot when already 66’ were played, but they found the best chance of the game in 74’ - Gyrano Kerk received the long ball behind our defense and went through, but Gürcan Dere made a good save to parry his shot. So it remained 1:0 in the end and I was happy to finish our season with a win.

  • we made only 8 dribbles in this game
  • Gürcan Dere set the new club record - it was his 27th clean sheet in this season and 22 in the Eredivisie (new Eredivisie record)
  • Player of the game: Razvan Marin - a great performance from him, 8 key passes, an assist and overall boss midfield performance




Slightly disappointing end to our European campaign, but we’re not too disheartened by it. After our last game the rest of the month was fairly quiet - we trained and rested and made preparations with the new season in mind. The only noteworthy change is that I signed some new coaches to our Jong Ajax and as the board is rather generous at the moment with staff numbers and wages, I tried to fill those gaps.










The top of the table looks fairly regular, but the bottom three offer surprises. Fortuna Sittard and De Graafschap were relegated, but against all odds FC Utrecht lost their play-off game against FC Eindhoven (Eerste Divisie 7th) on penalties and they will drop to the lower division. That’s a bit of a shock, honestly. I always expected them to pick themselves up and win some games late in the season to get themselves out of the trouble, but they failed and that’s a huge hit to the big club.

Jong PSV Eindhoven won the Eerste Divisie, but NAC Breda, VVV Venlo and FC Eindhoven were promoted to Eredivisie for the next season. Jong Ajax finished in pretty respectable 7th place and our U-19 team were crowned U-19 champions.

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Season Update 2022/2023


That was, without a doubt, our most successful season so far. We’ve defended the title (with a considerable point gap in the end), we’ve secured our fifth cup win in a row (great achievement on our own) and we’ve reached the Champions League semi final which is our best campaign in continental competitions.

The board is obviously delighted, but there’s more to that than success in competitions.


We are rich. I mean - filthy rich. We have a £640m bank balance with some £400m transfer funds and competitions TV revenue and prize money has filled our coffers more than ever in this season.

We have a great squad. Good depth, talented youngsters and capable veterans. That’s something to build upon for the future.

Our success rubs off to all of the other clubs in Holland. Because of our consecutive good Champions League campaigns, Eredivisie has been granted additional places in continental competitions. Two clubs will now have a guaranteed place in the Champions League group stage and we also have automatic place in the Europa League group stage. I hope that other clubs in the league can take advantage of that and play well in the higher level.


The Squad

Considering what sort of doubts we had about our goalkeeper last Summer, Gürcan Dere has had a magnificent season. He is indeed incredibly talented and only 19 years old, but now has plenty of Champions League experience and his clean sheet records place him even above Andre Onana. We have a good depth in midfield and in attack. Marco Ferreira and Kian Fitz-Jim have emerged in this season and Dušan Tadic has been gently pushed aside. Tadic completed his coaching course this Spring and with one eye sets his sights on retirement that will arrive in the near future. We’ve been perhaps overly reliant on Lassina Traore with our goal scoring - he’s been on target 29 times this season, but he’s shown that he can score a lot when the tactics are right for him.


There are certainly areas we can improve. Our finishing is still not good enough - we’ve created 54 clear cut chances in Eredivisie games, but scored 24 out of them and that’s too wasteful. Our number of goals from set pieces has also dried up a little and we’ve not been concentrated on that in training as well.




Eredivisie awards


Golden Boot

  1. Richard Neudecker - FC Groningen
  2. Lassina Traore - AFC Ajax
  3. Clint Leemans - PEC Zwolle

Top Goalscorer

  1. Lassina Traore - AFC Ajax - 20
  2. Mohammed Tahiri - Sparta Rotterdam - 16
  3. Tamir Erdem - Feyenoord Rotterdam - 16

Young Player of the Season

  1. Carlos Manuel Lopes - AFC Ajax
  2. Sven Lautenschutz - Sparta Rotterdam
  3. Kenzo Goudmijn - AZ Alkmaar

Goalkeeper of the Year

  1. Karol Niemczycki - Sparta Rotterdam
  2. Jan Bekkema - sc Heerenveen
  3. Gürcan Dere - AFC Ajax

Manager’s Manager of the Year

  1. Me
  2. Hans-Dieter Flick - FC Groningen
  3. Ernest Faber - PSV Eindhoven
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Summer 2023


The first part of the Summer transfer window was fairly quiet. Plenty of transfer rumours around our first team players and the most notable one was Real Madrid’s interest in Kenneth Taylor, so I was anxiously waiting for an official bid with willingness to accept if the money was right. Some of the interest and bids were nothing less than ridiculous. PSV Eindhoven wanted to sign Gürcan Dere - it’s hard to imagine that a player who has just set the new goalkeeping record in the league and reached the Champions League semi finals would want to leave the club for the rival team. Some of the bids were more difficult to answer than others - Terrence Douglas and Devyne Rensch attracted some attention and I was considering if I should keep him or allow him to leave. But usually I just sat patiently and waited for big clubs to make hefty £40-50m bids to our first team players.



In the end of June Daley Blind left for Valencia (for free). His departure was obviously the one that caused most upset in the ranks of our fans. Team leader with more than 100 caps is certainly a big loss to our dressing room and some shifts in the team hierarchy were inevitable. Quincy Promes, Donny van de Beek and Dušan Tadic are now noted as team leaders.

Nicolas Kühn saw his contract run out and he too left the club. He is not good enough (on paper) for me to offer him a new deal, but good enough to score 10+ goals in each season (mostly in Eredivisie) so fans were equally disappointed with his departure. Kjell Scherpen, Hassane Bande and Eduardo Catalli also left, but they were not missed as much.



A number of players on loan returned to the club and some of them had a very successful season. Striker Jay Enem scored 20 goals in the Belgium league, Rio Hillen had a good season in Belgium, Julius Dirksen showed some fine performances in Spain and attacking midfielder Sontje Hansen also looks like the player who is capable of helping our first team in the next season.



There are two things to focus on in the transfer window. Firstly, these few first team players who are good enough to attract attention from really big teams. Manchester City has shown interest in Lassina Traore, Real Madrid is lurking around Kenneth Taylor, some big teams are interested in Noussair Mazraoui and Anass Salah-Eddine.

Secondly, there are players whose contract will run out in 2024 and it’s decision time about them - should we sell now or offer them new deals. Kenneth Taylor, Quincy Promes, Ryan Gravenberch and Perr Schuurs are in this list, with some younger players. The club is certainly under pressure in regards to Taylor and Gravenberch. Both are good enough to move on to bigger clubs and leagues and at the same times their agents are pressuring us to get new contracts with higher wages, so there’s no surprise that clubs try to exploit the situation and get them for lower price than they’re worth.

I ran into the first hurdle with Ryan Gravenberch. After rejecting some fairly low bids between £20m-£30m the player got a bit upset too and when Everton agreed to pay £33,5m for him, I decided to accept. He’s worth around that much, but still only 21 years old and really talented, so I should get around £50m for him, but his contract situation doesn’t really do me any favours and so it’s wise thing to collect the money while we can. I have a capable (or even better) replacement for him in Marco Ferreira, so I expect to cover that loss without too many problems.

After selling Gravenberch and waiting for big clubs to make their offers for Taylor, I made two more decisions - first was about Jenno Campagne - a midfielder just returned from loan. He will probably not be good enough for the first eleven role in Ajax and there was no point in keeping him around in his twenties, so when KRC Genk came with a £5m bid, it was easy to accept. Good money for a player who was essentially surplus to requirements. The second was sending young defender Dani van Dijk to De Graafschap for £500k (up to £800k with clauses). The centre-back who suits more to DMC position, but we don’t play with DMC. The lad has got the right attitude, but not enough talent and it’s better for him to go elsewhere.



Several players returned from loan and some of them went back to join another club for the next year. I also sent away Terrence Douglas and Brian Brobbey - more first team football will benefit their development.

