Jump to content

[FM22] AFC Ajax - Best Youth System In Europe


Draakon
 Share

Recommended Posts

spacer.png

 

 

Competitions

Winning the league is expected of Ajax in every season and while it didn’t look like that in Winter, we secured the title in May. The board expects us to win the cup in every other season - we failed in this year and combined with our second position in the league my monthly manager reviews didn’t look so positive for a while, but fortunately our successful Champions League campaign (reaching to quarter finals counts as success in my book) kept my reputation high.

 

spacer.png

Feyenoord ultimately missed out on silverware, as they lost against FC Twente in the KNVB Beker final (with penalties after goalless 90 minutes and extra time).

Liverpool won the Champions League final - Kylian Mbappe has been wonderful for them, scoring the winner in the final, but also collecting 20 goals (!) in 13 games during this Champions League campaign.


 

Players

Because the league campaign was more tense than usual and we had to fight for every single point, I couldn’t rotate the team as much as I would have liked to do and probably some youngsters got less chances to impress than they could have had. In the end our season stats looked like this.

 

spacer.png

In goal scoring we relied overly on Sebastien Haller, but the striker carried us well. The rest of the attacking squad had a mixed season - good periods followed by dips in form - and I tried to pick the team according to who was performing the best. 

 

spacer.png

 

It was the last season in the club for Dušan Tadic and Kik Pierie and in the second half of the season they were selected less frequently to start the transition period for the next season. 


 

Club Awards

 

spacer.png




 

Eredivisie Awards

 

We swept the award table this season - Jay Gorter was selected as the goalkeeper of the year. 22 goals from Sebastien Haller gave him the top goalscorer award. Olivier Aertssen had the highest average rating and he won the golden boot and our three youngsters were selected as the best youngsters in the league. I was voted for the manager’s manager of the season and pleased the board with the recognition. 


 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Replies 157
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Excellent stuff @Draakon

I recently started a save with Ajax on FM22 Touch on nintendo switch. I think my FM management style too often reflects my real life personality (fairly risk averse) and I rarely manage a 'big' club so my tactics in my first season were far too cautious. Came 2nd to Feyenoord by 5 pts. They went on a similar run to your most recent season where they looked unbeatable and it all fell apart in the last 3 games of the season. 

Overall I lost 5 games and drew 6 which is criminal for Ajax really. I would dominate these games but my usually reliable players (Haller is usually immense) would miss easy chances. Like I said, my tactic might not have been attacking enough.

Won the cup and made it through the CL group stage which between them almost certainly saved me from the sack.

I'm a few games into my 2nd season now and I'm being a bit more aggressive with my tactic. I was able to re-sign both Onana and Mazraoui as, in my save, neither wanted to leave. I now use Mazraoui (spelling is probably wrong) as a WB on attack and he is getting assists. This is the main change to my tactic. I've still had a couple of games already where I'm dominating possession (66% for example) and xG but all the highlights seem to be opposition attacks. I've managed to win them but not convincingly at all. I suppose that's going to happen every now and then. Thankfully Feyenoord have had a worse start than me. 

I use a 4-3-3 with Tagliafico and Mazraoui as my 1st choice FBs and at centre back I rotate between Timber, Martinez, Schurrs and Dan-Axel Zagadou who I signed on a free after his BVB contract expired. He's great. Big and fast and makes for a good BPD. Timber is a little short for a CB but he reads the game brilliantly and can often be found intercepting through balls. Rensch is my back up RB and I signed a Croatian fella called Borna Sosa to share time at LB.

I have Alvarez in the DM spot (with Blind backing him up). Blind was first choice until Alvarez started moaning about playing time. Blind's form was dropping at that point and Alvarez hasn't looked back. He's been really good as a DLP(d). Gravenberch is at left CM (as a mezzala on attack) and Julian Weigl at right CM. Weigl was my very first signing for £15m as I immediately identified the lack of depth in central midfield. He's great too but Gravenberch is something else. Using him as a Mez on attack means he's playing in a similar way as he does for you as an AMC but coming from deeper instead. Klaasen is backing up both CMs with Kenneth Taylor also getting minutes as he's clearly one for the future.

Antony is my inside forward in the AMR spot and Haller plays as a DLF(a). My AML is Reiss Nelson who I signed from Arsenal for £18m after the 1st season. He'd been at Feyenoord during the 1st year but has been fairly inconsistent for me. Seems to prefer playing as an inverted winger on attack rather than support which I'm not sure is right for my system (but, then again, maybe that's me being overly cautious again). I've struggled to get good performances from inverted wingers in the past on other saves. Tadic is still with us. He tends to back up both Nelson and Haller. I'd played him mainly as a winger in the AML spot but, like Nelson, found him to be inconsistent there. However, he did score something like 15 goals so he can't have been that bad.

I sold Berghuis for £30m after the first season as he wasn't really performing. No one has really begun sniffing around my top players yet but it'll happen sooner or later and the reason I chose Ajax is because I like the idea of developing players and always trying to have a succession plan in place. For example, I bought Lorenzo Lucca from Pisa as Haller's long term replacement. He only cost £6.5m but Pisa insisted he be loaned back to them for a season and I couldn't negotiate that clause away so yet to see him in action. I'm trying to groom Naci Unuvar to be a potential Gravenberch replacement although that project has only just started so no idea how that's going to go. He has the attributes, they just need developing. 

Wasn't all that impressed with Daramy's attributes so loaned him out to a South Korean team. He was valued at £12m at that point but have recently noticed that has gone up to £30m so maybe he has something after all. If the Reiss Nelson project continues to stall, I might see if I can move him on (given his current value I should be able to get almost double what I paid for him) and let Daramy take over that AML spot. Nelson is only 22 so I will give him a fair chance before giving up. It's probably not his fault. I need to figure out the best role for him. He's fast and can dribble so seems like an obvious inverted winger but can't seem to get more than one good performance from him in a row.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's fantastic how players turn out and perform differently in different saves and with different tactics.

In my first couple of seasons it was clear that Antony should be my best AMR (IWa), but he couldn't finish his shots and score goals and then there was Steven Berghuis - a bit slower, less gifted technically, but sooooo composed and finished with placed shots easily. Only in 2023-2024 it seems that Antony has finally established his place in the first eleven.

Similar on the left wing - Mohamed Daramy have developed immensely in the past two seasons, his pace and technique are good enough to make an impression in the Champions League level, but his performance ratings dropped in the second half of the season - goals, assists and key passes dried up and his form nosedived. I need to get him going again.

I've used Daley Blind in all kind of positions - he was part time left-back, part time MC (DLPd) because of his vision and ability to dictate tempo, but now he's moved back to centre-back position and despite the fact that he's not the tallest and fastest defender, he does fairly well there. Against big teams in Champions League I have to be aware of that and need to push back my defensive line to normal, but on Eredivisie level he does very well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I just finished reading an Athletic article which talked about real life Ajax signing Lucca as a Haller replacement. 

I genuinely had no idea that had happened. This can only mean I'm a team building genius (if not a tactical one) as I did the same thing. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Summer 2024

 

Our preparations for the next season started already in May. At the end of the season meeting I had mixed emotions about the squad’s ambition - in my eyes we should aim to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League every year, but most of the players didn’t agree to this, so I tried to tune it down a notch.

The players went on holiday and we started to work with the backroom staff.

 

The Board

I have a mixed relationship with the board as well. In public I try to play for the team and show that everything is perfect, but in reality I’ve been disappointed with how the club has been run. Last season my request to upgrade youth facilities was rejected, this Spring our training facilities were downgraded and the board again took the stance that it’s OK for the club. At least my new request to invest into the youth facilities was accepted, so we got something going on in this club, but with the amount of money we’ve collected from player sales and profits, they should be more willing to invest it back into the club.

 

spacer.png


 

Finances

The finances look more than healthy. We’re around a £500m bank balance and Dušan Tadic’s departure will cut £57,000 p/w wages for us, so it all benefits our good financial position. Our first team wages are well below £500,000 p/w at the moment and that gives me some space to renew contracts.

 

spacer.png





 

Transfers

We had two first team players leaving in Kik Pierie and Dušan Tadic, but during the transfer window interest in our first team clubs dried up - Liverpool was at some point again checking Ryan Gravenberch, but failed to make a bid and we haven’t received offers for Antony either.

Mohammed Kudus was entering into his last year of contract and I accepted Arsenal’s £47m bid for him - we are a bit crowded in the attacking department despite Tadic’s departure and Kudus is not really getting the minutes he’s worth when Gravenberch is in the club. With several youngsters returning to the club after productive campaigns I have no worries that I can fill the gaps in the first team. At the same time I’m not willing to weaken our defence further and would like to keep players like Devyne Rensch, Prince Aning, Olivier Aertssen and Prince Aning.

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

 


 

Friendlies

We won the friendly cup that was held in Amsterdam, but my assistant organised a dubious training camp in China with three more friendlies, so it’s safe to say that our pre-season was boring as hell.

Link to post
Share on other sites

24 minutes ago, Collectivism said:

Really enjoying this one! Would you consider uploading the save at all? Would love to carry on with this myself

I'm sorry, but no. I use my real name for my in-game manager and I'd like to keep that private.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Squad Update 2024

 

The changes we made to the squad this Summer affected mostly our defence - Kik Pierie left (along with his versatility - he played in both left-back and centre-back role last season) and I know that youngsters Tristan Gooijer and Mateja Milovanovic need to step up in this campaign. Even with them we need more depth in defence, because Olivier Aertssen can’t go for 40 games without a rest and we struggled with fitness already without injuries, so it could get worse when one or two players will be sidelined.

On the other hand - we have an abundance of good players in the attacking department. Dušan Tadic and Mohammed Kudus left, but that shouldn’t affect us too much. My main goal is to sort out good loan moves for youngsters who need more first team football and can’t get it here in Ajax. In attacking midfield (AML, AMR, AMC) we have around 4 players in each position and that’s too many.



 

Goalkeepers

No changes here. Jay Gorter will remain our first choice keeper and Charlie Setford can expect to get around 10 games per season. We have two young keepers in Calvin Raatsie (on loan) and Mert Alegoz as well, so at least backup options are there for the coming seasons.

spacer.png

 

spacer.png




 

Defenders

The main defensive line is the same, but rotation players and youngsters have been added. I brought up Neal Viereck into the first team - he could provide some cover in the centre-back.

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png





 

Midfielders

Kenneth Taylor, Davy Klaassen and Youri Regeer are the same midfield trio we had in the last season.

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png





 

Attacking Midfield

I dare to say that Mohammed Kudus’ departure doesn’t affect us too much. I expected more interest and serious bids for Ryan Gravenberch and Antony, but when we got to August both our stars remain in Ajax and that will keep our chances higher in the Champions League. A lot of young attacking midfielders remain and the most difficult challenge this Summer is to sort out proper loan moves for most of them and decide who will remain in the club for the coming seasons. We have plenty of talent and depth in all three positions and I don’t worry about the future in this area. Steven Berghuis is the most experienced player of this group, but he has at least  a couple of good seasons left.

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png



 

Strikers

Sebastien Haller will remain our number one striker, but because Dušan Tadic has gone, Yohan Boerhout will get a chance to impress this season. He looks good, but let’s see if he can fill the CFa role.

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

Link to post
Share on other sites

August 2024

 

Fixtures and Results

 

spacer.png


We started our season with traditional Johan Cruijff Schaal and this time we hosted FC Twente at Johan Cruijff Arena. We’ve used to play these games against Feyenoord in recent years, so FC Twente looked fairly easy compared to our rivals and indeed, it was a comfortable win. Our attacking game looked smooth and well-practised, we scored three goals with 3.19 xG and managed to hit the woodwork another three times. FC Twente looked a little bit out of their depth - they didn’t have any major additions this Summer and it’s doubtful if they can repeat their cup success any time soon.

The first league game was actually a pretty difficult Noord-Hollandse derby. Our home advantage gave us a small initiative in the first half and we were looking for an opener, but then on 41’ AZ’s Yukinari Sugawara was sent off after an appalling tackle on Mohamed Daramy and Taylor scored from the following free kick. Because AZ were left with 10 men, our second half was much more comfortable - Daramy added another goal from a corner and substitute Naci Ünüvar got himself to the score sheet as well. 3:0 was an excellent result against a strong team and I was very happy with that.

In the away game against PEC Zwolle it took us some time to create a first proper chance, but Antony’s finishing was clinical. He doubled his tally in the second half and that was it. We added two more goals late in the game - Olivier Aertssen headed in a corner and youngster Rico Speksnijder scored his first ever goal for Ajax to make it 0:4 - convincing result in the end.

The final game in August was the Klassieker Derby against Feyenoord. We came out of the gates storming and within the first ten minutes it was 3:0. Fans saw some superb finishing from Ryan Gravenberch and Naci Ünüvar who just smashed their shots into the top corner. Feyenoord never really recovered and although they caught us napping with the long kick and Keita Balde got himself a goal from this game, the final score was 4:1 after an own goal in the second half. Impressive win over the rivals to make our home fans happy.

I’m obviously delighted with our start of the season - we’ve looked good, we’re scoring goals and defence looks solid enough. Two derby wins show that we’re in good form.


 

Players

Very good run of form from most of the team. Clean bill of health, so we have all the players available.

 

Player of the Month: Antony - scored goals and delivered assists in those four games. Impressive performance (10.0) rating against PEC Zwolle

Goal of the Month: Ryan Gravenberch vs. Feyenoord Rotterdam - smashed into the top corner from the edge of area



 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

Feyenoord lost two games in August and they’re somewhat behind already after the first few weeks. PSV Eindhoven looks like our closest competitor for the title.



 

Champions League

The groups were drawn and we’re in Group F with Juventus, RB Salzburg and Celtic.

 

spacer.png

In the press conference I tried to be modest and said it’s a challenging group, but in truth I’m delighted with the draw. Juventus is certainly favourite for the win, but two other teams are clearly weaker and we have a great chance to get through into the knockout stages.

Feyenoord might have made a poor start in Eredivisie, but at least they reached the group stage in the Champions League, so that could help our nation’s coefficient a lot. I’ll root for them in continental stage.

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

September 2024

 

Fixtures and Results

 

spacer.png

 

It’s September. Comfortable schedule with just one game per week that we had in August is behind us, September brings Champions League and less time between games. We saw that already in our first game against FC Groningen - some of our younger players (Kenneth Taylor, Devyne Rensch) returned from national teams a little bit tired and I had to rotate a little, but despite that we won comfortably 3:1. Two goals in the first half came from set pieces (penalty and a corner), Sebastien Haller scored our third goal late in the game before Groningen got their consolation goal in injury time. I made bold substitutions in the second half and there was some sort of unfamiliarity and lack of proper teamwork in our game, but we held on nevertheless and I was pleased with the performance. It was another game where our xG was above three (3.18). 

Next up was a trip to Turin. Away game against Juventus was probably our toughest fixture in the group and I didn’t hope to win, perhaps to get a draw, but against all odds we started well and played good football in the first half. Created a few half-chances as well, before a dubious penalty allowed Juventus to take the lead. We did well to equalise before the half-time break, but ran out of steam in the second half - Juventus got their game going between 70’-80’ and scored two goals in a short period. We reacted well and didn’t stop to fight - two brilliant chances in the last ten minutes, but Naci Ünüvar couldn’t finish his one-on-one situation and Daley Blind hit the post from a point blank range. Terrible misses - it could have been 3:3 easily, but that’s small details between a good team and a great team - Juventus didn’t create too many goal scoring opportunities, but they were all good chances and finished with composure, while we wasted our moments in the final period of the game. Performance in itself was encouraging and defeat in this away game wasn’t especially demoralising as well, so no harm to our confidence, but some players fell short and harsh individual feedback was justified on the next day in training.

I took the liberty to rotate a lot for our last two league games, half-expecting it to backfire, but it really didn’t. We dominated the game against Willem II tilburg and although our finishing wasn’t perfect, we scored two goals in the second half and took a solid win. Against SC Cambuur it was a different story - our attacking game was excellent. In fact, brilliant at times and both Mohamed Daramy and Ryan Gravenberch scored wonderful goals, but at the same time our inexperienced defence made costly errors. Charlie Setford in goal took the blame for one of the conceded goals and after Steven Berghuis was forced to come off with an injury on 72’ we were left with 10 men and that allowed Cambuur to score their third goal. So a bit of mixed feelings about that game - brilliant in attack, but poor in defence. Nevertheless, I was happy for the players who came into the team and provided good minutes in those games.


 

Players

We’ve had some problems with injuries in September. Naci Ünüvar and Prince Aning have missed some games and my decisions to rotate more mean that players like Charlie Setford, Tristan Gooijer, Mateja Milovanovic, Amourricho van Axel Dongen and Rico Speksnijder have got more minutes than they perhaps expected in this stage of the season. But our league position looks strong enough and there’s no need to be too afraid.