  • Jurrien Timber to RU Saint Gilloise
  • Christian Rasmussen to RU Saint Gilloise
  • Rio Hillen to KVC Westerlo
  • Julius Dirksen to KV Oostende
  • Terrence Douglas to Real Sporting
  • Joshua Pynadath to PEC Zwolle
  • Brian Brobbey to SD Eibar


29.07.2023 - AFC Ajax - PSV Eindhoven 3:0 (Johan Cruijff Schaal) - 29. Perr Schuurs, Quincy Promes, 88. Lassina Traore

Traditional season-opener was this time played at Johan Cruijff Arena which gave us a small advantage. Even bigger advantage was that all of our players were fit to start the season and we looked in good form after friendlies, trashing Fenerbahce 7:0 in our last pre-season game.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Lopes, Salah-Eddine, Taylor, van de Beek (73. Marin), Promes (73. Hansen), Ferreira, Fitz-Jim (68. Tadic), Traore

We controlled the game fairly well - not too many big chances in the first half, but we looked very good defensively and PSV’s 4-1-4-1 formation wasn’t too attacking, so they got their first attempt in after 30 minutes were played. We prepared training set pieces before the game and it totally paid off - Perr Schuurs headed in from a corner in the first half and Quincy Promes added the second goal from IFK after the break. In the end of the game, a good interception and pass from Dušan Tadic released Lassina Traore who comfortably slotted home our third and that was it - an impressive win over our rivals in the first game of the season. PSV Eindhoven looked like they had no answers to us in that game and while we celebrated our fifth Johan Cruijff Schaal win, they went back to their drawing boards to prepare for the new season.

  • Player of the game: Marco Ferreira - made 8 key passes in attack and his set piece delivery was lethal - two goals from dead ball situations.
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August 2023


Four games, with plenty of time to prepare, but two tricky away fixtures in this month as well. It’s important to get our campaign going with a winning streak, so I’m putting a lot of emphasis on those games. I dedicated our extra sessions to set pieces and hoped to return to our previous seasons when we scored a lot of goals from free kicks and corners.


06.08.2023 - sc Heerenveen - AFC Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 66. Lassina Traore, 75. pen. Dušan Tadic, 90.+4 Kenneth Taylor

It’s a tough game to start our season with - away game against sc Heerenveen. Our opponents finished 4th in the last season and even though they’ve lost one talented attacking player in Arjen van der Heide during the transfer window, they look like a young and talented team. It’s good to report that all of our players are fit in the beginning of the season and I hope to avoid major injuries.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Lopes, Salah-Eddine, Taylor, Marin (67. van de Beek), Promes, Ferreira, Fitz-Jim (58. Tadic), Traore (75. Enem)

The first half offered very few good chances. sc Heerenveen had an attacking formation and they were good in the beginning of the game, too - their attempts didn’t have too much threat, though. We had our first shot in 22’, so the first part of this first half was a struggle, but at half time I had to say that our chances looked slightly better than the ones that Heerenveen created. Kian Fitz-Jim was unlucky to hit the post in 44’, so we weren’t far away from the goal, too.

We continued to play with high pressure and gegenpress in the second half and finally that brought the result. Lassina Traore applied good pressure on Andreas Skovgaard, won the ball in the Heerenveen box and finished calmly. I then switched from positive to balanced and was happy to control the game. Substitute Dušan Tadic converted the penalty after Marco Ferreira was pushed in the box and everything started to go downhill from there. Set piece training paid off in injury time - Carlos Manuel Lopes headed against the crossbar, but the following struggle in the six yard box didn’t allow sc Heerenveen to make a clearance and finally Kenneth Taylor got his foot to the ball to put it over the line. Final score 3:0 looked quite flattering, but actually it was a really difficult game and we had to dig deep to get those three points.

  • we lost possession 47/53 - not too big of a difference, but somehow sc Heerenveen attacking tactics worked in that regard
  • Player of the game: Kenneth Taylor - good playmaking in midfield and finally, a goal, too


11.08.2023 - AFC Ajax - FC Twente Enschede 5:0 (ED) - 2. and 48. Marco Ferreira, 21. Kian Fitz-Jim, 41. Carlos Manuel Lopes, 90.+1 Kenneth Taylor

FC Twente finished their last season slightly above the relegation zone and they haven’t strengthened their squad during the Summer transfer window. Instead, they sold one of their best strikers Jay-Roy Grot to sc Heerenveen, so you might say that they look even weaker. Media and pundits placed them into the bottom half again and there were no reasons not to be confident before this home game.

I made two changes in our line-up: Donny van de Beek started in midfield (after a rather mediocre display from Razvan Marin against sc Heerenveen) and Steven van der Sloot replaced Mazraoui as the Moroccan right-back looked slightly tired.

Squad: Dere, van der Sloot, Schuurs (69. Rensch), Lopes, Salah-Eddine, Taylor, van de Beek, Promes (63. Hansen), Ferreira, Fitz-Jim, Traore (69. Enem)

We stormed out of the gates with all guns blazing and with less than two minutes played, took control of the game. Marco Ferreira showed his brilliance by firing in a fierce strike from the edge of the area and in 21’ Kian Fitz-Jim added another great goal with a swerving shot from 15 meters. We didn’t have too many easy chances and you might say that FC Twente did a decent job in defense, but those two shots were just too good for their goalkeeper. Carlos Manuel Lopes added the third with a header from IFK (another set piece goal there) and that was virtually game over at the half time.

Marco Ferreira continued his great performance in the second half - another attempt from him, taken from 19 meters, landed in the top corner to pile up on FC Twente’s misery. FC Twente had their best opportunity from IFK in 55’ - Jeremy Helmer managed to hit the post from close range, but the ball was then cleared by Lopes and danger was averted. The referee was eager to give out yellow cards and so FC Twente was left with 10 men for the last ten minutes. Kenneth Taylor scored an injury time goal against sc Heerenveen and he repeated it again - another set piece goal. Taylor doesn’t get to the score sheet too often and for him to score in consecutive games is definitely something special. The final score 5:0 was pretty impressive and we collected some great goals on the way. FC Twente looked beaten in the end of the game and we took a lot of confidence from that win.

  • our shooting was 23/8 in this game
  • we had 8.33 average rating
  • we had 15 corners in this game and scored two goals from IFK - set piece training will pay off, I feel it
  • Marco Ferreira, Carlos Manuel Lopes, Kenneth Taylor and Quincy Promes had a great game and they finished with 9.0+ rating
  • Player of the game: Marco Ferreira


18.08.2023 - AZ Alkmaar - AFC Ajax 3:5 (ED) - 4. and 55. pen. Gyrano Kerk, 63. Kingsley Ehzibue - 21. Peer Koopmeiners (og), 42. and 72. Lassina Traore, 46. Marco Ferreira, 90.+2 Razvan Marin

It was another tough away game in August - Noord-Hollandse derby against AZ Alkmaar. AZ has been the powerhouse of young talent in Eredivisie in the last seasons and they constantly seem to find talented players to come through their ranks. Their midfield is incredible, but the Summer transfer window and departures of Robert Bozenik and Jerry St. Juste leaves them weakened in attack and defense. 

I sent out our best eleven and we started with a balanced 4-2-3-1 formation.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Lopes (75. Rensch), Salah-Eddine, Taylor, van de Beek (63. Marin), Promes (70. Hansen), Ferreira, Fitz-Jim, Traore

The first fifteen minutes belonged to AZ Alkmaar - Kenzo Goudmijn was just incredible with the ball and our midfielders couldn’t stop him with the ball - his two runs into our box ended with a good attempt, but Gürcan Dere made fine saves to stop them. AZ took the lead in 4’ when Kingsley Ehzibue found Gyrano Kerk in front of our goal - Kerk was completely unmarked in our six yard box and it was an easy finish from close range. Kerk had a free header some minutes later that was tipped wide by Dere and Fedde de Jong headed against the post. We looked completely out of the place defensively and I switched to positive 4-2-3-1 to get something out of the game.