Our attack has been brilliant and as a result we have +16 goal difference in the league. Both Sebastien Haller and Antony have contributed with 5 goals and 5 assists. Ryan Gravenberch has added four of each. Amourricho van Axel Dongen got himself to the score sheet against Willem II and that shows he feels more and more confident on the pitch.

We had one player moving out in September - Stanis Idumbo Muzambo extended his contract and then joined Hapoel on loan for this season, so considering all injuries our bench isn’t the longest at the moment.

 

Player of the Month: Antony - still the best player so far this season, has been scoring and assisting consistently

Goal of the Month: Mohamed Daramy vs. SC Cambuur - brilliant volley into the top corner from 25 metres



 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

Perhaps surprisingly, FC Utrecht and FC Twente are high in the table while AZ Alkmaar and Feyenoord sit in the middle of the pack. Bottom of the table doesn’t offer any surprises with Willem II having lost all of their six games so far.


 

Champions League

spacer.png

Celtic impressed with a 4:0 win over Salzburg in the first round and they’re leading the group at the moment.

Link to post
Share on other sites

October 2024

 

Fixtures and Results

spacer.png

We could afford to lose our away game against Juventus, but home games against Celtic and Salzburg were a must win games if we wanted to get through from the group stage. We did well against Celtic at Johan Cruijff Arena - scored two goals in the second half after a fairly quiet first period and took a solid 2:0 win to improve our standings in the table. Our fixture list is generous enough to balance easy league games with more challenging Champions League matches, so we could field our best eleven in this game (except injuries, of course).

I made bold changes for our matches against Telstar and Fortuna Sittard, but we won both games easily. There was a period late in the SC Telstar match when I made substitutions and that gave momentum away for the final ten minutes and their towering striker Andre Becker was too much to handle for our defenders in the box, but David Kalokoh scored his first senior goal to make it 3:1 and give us some cushion for the final minutes. The match against Fortuna Sittard was easier and more one-sided - we hit the woodwork three times during the match, but still managed to score three goals and our xG was 3.30.

The away trip to Salzburg was possibly tricky and it was important to win this one. We conceded on 3’ and it was a cold shower, but the players didn’t panic and we took control of the game. Soon, the goals came too and at half time it was already 3:1. A good win and that helps us closer to our targets.

In the last game of the month we visited FC Twente - and destroyed them again just like we did in the Johan Cruijff Schaal final. We scored two quick goals and most of our attempts went on target. Then Antony fired a wonderful strike into the top corner from 23 metres and Aertssen added another from a free kick. It was all over after 20 minutes and we didn’t give Twente any chance. Impressive win.


 

Players

I can’t complain about any of the performances. We scored three goals per game on average in October and found the target against every opposition, so I’m very happy. Also, my rotation policy hasn’t backfired yet, and it has allowed youngsters to get valuable minutes in the league. David Kalokoh and Amourricho van Axel Dongen got themselves to the scoresheet this month, so all good.

We had small injury problems coming into October - Naci Ünüvar and Steven Berghuis had to skip some games, but they’re fit again now. Charlie Setford injured himself in training and a groin strain will keep him out for a month. 

But mostly it’s good - tactics work, players score and everybody’s happy with their playing time. Sebastien Haller has been the most impressive in attack so far - he has 9 goals and 9 assists to his name in all competitions. Antony has added 7 (he has a ridiculous 8.23 average rating for Eredivisie games) and Ryan Gravenberch has 6. 


 

Player of the Month: Sebastien Haller - consistently good in attack, scoring goals and creating chances for others. 

Goal of the Month: Antony vs. FC Twente - a curling strike into the top corner from 23 metres.




 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

We continued our winning streak to nine games and other clubs are dropping the pace one after another. Feyenoord have been involved in the Champions League football and that’s a new situation for them - some defeats in continental games and fatigue that comes with it has affected their Eredivisie campaign. 

The first managerial casualty is Sjors Ultee who was sacked by the Willem II board despite their first win this season. 



 

Champions League

spacer.png

Much better after two wins in October.

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

November 2024

 

Fixtures and Results

We have six games in November and it’s slightly more tricky than last month - two Champions League games, and in Eredivisie we have PSV Eindhoven and Vitesse coming up. Heracles and Sparta could be easier games, but both are away matches and with a potential to slip up. 

spacer.png

 

The first match against Heracles didn’t start as smoothly as I expected. In fact, it’s fair to say that Heracles contained us really well and created one good chance in the first 20 minutes, but then referee Martin van den Kerkhof awarded us a fairly dubious penalty (Klaassen was fouled at the edge of area with his back to goal) and we took off. Antony made it 2:0 just a minute later and Heracles struggled to come back from this. We continued to make errors in defence (in retrospect, maintaining our high defensive line might have been a mistake), but Heracles’ Sylvanus Nimely couldn’t finish off his chances and in the second half we added two more goals, so the final score 4:0 looked rather impressive. Only downside being a knock to Ryan Gravenberch that forces him to skip two next games.

We were favourites for the home game against Salzburg, but for the first half hour it was a fairly even game. Davy Klaassen was unlucky to hit the post, but Salzburg had a couple of good chances and Jay Gorter shone with great saves to keep it 0:0. I then made tactical changes at half time - we started to play with slightly higher tempo and defend narrower to counter Salzburg’s curious 4-2-2-2 formation. The changes had an instant impact - young winger Amourricho van Axel Dongen scored the first goal with a powerful header and quickly added another with a simple tap-in and we went to the half-time with a solid 2:0 lead. A foul from Daley Blind allowed Salzburg to score from the spot on 50’ and it got me worried for a while, but we finished strong in the last 20 minutes. Van Axel Dongen completed his hat-trick, Sebastien Haller added another goal before coming off and the substitute Yoran Boerhout used his minutes well to score two more. The final score 6:1 was really impressive, but the night belonged to van Axel Dongen - the 20 years old winger started the game because Mohamed Daramy looked a little bit tired, but completed his first hat-trick in the Champions League. If that’s not a claim for a place in the first eleven, then I don’t know what is. 

Before the derby game against PSV Eindhoven I was fairly confident. We had home advantage and that has helped us a lot in the past, so we were favourites for the game, but we started terribly - the PSV striker Michael Frey scored two goals in the first 15 minutes and we were 0:2 down. The second one came after Mohamed Daramy lost possession in our own half and the winger looked out of place with his first half performance (some pressure, perhaps, after van Axel Dongen hat-trick in the last game). Fortunately Haller scored  to make it 1:2 before half-time. I made changes for the second half, switched Daramy to IFs (he started as IWs) and that brought results - he nodded in a close range header and scored an outstanding goal into the far post from a narrow angle to make it 3:2. The game was well under control in the second half and we fully deserved to win the match, and I was so proud of that come-back. PSV had a great 15 minutes, but didn’t threaten after that. We took another three points and extended our lead in the table.

We continued with a comfortable 3:0 home win over Vitesse - I expected them to put up more of a fight, but two goals in the first half put us in control and van Axel Dongen added another goal after the break to make it 3:0. I was impressed with our defence - we didn’t give Vitesse any real chances in this game and that was better than expected.

Against Celtic we needed a win in the away game and our first half was good - we had two chances and scored two goals - clinical finishing was the key. However, after the break we conceded a quick goal and Celtic’s striker Daniel James started to break our offside trap too easily. We made substitutions a little bit too early as well and found us under the pressure in the second half - Celtic managed to hit the post on 66’ and they wasted two good chances late in the game, so we were a little bit lucky to keep our lead in what turned out to be a fairly even game. You need luck from time to time and we used our share of it in this game. The win meant that we secured our place in the knockout rounds and the first goal of the season was achieved.

After that Celtic game we felt relieved and, to be fair, a little bit tired. We visited Sparta Rotterdam in our last match of the month and I rotated our starting line-up heavily for the game. Perhaps that was the reason, but we looked a bit out of sync on the pitch and the game resulted in a goalless draw. Antony had three half-chances in the game and he hit the post once, but we didn’t create enough chances in general and weren’t clinical enough. Continental hangover, perhaps? I didn’t mind too much, because I, too, looked a bit out of shape and not concentrated properly at the sidelines. Let’s hope we improve in December.


 

Players

Despite that last goalless draw I’m continuously impressed by our attack and goalscoring form. We scored another 18 goals in 6 games in November and goals have come from all over the place. Sebastien Haller and Antony lead our scoring charts, but youngsters have stepped up too - Amourricho van Axel Dongen has pressed Mohamed Daramy for the AML position and Ryan Gravenberch contributes in both scoring and attacking department.

Defensively we’re less consistent. My main concern defensively is Daley Blind - he has been the most error prone - a little bit slow because of his age, but at the same time not the best in the air and his marking on the pitch has not been the best. He’s difficult to replace at the moment, because Neal Viereck or Mateja Milovanovic are not good enough to start in the Champions League, but Blind is the player who costs us the most conceded goals and that’s not good.

In other positions it’s much better and there’s healthy competition for first team places. Youngsters are eager to prove their skills and do it successfully more often, scoring goals or giving 8.0+ rated performances more often, so it gives me selection headaches and allows me to rotate more freely.


 

Player of the Month: Sebastien Haller - another five goals from the striker in November as he continues to carry our attack. 

Goal of the Month: Mohamed Daramy vs. PSV Eindhoven - curled into the far post from a narrow angle. A great strike in the derby game to level things up before the winner.



 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

 

We’re slowly increasing our lead in the table. FC Utrecht is currently our closest competitor, but they have all big teams left to play in the first round.

NAC Breda’s Robert Molenaar was another managerial casualty in November after Breda fell into the relegation zone.



 

Champions League 

spacer.png

We will play against Juventus in the last round to decide the winner, but we’ve secured our qualification from the group stage.

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

December 2024


 

Fixtures and Results

 

spacer.png

 

I rotated boldly against sc Heerenveen - Neal Viereck started in defence and Yoran Boerhout played a full 90 minutes in attack. Heerenveen took the lead - Roberto Fernandes headed in after Jay Gorter missed his interception and lost the aerial duel - but we reacted well and equalised just a minute later. Ryan Gravenberch scored with a beautiful free kick from 22 metres and a penalty made it 3:1 at half-time. Substitute Kian Fitz-Jim scored a rare goal late in the game to finish it off - sc Heerenveen had their few moments in the game, but in the end our attack was way too good for them.

The FC Utrecht game was a really important one because FC Utrecht is our closest competitor in the table and rightfully so, because we were soundly beaten at Galgenwaard. FC Utrecht exploited our defensive vulnerabilities and scored two goals in the first half, and Sebastien Haller’s penalty in the second half couldn’t save the game for us. We couldn’t create dangerous chances from open play and I have to say that FC Utrecht played really well and probably deserved to win. Disappointing from us - that was the first league defeat for us this season.

Our last Champions League group F match against Juventus decided who will win the group. Juventus had a chance to score from the spot in the first half, but Jay Gorter made a great save to deny the penalty, but they still took the lead just a minute later. Ryan Gravenberch equalised in the end of the first half with a wonderful strike and in the second half it looked like we had the slight initiative in front of our home fans. Antony scored the second goal for us and that proved to be the winner in the end. 2:1 win was not good enough though, because we had lost 1:3 in Italy and Juventus secured their first place with that narrow defeat.

Our schedule was tough enough so that after the Champions League game in midweek most of our first eleven looked tired. To respond to that I rotated a lot against newly-promoted Excelsior - only Davy Klaassen remained in the starting line-up and Steven Berghuis offered experience in attack. Our opponents’ squad doesn’t look like much, so their aim to build route one style made sense. However, they’ve hired a good manager in Sjors Ultee so we have to be wary of their ability to execute his game plan. We managed to control possession in the first half, but failed to create clear cut chances and as it often happens when you switch players and roles, our attacking part of the game looked a little bit out of sync. Excelsior could threaten a couple of times - Charlie Setford didn’t look the most comfortable in goal and once Neal Viereck had to save his mistake by heading the ball away from the line. After the half-time break we took the lead (Prince Aning with a good strike after a well executed combination), but allowed Excelsior to equalise with their trademark long ball forward. It didn’t take much - just one missed tackle from Youri Regeer in midfield and their striker was free to go one-on-one and score. We answered promptly - Viereck headed in his first senior goal from IFK just a minute later. Excelsior went down to ten men after Mohamed Betti was sent off with his second booking and it was easier for us in the last ten minutes. Substitute Rico Speksnijder headed in our third goal to make it 3:1 and that was it. It wasn’t our best performance and most of the youngsters on the pitch were bang average, but I was proud of them for how they came out of a difficult situation and answered to the Excelsior goal. Steven Berhuis offered his experience and creativity with two assists that day and Neal Viereck impressed defensively, but overall we have a lot of room for improvement.

The cup game against Fortuna Sittard looked like another good opportunity to rotate the squad. It was a home game, after all. We were without Kenneth Taylor and Naci Ünüvar (both suspended) anyway. Fortuna tried to take advantage of that, and I have to say that they had initiative in the first half - Zian Flemming hit the post, Mika Peters wasted his chance, but in the end it was our most experienced player to make a rookie mistake. Daley Blind dallied on the ball too long in front of our goal and Flemming just came and tucked it into the empty net. We went to half-time with a 0:1 scoreline, but it could have been much worse. It was easily our worst display so far this season and some harsh words were said in our dressing room. Those words didn’t seem to have any effect until 70’ when Prince Aning equalised with a thunderous strike from 25 metres - didn’t know the left-back had it in him, but we desperately needed it that moment. Fortuna had the feeling that they had been the better team so far and started to take more risks to win the game. That, in turn, gave chances to us as well and Antony hit them with a well placed shot deep in injury time. We took 2:1 win in a game where we probably didn’t deserve that, but that’s football - sometimes you lose games you should win and sometimes you win when you should lose.

We were determined to improve in our last game against NAC Breda and we definitely did. We took the lead early on and at 17’ we were already 4:0 ahead. It looked like NAC Breda came out with a fairly attacking mentality and that left them vulnerable in defence. We took full advantage of that and scored goals at every chance. At the same time our defence wasn’t too good - we conceded some chances and allowed NAC to score two goals. Sebastien Haller led our attack with four goals, but Steven Berghuis and Ryan Gravenberch also impressed with their key passes and goals. Gravenberch scored his 10th goal of the season and Berghuis’ first goal on 2’ marked his 50th for the club. The final score 8:2 offered plenty to celebrate for the fans and took us to 46 points after half of the games in Eredivisie were played for this season.




 

Players

So, we’re really good in attack, but a little bit shaky in defence. We scored 20 goals in those 6 games, but conceded 8 at the same time and couldn’t keep a single clean sheet. Obviously, we rotated a lot and some of the players in our defensive line looked a little bit out of depth in some of the games. Most of the results came our way despite those experiments and the kids got valuable experience.

What concerns me the most in December is the fact that two of the most experienced players - Daley Blind and Sebastien Haller have played well below their regular standard. Blind added some terrible mistakes to his overall poor performances, but Haller finished his otherwise poor month with four goals against NAC Breda, so at least I hope he’s back on track after that game.


It’s December, so it’s time to think about contracts. Olivier Aertssen signed a new five year deal that will keep him in the club until 2029. I also made a decision not to offer a new deal to Steven Berghuis - his current contract will end next Summer.

Some awards were handed out on New Year’s Eve and Sebastien Haller was the  runner-up in the best African Footballer selection.

spacer.png


 

Player of the Month: Ryan Gravenberch - attacking midfielder was in great form in December, scoring four goals this month, but some of those goals were most important ones like the one against Juventus.

Goal of the Month: Ryan Gravenberch vs. Juventus - curled into the top corner from 21 metres.



 

Youth Intake Preview

spacer.png

My HoYD advertised this years’ intake as excellent and I ought to expect at least one solid centre-back and defensive midfielder from this bunch. As far as I know, those two can easily be the same person capable of playing in two positions.



Eredivisie

spacer.png

 

After half of the games have been played, we’re at 46 points and at this point in the season that’s a great score. However, FC Utrecht have done almost equally well, thanks to their win over us. Their success is mostly based on defence - just 4 goals conceded in 17 games is an impressive feat. AZ Alkmaar and sc Heerenveen continue to underperform and at the bottom of the table SC Telstar looks like the weakest team in the league so far.

Few of the manager’s have been replaced in December. Luc Nijholt returned to take charge of AZ Alkmaar and SC Telstar decided to take chances with Anthony Correia.



 

Champions League 

spacer.png

Five wins and we’re level with Juventus. Goal difference in games between us and them leaves us in second place and the first knockout round pitched us against Manchester City. Not the best of luck.