We scored the equalizer, but it was a lucky goal for us. Peer Koopmeiners got his foot to a Quincy Promes’ cross and sent the ball into his own goal. I made another tactical tweak and after Gyrano Kerk wasted his clear cut chance in 34’ (or rather great save from Dere), Lassina Traore gave us the lead before the half time. His header landed right next to the post and AZ goalkeeper couldn’t reach it. We were leading 2:1 at half time, but I felt that it was completely undeserved - we were overplayed in much of the first half and AZ could rue their poor finishing, because they should have scored 3-4 goals easily. I had no kind words to the team at half time and that made some difference in the second half - we came out with all guns blazing and in the very first attack scored our third goal. Things looked good then - 3:1 was a decent advantage and the team looked motivated. The game had some twists and turns in it, however. Noussair Mazraoui fouled Gyrano Kerk in the box and VAR confirmed the penalty even if it looked a rather harsh decision after seeing the replay. Kerk converted from the spot and in 63’ AZ equalized - Kingsley Ehzibue dribbled past Carlos Manuel Lopes too easily and squeezed it in from the near post. It was 3:3 and everything was still possible, but in the last 20 minutes we had initiative and had enough edge to win the game.

Razvan Marin had a free kick from 25 meters - it was a good attempt and was saved with difficulties by the goalkeeper, but Traore was first to collect the loose ball and finish from point blank range. Marin himself added our fifth goal with a fierce strike from 19 meters and settled the result for good.

In the end - it was a proper derby and both teams showed attacking football from start to finish. I can’t be too mad at the team, because we dug deep and emerged victorious in the end, but our defense was completely all over the place and this has to improve in the next games.

  • we lost possession 47/53
  • AZ shots were 22/11 and they created 3 clear cut chances - not too often we’ve looked so poor in defense
  • we made only 8 key passes in this game
  • we allowed AZ players to make 24 dribbles - another sign of our defensive problems
  • Player of the game: Lassina Traore - two goals from him helped us to the win


27.08.2023 - AFC Ajax - Sparta Rotterdam 2:1 (ED) - 22. Quincy Promes, 24. Perr Schuurs - 12. Mohammed Tahiri

Back home and we had over a week to prepare for our next game. Sparta Rotterdam is one of the success stories in Eredivisie in recent years. They earned promotion to the top division two seasons ago and have backed it up with two consecutive top half finishes, so they can’t be underestimated. However, I rotated the team to give chances to other players as well.

Squad: Dere, van der Sloot, Schuurs, Rensch, Salah-Eddine, Taylor (70. Regeer), Marin, Promes, Ferreira, Fitz-Jim (63. Hansen), Traore (70. Enem)

We had a good start to the game. In fact, we got our first clear cut chance in 4’ when Marco Ferreira won the ball from a defender and got a one-on-one opportunity, but his shot (even though it looked like a good attempt) was brilliantly saved by the Sparta goalkeeper. So, our opponents took the lead in 12’ when Mohammed Tahiri found the net from a narrow angle. We didn’t take too much time to react - Razvan Marin found Quincy Promes with a lovely through ball and Promes finished with a nice chip over the keeper. Two minutes later it was 2:1 - Perr Schuurs headed in from an IFK and we went to the half time a little bit more relaxed.

The second half offered less good chances, but we had initiative, we controlled midfield and kept Sparta defense under pressure. The final score 2:1 wasn’t too impressive, but we did enough to take all three points - some players impressed me in this game, some less so.

  • we had 66% possession
  • our shooting was 24/10
  • we didn’t give Sparta Rotterdam any real chances in this game
  • Player of the game: Razvan Marin - two assists and five key passes from him



I’m fairly happy with our August. The results have not come too easy, but we’ve started our Eredivisie campaign with four straight wins and among them are two fairly tricky away fixtures, so that’s a good start. All players are fit, we do not seem to miss Ryan Gravenberch or Daley Blind at all and we look good to go for the rest of the season.

Champions League groups were drawn at the end of August. Eredivisie has guaranteed two places in the group stage from the next season. This Summer PSV Eindhoven had to play for it, but they failed against AS Monaco and dropped out of the competition, so the responsibility falls again entirely to us.


Champions League Group G

  1. Juventus
  2. AFC Ajax
  3. FC Porto
  4. Lokomotiv Moscow




We started well, but surprisingly ADO Den Haag have also won their first four games in the season.


Transfer Window Update

We didn’t receive good enough offers for our players in August, so no transfers to report with. I sent some young players on loan, including Alen Karahasanovic (who was unhappy after his transfer was blocked), so at the end of August our first team consist of 21 players - not too many, I know, but I hope to avoid major injuries and all of our loan players have recall clause in their loan agreements, so I can always recall them in January if we get into trouble.


Eredivisie Transfers

Several clubs made some big sales  this Summer - sc Heerenveen, AZ Alkmaar and FC Groningen filled their coffers, while PSV Eindhoven decided to spend big. AZ Alkmaar looked rather raided and ragged at the end of the transfer window.


  • Ryan Gravenberch from AFC Ajax to Everton for £33,5m
  • Arjen van der Heide from sc Heerenveen to Inter Milan for £28,5m
  • Kenzo Goudmijn from AZ Alkmaar to Atletico Madrid for £27,5m
  • Splinter van As from ADO Den Haag to KAA Gent for £20,5m
  • Robert Bozenik from AZ Alkmaar to PSV Eindhoven for £13,5m
  • Timothy Fosu-Mensah from Sheffield Wednesday to PSV Eindhoven for £8,75m
  • Jake Clarke-Salter from FC Utrecht to PSV Eindhoven for £8,25m
  • Leonel Miguel from FC Groningen to RCD Espanyol for £8m (up to £9,75m)
  • Jerry St. Juste from AZ Alkmaar to Aston Villa for £7m
  • Jenno Campagne from AFC Ajax to KRC Genk for £5m
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Squad Update 2023-2024



Kjell Scherpen is gone and Dani van den Heuvel takes his place as the younger backup. To be fair, he’s not good enough to start in the first team and he’ll be playing for Jong Ajax, mostly, but as a back-up he’ll do.

Gürcan Dere, however, is becoming an incredible player. Just 19 years old, played a full Eredivisie season and got us to the semi final of the Champions League - plenty of experience and his attributes can increase further.







A few changes here - Daley Blind has left and his leadership will be missed. Terrence Douglas went out on loan and Youri Baas will get more chances in the DL position. Our best centre-back partnership is Perr Schuurs and Carlos Manuel Lopes - Lopes is an incredibly talented player and Devyne Rensch will probably be unhappy not to get expected playing time. Joel Veltman will provide experience and versatility on the right.












No changes here - Kenneth Taylor and Youri Regeer have trained for one more year and they’re better for it. Donny van de Beek provides leadership and Razvan Marin offers depth to both roles. No particular worries in this area of the pitch.








Attacking Midfielders

First year without Ryan Gravenberch, but no worries - Marco Ferreira looks like he could become one of the best players in the team - such vision, technique and ability to pass the ball. Quincy Promes is fit again and I hope he will avoid serious injuries in this season. Kian Fitz-Jim is another wonderkid on our left flank. We lack a decent back-up in AMC position after Alen Karahasanovic went on loan, but experienced Dušan Tadic can provide cover for both AML and AMC and when we are in trouble we can also push Donny van de Beek to AMC position.

Sontje Hansen is a new addition and he’ll play in AMR next to Quincy Promes. His last season was spent on loan, but he looks good enough to get match time from substitutions and hopefully being in Ajax will accelerate his development.










Lassina Traore is our best option. Brian Brobbey joined SD Eibar on loan for this season and Jay Enem returned to the team to take his place as the backup. Enem showed incredible goalscoring form in Belgium - his goal tally for the previous season was 22 - but he’s yet to prove himself for Ajax.




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September 2023


The transfer window is behind us, international break is ahead of us and we’ll

01.09.2023 - AFC Ajax - ADO Den Haag 2:1 (ED) - 31. Nathan Markelo (og), 40. Lassina Traore - 48. Bradley de Jooijer

We have one more game before the international break and it could be tricky, because ADO Den Haag have won their first four games. This winning streak gives them a lot of confidence and we had to be aware of that. 

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Lopes, Salah-Eddine (68. Baas), Taylor, van de Beek (62. Marin), Promes (74. Hansen), Ferreira, Fitz-Jim, Traore

The first dangerous moment came in the first minutes and fell to ADO Den Haag - their free kick found Josep Maria Santamaria in our box, who hit the shot straight to Gürcan Dere. It was a wasted chance for ADO, but I was left wondering how easily they created that opportunity. After the first scare we slowly, but surely started to take control of the game - good opportunities were rare, but we won a number of headers in ADO box and some of those were dangerous enough and from one of such opportunity came our first goal - Perr Schuurs won a header from a corner and Nathan Markelo was unfortunate to get in front of that. From his touch the ball went to the goal. Our first really good attack happened in 40’ - Carlos Manuel Lopes found Lassina Traore with an excellent long ball. Traore’s first attempt was blocked, but our attack continued and Quincy Promes, who retained possession on the right, crossed it to Traore, who headed it home. It wasn’t our best first half, but at half time we were leading 2:0 and all was well.

The second half began exactly as the first one had - we conceded an IFK 40 meters from our goal. Their delivery was good and Kenneth Taylor missed the run of Bradley de Nooijer who scored with an easy finish - the second clear cut chance that we conceded from set pieces and this time ADO used the gift well. Quick goal in the second half injected plenty of nervousness to our players and we struggled to play at our usual level because our mental state wasn’t focused and confident enough. I made some changes to take off the players who looked the most anxious and it helped somewhat, but we couldn’t put ADO under significant pressure and didn’t create good enough chances. Carlos Manuel Lopes managed to hit the crossbar with a header from IFK, but otherwise we weren’t too close to scoring and it remained nervous until the final whistle saved us. Not the best of the performances and we certainly need to do better against better oppositions. Set piece defending needs some attention, too.

  • we had 61% possession in this game
  • our shooting was 25/11 - flattering stats, but only 3 half chances
  • Razvan Marin made his 100th league goal for Ajax in this game
  • Player of the game: Kenneth Taylor - I noted his culpability in conceded goal, but he made 7 key passes and 2 key tackles in this game, so generally solid performance


18.09.2023 - Heracles Almelo - AFC Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 7. Richonell Margaret - 83. Kian Fitz-Jim

The international break is behind us and Eredivisie season resumes with the next match day.  It’s September and we have Champions League matches coming up, so it’s time to take a look at our full squad and rotate wisely. We will miss Dušan Tadic for a couple of weeks because of a training injury, but the rest of the players returned with good fitness.

Our opponents Heracles have invested around £5m into new players this Summer - for the club of their stature it’s a lot of money and a lot of new players in their squad, so it probably takes some more weeks for them to gel and only then we can see if they’re improved by that or not.

Squad: Dere, Veltman (67. Mazraoui), Schuurs, Rensch, Salah-Eddine, Regeer, Marin, Promes (46. Hansen), Ferreira, Fitz-Jim, Traore (70. Enem)

We started well and were close to a goal in 6’ when Perr Schuurs headed against the crossbar, but as it has happened so often lately, we conceded the first goal. Heracles got a corner and the follow-up cross found Richonell Margaret in our box, who finished his chance well. Gürcan Dere has saved us on a number of occasions in one-on-one situations, but this time he, too, was helpless. That goal put us under pressure, even though we had a lot of time to find an equalizer. Because of that, we were a little bit nervous and soon gave Margaret another good opportunity to score - this time it was well parried by Gürcan Dere. Lassina Traore had a half chance in 28’, but his attempt was tipped wide and the first half finished with 0:1 - it was really poor from us, because we weren’t close to a goal and needed to improve our attack a lot. In addition to that Quincy Promes had to come off with pulled knee ligaments at the beginning of the second half - another injury to him in a fairly innocent situation. It wasn’t a trauma that was suffered because of a challenge, but he just pulled something in the middle of sprint and those injuries have become kind of a trademark for him.

I switched to attacking 4-2-3-1 in the second half to find better goal scoring chances and it seemed to work - Lassina Traore found a great opportunity in 63’, but he made a mess out of his shot and it was easily held by Heracles’ goalkeeper. Kian Fitz-Jim had a good look in 73’, but he blasted his close range attempt against Jay Enem who was in front of him in the six yard box. The equalizer finally came in 83’ - Razvan Marin delivered a good free kick and Kian Fitz-Jim got to the ball first and directed it past the goalkeeper. That was good enough for a draw, but not good enough to win the game. The final result was a big disappointment for us - we should have played a lot better and our finishing wasn’t good enough. As a result we dropped two points in a game that we should have won and also lost Quincy Promes for upcoming weeks.

  • we had 64% possession - good enough
  • Quincy Promes will be out for 3-4 weeks and so he’ll miss at least two Champions League games where we need him the most
  • Player of the game: Razvan Marin - good passes and assist to him


20.09.2023 - FC Porto - AFC Ajax 1:0 (Champions League Group G) - 84. Goncalo Cardoso

The first Champions League game in our campaign and a fairly tough one to begin with. It’s also a really important one because FC Porto look fairly similar to us and those games between two sides can be crucial to decide which one will progress from the group, so to get at least a draw from an away game would be really important to us.

We miss two experienced players due to injuries - Quincy Promes and Dušan Tadic. Sontje Hansen will start on our right wing and that will be a big test for him.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Lopes, Salah-Eddine (70. Baas), Taylor, van de Beek, Hansen (70. van der Sloot), Ferreira, Fitz-Jim, Traore (64. Enem)

The first half was a drab affair. The only noteworthy moment happened in 29’ when Perr Schuurs lost possession in midfield and Mateo Bojanich went one-on-one, but Gürcan Dere made a good save, so it was still goalless at half time. The number of chances and attempts was low from both teams.

Lassina Traore was forced off with a groin injury in the second half, but all signs showed that it was going to be a draw, until Porto’s Goncalo Cardoso fired in a late winner in 84’ - it was a great attempt and there was nothing that Dere could do about it, and in a game where we struggled to create chances, it was good enough for FC Porto to win. Jay Enem had a good attempt on target in 86’ and it could have been a late equalizer for us, but the ball came back from the post and that was it. The final result was a huge disappointment, because I felt that we played well in defense and deserved to get something out of this game. Even bigger worry was Traore’s injury - in the second half it was evident that Jay Enem will struggle in Champions League level and if Traore will need to skip several continental games, we’re in big trouble after that defeat. Traore’s groin strain was a kind of average injury and he’ll be out for 3-4 weeks.

  • Player of the game: Goncalo Cardoso - FC Porto - scored a great goal to win the game


24.09.2023 - AFC Ajax - Vitesse Arnhem 2:1 (ED) - 16. Steven van der Sloot, 33. Jay Enem - 31. Sam Lammers

Back to Eredivisie and our next opponent is Vitesse - they should be a difficult opponent on paper, but in the beginning of this season their form has been rather poor and we have a home advantage, so it makes us heavy favourites. It’s difficult to say why Vitas are not doing so well - they’ve invested around £10m into new players this Summer, but perhaps it takes some more time for them to gel and work as a team and their manager tries to find the best eleven and formation for them.