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

January 2025


 

Transfer Window

 

New year started with a friendly against Borussia Mönchengladbach (a close game that we won 1:0 in the end) and with the start of the transfer window. Juventus was quick to make a move for Ryan Gravenberch and I was similarly quick to accept their £61m offer - it was time for him to move on, as I’m sure we couldn’t meet his wage demands for another contract. So, Gravenberch left early in January and as expected, it caused some problems within the squad. Antony in particular was upset with this transfer and my conversation with him didn’t make things better. He wasn’t particularly confident that Naci Ünüvar could replace Gravenberch in our midfield.

Unfortunately, Gravenberch wasn’t the only departure this Winter. Mohamed Daramy signed with Inter for £65m and so we lost two key attacking midfielders in a short time.

I decided not to offer Steven Berghuis a new contract and with his recent performances he had plenty of suitors, so in January he signed with Sporting CP. We will also lose young midfielder Oualid Agougil in Summer - although he agreed to our terms provisionally, he finally decided to opt for Everton and will leave the club in July.

It’s 2025 and another African Cup of Nations is about to start and from our team Sebastien Haller is the player who was called up by Côte d'Ivoire national team for the tournament, so we’re without him for at least couple of games and that might be a big loss to our attack, missing both him and Gravenberch.



 

Fixtures and Results

 

spacer.png

 

The FC Twente game was ours to take, but we let it slip through our fingers - we controlled the game in the first half, created chances and scored two goals. Davy Klaassen missed a penalty on 40’, but it didn’t seem to matter much. I felt comfortable and made bold substitutions in the second half and FC Twente fought back in the last minutes of the game - Daan Rots scored two goals for them on 88’ and 90’+2 to take a point and I was thoroughly embarrassed - that should not have happened. That was a clear manager’s fault from my side and it cost us two points.

The sc Heerenveen match was equally poor, but for another reason - Heerenveen played a good defensive game and their catenaccio was too difficult to break. Antony created two half-chances in the first half, but generally our attack lacked the edge and we were out of ideas in the second half. sc Heerenveen won a point and we lost another two.

The cup game against MVV Maastricht was slightly better - we pulled ourselves together after a drab first half and finished strong - Antony and Naci Ünüvar scored in the final ten minutes to put us into the quarter finals of the KNVB Beker. Not our best performance, but at least some improvement compared to our latest games.

The Noord-Hollandse derby was our first match without both Gravenberch and Daramy and Haller was still away with the national team.  The game was held in poor weather (near-freezing temperature and hail) and that left its mark on the match. It was a fairly even contest and both teams had some chances, but AZ managed to score late in the first half and although we had a slightly better xG at the end of the game, we couldn’t convert our chances into goals and had to accept the second defeat of our league campaign. 

In conclusion, a pretty poor January for us. We know that we need to do better in the next weeks.


 

Players

We had to adapt in attack to cover for the loss of Gravenberch and Daramy and it looks like it will take a bit more time than I hoped. We have talent in youngsters, but they need to learn how to carry the weight and expectations of first team football and work together as a unit. Rico Speksnijder, Naci Ünüvar and Amourricho van Axel Dongen will get much more game time in the second half of this season and they better be ready for it. At least we’re mostly fit and the youngsters train and develop well.

 

Player of the Month: Antony - he’s carried our attack, creating chances and scoring goals. Obviously, eyes have turned on him, but he’s been good and I can have no complaints about his part in January

Goal of the Month: Antony vs. MVV Maastricht - a good strike to give us the lead.





 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

 

FC Utrecht made two draws in January and we should have opened the gap with them, but instead we allowed them to close it - they’re now just one point behind us. At the bottom of the table it looks like Telstar is going down, but Willem II have collected some points recently and teams above them are not safe.

Link to post
Share on other sites

February 2025


 

Fixtures and Results

spacer.png

 

We took a mandatory win against PEC Zwolle to start our February with positive notes. It was a deserved win, because we controlled most of the game and Antony scored the winner with a header (his 50th league goal for Ajax), but we couldnät score the second goal and on 87’ Prince Aning received his second yellow card, so the end of the game was a little tense. 

We lost Davy Klaassen before the Sparta Rotterdam match after he twisted his ankle in training. Sparta put up a little more fight and they started really well against us in the first 10-15 minutes, but Antony scored a great free kick to give us the lead in the first half and another two goals after the break made it 3:0 in the end - we didn’t exactly dominate the game, but we finished our chances and showed better class in certain moments and deserved the result because of that.

We had to rotate a lot against FC Twente, because we had some tired legs in the squad and Davy Klaassen was still not recovered from his injury. Despite that I was determined to prove that the points we gave away in January was just a one-time mishap. We played a good game for a full ninety minutes and didn’t allow FC Twente to create any chances. Yoram Boerhout started as a PFa and was in the middle of action through the whole match, finding chances in the box. He scored two goals (should have completed a hat-trick, to be honest) and managed to impress with his mature performance. This is what I expect to see more from him. The win got us through into the semi finals of the KNVB Beker.

Away game against Vitesse was another fixture that was closer than the final score indicates. Both teams had chances in the first half, but we scored two goals and then managed to control the game better after the break.

In our last league game of the month we hosted FC Utrecht and had an opportunity to bury their title chances, but in the end we failed to win the match. Antony gave us the lead in the first half, but Thomas Buitink equalised right before the half-time break and neither of the teams could score in the second half. We had more initiative and attempts in the game, but FC Utrecht had better chances from counter-attacks, so in the end it was a fair result, but I’m not happy with the performance - we should have been better at home.

So, at the end of February we went against Manchester City. I didn’t expect much from this tie, but we made a few tactical changes - lowered our defensive line to normal and line of engagement as well, but retained our positive mentality in the home game. Against all odds we played a good first half and at half time I thought that the match had been fairly equal so far, but Phil Foden managed to use his one chance in the first half to give City a 1:0 lead. We were much better in the second half - Amourricho van Axel Dongen equalised with a volley and despite Raheem Sterling’s goal on 50’ we were level after Haller scored from the spot. Then Guardiola made a mistake - City went searching for the winner and were punished for it - Haller scored our third goal with an accurate strike from the edge of the area and we switched to a balanced mentality. While City took more risks we stunned them with excellent counter-attacks and Haller finished off two of his chances in the final ten minutes to give us an impressive 5:2 win. That’s a great advantage to take to Etihad Stadium. I was truly delighted with the result and performance, but I have to say that our tactical choices were spot on as well and I take full credit for it as a manager. 

 

So, a little bit up and down month in terms of result, but we delivered when it mattered the most and finished strong.



 

Players

I’ve been really impressed with Sebastien Haller and Antony this season - they continue to carry our attack after Gravenberch and Daramy moved on. Both have scored and assisted more than 10 goals in the league and are by far the best players currently in Eredivisie. Haller’s 24 goals in 28 games is a fantastic achievement (he was away in January because of the African Cup of Nations tournament) and Antony is close to surpassing Steven Berghuis’ club record of 15 assists in a season.

After Gravenberch and Daramy left I brought up some youngsters from U-18 squad to train with the first team and young winger Ja-Ryong Kim made his debut for the club in the game against Zwolle.

 

Player of the Month: Antony - the right winger has continued to be a creative spark in our attack and he scored and assisted important goals for us in February

Goal of the Month: Antony vs. Sparta Rotterdam - a great free kick, curled into the top corner.





 

Player Contracts

I extended some contracts after the Winter transfer window. Most notably Kenneth Taylor signed a new deal until 2029 that will cost us £40,000 p/w, but I hope he’ll be worth it in a couple of seasons. Young winger Bas van Lopik has impressed on loan at FC Groningen this season and he extended his deal with the club. 



 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

 

We have a healthy advantage over our competitors and I aim to keep at least a five points difference until the end of the season. FC Utrecht have dropped their pace and allowed PSV Eindhoven to catch up. It gets more interesting at the bottom of the table - both Willem II Tilburg have picked up some points and pushed Excelsior into the relegation zone.

PSV’s manager Henk de Jong left Holland and took charge of Wolverhampton in February, so PSV started to search for a new manager. Meanwhile, PEC Zwolle hired a former Ajax player Siem de Jong as their new manager.

Link to post
Share on other sites

March 2025


 

Fixtures and Results

We continue our league campaign, but also have the cup semi-final in March and an important trip to Manchester. There’s a possible giant to kill and we have to make sure we finish our job properly in the away match.

spacer.png

 

We started with an away game against Fortuna Sittard and that was a huge disappointment. Sure, we rotated a little (Olivier Aertssen was suspended and Devyne Rensch injured), but we started well and had two good chances in the first minute, but Naci Ünüvar blew his opportunity and Antony hit the post and then Fortuna hit us on a counter. We tried hard to turn things around and Boerhout equalised in the second half (his first league goal for the club), but we didn’t create anything after the equaliser and even though we had enough time to score the winner, we failed to change momentum in the game - not enough creativity, only 9 key passes in the game and several players couldn’t make any impact in attack. 

I expected more from the players in our next game - another tricky away fixture against FC Groningen. It was the cup semi final and we couldn’t afford to lose it. Players probably listened to my criticism and our performance was indeed much better - at least we created moments and had overall control of the game. Haller opened things up from the spot after a fairly soft penalty awarded by Alex Bos and doubled our lead in the second half. We could have scored more, but wasted several good chances and didn’t have enough luck in front of goal. Olivier Aertssen was back in the line-up and offered a perfect defensive performance - 12 clearances, 9 interceptions and some good headers. 

Our next win against the red lantern SC Telstar was much more relaxed. We made the most of set pieces in that match and Aertssen scored two goals from indirect free kicks in the first fifteen minutes and that was it. Mateja Milovanovic rattled the post from outside of the box in the second half, but we took our foot off the gas and didn’t push too much after the break. SC Telstar tried to slow things down and made 34 fouls in the game (they collected 6 bookings and were lucky to finish with 11 men on the pitch) but a comfortable 2:0 win was good enough for us.

The next in line was SC Cambuur. I had my sights on our midweek match with Manchester City, so we rotated a lot, but despite that I expected us to beat Cambuur easily. It was a home game after all, but instead some poor defending and an own goal from Daley Blind gave SC Cambuur a 0:2 lead after 23 minutes of football and we had to work hard to get back into this game. Berghuis scored one before the break and Naci Ünüvar equalised in the second half, but we missed plenty of other chances and ultimately a 2:2 draw at home counts as a big failure.

And there it was - the match at Etihad, in front of the full crowd of 53,917 fans. We set up tactically well (I learned a lot from our first leg) and the first ten minutes were decisive - at first Kenneth Taylor scored a beautiful free kick to make it 1:0 and then he was sent off three minutes later with his second yellow card. So, for the rest of the match it was us defending at all cost and City pressing us hard. City had a penalty on 38’, but Gorter made an important save to deny Haaland from the spot. Eventually, we couldn’t save all the chances that they got - Haaland scored in the first half and City added two more goals after the break, but we held on in the final 10 minutes to keep it 1:3 and survived to win on aggregate. City had 32/17 shooting in the end and Gorter made a brilliant work to save most of the shots coming his way. It was a very difficult 80 minutes of football, playing 10 against 11 at Etihad, but we can be proud of the team.

After celebrating our progress into the quarter final in the Champions League we still had to win against Heracles at home. It was a little bit frustrating, because we had plenty of chances in the first half and scored only one goal before the break and then allowed Heracles to equalise right after second half kick-off. Sebastien Haller gave us the lead again on 84’, but in injury time Kasper Lunding scored the second goal with a low drive into the bottom corner from 23 metres. I felt robbed again, but the game wasn’t over - there were still two minutes of injury time and in that little time Klaassen fired into the top corner from the edge of the area to make it 3:2. What a drama! I definitely felt that we deserved to win the game but Heracles looked extremely downhearted after the final whistle. 


 

In general, it was an up and down month for us - some draws that should have been wins, but at least from time to time we played like I expected. The Manchester City result was the biggest this month and that gives us two more games in the Champions League.



 

Players

Player performances have been as inconsistent as our results - we have somebody underperforming in most games and that bothers me a little. More importantly - when at one point it looks like I can rotate freely and youngsters will step up and deliver, then it hasn’t been so smooth in March and we look significantly worse without our key players. 

Training has been excellent and some younger players (Jay Gorter, Amourricho van Axel Dongen, Naci Ünüvar) show great progress in training and we don’t have too many injuries - Devyne Rensch had to miss some games in March, but generally we’ve had very little injury problems this season.

 

Player of the Month: Olivier Aertssen - it was an up and down month for most of the players and several of them failed to make an impression against Manchester City at Etihad, but Aertssen was consistently good and with brilliant performances in the matches against FC Groningen and SC Telstar deserves that award in March.

 

Goal of the Month: Kenneth Taylor vs. Manchester City - beautiful free kick, the second DFK we’ve scored this season. Came in the important match, too.




 

Youth Intake

The intake was fairly average talent-wise, although I’ve turned my attention to the personality of our head of youth development and youth coaches, and youngsters start to show that - on average we have better personalities in the group with more determination.

From this average group of youngsters we have one defensive midfielder that has necessary attributes to retrain him as a BBMs in our formation and one promising centre-back.

 

spacer.png



 

Juremy Jansen

spacer.png


 

Why on earth does our best youth talent need to be unambitious? I understand that at 15 your interests could include teenage girls and video games, but boy, you could have a wonderful international career ahead of you if you’d just concentrate on football and train hard.


 

Ognjen Rajkovic

spacer.png

 

A curious name - never heard that before - but the lad is the real deal. For the first time in a while we have a centre-back who doesn’t lack bravery and aggression. Has some flaws, such as low natural fitness, but generally ticks most of the boxes as a centre-back.


 

Jasper Vogels

spacer.png

 

Not sure if he could make it into the first team, but he’s really young and has enough time to develop. Smart player for his age.




 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

 

The injury time winner against Heracles proved to be important, as it allowed us to open up the gap between us and competitors. FC Utrecht and PSV Eindhoven have both dropped some points in March. At the bottom of the table there are three teams destined for relegation and it shows that few others like Willem II or PEC Zwolle are slightly better in getting the points to the table.

PSV didn’t spend too much time to appoint their new manager - former AZ Alkmaar and Feyenoord head coach Arne Slot returned to Holland after failing to make an impression at Southampton. Slot is a capable manager and will certainly make a push for the title, if given a chance.


 

Champions League

We’re in the quarter final and our next opponent is Chelsea. There are only European giants in that stage of the competitions (Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern and Juventus) so when the draw was made I recognised it didn’t really matter who we get - it’s going to be as tough as it was against Manchester City.

Link to post
Share on other sites

April 2025

 

Fixtures and Results

Rarely has a month offered such a difficult schedule - three away games in Eredivisie, two Champions League fixtures against Chelsea and another Klassieker derby the cup final (this one is held at De Kuip as well, so basically another away game). Good thing we have a solid lead in the table - a draw here or there in Eredivisie is not the end of the world. I know how demanding Champions League games are physically, so it’s important to rotate the team in a wise manner.

 

spacer.png


 

We started well in our first Klassieker derby - Naci Ünüvar was quick to react to the deflected ball and we took the lead on 7’, but Feyenoord had initiative in the rest of the first half and Afsha wasted their best chance on 29’. Their equaliser finally came on 53’, but then Kenneth Taylor produced a bit of magic and delivered a wonderful free kick home from 27 metres to give us the win. Periods of momentum changed between teams, but overall it was an even game without too many good scoring opportunities, so Taylor’s strike proved to be the winner. I made several tactical tweaks throughout the match and one lesson to take away from this game (thinking about the cup final) is that we shouldn’t change our height of defensive lines, but could start with a balanced mentality to keep better control defensively.

Chelsea were a bit better than us in the first leg at Johan Cruijff Arena, but they were a bit better in everything - balanced their attack and defence well, looked really organised and we couldn’t create much against them in attack. We finished with 10/1 shooting and 0.55 xG without creating any real chances in this game, but Christian Pulisic’s 81’ minute header was enough to give them a narrow win and in hindsight that was all they needed from this match. We weren’t really under pressure defensively in this game and Chelsea didn’t dominate midfield, but they didn’t have to and I expect them to be more attacking at Stamford Bridge. We saw a good performance from a good team without any complacency and mistakes that Manchester City made against us in the previous round.

Between two Champions League games we travelled to Eindhoven. It was an important derby game, but I saw mostly tired faces in the dressing room. Eindhoven took the lead on 18’, but Steven Berghuis equalised and we were level at half-time. In the second half it was van Axel Dongen show - the left winger scored two goals in four minutes to put us in charge, but then PSV got their second goal on 79’ and put us under pressure for the last 10 minutes. They finally scored their third goal in injury time and that was an ambitious strike by their centre-back Martin Hinteregger, scored from 22 metres. I wasn’t happy to give away our two-goal lead and defensively we were not good enough in that match (PSV shots were 21/15 with 3.23 xG), but from the standings point of view, a draw was a good result for us - it didn’t allow PSV to close the gap, so we can live with that.

And then there was Stamford Bridge. We had a great start to the game and Haller gave us the lead on 1’ with a lovely chip, but Mason Mount equalised quickly two minutes later. We had good chances in the first half - Kenneth Taylor smashed the crossbar with his free kick, Haller and Antony both had good attempts on target, so I felt pretty good at half time with a 1:1 score line, but Chelsea controlled the second half much better and Reece James’ goal on 55’ gave them a 2:1 win in the second leg. Chelsea deserved to go through, based on those two games and I can’t have any complaints about the result.

We didn’t have any time to mourn our Champions League exit, because we had the cup final coming up in four days. It was held at De Kuip in front of the full stadium and Feyenoord had the home advantage, but both teams chose a bit more careful tactics. It happened that we had a slight initiative in the second half, but neither of the teams could create a real chance in ninety minutes and the game went to extra time. I believe my full time team talk worked miracles and woke the players up for the extra time, because Antony scored right after the kick-off and Kian Fitz-Jim added two simple goals after the Feyenoord defence crumbled. Steven Berghuis wrapped things up with a beautiful free kick to score our fourth goal and so, in fifteen minutes, we destroyed Feyenoord completely. A brilliant win and time to celebrate the magnificent achievement.

The last match in April against FC Groningen was a routinely easy win for us - I rotated the squad, but we looked very comfortable in possession. Kian Fitz-Jim continued his good goal scoring form and Steven Berghuis added another goal with a header, so in the second half we were quite relaxed and just held possession.

 

Tough month and Chelsea proved to be strong for us, but at the same time I’m delighted with the cup win and we took important points in Eredivisie as well.



 

Players

 

When opponents got better, inconsistent performances and lack of quality gets more evident on the pitch and April showed just that. Amourricho van Axel Dongen was great against PSV, but had several poor games. Younger defenders (like Mateja Milovanovic or Niel Viereck) couldn’t stop individually more gifted attackers. Meanwhile, Steven Berghuis showed that he still has skills and class and in games where he replaced Antony, he managed to score and/or assist goals.

We are constantly looking to the future and if possible, give opportunities to youngsters. Right winger Gregory Riou made his debut against FC Groningen and although he wasn’t spectacular, he looked good with the ball and linked up with others nicely.



Player of the Month: Davy Klaassen - constantly good in those big games, initiated our win in the cup final with two assists.

Goal of the Month: Kenneth Taylor vs. Feyenoord Rotterdam - a brilliant free kick in the derby to give us a valuable win.



 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

We have a nine point lead in the table, so in reality we have the title. FC Utrecht will definitely finish in the top three and that counts as a great success for them. SC Telstar will probably go down, but there’s still a fierce relegation battle going on for the 16th and 17th position.

Link to post
Share on other sites

May 2025

 

Fixtures and Results

 

We need one more win to secure the title and all of our opponents in May are smaller clubs from the bottom half of the table.

spacer.png


We clinched our seventh Eredivisie title in my reign against Willem II - a pretty comfortable victory. Sebastien Haller scored a brace in the first half and Kian Fitz-Jim continued his goalscoring form into May by adding another two goals after the break. I rotated heavily in this game, but this time youngsters did really well and we looked comfortable on the pitch through the ninety minutes.

NAC Breda proved to be a more difficult test - we took the lead after Berghuis scored with a fine header, but allowed NAC to equalise and then got stuck in attack. There wasn’t too much space for us and we lacked good ideas on how to create something. Things changed after Berghuis came off with a knock and Antony came on - he showed his speed and skills on our right wing, scored a goal and made our attack much sharper. Good win in the end. 

I’m afraid our focus wasn’t there against Excelsior and so we finished our season with a defeat. Again, I rotated a lot, but that’s not an excuse. We conceded on 16’ from a free kick, but equalised quickly (Mateja Milovanovic scored his first goal of the season), but we didn’t defend well and weren’t clinical enough with our chances. Excelsior had a bit more moments in attack than I would have liked and they scored another goal in the second half and we couldn’t answer. Disappointing.


 

Players

Long season has finally caught up on us and injuries started to appear in May, more frequently than they’ve visited us for the rest of the season. Kenneth Taylor was out anyway, but Sebastien Haller strained his abdominal muscle in training and had to miss the last two games of the season. Steven Berghuis’ season was cut short after he fractured his toe in the NAC Breda match.

I’ve used this chance to distribute game time and some youngsters have made their debuts. 17 years old defender Can Tas came on for Willem II Tilburg, Gregory Riou and Ja-Ryong Kim have got some minutes in May and the players in general can be happy with their playing time.

 

Coaches

The board was clearly delighted with our success and they allowed me to sign one additional coach. One area that needs improvement is our goalkeeping coaching - we have two coaches there, but both are 4* and the new opening in the backroom staff list gave me a chance to sign Portuguese Hugo Oliveira who had been in my shortlist for a while.


 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

Some teams can be really disappointed with their final match day. FC Utrecht dropped points and lost their 2nd place, allowing PSV Eindhoven to take over. Excelsior were delighted with their win over us and those three points helped them to survive in Eredivisie, but Sparta Rotterdam went down after a terrible second half of the season. SC Cambuur finished 16th, but survived through the relegation play-offs.

Link to post
Share on other sites

spacer.png


 

spacer.png


 

I’m really happy with the season - we won everything we could domestically and reached the quarter final in the Champions League. The cup win was especially important, because it fulfilled one of my promises and winning in the cup is always a little bit tricky if small things won’t go your way.

We had to adjust our attack after Ryan Gravenberch and Mohamed Daramy left in January and did fairly well in the second half of the season. Younger defenders made mistakes here and there, but showed promise in other games, so that’s something you need to accept if you have to rotate the team.We have some exciting players coming through the youth teams and let’s hope we can continue like that in the coming seasons.


 

spacer.png



 

Players

spacer.png

The team relied mostly on Sebastien Haller, Antony, Ryan Gravenberch and Olivier Aertssen - four players who had the best average rating through the season. Haller was our best goalscorer with 30 goals (20 in Eredivisie), Antony added 18 goals and 16 assists. With Ryan Gravenberch gone, other players started to show creativity and assists piled up for Steven Berghuis (13) and Davy Klaassen (10).

Naci Ünüvar has been OK in the AMCa role and for a while it looked like Amourricho van Axel Dongen is our next best left winger - he has scored 11 goals this season, but in mid-April his form suddenly dropped and he landed on the bench for the last stages of our campaign. We have plenty of talented youngsters in the AML position and competition is fierce there.

Even if the youngsters haven’t always performed on the required level, they’ve trained hard and increased their attributes. Naci Ünüvar and Amourricho van Axel Dongen have developed well, but our first team goalkeeper Jay Gorter stands out as the most improved player this season - it also shows on his valuation and interest of other clubs.

I’ve always kept one eye on our loan players and some of them have impressed more than expected - Bas van Lopik has worked hard at FC Groningen - he could be our right winger next season. Gabriel Misehouy has had a great season in Spain and some pundits even label him as a wonderkid. Young striker Dramane Guehi has scored 11 goals for Charleroi in the Belgian Jupiler Pro League and is starting to knock on the door of our first team, so I’ll have some positively difficult decisions to make this Summer.


 

Season 2024-2025 Goals

  • Sebastien Haller 30
  • Antony 19
  • Ryan Gravenberch 11
  • Amourricho van Axel Dongen 11

 

Season 2024-2025 Assists

  • Antony 16
  • Sebastien Haller 14
  • Steven Berghuis 13
  • Davy Klaassen 10


 

AFC Ajax End of Season Awards

spacer.png






 

Eredivisie Awards

spacer.png


 

spacer.png


 

spacer.png


FC Twente’s Johnny Jansen was named Manager’s Manager of the Year - fully deserved, as they played well all season, but the Golden Boot nomination still confuses me a lot - this year it was awarded to FC Utrecht’s Mike van der Hoorn. I’m not sure on what grounds, because Ryan Gravenberch, Antony, Sebastien Haller and Olivier Aertssen all had better average ratings than the actual top three.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Summer 2025



 

Contracts

In June I had two promises to fulfil - Prince Aning and Naci Ünüvar expected to receive a new contract offer and I handed both new deals until 2030. Ünüvar’s £44,000 p/w deal is an expensive one in my book, but he has attracted enough interest from bigger leagues, so I needed to pay to keep him happy.

Jay Gorter was probably the most developed player in the squad last season and when he came to ask for a new deal, I had no grounds to decline him - he’ll be in Ajax until 2030 and considering how difficult it is to find a good goalkeeper, a £34,000 p/w contract seems entirely reasonable. Davy Klaassen got a one-year extension worth £49,000 p/w and Youri Regeer also signed a new five year deal with the club.



 

Transfer Window

There were a few players who could have been targeted by big clubs this Summer - Antony, Jay Gorter, Devyne Rensch and Kenneth Taylor, but neither of them got any real bids, although in August Real Madrid started to show serious interest in Taylor. Instead, I let go of some of the younger players who didn’t look to make it in Ajax, adding a large future transfer percentage clause into their deals.

As usual, I loaned out some younger players. However, I couldn’t get enough good deals for them, so a bit more players remained in the squad than I would have liked. Yoram Boerhout went on loan, as did Can Tas and Moha. Diyae-Eddine Jermoumi and Julian Brandes had a good season with ADO Den Haag in Keuken Kampioen Divisie and as ADO were promoted this season, I was happy to extend their loan deals, knowing that they would get Eredivisie football this season. Kian Fitz-Jim joined NAC Breda for a season. 


 

AFC Ajax Transfers

spacer.png





 

Eredivisie Transfers

spacer.png

Feyenoord cleared the books this Summer. On paper they should probably be weaker than they were in Spring. On the other hand, they can concentrate on Eredivisie football and probably don’t need a very big squad this season and their first eleven is still capable.

Link to post
Share on other sites

August 2025


 

Fixtures and Results

 

spacer.png

 

We started our season with a traditional Johan Cruijff Schaal. This time it was held at Johan Cruijff Arena, so it was like a home game with a sold out stadium and nice sunny weather. We played a really good match, controlling it from start to finish. Antony missed some big chances in the first half, but Olivier Aertssen headed in a corner and Sebastien Haller doubled our lead in the second half. It could have been 3:0 or 4:0 easily, but I was still happy with the performance and result.

We hosted Heracles Almelo for our first league game and didn’t have any problems in that game either. Haller scored two goals early in the first half and Kenneth Taylor added the third. We could just pass the ball in the second half and wait for the final whistle. The only downside of this match was Devyne Rensch’s injury.

We had more problems against newly-promoted FC Emmen - we rotated the team a little (partly forced because of Rensch’s injury), but played a good first half - created chances and scored two goals to make it 2:0 at half-time. The second half was a disaster - we conceded a goal on 59’ and then Olivier Aertssen was sent off on 72’ after he received his second yellow card for a handball, so the last twenty minutes were much more tense than I expected. We were organised enough defensively to keep our lead and kept FC Emmen at bay, but obviously I wasn’t happy with our game after half-time.

We finished August with a trip to Groningen. Squad selection was even more problematic because Rensch was out, Tristan Gooijer injured and Olivier Aertssen suspended. Jay Gorter had a small injury problem too, so I started with weaker defence and Charlie Setford in goal and that proved to be costly. Sebastien Haller gave us the lead with a fine header, but FC Groningen scored from a corner and when Prince Aning pulled a shirt of Marlos Moreno in our box, a penalty gave FC Groningen a 2:1 lead at half-time. The real problem was that we struggled to create chances up front - Naci Ünüvar was marked out of the game and came off in the second half. Daley Blind headed in from an IFK to save us one point, but the game itself was a big disappointment - we struggled both in attack and defence (allowed FC Groningen to make 20 dribbles!) and I had private chats with some of the players about their performances in that game.

 

So, it wasn’t the smoothest start, but nothing’s broken and we’re still undefeated this season. 


 

Players

We have a rather large squad this season and I have plenty of players to choose from, but injuries have struck more frequently in August than we’ve used to. We had a great season in 2024-2025 in terms of fitness - I haven’t had a season before without a major injury to a first team player and we rarely had any problems with knocks, but now in August we’ve struggled even before our season has properly started. Stanis Idumbo Muzambo was out all month. Devyne Rensch twisted his ankle in the Heracles game and Jeppe Kjaer in the Jong Ajax match. Jay Gorter and Naci Ünüver had some issues and Tristan Gooijer missed two weeks with pulled knee ligaments. Hopefully it gets better before the Champions League starts.

 

Player of the Month: Kenneth Taylor - Sebastien Haller scored the most goals in August, but Taylor has been consistently good, delivered dangerous set pieces, assisted goals and got himself to the score sheet as well.

Goal of the Month: Sebastien Haller vs. FC Emmen - a lovely chip over the goalkeeper.



 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

 

Both Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven have started well and I don’t like that.



 

Champions League

spacer.png

Group stages were drawn and we’re in Group H with Real Madrid, RSC Anderlecht and OGC Nice. I reckon it as a favourable draw - both Anderlecht and Nice are similar to us and we should be able to get through from this group if we play well. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Squad Update 2025



 

Goalkeepers

 

Jay Gorter is a brilliant goalkeeper and I’m afraid of the moment when some big club will snatch him away from us. One of the key players in the squad. Calvin Raatsie moved on to AZ Alkmaar this Summer, so we have Charlie Setford as a back-up and young Mert Alegoz developing on loan.

 

spacer.png

spacer.png



 

Defenders

 

Pretty much the same line-up as in the last season. Daley Blind is the leader in the defensive line - 35 years old, but still going strong. Prince Aning has developed nicely in the past 6 months and I expect him to improve further.

 

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

 

 

 

Midfielders

Davy Klaassen extended his contract this Summer and confirmed his intention to stay in Ajax for the remainder of his career. We have Gabriel Misehouy (labeled as wonderkid) returning from loan and young attacking midfielders Stanis Idumbo Muzambo and Kristian Nökkvi Hlynsson competing for minutes in the AMC position

 

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png


 

 

Wingers

Steven Berghuis moved on to Sporting CP this Summer, but Bas van Lopik is in the squad after his season in Groningen and Jeppe Kjaer returned from Spain. Kian Fitz-Jim went on loan and David Kalokoh fills his role on the left flank - so a little bit of a rotation in personnel.

 

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png


 

 

 

Strikers

Sebastien Haller remains to be our best goalscorer. Yoram Boerhout will spend this season away on loan and Dramane Guehi (who had a good season in Charleroi) will try to get himself into the Ajax first team.

 

spacer.png

spacer.png

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

September 2025

 

Fixtures and Results

spacer.png

We started with two difficult home games. First - Klassieker derby against in-form Feyenoord. We conceded an early goal on 3’ - Kenneth Taylor lost a header when we defended a corner and Feyenoord’s new Australian centre-back headed it in from a point blank range. We reacted well and Antony equalised just a minute later and Sebastien Haller headed in from our corner to make it 2:1 at half-time. We had most of the momentum in the game and it looked like a deserved lead. Gabriel Misehouy (who started in the AMC position instead of Naci Ünüvar who was on the bench with a small knock) showed his ability with a nice goal in the second half and the final score 3:1 marked a very important win for us in this campaign. Feyenoord managed to test Jay Gorter with a couple of good shots and we couldn’t relax too much in the game, but our defence worked well to limit their chances and the opportunities they got weren’t probably as good as they wanted to create.

We started our Champions League campaign hosting Real Madrid. Big clubs often come to Amsterdam and play with too defensive mentality and I planned to exploit it and indeed, we had a great start and Haller scored with a simple tap-in. He had a chance to double his tally from the spot on 24’, but the penalty was saved and it was a wasted moment that came to haunt us later in the game. We played fairly well most of the match and Rico Speksnijeder hit the crossbar in the second half, before Jay Gorter unexplainably just gave the ball to Rodrygo and gifted Real the equaliser. Very poor mistake from our goalkeeper and that did cost us the win. Not sure if I should blame Gorter for his mistake or Haller for his missed penalty, but individually we need to be better in those games. On the other hand - to get a point from Real should count as a good result whether it’s home or away.

We had to shake off our regrets and travel to Utrecht for our next league game. It was clear that the concentration wasn’t at 100% after the kick-off and FC Utrecht had their first great chance of the game on 2’ when Thomas Buitink’s close range shot was parried by Gorter. We couldn’t get our attack going in the first period and needed to change something in the second half, so I switched to normal tempo and we started to look more dangerous. Antony finally got the first goal and then it started to flood in from all angles - substitute David Kalokoh fired in a thunderous strike from 19 metres, Antony delivered a daisy cutter into the bottom corner from 21 metres and Misehouy added the fourth goal in ten minutes to bury FC Utrecht. Daley Blind’s own goal in injury time gave them a little consolation and summed up Blind’s poor performance in this game, but I was delighted with our football in the second half.