We have a number of players missing - Lassina Traore, Quincy Promes and Dušan Tadic are out and Kian Fitz-Jim is doubtful with a small knock, but I reckon it’s better to give him a day off, so our attacking options look thin before this game. I decided to switch Sontje Hansen to AML and play Steven van der Sloot on the right wing.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Lopes, Salah-Eddine (76. Baas), Taylor (70. Regeer), van de Beek (54. Marin), van der Sloot, Ferreira, Hansen, Enem

Steven van der Sloot offered the biggest surprise of the game in his new attacking role. He moved well into the counter-attack in 16’ and finished his run with a thunderous strike from some way out. What a goal! Absolutely unstoppable for the goalkeeper. However, Vitesse equalized in 31’ - the goal looked a little bit doubtful, because Sam Lammers shouldn’t get away from Lopes so easily and VAR confirmed that he was at least 1-2 meters offside, but somehow both the linesman and VAR turned the blind eye and allowed this doubtful goal to stand. Soon later we restored our lead - Jay Enem with a header after Mazraoui’s cross. We were leading, but Vitesse continued to get better chances - Sam Lammers wasted another clear cut chance before the end of the first half and although we were leading at half time, I had no right to be happy with our defense so far.

The second half continued in similar fashion - we had the possession and plenty of set pieces, but Vitesse waited patiently for their chances from counter-attacks and they managed to find them. Jean-Christophe Bahebeck fired just wide in 54’ and blasted his shot some way off in 74’ so we were lucky that our defensive mistakes were not punished. At the same time we struggled to create decent chances in attack - Razvan Marin hit the crossbar from distance, we had a number of shots on target and at times we showed some really good football, but real chances - not so much. At the end we held onto our narrow lead, but truthfully we were lucky that Vitesse were so wasteful with their opportunities.

  • we had 66% possession
  • our shooting was 25/13
  • we made only 9 key passes in this game
  • we allowed Vitesse to create 4 clear cut chances
  • Steven van der Sloot scored his first league goal
  • Player of the game: Steven van der Sloot - scored the best goal and generally did OK on his new position


30.09.2023 - FC Groningen - AFC Ajax 1:2 (ED) - 26. Romano Postema - 53. pen. Kenneth Taylor, 66. Perr Schuurs

We finished our September with another rather difficult away game, but at least we had a full week to prepare for it. We battled on without Lassina Traore and I hope that this spell without him doesn’t cost us too many points, but at least Jay Enem scored against Vitesse, so perhaps it will give him some confidence and is a sign of more goals to come.

We had Dušan Tadic back after his injury, but Donny van de Beek was suspended (he’s already collected five yellow cards!), so with injuries and suspensions we had just seven substitutions for this game.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Lopes, Salah-Eddine (67. Baas), Taylor, Marin (72. Regeer), Hansen, Ferreira, Fitz-Jim (72. Tadic), Enem

Groningen welcomed us with heavy rain and it’s always a bad omen to our style of technical football. We started with a balanced 4-2-3-1 formation and only found a couple of half chances in the first half, before Romano Postema gave FC Groningen the lead - he skipped past Perr Schuurs’ tackle on the wet grass and finished calmly. It was the first attempt of the game by our opponents and it was all they needed to score. At half time things looked fairly bleak for us - we hadn’t been able to play good attacking football, conceded a cheap goal and it looked unlikely that we could score twice if we continued like that.

The referee came to help us in the second half - Sontje Hansen was tripped in the box and VAR confirmed the penalty, so Kenneth Taylor equalized from the spot. Perr Schuurs made up for his first half mistake by scoring a header from a corner and the game had turned around. We almost allowed Postema to score again on a counter, but this time Schuurs got back on time to make a determined block. The final fifteen minutes were rather nervous from both sides and there was a feeling that this game could go anywhere. Sonthe Hansen sent wide an absolute sitter in 79’ and I was wondering if we’ll blow this, but the final whistle blew for another 2:1 win. It was a hard-fought three points and a good comeback, I have to give this to the players. Not the best game, not the most beautiful football, but the result we needed.

  • we had 62% possession
  • our shooting was 20/10 in this game
  • we conceded 3 clear cut chances AGAIN!
  • Player of the game: Perr Schuurs - made up for his first half mistake with a winner in the second half



September has been a struggle. Our defense has been a huge liability this month and we’re lucky that we came through our Eredivisie games with only two points dropped. We haven’t recorded a single clean sheet since August and that shows how poor we actually are. Injuries have hit our attacking players and while we looked fairly good before the season, we’re now quite thin in attacking midfield, so perhaps we need to bring back a player or two from loan in January to cover better. Losing Lassina Traore makes our European campaign especially difficult - we have managed to fight through the games in Eredivisie, but Sontje Hansen, Jay Enem and Dušan Tadic isn’t the kind of line-up I’d like to use against Juventus. But when everything else fails, we’ve managed to score a number of goals from set pieces and that has saved us a couple of times.




We’re level with Feyenoord, PSV and AZ Alkmaar are following. Vitesse had a poor start - I expected them to do better.

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October 2023


03.10.2023 - AFC Ajax - Lokomotiv Moscow 6:0 (Champions League Group G) - 49., 54. and 74. Jay Enem, 67., 71. and 81. Sontje Hansen

After our defeat in Portugal, this was a must win game for us, but my squad selection was still hampered by injuries - we missed Quincy Promes and Lassina Traore and Noussair Mazraoui looked quite tired, so he was also rested. 

Squad: Dere, Veltman (71. van der Sloot), Schuurs, Lopes, Salah-Eddine (68. Baas), Taylor (62. Regeer), van de Beek, Hansen, Ferreira, Fitz-Jim, Enem

We were clearly the dominant side in the first half, but it remained goalless until the half time. The best chance of the first period came in 13’ when Joel Veltman found Jay Enem with a long ball forward, but the young striker couldn’t finish and sent his attempt wide of the goal. I urged the players to improve and the second half looked much different - goals started to come and looked like they’d never stop. Jay Enem scored twice to put us in control and when Jordan Ayew had hit the post in the other end, we resumed to keep Lokomotiv under pressure. Sonthe Hansen and Jay Enem both completed their hat-tricks (it was the perfect hat-trick for Enem - one with both feet and a header) and we completely destroyed the Russian side in the second half. The final score 6:0 was nothing short of impressive and I was especially delighted with our hat-trick heroes - I had doubts if they could pose a real attacking threat in this level, but this kind of performance can make wonders of the young player’s confidence. Keeping a clean sheet was equally important, because we needed that - the last one was back in August against FC Twente.

  • we had 60% possession
  • our shooting was 30/16 - very impressive
  • we had 8.41 average rating
  • we made 20 key passes in this game
  • Sontje Hansen, Jay Enem, Donny van de Beek and Joel Veltman were outstanding for us
  • Player of the game: Sontje Hansen - a hat-trick and two assists for him tonight


08.10.2023 - AFC Ajax - VVV Venlo 2:0 (ED) - 31. Sontje Hansen, 78. Donny van de Beek

Newly promoted VVV Venlo are likely to struggle against relegation in this season, but they’ve started fairly well - collected points where possible and bolstered their ranks with three decent loanees from West Ham, so I’d say that they have a good chance to survive. We went to this game with a lot of confidence after the Champions League goal glut. Good news is that Quincy Promes is almost fit again, but Perr Schuurs has suffered hernia this week and he’ll be out for a month. Joel Veltman, who looked really impressive against Lokomotiv, will continue in DR and Devyne Rensch will finally get his chance in defense because of Schuur’s injury.

Squad: Dere, Veltman, Rensch, Lopes, Baas (66. Salah-Eddine), Taylor (70. Regeer), van de Beek, Hansen, Ferreira, Fitz-Jim (70. Promes), Enem

We had some really good goal scoring opportunities in the first half. Marco Ferreira wasted his early chance. Jay Enem did well to win the ball back, but he blasted his shot wide from a one-on-one situation. Sontje Hansen was the man of the moment in 31’ - he converted Youri Baas’ cross nicely to give us the lead, before Lopes saw his header from point blank range clear the crossbar. Three clear cut chances before the break, but so wasteful with our finishing.

We continued well in the second half, but 1:0 is always a narrow lead, so it was a bit nervous until Donny van de Beek finished things off with a great strike into the top corner. 2:0 at home against a smaller team looks like a routine win, but we could and should have scored more.