Another poor start against SC Cambuur left us trailing after Olivier Aertssen’s mistake on 2’ allowed Cambuur to score a flyer, but we slowly took control of the game and finished the first half with a 2:1 lead. Bas van Lopik wrapped things up with our third goal on 52’ and then it looked  more like a routine league win over a smaller team.

The last match in September was a trip to France - Allianz Arena in Nice hosted us for our second Champions League fixture. OGC Nice finished 2nd in Ligue 1 last season and they look like our equal, so it was predicted to be a game between two evenly matched teams and indeed it seemed that was most of the match - both sides had a few half-chances in the first half, but it remained goalless. In the second half I made a couple of substitutions that paid off. Youri Regeer came on as a right-back and young striker Dramane Guehi replaced Haller on 86’ and two substitutes combined for the winning goal just a minute later. There wasn’t much between the two teams and you can’t say that we dominated or deserved that goal more, but rather snatched a win from an evenly contested match and I was very happy with that.


 

Players

Again I’m happy that we don’t have major injury problems, but because all players are fit and we had rather difficult games in September that demanded our first eleven to start, I’m afraid I haven’t been able to rotate enough and give youngsters a chance. We don’t have a big advantage in the league just yet, so it’s probably that some of the players need to be patient for a while.

 

Player of the Month: Antony - had a day off against SC Cambuur, but scored some important goals in big games and was always a threat to our right

Goal of the Month: Antony vs. FC Utrecht - beautiful swerving strike from 21 metres into the bottom corner





 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

 

Last season’s contenders AZ Alkmaar and FC Utrecht are not in the title race at the moment, but both big rivals PSV and Feyenoord have started well and we can’t afford to lose momentum. Our away derby against PSV in October will be extremely important.



 

Champions League 

spacer.png

It’s a very good start from us - four points from two difficult games. Hopefully we can continue in a similar fashion

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

October 2025

 

Fixtures and Results

 

spacer.png

 

We started with a derby win against rivals PSV Eindhoven, but it was a really really tough match. I didn’t dare to use our regular high pressing and positive mentality and opted for balanced instead. PSV had a little initiative because of that most of the game and had a little bit more chances, but Naci Ünüvar scored in the first half from a counter-attack and we managed to battle hard and hold that advantage until the final whistle. PSV didn’t have too many chances, but they threatened our goal often (and had 15/12 shots in the end), so Jay Gorter had to make a couple of brilliant saves and his outstanding performance (8.9 rating) earned us all three points.

Dropping points against NAC Breda after that win was a manager’s error - we rotated a little bit too much and got careless in the process. It wasn’t a smooth sailing, but we finished the first half with a 1:0 lead (youngster Dramane Guehi started his first league game and capped it with a goal), but NAC had momentum after the second half kick-off and our own loanee Kian Fitz-Jim equalised, before Neal Viereck’s foul in the box gave NAC a penalty and another goal. We then had to dig deep, but struggled to create chances even though NAC ‘s left-back Rami Kaib was sent off on 79’. Finally, Rico Speksnijeder curled into the top corner from 22 metres to save us a point, but the result was still a big disappointment.

I need something better against Anderlecht at home and we produced - it wasn’t as easy game and Anderlecht defended well in the first half, but Aertssen scored a flyer from a corner and then Sebastien Haller scored probably the best goal of this season so far - he spotted the goalkeeper out of the goal and delivered a wonderful lob from 35 metres that landed in the net - a great goal. Anderlecht tried hard, but we were in control and two goals in the second half secured our win. Anderlecht’s goal came from Joao Pedro on 54’. It was a big disappointment for our opponents who hoped to get at least some points in the table after losing their first two games and persistent questions from journalists about a ‘bad day in the office’ made their manager Vincent Kompany storm out of the press conference after the game. I took notice and marked it down to expect an even more difficult battle in Brussels.

The last match against sc Heerenveen was an away game, but we played brilliantly and won 4:0 - controlled the game and scored goals when we had chances. Managed to hit the woodwork three times as well, but that’s OK. Very solid performance for an away game.



 

Players

We’ve managed to avoid injuries, so I can rotate a lot (if I need to), but we had just four games in October and some players have featured less than I expected (they’re still happy with their playing time themselves). Olivier Aertssen suffered  broken ribs in training before the sc Heerenveen game and that’s the first major injury we have to deal with - he’ll be out for around two months (virtually until Christmas) and we have to change our defensive line-up which is unfortunate. Youri Regeer will feature as a right-back against stronger opponents and Devyne Rensch will move to central defence, at least for Champions League games.

As a result, our young midfielders have had less minutes to impress, but at least attacking players have had their moments - Dramane Guehi had his first start for Ajax against NAC Breda (and managed to score), David Kalokoh as well and I’ve tried to introduce Mateja Milovanovic into the central defence to give some extra motivation for Daley Blind.


Player of the Month: Antony - again consistently good whenever he played. He’s truly getting too good for Eredivisie level and I doubt we could keep him this January.

Goal of the Month: Sebastien Haller vs. RSC Anderlecht - a wonderful goal from 35 metres that lobbed their goalkeeper.



 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

 

Top clubs are all in contention, so little has changed in the title race. We improved our standings with the win over PSV Eindhoven, but lost it with a draw against NAC Breda. Terrible start of the campaign led to Robert Maaskant’s sacking by NAC Breda board and he’s the first managerial casualty this season.



 

Champions League

spacer.png

Not a bad start, to be level with Real Madrid and with seven points from our first three games. I’m delighted with that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

November 2025

 

Fixtures and Results

 

spacer.png

A little bit more games in November and we started with a tricky away match against Willem II. I say tricky, because Willem II doesn’t look much of a threat, but somehow they’ve got the results so far and sit in 4th place in the table at the moment, so in an away game they need to be respected as a difficult opponent because of their form. We started poorly and allowed them to score the first goal, so it made it even more difficult for us and allowed them to tighten their formation and sit in defence. It was a struggle for us until the end, but Devyne Rensch headed in from a corner to equalise and substitute Amourricho van Axel Dongen delivered us all three points with his winner in the second half. Difficult game, as expected, and our performance was not really good enough, but I’m happy with the final result.

We had an important away game against RSC Anderlecht next and I opted for a balanced mentality and a little bit higher tempo, but retained our high defensive line and high pressing instructions and that seemed to work very well. We had an initiative from start to finish and our quick passing seemed to cause problems to the Anderlecht defence. It didn’t lead to goals in the first half although Antony hit the post from a good position, but Haller scored after the break to give us the lead and that was enough to get all three points. Anderlecht had a couple of half-chances in the second half and one of their ambitious attempts from outside of the box hit the post, so it could have been 1:1, but our performance deserved a win and we probably could have scored more goals if we were more accurate with our finishing, so Vincent Kompany had to admit that his team was beaten for the second time in two weeks. That win gives us 10 points in the table which is even more important because Real Madrid managed to lose to OGC Nice in the other fixture and that result opened the group up. Real has now 7 points and Nice has two wins and 6, so it might turn out that even 9-10 points will not be enough to qualify from this group.

I rotated the team in our next game against PEC Zwolle. We had momentum in the first half, but couldn’t finish off our chances (David Kalokoh hit the upright in the first minute after kick-off) and in the second half I had to send on Sebastien Haller and Naci Ünüvar. It was the captain Daley Blind, though, who made the difference - he scored from a set piece and delivered an injury time corner to set up Haller for the second goal - 2:0 win in the end, but I expected better performance and felt that the youngsters let us down in this game.

We didn’t have any problems at home against FC Twente - in the first half we scored four goals (including Misehouy’s curling shot into the top corner) and Haller wrapped things up with a penalty in the second half - very impressive reaction to my criticism after the Zwolle match.

We secured our qualification from the Champions League group with a 3:0 win over OGC Nice. Our opponents had a decent first half, but we were just too clinical in front of goal - Sebastien Haller’s header gave us the lead and Antony doubled it before half-time and Haller’s penalty in the second half made it three for us. Nice tried to attack more after the break and we had to make a substitution - Youri Regeer suffered a knock and was replaced by Neal Viereck, so with a less experienced defensive line we were a little bit more error-prone, but we maintained our clean sheet and overall I was very pleased with our performance and the result as well.

It might have been a perfect month for us, but we dropped two points in the last game - ADO played very well defensively and even though we didn’t rest our best creative players, we struggled to find chances in attack. Antony hit the post in the first half and Neal Viereck headed against the crossbar on 80’. Jeppe Kjaer missed a chance soon after that and that was it. Disappointing failure.



 

Players and Tactics

Schedule has been demanding and we’ve rotated more in November, but youngsters have done fairly well so far and it hasn’t backfired yet. We’ve missed Olivier Aertssen, but it hasn’t affected results - Youri Regeer and Devyne Rensch have had more match load because of that and that’s the downside of that injury, but otherwise we’ve done well.

Sebastien Haller is our best goalscorer with 18 goals, Antony has added both goals and assist (he’s close to getting 10 each in the first half of the season), but what is significant is that our best creative players in the league are left wingers van Axel Dongen and Kalokoh - they’ve created more chances than anybody else and their influence to our attack shouldn’t be underestimated.

 

Player of the Month: Sebastien Haller - scored important goals, especially in Champions League games.

Goal of the Month: Gabriel Misehouy vs. FC Twente Enschede - curled into the top corner from 21 metres.


 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

 

We could have enjoyed a comfortable lead, but allowed Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven back into the title race with our draw in the last game. At the bottom of the table NAC Breda is still struggling.


 

Champions League

spacer.png

We have got through this group with better results than I expected - good wins over OGC Nice and RSC Anderlecht and a home draw against Real Madrid give us the lead at the moment.

Link to post
Share on other sites

December 2025


 

Fixtures and Results

 

spacer.png

We improved from our poor attacking form against ADO and showed much better football against Excelsior three days later. It’s fair to say that I sent out our second eleven - most of the youngsters were in the starting line-up - but we ended up with a comfortable 4:0 win and didn’t have any problems in the game. Goals were distributed nicely between players and we didn’t give Excelsior any chances in our box, so very good performances from all the players (7.63 average rating) and I was happy with the result.

It wasn’t as good against Vitesse, though - I don’t know whether it was the fact that it was the first away game in a while or Vitesse’s 5-3-2 WB formation that set us off, but we never really showed our ability in this game. The first eleven was back (only Antony started from the bench because of a minor knock) and I’m not taking any blame for fielding a weaker team, but we wasted a couple of half-chances in the first half and then Vitesse had a good build-up from our left flank to get their only chance of the game and of course, they scored. We struggled to create chances in the second half (or perhaps Vitesse were tactically spot on to shut their defence) and substitutions had no effect either. In the end I was just out of ideas and we received our first defeat this season, finishing our 20 game unbeaten run. Disappointing.

We needed a draw against Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu to secure our first place in the group and we managed to do just that with a fairly decent performance. The most significant talking point about this game was weather - it was -1C in Madrid, with strong wind and snow. I’m not sure that good people of Spain’s capital are used to this sort of conditions, but the game wasn’t cancelled and perhaps the weather limited Real’s technical football a little. The first two minutes were crazy - Real scored with just 16 seconds on the clock, but Gabriel Misehouy equalised a minute later and it settled down after that. We defended fairly well and didn’t give them too many chances, but Rodrygo managed to score his second goal of the game before Kenneth Taylor made it 2:2 with his late free kick - a beautiful goal all around. I was happy because our performance deserved that point and we finished first in our group, unbeaten and ahead of Real Madrid. That’s something.

Narrow win against Fortuna Sittard wasn’t spectacular at all - we had possession and momentum, but couldn’t finish our chances until Antony finally scored in the second half. Not quite good enough according to our standards, but three points secured. Olivier Aertssen made his come-back in this game after a fairly long injury lay-off and I was happy to see him on the pitch again.

Against NAC Breda we had another comfortable win, despite rotating a lot (especially in the attacking four). Bas van Lopik and Gabriel Misehouy combined well, but Dramane Guehi scored the best goal of the game with a curling shot from 23 metres. I was happy with four goals, but we got complacent and allowed NAC to score a consolation goal in injury time and that irritated me a little - we’re getting too comfortable in situations like that and punishment comes swiftly if we step our foot off the gas. 

The last match in 2025 was the Noord-Hollandse derby against AZ Alkmaar. AZ has been in good form this season and currently in 4th position and I expected a difficult game because of that, but we managed to score two goals in the first ten minutes and had control of the game from early on. The rest of the match was a fairly even game, but AZ was wasteful with their half-chances and because they didn’t get that first goal, they couldn’t really get back into the game. We fought well defensively in the second half to limit their attacks (several defensive players finished with 8.0+ ratings) and I was thoroughly happy with the win and performance.



 

Players

Olivier Aertssen and Naci Ünüvar returned from injuries and in December we had a moment when all of our first team players were fit and ready to play, so that’s a great time for a manager.

Sebastien Haller is our best goalscorer with 19. He’s also leading the Eredivisie goal scoring table with 12 goals. Antony has 10 goals and 9 assists in all competitions and is probably our best attacking player.

 

Player of the Month: Kenneth Taylor - really good in big games against Real Madrid and AZ Alkmaar

Goal of the Month: Kenneth Taylor vs. Real Madrid - a lovely free kick to level the game and secure our first place in the group


 

Youth Intake Preview

spacer.png

The first peek into our March intake looks promising, especially in the centre of the pitch.


 

Contracts

With the January transfer window nearing, there were just a few weeks to sort out our player contracts.

The first contract to run out was Daley Blind’s, but he has an automatic one year extension clause if he plays 20 league games this season and he’s on course to do that (if I select him often enough after Christmas). My coaches still regard him as a great player despite his 35 years and we probably could use his leadership as long as possible, so I’m not against him staying. His £23,000 p/w wages is not too much to pay for his services.

The second one was Charlie Setford. That’s a tricky one - for a while I was afraid that big teams would lure Jay Gorter away and we were desperate to keep any decent goalkeeper we had, so Setford boasts little more than £10,000 p/w wages already and he probably expects higher salary with a contract extension, but I doubt that he could develop into a true first team (read: Champions League) goalkeeper. He’s more like a solid rotation/backup option and I need such a player as well, but what’s his actual worth - that’s a tough question. I’m a little bit indecisive at the moment and postponed that decision into Spring. We have a good prospect in Mert Alegoz coming up from Jong Ajax - he’s currently on loan at Go Ahead Eagle and making good games in Keuken Kampioen Divisie, so it’s interesting to see how he compares against Setford in a few months.

Kristian Nökkvi Hlynsson earned a contract extension until 2029 - a talented Icelander could find that competition for the AMC position is a bit too crowded, but his talent is undeniable.

Tristan Gooijer will probably not get a new contract - he has featured in a few games this season, but hasn’t developed too much in the past couple of seasons and with 21 years it doesn’t look like he’ll make it to the first eleven. Useful backup option, perhaps, but against any decent opposition I had preferred Youri Regeer as our right wing-back and it’s probably for the best to let Gooijer go and start to look for another talent in our U-18 team.




 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

We have collected 42 points in 17 games and I’m happy with that. Four points advantage over both Feyenoord and PSV gives us some cushion before the second half of the season. Most overachieving team so far has probably been ADO Den Haag. At the same time NAC Breda and FC Twente both have done way worse than they should have.

ADO Den Haag’s manager Ruud Brood left the club to take on a new challenge with FC Twente. Let’s hope that this move won’t damage the game time for our loanees Diyae Eddine-Jermoumi and Julian Brandes who are on loan at ADO. The FC Utrecht board decided that 12th position is not good enough and their manager Thomas Letsch was sacked before the holidays and replaced by PEC Zwolle’s Siem de Jong.


 

Champions League

spacer.png

With four wins and two draws (both against Real) we collected 14 points and won the group. We did a lot better than I expected, but perhaps we just made all the little things right this time - clinical finishing in the Champions League games is definitely a key factor and we didn’t waste too many opportunities.

Link to post
Share on other sites

January 2026


 

Transfer Window

 

I feel that we have a good squad at the moment, but in the January transfer window we have two players I’d like to sell if a good bid comes in - Antony and Devyne Rensch. Both have just 18 months left of their contract and they earn a lot, so signing another extension doesn’t look possible. Inter is seriously interested in Antony so maybe we could reach an agreement.

The second thing we need to fix is too many players in the AMC position - Kristian Nökkvi Hlynsson, Stanis Idumbo Muzambo and Peter Misidjan should go on loan, but finding the right club for them would be a challenge.

What really happened was that against my expectations we lost Daley Blind - despite his contract extension clause he opted to sign with Shakhtar Donetsk from Summer and I now need to prepare for his inevitable departure. Not sure how that happened.

We received some interesting bids for our squad players that left me struggling with decisions - Stanis Idumbo Muzambo, Youri Regeer, Jeppe Kjaer etc. In my Ajax career I usually let go of my star players if the bid is good enough (£50m or more), but rotation players usually stick around longer. I’m not eager to sell for £5m, but receiving over £20m for them is unlikely. This time I leaned towards selling, so both Youri Regeer and Jeppe Kjaer joined Villarreal CF (who looked desperate to sign players in the Winter transfer window). Youri Regeer is a versatile backup player who has collected a lot of minutes as both DLPd and right-back in my formation. His contract will run to 2030, but he’s 22 years old now and my coaches warn that he doesn’t look likely to improve in the future so perhaps it was time to move on. I decided to let him go if I received more than £10m and Villarreal offered £11,5m + clauses so I cashed in.

It was a more difficult choice with Jeppe Kjaer, who looks like a promising right winger, but I have Bas van Lopik in this position and to be fair, I haven’t been able to play Kjaer a lot this season with Antony still in the team. His contract will run out in 2027 and I should extend it this season, but should I do it if he’s not in my first eleven? As a result he left for £5,25m + 40% next transfer clause. Decent fee  - not a lot, but that next transfer clause would come handy.

In the end of January clubs like Crystal Palace managed to unsettle Amourricho van Axel Dongen and the youngster handed in a formal transfer request. That was the turn of events I didn’t expect to see, because van Axel Dongen is a vastly underrated player in our formation - he doesn’t score much, but has created more chances than any other player (not his fault if his teammates struggle to finish off some of them) and his influence in our attack is bigger than his average rating indicates. He would be difficult to replace and I’m reluctant to see him go. At least he’s not moving away this transfer window.

Crowded AMC position found a solution when Kristian Nökkvi Hlynsson joined Korean side Jeonbuk on loan.

 

There was some movement in Jong Ajax as well - 17 years old talented attacking midfielder Peter Misidjan joined De Graafschap on loan, 17 years old Estonian winger Nikita Tamm went to FC Volendam until Summer and AZ snapped up striker Tarik Tjeertes who was on youth contract with us - a talented boy, with 3,5* potential, but unambitious and I’m sure he wouldn’t have made it in Ajax, but now we received £575k compensation for him. Decent fee in my book.


 

Fixtures and Results

 

spacer.png

January was a poor month for us in many ways. We started with our second league defeat against sc Heerenveen - the first home defeat in 46 league games! - in a match that we should have won easily - we scored an early goal and controlled the first half comfortably. Missed a bit of luck, as van Axel Dongen hit the crossbar before the half-time whistle and then allowed sc Heerenveen to score two goals in the second half - Rami Al Hajj scored both of them after smart runs from midfield while our midfielders forgot to track back. To sum things up, Antony missed his clear cut chance on 79’, so we lost the game we should have won 3:1. Our xG was 3.39 and our shooting was 25/11 - I don’t know how we ended up with just one goal, but that was a terrible finishing on our part.

The second match against Excelsior wasn’t much better - again we scored in the first half and things looked under control, but we then allowed Excelsior to equalise from a set piece on 67’ and then failed to convert our possession into good chances in the final 20 minutes. Poor game - we should have done better again and I started to get worried, because we were dropping cheap points and allowing competitors to close the gap in the table.

The KNVB Beker match against ADO Den Haag ended with a slightly better result, although here we allowed them to score first - ADO found their only goal on 35’, but Sebastien Haller answered quickly and in the second half we made our quality count - Bas van Lopik had a good game on our right wing and his cross found Haller, who scored the winner with a diving header to make it 2:1. At least this time we were better with  our chance and the win surely improved the mood in our dressing room.

Against FC Emmen we finally looked as champions should look - controlled the game from start to finish and scored four goals (even though Haller missed a penalty in the second half). We didn’t give FC Emmen any chances in our box and looked comfortable. Bas van Lopik scored the best goal of the game with a  late free kick that wrapped things up for us. 




 

Players

Despite having all of the team fit and available, we struggled to find consistent performers. Only exception was Sebastien Haller who managed to score in every game and now has 24 goals in all competitions, but he didn’t receive much support from his teammates in January. Antony brought his Eredivisie goal tally to 10 goals.

Player of the Month: Sebastien Haller - scored four goals in January

Goal of the Month: Bas van Lopik vs. FC Emmen - beautifully delivered free kick from 18 metres that curled over the wall




 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

Feyenoord dropped two points in their last game against FC Groningen, but PSV Eindhoven is hot on our tales. At the bottom of the table NAC Breda and FC Twente continue to perform well below their usual level.

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

February 2026


 

Fixtures and Results

 

spacer.png

We had a fairly poor January, but at least we started February better. Our 2:0 win over PEC Zwolle was, in fact, a drab match, but we managed to score two goals - a first half tap-in from Naci Ünüvar and a late header from Dramane Guehi - and kept PEC Zwolle quiet in defence, so a decent win.

We then travelled to Almelo to face Heracles, who have been a tricky opponent to every team so far in Eredivisie. They have a formidable defence and a pretty good striker in Delano Burgzorg. Their tactics seem to be keeping their defence closed and hitting one goal to snatch a 1:0 win or at least make it 1:1 against every opponent. A good combination from our left flank gave Sebastien Haller the goal scoring chance in 12’ and we took the lead, but Burgzorg equalised with a lovely chip on 23’. Antony restored our lead with a lovely finish and we headed to half-time with a 2:1 advantage, but we had to fight hard to contain Heracles in the second half and I have to admit that we rarely created anything dangerous after the break, so indeed, a very difficult match and I was really happy with our win.

The cup quarter final against FC Twente started as a disaster - FC Twente took the lead on 6’ when their midfielder drilled in a low strike from 21 metres and on 21’ they doubled their lead. We reacted with a goal from Naci Ünüvar, but were trailing at half-time and it wasn’t a good display. Antony saved us in the second half, with a beautiful free kick that went in of the post and in extra time Gabriel Misehouy took over - he was the spark in our attack, created chances for others and scored our first goal with a curling strike from 21 metres and wrapped things up with a lovely finish on 117’. So in the end we won and reached the semi finals despite our poor start to the game.

The next league game against ADO Den Haag finished 4:2 as well, but it was a completely different story. We had a very comfortable first half, as Davy Klaassen hit a fierce shot from the edge of the area, Olivier Aertssen scored from a corner and Antony finished an excellent counter-attack to make it 3:0 with less than 20 minutes spent. After Sebastien Haller made it 4:0 after the restart I felt comfortable and made substitutions, but perhaps we got too complacent and momentum started to shift to ADO - their danger man Kelvin Ofori found space to run into too often and those runs led to chances and, eventually they scored two goals before I reacted, made tactical changes and stopped the bleeding defensively. A perfect first half, followed by a terrible second half, and some questions were asked in the dressing room after the game.

I expected a difficult Champions League match against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium, but in fact it was a disaster. We had a good first ten minutes and van Axel Dongen headed in a cross from Devyne Rensch to give us the lead, but the rest of the match’s  momentum was fully on Arsenal side - they went to half-time with a 2:1 lead and extended it further after the break. It could have been even worse, as Kenneth Taylor gave away a penalty on 65’, but that one was saved by Jay Gorter. In retrospect, it was a terrible performance (Arsenal had 4.07 xG) and the 1:3 defeat was rather flattering. Away goal leaves us theoretical hopes for the second leg, but we have to play much better football to win our home game.

The last match against Vitesse was another poor result and two points dropped. Antony scored with an excellent counter-attack and we had a good number of chances in the first half, but we gave Vitesse momentum for five minutes in the second period and Luka Štor equalised. Disappointing. We should be able to hold onto the lead if we have it, at home. 

So, generally results came our way, but a poor display against Arsenal and a disappointing draw in the next game left a bitter taste in my mouth.


 

Players and Tactics

Our defence has become leaky again. We conceded a goal in almost every match and our attacking proficiency has got us through those games without too much damage, but we have to improve defensively. With shaky defence, some players have shown nervousness on the pitch and overall confidence is starting to fade away, so we better get that in order soon, before key matches in March.

 

Player of the Month: Antony - another difficult choice, because Gabriel Misehouy was excellent in a couple of games, but Antony was more consistent and delivered four goals in February

Goal of the Month: Gabriel Misehouy vs. FC Twente - a lovely curling strike from 21 metres.




 

Eredivisie

 

spacer.png

PSV Eindhoven is just two points behind us. NAC Breda and Excelsior are clear relegation candidates at the moment.

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

March 2026

 

Fixtures and Results

spacer.png

 

Some big games in March and we started with the Topper Derby at Johan Cruijff Arena. It was a tough game - both teams played extremely well defensively and tried patiently to find a good chance, but it wasn’t easy to find space in attack and create something. We had a bit more momentum throughout the game (it was our home game, after all, and fans spurred us on), but for a while it looked like it might remain 0:0 and it wouldn’t have been the worst result, but in the final ten minutes PSV defence broke up and we found two goals. Antony and Sebastien Haller put on a finishing touch to good attacking combinations to give us a valuable win in the derby.

Just a few days later we hosted another derby in the KNVB Beker semi final and won that too, but it could have been a completely different game in other circumstances. Feyenoord found chances against our defence and their striker Keita Balde wasted two good opportunities in the first half, while we were much more clinical and managed to score two goals to take us to half-time with a 2:0 lead. Davy Klaassen drilled in a low strike from the edge of the area to extend our lead further, before Luis Sinisterra used Olivier Aertssen’s mistake to score a consolation goal for Feyenoord. Not as convincing defensively (I like our performance against PSV much more in that regard), but our finishing was top class against Feyenoord and both Naci Ünüvar and Davy Klaassen scored brilliant goals in the game.

We needed a 2:0 (or better) win against Arsenal to turn around our deficit from the first leg. It was a difficult challenge and to be fair it never looked very close in that second match, but at least we gave Arsenal a decent battle. Our defence was much better, but we weren’t able to score and it remained goalless, so Arsenal went through and our Champions League campaign ended in the first knockout round.

We took a mandatory win over SC Cambuur and in this game we were helped by two red cards to our opponents. Their first player was sent off already on 22’ and it was followed by another red card on 72’. Playing 11 against 10 and later against 9 made it much easier defensively. We created plenty of chances in attack and probably should have scored more (both Antony and Haller hit the post once), but two goals in the end looked decent enough in the away game.

We continued to show good form against struggling NAC Breda. Antony gave us the lead in the first half, but we really put on a show after the break. Naci Ünüvar scored with a wonderful finish from the edge of the area and Davy Klaassen showed pure class with a volley from 20 metres. NAC Breda desperately need points from wherever possible at this stage of the season, but they must have felt distraught after those goals. Substitute Stanis Idumbo Muzambo got himself to the score sheet as well, before our complacency allowed NAC to score a consolation goal on 86’. A good display.

We were at our best against FC Groningen, notching up another 3:0 win and a fairly comfortable one. Helped with an early penalty and two goals from David Kalokoh (he sometimes has that sort of game where he suddenly finds goals more easier than usual) and we never really let FC Groningen into this game. They are a good team and have done well this season, so I expected more from them. Or, perhaps, we’re just that good at the moment.



Players

It has been difficult to find  consistent performers this month. Almost everybody has dropped out a little here or there, but at the same time other players have stepped up and shine in the specific game. We have played well in Eredivisie and confidence starts to turn to complacency and we have to be aware of that. A couple of late goals that we conceded in recent games indicate that as well.

March finished with an international window where Bas van Lopik and Gabriel Misehouy earned their first caps for Holland and youngster Nikita Tamm debuted for Estonia. International games had less desired effects too, as Prince Aning and David Kalokoh returned with injuries.

I tried to sort out some contracts and we extended deals with Dramane Guehi and Mateja Milovanovic. It’s more difficult with Gabriel Misehouy who expects much more game time in the future (difficult to fulfil that expectation with the amount of talent we have in the AMC position) and Antony who’s salary expectations (around £170k p/w) are way above anything I’m willing to offer. I’m willing to sell both players if we receive an offer worth considering this Summer.

 

Player of the Month: Davy Klaassen - had a couple of great games this month and played well in midfield against difficult opponents

Goal of the Month: Davy Klassen vs. NAC Breda - a volley from 20m that landed in the bottom corner.


 

Youth Intake

 

spacer.png

 

Somehow I was made to believe that we will have an excellent youth intake this Spring, but instead the final list was more of an average kind. We have three or four decent prospects, but, as usual, personalities of the more talented players are not what I hoped for.

 

spacer.png

 

Fons Kroonenberg is the best talent of the group. A very similar player to Juremy Jansen from the last season’s intake - a defensive midfielder, but Kroonenber has an excellent work rate and teamwork, so it’s wise to consider him as the future box to box midfielder in my formation. However, he shares an unambitious personality with Jansen and it’s a challenge to get him to fulfil his potential.

 

spacer.png

 

Claidel Muringen is a sort of average midfielder in everything. Interestingly he’s almost familiar as a striker, but his terrible finishing prevents this career path, so he’ll remain in midfield. His skills are not exactly suitable for either BBMs or DLPd, but we’ll see where he fits the best in the future.


 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

Our good run in March has opened up the gap between us and Feyenoord. PSV has lost ground and is out of the title race. At the bottom of the table NAC Breda is in serious trouble now. I had always believed that they’ll pick themselves up and wins will come eventually, but now it gets more and more real that they might find themselves in the lower division next season.

Link to post
Share on other sites

April 2026

 

Fixtures and Results

spacer.png

We started April with a trip to De Grolsch Veste. It was a tricky match for us, because in addition to all the injuries (Devyne Rensch, Prince Aning, David Kalokoh) Kenneth Taylor was suspended for the game and in the defensive department I didn’t have too many players to choose from. We managed to keep the ball well and maintain possession in the first half, without being too sharp in attack, but Bas van Lopik went down in the box on 38’ and we were awarded a pretty soft penalty that VAR nevertheless confirmed. It helped us to half-time with a 1:0 lead despite our struggles in attack. FC Twente improved after the restart and Vaclav Cerny headed in on 55’ to make it 1:1. They had more of the momentum for the first 10-15 minutes of the second half, but Klaassen’s through ball found Bas van Lopik on the run and it was 2:1 soon and we didn’t give this lead away. Good result for our weakened squad - I have no reason to be too critical with players.

The home game against Willem II was much easier. Daley Blind headed in from a free kick in the first minute of the game and we looked well in control after that. Kenneth Taylor returned to the line-up after his suspension and he was clearly the best player on the pitch. He gave seven key passes and set up two goals in the game. Gabriel Misehouy was another star of the night with his two goals. Willem II fielded a 4-1-4-1 DM formation and was happy to sit back in defence for the whole game and they never really put up the fight, so it was an easier game than anticipated. Amourricho van Axel Dongen came off on 64’ with an injury - he sprained his ankle and it looks like he’ll be out for at least 3-4 weeks, so he won’t be back in action until the very last games of the season. That’s a shame, because he’ll miss the cup final because of this injury.

The cup final was held at De Kuip this season - a neutral ground for both teams. The first half started quietly, although we controlled a little more of the possession. Antony had the first big chance in the game on 37’, but his attempt was parried by the PSV goalkeeper and teams went in with 0:0 on the scoreboard. The second half was slightly better - Antony scored after a smart cross from Tristan Gooijer (who was really active in attack on our right wing), but missed his third chance of the game and I took him off after that. PSV started to take more risks and had a couple of half-chances in the last ten minutes, but then Naci Ünüvar set up substitute Bas van Lopik for the second goal and that wrapped things up for us - the second consecutive cup win for us and with that I fulfilled the first promise of our new contract period. Really good display against a strong PSV team - we had struggled against big teams before Christmas, but in the second half of the season we’ve beaten both PSV and Feyenoord convincingly in various games.

The last game of the month was against FC Utrecht. We created two good chances in the first half - Aning found van Lopik with a good cross into the six yard box and then van Lopik delivered a similar ball to Naci Ünüvar. Two goals from a close range and soon later David Kalokoh added the third goal, so frustration started to show in the body language of FC Utrecht players and Django Warmerdam was sent off for a late tackle before the first half was over and that made things easy for us. We took a convincing 3:0 win and secured our eight consecutive league title, because Feyenoord lost 3:4 to Heracles at the same time.



 

Players

We still had some minor injury problems in April, so it’s been good to see players stepping up and taking a chance to impress. Davy Klaassen has been consistently good, Bas van Lopik just fantastic through the month, Gabriel Misehouy and David Kalokoh showing that we have some promising young stars in the team. At the same time Sebastien Haller has failed to score for a while now and his form is in decline - time to pick himself up if he wants to finish with 30 goals in a season.

Haller has scored 28 at the moment, Antony follows with 18 goals and 12 assists and Gabriel Misehouy reached his 10th goal this month.