  • our shooting was 25/10
  • we made only 7 key passes in this game, but managed to create 3 clear cut chances
  • Sontje Hansen scored his first league goal for Ajax
  • Player of the game: Donny van de Beek - captained the team in this game and took charge in the second half with his goal


21.10.2023 - FC Eindhoven - AFC Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 75. Quincy Promes, 80. Dušan Tadic, 90.+5 Jay Enem

Two weeks of international break is behind us and we’re back in action against another minnow in Eredivisie. FC Eindhoven is another newly-promoted team that should be no opponent for us. Our trip to Eindhoven is a chance to see our youngster Ismael Sangare-Aka in action - I’m eager to see how he’s doing.

We still miss Perr Schuurs due to injury and Youri Regeer has a small knock, but Promes, Tadic and Traore are all fit - two weeks of break has helped them. I decided to include young winger Philippe Barriere into the first team - it’s possible that he’ll get some minutes late in the games.

Squad: Dere, Veltman, Rensch, Lopes, Baas, Taylor, van de Beek, Hansen (59. Promes), Ferreira, Fitz-Jim (68. Tadic), Traore (76. Enem)

The first half wasn’t what I expected. We did a good job to control midfield, but chances were rare. Sontje Hansen got our best chance late in the first half, but his attempt was tipped over by FC Eindhoven goalkeeper. The second half was slightly better, but things got worse when Kian Fitz-Jim limped away with injury in 68’ - Quincy Promes came on. He showed his class and experience in 75’ with a good finish after Marco Ferreira found him with a nice through ball. Experienced Dušan Tadic added another goal five minutes later and substitute Jay Enem finished things off with a placed shot in injury time. The final score looked comfortable enough, but we left it really late and I wasn’t happy with our lack of real chances.

  • we had 61% possession in this game
  • our shooting was 19/15
  • Kian Fitz-Jim will be out for 2-3 weeks with pulled ankle ligaments
  • Player of the game: Marco Ferreira - an outstanding performance from the midfielder, who dished out three assists in the final fifteen minutes


24.10.2023 - AFC Ajax - Juventus 1:1 (Champions League Group G) - 45.+1 Anass Salah-Eddine, 15. Mohamed Ihattaren

Perhaps it’s good that our schedule balances easier games with difficult Champions League fixtures. It’s a tough game and it’s clear that if we want to get any points against Juventus then the home game will be our best chance. I used our proven Champions League tactics and hoped for the best. Perr Schuurs and Kian Fitz-Jim were injured, but the rest of the squad was fit and ready.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Rensch, Lopes, Salah-Eddine, Taylor (77. Regeer), van de Beek, Hansen, Ferreira (88. Marin), Promes, Traore

We started fairly well, but Juventus took the lead in 15’. Devyne Rensch made a good tackle on Mohamed Ihattaren, but he couldn’t stop the ex-PSV player going past him and Ihattaren finished with a good shot. Despite that goal, we played a fairly good first half and had some decent opportunities to equalize. Sontje Hansen saw his clear cut chance being blocked in 33’ and Lassina Traore had a half-chance in 35’. We looked like we were just a little short of equalizing and in injury time Anass Salah-Eddine provided the goal. It was a superb effort from the left-back to finish into the top corner from the edge of the area. 

At half time I was delighted with the equalizing goal and our first half in general. We looked good tactically and the stats sheet looked even. In certain situations our lack of individual skills compared to Juventus players showed, but generally it was well deserved 1:1 at half time.

We played equally well in the second half and between 50’-55’ it looked like we had Juventus under good pressure. Marco Ferreira was unlucky not to score in 51’ - his close range attempt was brilliantly tipped against the crossbar by Juventus’ goalkeeper. Quincy Promes had a clear cut chance soon after, but his shot was tipped wide. In the end it remained 1:1, but I had a feeling that we were really unlucky not to win this one. We definitely had enough chances to score the winning goal, but Juventus’ goalkeeper had a good game and he managed to make some incredible saves.

  • Juventus didn’t get any real chances against us and this was sign of our great defensive efforts
  • our shooting was 19/10 in this game
  • Player of the game: Anass Salah-Eddine - incredible goal by the left-back was enough to earn us the point.


28.10.2023 - Willem II Tilburg - AFC Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 29. Youri Regeer

It’s a rather tricky game for us, down in the South. Willem II has fought against relegation in the previous seasons, but at the moment their small club occupies the 5th position and they’ve won five out of their last six games. Sure, most of those wins have come against equally small teams, but they’ve gathered a lot of momentum and confidence from those wins and fought hard against Feyenoord two weeks ago at home. Feyenoord scored twice in the last 10 minutes to come back and win 3:2, but that’s proof of how dangerous this kind of in-form team can be in their own home.

Willem II have invested some ~£5m into new players as well and perhaps they have enough in them to challenge for the 10th position or above in this season. Some decent signings plus they loaned Alen Karahasanovic from us, who has already proven to be a good attacking midfielder in Eredivisie level. I hope that the Bosnian can put our disagreements to the side and return to Ajax in a good spirit after this season, because he looks like a really talented player, according to his loan performances.

We still missed Perr Schuurs and Kian Fitz-Jim, so some team selection choices were more obvious because of that. I will use Quincy Promes on the left flank as IFs and Sontje Hansen continues on the right. I had to make some changes based on fitness, too - Noussair Mazraoui looked a bit tired and Youri Regeer began in midfield.

Squad: Dere, Veltman, Rensch, Lopes, Salah-Eddine (69. Baas), Regeer, van de Beek, Hansen (60. Tadic) Ferreira, Promes, Traore (79. Enem)

The first half offered a small number of attempts and an even smaller number of chances, but at least we managed to get some good attempts on target that looked fairly dangerous, at least when viewed from the sideline. Youri Regeer managed to score our only goal - we had a corner in 29’ and he timed his run into the six yard box well to finish with a simple tap-in from point blank range. 

Willem II got their best chance to equalize in the second half. Anass Salah-Eddine made a tackle on Che Nunnely, but he couldn’t win the ball and Nunnely got through to find himself one-on-one against Gürcan Dere, but our goalkeeper made a great save to keep a clean sheet.

In the second half it started to rain. The pitch got wet and muddy and the physical game started to take its toll on players. Sontje Hansen was forced off with an injury, Marco Ferreira suffered a minor knock. We made substitutions, but when our opponent’s centre-back Pascal Struijk was forced off with an injury in 83’, Willem II already had made all of their changes, so they were left with 10 men. And when Nunnely was sent off after his second booking in injury time, their numbers shrank even more. Advantage in numbers made things easier for us at the end of the game. Six minutes were added by the referee, and those could have been really nervous minutes, but now we could keep the ball and control things until the final whistle. Narrow win in the end, but as I said before - it was a tricky opponent in good form, so I was pleased with the result.

  • we had 61% possession
  • our shooting was 18/11 
  • Sontje Hansen will be out for 2 weeks with pulled ankle ligaments
  • Youri Regeer scored his first league goal for Ajax
  • Player of the game: Marco Ferreira - gave 6 key passes and delivered the corner that led to our winning goal


31.10.2023 - AFC Ajax - Fortuna Sittard 1:0 (TOTO KNVB Beker 1st round) - 29. pen. Dušn Tadic

Our cup campaign begins here. Fortuna Sittard were relegated in Spring, but they’ve dropped like a rock and find themselves at the bottom of the lower division in October. It’s not the best of times for this small club, so I expect our youngsters and rotation players to be good enough to win this game.

We have some tired players in the squad. I feel it’s better to give Marco Ferreira a day off. Perr Schuurs and Sontje Hansen are injured, Carlos Manuel Lopes looks tired. It’s a challenge to put together a decent eleven and keep our key players fresh for the upcoming derby game against PSV Eindhoven. Youngsters Philippe Barriere and Remy Boer are set to make their debut for the first team.