 

Player of the Month: Bas van Lopik - he’s been fantastic, scoring in almost every game in April and showing that perhaps we don’t desperately need Antony to sign a new contract

Goal of the Month: Gabriel Misehouy vs. Willem II Tilburg

 

Contracts

We are now starting to build for the future and taking a more serious look at players whose contracts will run out in 2027. Davy Klaassen signed a one-year extension with a pay cut (£38,000 p/w) - he has played 40 games this season, his work rate has been crucial in midfield and we’ll need his experience after Blind leaves the club. Gabriel Misehouy is labelled a wonderkid now and he signed a new deal until 2031 (£23,000 p/w) - the AMC position looks crowded enough, but I can’t allow such talents to get away for free.


 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

No real surprises at the top of the table - all the strong teams are there. Perhaps FC Utrecht has been the biggest disappointment - they were predicted to finish 4th/5th in the pre-season. Excelsior is relegated and NAC Breda seems to be doomed as well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

May 2026


 

Fixtures and Results

 

spacer.png

Two difficult games in May - against AZ Alkmaar and Feyenoord. Both were away fixtures, but I was determined to prepare for the next season after our title win and so decided that Daley Blind and Tristan Gooijer should be out of the starting line-ups now to give first team game time to Milovanovic and Neal Viereck.

AZ Alkmaar offered a firm resistance to us and they played a good first half in front of their home crowd, but Davy Klaassen scored a wonderful goal from 18 metres that went in off the bar and gave us the lead before the half-time break. We defended really well in the second half, while AZ started to take more risks and test different ways to find an equaliser, before our substitute Dramane Guehi took the ball past their centre-backs and scored with an excellent finish to make it 2:0 and secure all three points. AZ tried hard, but managed to create just one half-chance and I have to say that our defenders did a really good job to neutralise their attacks throughout the game. Bas van Lopik stood out once again with two assists and Antony continued to brood on the bench.

We then travelled to Feyenoord to play what was mostly just a principal derby game between two rivals. I contemplated whether to start with a positive or balanced mentality and went for positive, although it has backfired sometimes in away games against bigger teams. This time we had a great start - van Axel Dongen set up Haller for a simple finish and that goal gave us the lead in the first half. The game itself was actually fairly even and both teams had two chances in the first half. Feyenoord fans were almost celebrating a goal on 40’ when Marcos Senesi’s header was floating towards the goal, but Gorter leaped high and tipped it over the bar. In the second half we gained momentum again and van Lopik found van Axel Dongen on the goal line with a cross and so it was 2:0. It was the second time we played the pants off their defence and scored an easy goal, but despite that Feyenoord came back to the game - Moses Simon scored the first goal on 57’ and then we conceded a late corner on 88’ after Klaassen’s mistake in front of our goal. Disappointing not to get a win after leading 2:0, but from the neutral perspective it looked like a fair result. We had just five shots in the game (four of them went on target), but created good chances and finished them well.

The last game of the season was held at Johan Cruijff Arena and we concluded our successful campaign with an emphatic 5:0 win over Fortuna Sittard. Bas van Lopik opened the scoring and continued to dish out assists. He finished the match with a superb 10.0 rating and we could enjoy most of the game without pressure. Fans definitely had a great day.


 

Players

We avoided injuries and suspension at the end of the season. Amourricho van Axel Dongen returned for the last two games and did well against Feyenoord, so we head to Summer with a clean bill of health.

There are tensions over contracts of Antony and Devyne Rensch. Both enter the last season of their current deals. With Bas van Lopik in such a good form it is clear that Antony does not have an upper hand in those contract negotiations and I’m not willing to pay £150k-£180k per week that both players expect, so it’s probable that we’ll see some moves in the Summer transfer window.

 

Player of the Month: Bas van Lopik - he continued his fine form in May and produced one goal and four (!) assists in those three games

Goal of the Month: Davy Klaassen vs. AZ Alkmaar - well struck effort from 18 metres that went in off the bar



 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

In the end we collected 84 points - a fair amount to secure the title. Both Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven finished well behind us. FC Utrecht was one of the biggest disappointments this season - they were expected to finish fourth, but ended up in the middle of the table. NAC Breda got eventually relegated and FC Emmen retained their place in Eredivisie after the play-offs.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

spacer.png

 

In retrospect we had a great season. We continued to dominate Eredivisie and had an excellent Champions League group stage, only to be knocked out by Arsenal in the first round after that. We won the KNVB Beker (one year ahead of schedule we agreed with the board in my contract) and almost everything went according to plan.

Jong Ajax surprised everybody by winning the Keuken Kampioen Divisie title. They are labelled as favourites in most of the seasons, but rarely live up to that tag. This time our youngsters were impressive from August to May and won the title. Kudos to the manager John Heitinga for that success.

 

spacer.png


 

 

Players

spacer.png

 

We avoided major injuries. In fact, I was surprised how injury free the squad remained through this season. It has allowed us to rotate a lot and distribute playing time evenly, so a couple of younger players have developed extremely well. Gabriel Misehouy and Bas van Lopik have been labelled as wonderkids and they have really emerged through the ranks into the first team. My biggest disappointment of the season is losing Daley Blind this Summer. I was late to offer him a new contract and he will join Shakhtar to continue his career. His leadership will be missed in our dressing room.

From an attacking side of the game, Sebastien Haller was our top scorer with 29 goals, although his form dropped in the second half of the season. Antony added 18 and gave 12 assists.

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png



 

Eredivisie Awards

We collected plenty of rewards in the award ceremony. I was named Manager’s Manager of the Year once again. Kenneth Taylor was the runner-up in Golden Boot, but I’m still not sure how this award is selected, because Antony had the highest rating in the competition and by my understanding he should have won it.

 

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm working my way through this slowly! I'm currently up to August 2023 so some way to catch up yet.

These types of saves are great. I think your bank balance highlights the difficulty, as you sell your best players the challenge is to keep improving on the pitch. Unfortunately, I think your second season European adventure (or lack of it) shows this. It was a tougher group than anticipated but as you said one that you should have progressed through, yet Ajax found itself without any European football post Christmas. Still, it gave you chance to focus on the youth and see that there were no more slip ups domestically which was great.

With more sales, especially those two central defenders, I'm very keen to see how you fare in your third season. Can you do well in Europe where Ajax belongs? Can you keep hold of Tadic?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Summer 2026


Players went on holiday, but it was the Summer of World Cup in 2026 and both Holland and Cote d'Ivoire were in the final tournament. Jay Gorter, Devyne Rensch and Bas van Lopik featured for Holland who reached the quarter final. Cote d’Ivoire couldn’t get through the group stage and Haller’s performances were rather poor on that level and when the tournament finished he wished to return to his homeland, so I allowed him another month until the end of July to charge his batteries in Africa.


 

Staff

The board has continued to increase the amount of staff, so we have three open positions for coaches and I used this chance to improve our training quality. Paul Robinson from Millwall joined our coaching staff to take charge of defending training.

spacer.png


 

Transfer Window

Daley Blind and Tristan Gooijer left the club in Summer, but a lot of players returned from loan. Some of them are expected to fill the first team roles in the next campaign and with friendlies approaching I have a lot of players to choose from. On the other hand, we still have a lot of youngsters who need more playing time and could find it on loan, so our loan manager will be busy sorting out short term deals for those players. 

To help him with this job, I asked the board for a new feeder club for this specific purpose - to send out players on loan. The decision fell to Almere City who have a decent training facilities in Keuken Kampioen Divisie, but a rather poor squad. Nikita Tamm and Can Tas joined Almere City for a season and both extended their contracts until 2030 in the process. Yoram Boerhout joined AZ Alkmaar for a season.

We had a relatively quiet transfer window, but a few moves still happened in August. I usually try to earn as much as possible from transfers and I’m willing to sell my star players for around £50m or more and there were two on the shopping window this Summer. Devyne Rensch and Antony both attracted sufficient interest from big clubs, but in the end no official bids were made and when September arrived both remained in Ajax. Bas van Lopik, however, was snapped up from us - Borussia Mönchengladbach activated his minimum release fee clause and he joined the Bundesliga side for £40m. The fee seemed big enough when I extended his contract last time but I had forgotten him and his true market value was a bit higher now, so Borussia made a smart move and made me regret a little.

Star players aside, I had to make space in the team for new talents, so it meant that some of the fringe/backup players who were already over 22 years of age needed to move forward. I sent Charlie Setford on loan to Sampdoria with a mandatory £1,5m future fee to make the move permanent and midfielder Kian Fitz-Jim joined Brest for £4m - a decent money for a player I had no room for and who was on the last year of his contract.

All in all we made around £45m in transfer fees this Summer.

 


Eredivisie News

Summer news was mostly related to manager movements. Alfred Schreuder left Vitesse for PSV Eindhoven. Vitesse, in turn, re-hired John van den Brom as their new manager.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Squad Update 2026




 

Goalkeepers

Jay Gorter is our undisputed number one, but Mert Alegoz had a great season on loan at Go Ahead Eagles - he helped them to promotion and returned to Ajax this Summer. I hope he’ll get around 10-15 games this season. This duo will have to do it for a while, because we haven’t got any real prospects coming up from the youth ranks at the moment.

spacer.png

spacer.png



 

Defenders

Big loss was Daley Blind’s departure and we will miss his experience and leadership. Tristan Gooijer also left the club, so we have some new faces in the defensive line. Diyae-Eddine Jermoumi will feature as a right-back and provides substitutions for Devyne Rensch. Mateja Milovanovic needs to step up and fill the boots of Blind in our central defence. You might notice that we’re really thin in this department - we have some talented boys coming up from the youth team, but they’re not ready yet and we lack depth in the left-back department. However, most of the players are fairly versatile and can play different positions so I hope to manage. I’d say it’s not really a Champions League level defensive line, but could do OK in Eredivisie.

Long term problem is the contract issue with Rensch - he will enter into his last season with us and is yet to sign a new deal. If we lose him, we’d be much worse.

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png



 

Midfielders

Unchanged in the middle of the park. Davy Klaassen is the new captain of the team. Rico Speksnijder can play both DLPd and BBMs position and Bart Smits will bring youthful energy to our midfield. Julian Brandes also returned after a season on loan at ADO Den Haag - he’s not really good in the long term, but can provide cover for both DLPd and DC positions this season.

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png



 

Attacking Midfielders

Here we have options, but some problems as well. We had two great right-backs, but Bas van Lopik left in August and Antony could not be an Ajax player for long. Fortunately we have plenty of wingers and Amourricho van Axel Dongen is two footed and able to play on both sides. Left wing and the AMC position is the most crowded with talent - we have Naci Ünüvar who is natural in both positions, Gabriel Misehouy in AMC and Peter Misidjan who is one of the best players for the future in this team. Enough bodies to rotate and provide minutes to everybody.

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png



 

Strikers

Sebastien Haller is our best goalscorer and one of the team leaders, but he too enters the last year of his contract and he misses his homeland, so it’s unsure if he’s willing to stay longer. We have two young strikers in Dramane Guehi and Yoram Boerhout - Boerhout will stay on loan at AZ Alkmaar at the moment, but I hope that Guehi can make a step forward this season in Ajax.

spacer.png

spacer.png

Link to post
Share on other sites

August 2026


 

Fixtures and Results

 

spacer.png

Summer friendlies did not go as smoothly as we’ve used to - we had one defeat in July, made a 0:0 draw against Lille and beaten 0:1 by Arsenal in London (not a poor performance per se). That didn’t add confidence. Players looked out of form and teamwork wasn’t in sync, despite the fact that players know each other well and should be used to working as a unit.

With that background we reached August and hosted Feyenoord in the Johan Cruijff Schaal final. We had the home advantage and it helped us a lot. Feyenoord started better and had momentum in the first five minutes and Keita Balde had an early chance for Feyenoord, but then Kenneth Taylor was fouled in the box and we were awarded a penalty that Sebastien Haller converted. Without showing much quality in attack, we were leading 1:0 and now Feyenoord needed to react, but then Amourricho van Axel Dongen scored with an excellent header to make it 2:0 and that was a bit too much. We did much better work in defence after the break and kept Feyenoord more or less quiet. It was not an exciting match for the spectators and it was clear that our game needed improvement, but at least it was a win and a clean sheet. Beating our rivals in the Johan Cruijff Schaal final gave us a lot of confidence and we needed that ahead of the league campaign.

Our first opponents in Eredivisie were newly-promoted Eagles. Their stadium - De Adelaarshorst - was full of anticipation and a lovely August afternoon brought a full crowd to the game, but ninety minutes of football offered nothing but misery for them. We controlled the proceedings from start to finish. Antony scored two goals in the first ten minutes (his first goal was a well struck effort from 22 metres) and completed his hat-trick from the spot. Sebastien Haller found himself on the score sheet again and we also managed to hit the crossbar twice, while Eagles failed to get a single shot on target. That’s a poor start to their Eredivisie campaign and it’s an early sign that they might not be good enough to keep their place here for the next season.

August had two derby games in our schedule and next we hosted PSV Eindhoven at home. PSV failed to reach the Champions League group stage through the play-offs and are probably disappointed because of that. They have a new manager in Alfred Schreuder who came from Vitesse and brought with him his favourite 5-3-2 WB formation, so it’s interesting to see how it will work out for them. Their first league game was a difficult 3:2 win over Fortuna Sittard, where PSV came back twice from behind, before eventually scoring the winner, so it has not been too smooth for them so far and after two wins and clean sheets we looked clearly more confident going into this game. We had one good chance in the first half - Antony saw his shot being parried, but Misehouy came and tucked it in from the rebound.  PSV’s main threat seemed to be headers that they won too easily in our box and I couldn’t find a way to prevent them. In the second half Antony had to come off with a knock, but his replacement Bas van Lopik doubled our lead soon after coming on and Olivier Aertssen headed in from a free kick to make it 3:0. It was a win and we were already celebrating when Aertssen’s handball in the box gave PSV a late penalty. Mere consolation goal, but it didn’t ruin our party. A great win, although I was disappointed to hear from our medical staff that Antony will be out for around a month with a twisted ankle.

The away game against ADO Den Haag was potentially tricky and it proved to be true early in the game. Aertssen’s missed interception gave Kelvin Ofori an early chance and in 6’ ADO took the lead. We struggled to contain them in defence - our centre-backs lost too many headers in midfield and ADO always had runners who were trying to exploit the space behind our lines. On the other hand, we looked sharp enough in attack and two goals from Amourricho van Axel Dongen (who was playing in Antony’s position on our right wing) gave us the lead at half-time. Sebastien Haller missed a real sitter in 51’ and it was a bad omen, considering how poor our defence was all afternoon. ADO had a couple of good chances indeed, with Rai Vloet hitting the post from a one-on-one situation and Kelvin Ofori missing a late chance in injury time. We escaped unscathed and returned with all three points, but the performance left much to desire in both defence and attack.

So, in conclusion - excellent results in the beginning of the season and we have good wins over Feyenoord and PSV to show already, but we’re still searching for our good form and should find at least one or two extra gears in the coming weeks.



 

Players

The team looks a bit out of sync and we’re still trying to find a good rhythm. Departure of Bas van Lopik in August limited our options in attack and injuries have forced me to make some changes in the line-up. Transfer window rumours and contract stalemates doesn’t help either. We have some new players in the squad and I’m trying to introduce them into the team - Peter Misidjan and Mert Alegoz made their debuts for Ajax in the game against Go Ahead Eagles.

 

Player of the Month: Sebastien Haller - didn’t shine exceptionally in any of the games, but was constantly good. Had two goals and two assists and was involved in a goal in every single game.

Goal of the Month: Antony vs. Go Ahead Eagles - the Brazilian stunned Eagles with a well struck effort from 20 metres.



 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

After three match days we’re level with Feyenoord and three points ahead of PSV Eindhoven.


 

Champions League

spacer.png

We were drawn into group G with Liverpool, Zenit and Austria Wien. Liverpool is obviously strong, but we should be able to beat two other clubs in the group and I’m hopeful that we could progress into the knockout stages if we play those games well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

September 2026

 

The international break was productive - Estonians Nikita Tamm and Artur Sakarias made their debuts for the national team (indicating that there aren’t too many Estonians in the game, as almost every player who turns 19 gets an invitation to the main team). Another thing that I’ve become used to is that our youngsters return from the U-21 competitions exhausted and I struggle to field a proper team in the first match after the window.

 

Fixtures and Results

 

spacer.png

We returned to the Eredivisie action with a trip to Galgenwaard and we had some struggles with fitness. Olivier Aertssen, Gabriel Misehouy and Prince Aning looked a bit tired, Antony and David Kalokoh were still out with injuries and Dramane Guehi sprained his knee ligaments in training and he’ll be sidelined for more than a month as well. FC Utrecht on the other hand looked really strong on paper - I reckoned they could be the fifth strongest team in the league after the big three and AZ Alkmaar - no clear weaknesses in the team and it was their home game, so I prepared for a tough match. We looked good in possession in the first half, but both teams were careful in defence and good chances were fairly hard to find. Sebastien Haller had a great chance to score on 65’, but his shot was parried (a poor miss to Haller’s standards), but on 82’ we finally broke through - substitute Jermoumi crossed from the right wing and Haller tucked it in to score a vital goal. It looked like we could just hold onto our lead, but in 86’ Aertssen was forced off with an injury when I had made all my substitutions and in the final minutes it was a true survival fight with our ten men against FC Utrecht’s pressure. They had some good moments before the final whistle - Ansgar Knauff had a good chance on 90’ and a minute later Tommy St. Jago hit the crossbar with an ambitious attempt from 20 metres, so it wasn’t too bright for us. Fortunately the final whistle came soon enough and the 1:0 result gave us a crucial win.