Squad: Dere, van der Sloot, Rensch, Lopes (51. Veltman), Baas, Regeer, Marin, Barriere, Tadic, Promes (68. Boer), Enem (57. Traore)

The first part of the game was… well, quite ugly. Our attacking players were unfamiliar with each other and it clearly showed - we couldn’t create chances, we were a little bit out of sync and Jay Enem was caught offside way too often. Things started to happen in around 28’ - Enem finally timed his runs better and received some good balls behind Fortuna defensive line. His attempts were parried by the goalkeeper, but one of those shots led to a corner and then Lopes was pushed in the box, so the referee awarded a penalty. Dušan Tadic sent the keeper the wrong way and converted it calmly to put us in front, but Enem continued to waste his chances.

The same continued in the second half - we were leading and in control of the game, but our strikers refused to take their chances. Enem finished his poor display in 57’ when he was forced off with an injury, but our finishing didn’t improve, because then the substitute Lassina Traore  wasted his clear cut chance in 78’. Fortuna’s Tom Hendriks was sent off with the second yellow card in 81’, but even then we couldn’t score another goal. We took the narrow lead and kept a clean sheet, but overall it was a frustrating display. The bright moments of this game were offered by Tadic and his good playmaking from midfield, but this, and few other decent performances aside, I can’t be happy with the team.

  • we had 62% possession
  • our shooting was 23/17 in this game
  • we managed to create 3 clear cut chances
  • Philippe Barriere and Remy Boer made their debuts for the first team
  • Jay Enem will be out for 3 weeks with a pulled calf muscle
  • Youri Baar also suffered a knock and he’ll be out for a week because of a bruised thigh
  • Player of the game: Dušan Tadic - calm finish from the spot and he created three chances with his passes
  • we’re now 25 games unbeaten in the cup - that’s another record and hopefully this streak continues further 



Our Champions League campaign has kicked off and we’ve got four points from two games in October. We have to be pleased with that - emphatic win over Lokomotiv and well deserved point from Juventus. Our fixture list in domestic competitions has been easier and we’ve maintained our winning streak to secure our top spot in the table. Some injuries have affected our squad selection options, but all of the rotation players have done well enough to get the necessary results.

Morale is high, players have trained well and it shows in attribute increases as well. 




We’re leading the table, but Feyenoord have one game in hand. The gap with others is starting to increase. We’ve started our season incredibly well, but the most difficult games are still coming up.

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November 2023


We had a good October, but November looks tough. Only five games, but two important Eredivisie derbies and two difficult Champions League games - we really have to be at our best to get good results from this month.


Player contracts

We are in November, but I still have some contract issues to resolve. It’s good that Razvan Marin signed the new deal until 2027 (although I had to agree with an increased £47,000 p/w salary), but Perr Schuurs’ agent is continuing to be a problem and Kenneth Taylor doesn’t even want to start negotiations, preferring to wait January and offers from big clubs (Chelsea looks the most interested party at the moment).


04.11.2023 - PSV Eindhoven - AFC Ajax 0:0 (ED)

The first difficult derby game of the month is our trip to Eindhoven. PSV have invested some £30m into the new players in Summer and their squad looks improved because of that, but it has taken some time for them to pick up their form and so they’re currently 4th in the table, and perhaps not really competing for the title just yet.

We have some injury problems and a few players are still missing - Perr Schuurs and Jay Enem are still injured, Youri Baas, Sontje Hansen and Kian Fitz-Jim are not fully recovered, so we are still a bit thin in the attacking department and we got to this game with only six fully fit substitutions.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Rensch, Lopes, Salah-Eddine, Taylor (89. Regeer), van de Beek (83. Marin), Promes, Ferreira, Tadic, Traore

In the first fifteen minutes, the only dangerous moments came from set pieces and both teams managed to win some headers in the opposition box, but it didn’t lead to anything. The first chance fell to Quincy Promes who had a crack in 15’, but his good attempt was tipped wide by PSV goalkeeper Lars Unnerstall. Lassina Traore had the best chance of the first half in 36’ when he received Salah-Eddine’s cross in the box, but he was block-tackled by a late arriving defender and that didn’t bring us the first goal. PSV’s Steven Berghuis had a half-chance late in the first half, but that effort was comfortably held by Dere. At half time it looked like we had a slight edge in the first half because we had better chances, but my general feeling was that this was a very close game and the margin of win, if it will be a win, is going to be a narrow one.

PSV looked more active in the beginning of the second half, but it still looked like anyone’s game. Lassina Traore had a good moment when Marco Ferreira found him with a through ball, but his attempt in 72’ hit the post and Dušan Tadic showed that his ability to spot the pass has not disappeared with years - his well-measured pass to Quincy Promes at the far post led to another clear cut chance. The ball took a bounce after Promes hit it and it was a really difficult for the goalkeeper, but Unnerstall did exceptionally well to parry this one wide. In the end it remained goalless and we returned from Eindhoven with just one point. Kenneth Taylor was forced off with injury at the end of the game and that was our main focus after the final whistle.

We could have won it if our finishing was more clinical, but I can’t complain too much about the result. It was a tight game and a draw in those away games against Feyenoord and PSV is nothing to be ashamed of - those games won’t cost us points in the big picture. We showed good defense, kept a clean sheet and the goals will come, but Lassina Traore’s goal drought continues with this game - his last goal came in the beginning of September against ADO Den Haag and since then it’s been two months without success. His average rating is solid 6.5 in the past games and some good chances that he’s missed doesn’t add to his confidence.

  • we had 62% possession
  • Kenneth Taylor will be out for two weeks with pulled ankle ligaments
  • Player of the game: Devyne Rensch - a few decent performances and we were good defensively, so that makes sense, although Rensch’s rating was just 7.1


08.11.2023 - Juventus - AFC Ajax 2:0 (Champions League Group G) - 5. Rodrigo Bentancur, 12. Adrien Rabiot

Next up - Juventus in Turin. The most difficult game of our group fixture list. We come to this game with some tired legs after our match with PSV Eindhoven, but at the same time a number of players are starting to get fit again - Perr Schuurs, Kian Fitz-Jim and Sontje Hansen are all back in full training and Jay Enem is also close to return. There are some dilemmas about squad selection and I have to choose between ability, form and fitness in certain positions. Marco Ferreira looked pretty tired and his match load has been significant lately, so it’s better for him to start on the bench. I moved Donny van de Beek to the AMC position and Razvan Marin will start in midfield. And, of course, Kenneth Taylor will miss a few games because of his recent injury.

It’s clear that we need to approach this game carefully and a balanced 4-2-3-1 with lower line of engagement is the way to go for us, at least initially.

Squad: Dere, Veltman, Schuurs (68. Rensch), Lopes, Salah-Eddine, Regeer, Marin, Promes (68. van der Sloot), van de Beek, Tadic (68. Fitz-Jim), Traore

We were prepared to deal with Juventus attacks, tactically, but we weren’t prepared for their corners. In the first fifteen minutes we conceded twice from corner situations and Juventus had a comfortable lead without needing to crack us open properly. In fact, for the rest of the first half we looked like a better team. Our counter-attacks ran fairly smoothly and provided some half chances to both Traore and van de Beek. Juventus’ goalkeeper had to make some good saves to stop those attempts, so at halftime we felt that 0:2 score was really unfair. Unfortunately, playing well is not good enough in football. You also need to finish well to score goals and our finishing wasn’t clinical enough once again.

The same continued into the second half - we handled Juventus quite well, but at the same time struggled to create clear cut chances and our attempts on target weren’t good enough. Even Lassina Traore’s excellent opportunity to score at least one goal went to waste - his header from point blank range in 83’ cleared the crossbar - another notch to his long streak of missed opportunities. 0:2 in the end of the game marked a fairly routine win for Juventus, who didn’t have to push too hard in attack, but at the same time our performance had been very positive through those 90 minutes, so I could praise the effort and keep the morale high for our upcoming games.

  • Player of the game: Nicolas Dias (Juventus) - delivered both corners that led to goals


12.11.2023 - AFC Ajax - Feyenoord Rotterdam 4:0 (ED) - 3. and 43. Lassina Traore, 11. and 90.+2 Marco Ferreira

It’s the Klassieker Derby and a title six pointer, according to the current standings of the table. Feyenoord are three points behind us with a game in hand, so we’re virtually level with them. We’re definitely favourites at Johan Cruijff Arena and while I’m fairly happy with draws against PSV and Feyenoord in away games, we want to win all games in Amsterdam.

We miss Kenneth Taylor because of his recent injury. Sontje Hansen is also just gaining his fitness, but at least some attacking options are available - Marco Ferreira will start, along with Kian Fitz-Jim

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui (68. van der Sloot), Schuurs, Rensch, Baas, Regeer, van de Beek, Promes (72. Hansen), Ferreira, Fitz-Jim (84. Boer), Traore

Feyenoord started with a fairly positive, possession-based 4-2-3-1 formation, which is different from their usual 4-1-2-3 DM, but that opened their defense up for our quick counter-attacks and Lassina Traore was ready from the kick-off to take advantage of that space. Marco Ferreira found him with a long ball forward in 3’ and that breakthrough led to our first goal. Traore was clearly delighted with that, because he’s been 642 minutes without finding the mark until that game. He soon had another good opportunity, after Fitz-Jim won the ball back and found Traore alone in the box, but this time the Burkinabe striker rushed his shot and put it wide. Marco Ferreira scored an incredible solo strike in 11’ - his run started from our half and led all the way to the box where he finished with a great strike. Feyenoord’s goalkeeper Sergio Padt had no chance. It has to be said that in the first half Feyenoord had their moments and some of them almost resulted in a goal. A couple of headers from set pieces went just over our crossbar and Soulyman Allouch got a good looking shot on target after a corner that Gürcan Dere parried against the post before it was cleared away, so it wasn’t so one-sided as the score indicates. Feyenoord’s best chance came in 41’ - their danger man Tarik Erdem won a duel against Perr Schuurs and got through, but Dere made another great save to keep his clean sheet and two minutes later Traore scored his second goal of the game. This time it was a free kick, and from some distance out - curled around the wall from 29 meters. Padt got his hand to it, but not enough and the ball landed in the goal. So, a fairly entertaining first half finished 3:0 and I was clearly delighted with how things were going.

I switched our higher pressing to standard line of engagement in the second half and that gave us a little bit more control of the game. Feyenoord attacks looked less dangerous and they couldn’t create any good chances in the second half. We were less attacking, too, but got at least some opportunities. Sontje Hansen came on and had a couple of half-chances right away. Lassina Traore blew up his chance to complete a hat-trick in 80’ after Ferreira played him open with an excellent pass, but in injury time we still managed to score our fourth goal - it was Ferreira again who found some space after our corner and fired it in to complete the rout. 4:0 marked an emphatic win and the fans were clearly delighted with the result. I was also extremely happy - it was a very important game and the player delivered a great win. Lassina Traore found the target once again and Marco Ferreira proved that he’s probably the best midfielder in Eredivisie at the moment.

  • our shooting was 25/13 in this game
  • we created 3 clear cut chances and even though we converted only one of those, our finishing improved a lot compared to our recent games
  • youngster Remy Boer made his league debut in the second half
  • Marco Ferreira and Lassina Traore were outstanding in this win
  • Player of the game: Marco Ferreira - two goals, assist, 5 key passes and great playmaking from the wonderkid


The Klassieker Derby was followed by an international window - many of the players featured in their national teams, and we had almost two weeks to get our injured players back to full fitness. It wasn’t a peaceful period for some of the clubs in Eredivisie - Vitesse board decided to sack Vladimir Ivic from his post and Vitesse’s poor start of the season led to a point where they now look for the new manager.

Dušan Tadic came to me to express concerns about his lack of first team football. It’s true that I don’t want to play him too much to avoid triggering his contract extension clause (one year extension after playing 20 games in the season), but the other side of the story is that now, at the age of 34, his physical attributes are declining more rapidly than before. He can provide good playmaking and set pieces, but lacks speed that Promes or Fitz-Jim can deliver in this position and as a result his minutes have dried up. I reluctantly agreed to find him a loan move in the upcoming transfer window, but with this departure I’d lose a valuable depth option in both AMC and AML positions.


24.11.2023 - AFC Ajax - NEC Nijmegen 3:0 (ED) - 15. Marco Ferreira, 16. Razvan Marin, 73. pen. Kenneth Taylor

In a month of such bg games a home fixture against NEC Nijmegen looks almost too easy. NEC had a good season in the last year - they had Ole ter Haar Romeny scoring goals and points came unexpectedly easy for them, but they’ve struggled to repeat that in this season and find themselves in the bottom half of the table. Slightly above relegation zone, but not out of danger yet.

We have a massive game against FC Porto coming up, and some players looked more tired after the international break, so the squad selection is based on physical fitness and sensible rotation.

Squad: Dere, Veltman, Schuurs, Lopes, Baas, Regeer (59. Taylor), Marin, Promes (64. Hansen), Ferreira, Fitz-Jim (73. Tadic), Enem

We controlled the game from the kick-off and it was only a matter of time to score our first goal. I think we had at least 4-5 attempts on target before Marco Ferreira opened things up with his strike and in the very next attack Razvan Marin added the second goal with a beautiful strike from 20 meters. NEC players looked like they had given up after that and it was relatively easy for us for the rest of the game.

Jay Enem played full ninety minutes - didn’t score, but looked lively and gave assist to Marin’s goal. Sontje Hansen came on in the second half and right away got some half-chances, so players are looking fairly good after recovering from injuries and that game was a good opportunity to get their match fitness back.

Kenneth Taylor added our third goal from the spot after Hansen was tripped in the box and Perr Schuurs was unlucky that his header hit the post in 75’. The final score 3:0 looked fairly comfortable and it really was - we were never in trouble and NEC couldn’t create any decent chances against us.

  • our shooting was 31/17 - really one-sided game
  • Player of the game: Razvan Marin - outstanding performance from the Romanian midfielder, who scored the best goal of the game and gave several key passes


28.11.2023 - AFC Ajax - FC Porto 0:0 (Champions League Group G)

Extremely important game. Our group standings indicate that if we want to get through to the knockout stages, we need a win against FC Porto. And keeping in mind that unlucky 0:1 defeat in Portugal, the goal difference could be decisive, too. The good news is that we have all players fit and ready - injuries are in the past and most of the players are match fit, too. We will start with our usual balanced 4-2-3-1 Champions League tactics and see where it takes us.

Squad: Dere, Mazraoui, Schuurs, Rensch, Salah-Eddine, Taylor, van de Beek (70. Marin), Promes (85. Hansen), Ferreira, Fitz-Jim, Traore

FC Porto’s Tecatito Corona had an early chance in 3’ after a corner, but that attempt was well held by Dere and so the first danger was averted. The rest of the first half looked much better defensively - our balanced 4-2-3-1 was good enough to avoid giving easy chances to Porto, but at the same time we struggled to create good opportunities to ourselves. At half time it was clear that we can’t break their defense in that manner, so we switched to positive 4-2-3-1, but without much effect - Lassina Traore had two decent chances in the second half, but both attempts were saved. We took more risks in the final ten minutes - that led to an injury time opportunity to FC Porto, but Dere made a good save once again. We kept the clean sheet, but our problem in this game was scoring and chance creation and in the end we could break FC Porto’s defense. Goalless draw leaves us third in the group, three points behind FC Porto and without a chance to qualify. That’s the first big disappointment of this season.

  • Player of the game: Pedro Henrique (FC Porto) - solid game from their centre-back



Mixed results in October. Excellent in Eredivisie, but we fell short in the Champions League. Displays against Juventus and Porto were actually good, just not clinical enough in finishing to edge those games and get any points on the board.




We’re still undefeated in the league and to be honest it’s a great first half of the season that we’re having until now. There are 5-6 clubs at the bottom of the table who are most likely relegation candidates, but Vitesse, who are now without a manager, are slowly climbing upwards.

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