The away game against Zenit St. Petersburg was actually held at Parken, in Denmark, so there wasn’t really a home advantage for Zenit and we were bold enough to start with a positive mentality. We had one great chance in the first half, but Naci Ünüvar failed to finish from an open position. Zenit looked more in the game after the break ,but in the final ten minutes we had a breakthrough when the youngster Peter Misidjan hit it fiercely into the top corner to score his first ever goal for Ajax. Mateja Milovanovic scored from a corner deep in injury time to make it 2:0 and that win set us up for a good start in the group.

Our 2:0 win over Willem II was a fairly routine game - our opponents came to Johan Cruijff Arena with a rather defensive 4-1-4-1 DM formation and didn’t pose a threat to our goal through the ninety minutes. Sebastien Haller gave us the lead in 15’ and Neal Viereck headed in a corner in the second half to make it 2:0. We had some good chances in the game, but missed most of them - Amourricho van Axel Dongen hit the woodwork and Sebastien Haller missed the best chance of the game in 54’ when he was completely open in front of the goal and couldn’t get it on target. Youngster Peter Misidjan also blew his one-on-one opportunity late in the game, so I wasn’t happy at all with our finishing, but a 2:0 win looked solid enough not to complain too much about performance. 

The next game against sc Heerenveen was our easiest fixture in September, because Heerenveen virtually didn’t show up on the game. We took the lead after their own goal and Haller doubled it with a penalty late in the first half and in the second half we completely dominated the proceedings. Two more headers from Haller and another penalty made it 5:0 and Heerenveen made their first attempt to our goal only in injury time. The final score doesn’t flatter us at all, knowing that we had 3.87 xG and hit the woodwork four times as well, so it could have been even worse for Heerenveen. An easy win and a great performance. Sebastien Haller walked away with the match ball and 10.0 performance rating.

Home game against Liverpool was a tricky one. We’ve stunned big teams at home in  the Champions League if they’re too passive in away games, but I opted for a balanced mentality at the start. It was a fairly quiet 20-25 minutes, but then Liverpool took the lead with a good transition goal after Devyne Rensch lost the ball in midfield. We didn’t manage to create any chances until that point and I knew we had to change something - back to positive mentality and normal passing tempo and things started to improve. Davy Klaassen was tripped in the box in 54’ and we equalised from the spot. However, Salah curled in a free kick in 87’ to make it 1:2 and I doubted we had enough time to find another goal, but we did - Klaassen crossed it from right and Haller headed in from the far post to rescue a point. I was quite pleased with the final result, because Liverpool are well above us in quality of players and to get a point against them counts as success. 

In conclusion - September was a great month. We’re still holding our 100% start in Eredivisie and have played two good Champions League fixtures.

 

 

Players and Tactics

What shows from our September results is that we’ve been excellent defensively - no goals conceded in Eredivisie fixtures and we can be very proud with that. Defence has helped to win the games and it also gives confidence. On the other side of the pitch we’ve been helped by set pieces - we’ve scored three penalties and two goals from corners and that’s something that I’d like to keep going as well.

We’ve also been patient in difficult games and managed to snatch the win in the final ten minutes and that’s very important - to keep believing and searching for that winner or equaliser.

Some of the players have made a real impact in September. Sebastien Haller obviously with his goals - he’s got ten to his name now, but also Peter Misidjan who made his debut for the club and scored his first ever goal for Ajax in a very important moment against Zenit.

Couple of players have been here long enough to reach their 100th match for the club - Amourricho van Axel Dongen and Olivier Aertssen reached that landmark in September.


 

Player of the Month: Sebastien Haller - easy pick, the striker has scored eight goals in six games for us.

Goal of the Month: Peter Misidjan vs. Zenit St. Petersburg - a well struck effort from the youngster that landed in the top corner  



 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

Feyenoord made a draw with PSV Eindhoven in their last match and so we have a small gap now in the table. PEC Zwolle is surprisingly high in the standings, but their opponents have been mostly teams from the lower half of the table so far, so their momentum could disappear after facing bigger teams. FC Groningen have struggled to get it going - only one goal from six games and they’re in the relegation zone. Frans Adelaar could be easily the first manager to be sacked this season.


 

Champions League 

spacer.png

Four points from the first two games against Zenit and Liverpool is quite a positive start and I’m optimistic about our chances in this group.

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

October 2026

 

The October fixture list includes only four games (plus one long international break). Our South Korean youngster Ja-Ryong Kim got his first call-up to the national team and that’s quite a remarkable achievement, because the South Korean team is very strong at the world level.

 

Fixtures and Results

spacer.png

 

In the only match before the international break we hosted FC Twente Enschede. Being comfortable favourites, we struggled to create really good chances in the first half and our game before the break wasn’t too convincing. One good attack after the break gave us the lead, but it took us until injury time to score our second goal and secure all three points - Milovanovic scored from a corner (another set piece goal for us). The final score looked solid enough, but we left it too late and I would have preferred to give more game time for younger players in the second half. With 1:0 on the scoreboard I was forced to make safer substitutions in the second half.

We were much better against Heracles Almelo, despite the fact (or because of that?) that we rotated more, as some of the players returned with tired legs. We controlled the first half completely, scored an early goal and went to half-time with a convincing 4:0 lead. Antony scored the best goal of the game with a lovely free kick from 20 metres. I admit that the chances we had weren’t perhaps the best, but our finishing was more than clinical and four goals were well deserved. However, complacency was evident in the second half and in the last 30 minutes we allowed Heracles to have more time with the ball and let them create some good attacks. Their striker Ragnar Ache scored in 69’ to give them something positive from the game. After the final whistle I wasn’t sure if conceding was a good thing or bad. Either way, it allowed us to reprimand the team and warn players about complacency. Let’s hope that it leads to improved performances in our next games.

Our home game against Austria Wien didn’t look particularly challenging. The Austrian team had just one non-grey player in their squad list and despite being in the Champions League didn’t look like they could really stand a chance in that group. With a trip to AFAS Stadion coming up, I was tempted to rotate more than I expected and in the end, I did. Most notably youngster Moha started on our left wing. The game itself met my expectations - we controlled the first half completely and created good chances. Gabriel Misehouy scored, Haller added another goal from the spot and van Axel Dongen (playing on the right wing) saw his deflected shot going in to make it 3:0. Complacency started to appear after the third goal and our opponents found some gaps in our defence in the last 30 minutes, using one of their three half-chances. The end of the game was a disappointment (and a chance to play down our performance in my post-match team talk), but the truth was we were well above Austria Wien and deserved to win - 3.47 xG and 4 clear cut chances speak for themselves.

The Noord-Hollandse derby was the big test this month. AZ Alkmaar was in good form, holding the third place in the table after eight match days and their squad looks formidable enough to challenge for top three places. Going against them in an away game didn’t look like an easy task and evidence of our complacency in our previous games were already noting that there’s a match coming up where we fail to perform on our usual level. I opted for a balanced mentality and it worked perfectly. AZ Alkmaar was way too cautious. We didn’t create too many chances in attack, because we were more careful with the ball and played less risky passes, but one goal in the first half was enough to win the game. The second half was slightly better and Peter Misidjan was very close to scoring when his attempt hit the upright in 65’, but we didn’t allow AZ to create anything dangerous in our box and Jay Gorter had little to do in this game. Good 1:0 away win against a strong team and I was very happy with this result.



 

Tactics and Players

In those four games we’ve rotated quite a bit and different players emerged in different games to score goals and create chances. I’m very happy that Peter Misidjan is showing his talent at the Eredivisie level and he’s a good option from the bench if we need to change something in attack. My substitutions in the past games have been based mostly on what sort of body language the players show during the games and sadly some of them (Moha, Jermoumi and Idumbo Muzambo, for example) are often nervous or anxious and I wouldn’t send them out if the game is level or we need another goal to win. That’s something to address via mentoring or character building.

Antony and Devyne Rensch contract situation hasn’t changed - they’re still expecting somewhere between £150,000-£200,000 p/w deals and I’m not willing to pay that much, so there’s a lot of big clubs circling around Antony and hoping to make an offer in January. Naci Ünüvar has developed well (and performed even better) and his performances have caught the attention of Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur.


 

Player of the Month: Olivier Aertssen - attacking players were all a little bit inconsistent, but Aertssen played in three games with an average rating of 8.0. Really good form from him.

Goal of the Month: Antony vs. Heracles Almelo. An unbelievable free kick from 20 metres.



 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

We have straight wins from the start of the season, but Feyenoord remains close to us in the table. PSV Eindhoven is already dropped into the middle of the table. At the bottom FC Groningen and Go Ahead Eagles are most likely to change their managers if results will not improve quickly.


 

Champions League 

spacer.png

We’ve done really well and have seven points from the first three games. I don’t expect to win the group, as the away game at Anfield looms in the distance, but we’ve put ourselves in the best possible position to secure qualification to the knockout stages.

In the other group Feyenoord has also impressed - they’re second in their group and only lost 0:1 to Manchester City. Feyenoord’s season is even more impressive, knowing that they’re doing well on both fronts.

Link to post
Share on other sites

November 2026


 

Fixtures and Results

 

spacer.png

We started off with a convincing win over Fortuna Sittard. The first half was actually quite poor from us and we failed to create proper chances, but we took the lead from a penalty and in the end of the first half Fortuna’s Mickael Tirpan earned his second yellow card, so we demolished their ten men team after the break. Good game where I could make substitutes already in 60’.

We returned from our trip to Austria with a 3:1 win. We were a better team in attack and scored two goals in the first half. Haller added third from the spot, but we then allowed Austria Wien to get one on the scoreboard from a corner. The game itself was a bit frustrating at times, because our central defence was leaky and we lost too many headers in midfield. Austria Wien exploited it perfectly, flicking the ball into the spaces we weren’t covering and building up their attacks like that. Viereck and Milovanovic wasn’t on par and actually got away with many mistakes in this game.

We were clear favourites for the home game against FC Groningen, because our opponents were clearly struggling and their manager Frans Adelaar was under a lot of pressure with their 16th position in the table. We controlled the game from start to finish, but weren’t able to finish off the chances we created. Amourricho van Axel Dongen wasted two good opportunities in the first ten minutes (and looked nervous ever since). The second half wasn’t much better, but I sent on young Peter Misidjan who started to find his teammates with good passes. Antony stepped up and showed everybody how to finish with his two goals in the last ten minutes - both were technically excellent goals even though his position wasn’t the best. Misidjan assisted both goals and showed excellent vision and passing skills in attack. Good result in the end, but our finishing in the game was indeed terrible - our shooting was just 24/5 with 3.06 xG and we should have put this into bed much earlier.

Then it was time to host Feyenoord in the most important game in Eredivisie so far. We had a small initiative in the game (it was Johan Cruijff Arena, so we should have) and took the lead in 42’ when Naci Ünüvar placed his shot right next to the post to break the deadlock. Feyenoord had defended well so far, but had to open up their defence more in their search for equaliser in the second half, but already in 51’ we had the second goal - Antony put their defender under pressure, won the ball, cut in from right wing and curled it into the top corner - what a brilliant piece of play from the winger. Sebastien Haller added the third from close range and Feyenoord was soundly beaten in our home. I was delighted with our defence - we didn’t allow them to get any real chances in this game and to supporters it might have looked like a fairly one-sided fixture. I’m sure it’s another story at De Kuip.

We started bravely at Anfield - I set the team up with a balanced 4-2-3-1 formation and tweaked our lines lower and in the first half we were truly magnificent, scoring two goals and went to the break with a 2:0 lead. Liverpool woke up in the final five minutes and we were under pressure right before half-time whistle, so it was clear that their intention was to gear things up and prove their worth and that was exactly what happened in the second half - we got nowhere near their box in attack and were left to defend in front of our goal, but it was all fruitless - their superior players showed their individual skills - Luis Diaz, Yusuf Demir, Jordan Henderson and Mo Salah scored to make it 2:4 and overcome their 0:2 first half deficit. In the end they were a clearly better team in this match. I was left wondering if changing something tactically at half time could have helped to preserve our lead, but I had no good ideas either.

The final match in November was an away game with PEC Zwolle. I rotated the team a little and some players looked a bit nervous on the pitch (not sure if it’s related to the Liverpool defeat that took away some confidence), but we were more wasteful with our chances than usual and it took some time to score goals. Haller and Antony got on target and a 2:0 was an OK result in the end, but we had 73% possession in this game and probably should have won by a bigger margin.




 

Players and Tactics

Sebastien Haller has scored 19 goals and is leading the Eredivisie goal scoring table with 13 from 13 games. Antony has 9 goals and 7 assists in all competitions and he has the best average rating (8.08) in Eredivisie at the moment.

Interesting news item caught my attention - according to this, we’re the top development club for Europe. This season 101 players who are currently in the top divisions of Europe have come through Ajax youth systems. So, at this point we really have the best youth system in Europe.

spacer.png



 

Player of the Month: Antony - impressive month from our star player. He scored 5 goals and gave 4 assists with an average rating of 8.3 in those six games.

Goal of the Month: Antony vs. Feyenoord Rotterdam - a beautiful solo goal, curled into the top corner against our rivals.




 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

 

We still have a 100% record in the league and after beating Feyenoord in the Klassieker derby they’re seven points behind us. PSV have climbed back into European places and look for the position in top three.

Frans Adelaar was finally sacked by the FC Groningen board.


 

Champions League 

spacer.png

All clear in our group before the final match day.

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

December 2026

 

Fixtures and Results

Our fixture list is a bit easier for December. The last Champions League game doesn’t change anything and we can approach it without pressure. We’re up against smaller teams in Eredivisie, although most of the fixtures are away games, so they’re all potentially tricky if we get complacent, but KNVB Beker draw has been tough - we return to AFAS Stadion to have another Noord-Hollandse derby against AZ Alkmaar and that comes already in the second round.

spacer.png

The first match against SC Cambuur was indeed a tricky one. It was a drab match and neither of the teams could create decent chances. Sebastien Haller hit the post in 11’, but that was our only remarkable moment until Kenneth Taylor curled a free kick around the wall and into the top corner in the dying minutes of the game. A narrow win with rather unremarkable performance.

After that narrow win I was bold enough to rotate and made eight changes in our line-up for the Helmond match. We played a poor first half against them - home fans spurred us on and we had midfield under our control, but probably because of our changes our attack was a bit out of sync and players failed to connect that final pass to lead us to goal. Naci Ünüvar finally rescued us in the second half - his brilliant free kick soon after the restart of the game made it 1:0 and that opened things up. Davy Klaassen scored from the spot before van Axel Dongen made it 3:0 with a nice volley. Helmond made 32 fouls in this game and collected 6 yellow cards - their tactics to stop us at all cost was clear, but it didn’t work out, because two of our three goals came from set pieces from said fouls and we always looked fairly dangerous from dead ball situations. I was happy with our second half performance and 3:0 is a solid final score.

Our last match in the Champions League didn’t decide anything in the table, but honour was at stake anyway and I didn’t want to lose in front of our home fans. Things started poorly for us - Zenit’s Anthony Elanga found space behind our defence and scored a quick goal in 3’. We had clear initiative in the first half after that goal, but we missed some good chances before Sebastien Haller finally equalised and then the floodgates were open - Antony scored with an excellent finish five minutes later and Gabriel Misehouy made it 3:1 before half-time, but then Elanga doubled his tally right before the whistle and we went to the break with a narrow 3:2 lead. Second half was much more controlled from both teams and it remained 3:2. I was pleased with our attacking performance, but our defence showed some vulnerability again at Champions League level. Zenit doesn’t have the best attacking players in their squad, but Elanga’s off the ball movement and technical ability was enough to punish us twice.

The Noord-Hollandse derby against AZ Alkmaar was the match I was most anxious about in December. We did win the away game in Eredivisie 1:0 against them and it was a real battle, so I was prepared for a tough game and expected them to look for revenge. I opted for a balanced mentality that worked quite well in the said league game. To my surprise, it worked like a treat and we dismantled AZ completely in the first half - Sebastien Haller scored a perfect hat-trick (right leg, left leg, header), Olivier Aertssen scored from a corner, Antony and Naci Ünüvar each had a goal and when the half-time whistle called it was 6:0. Some of the AZ fans were already gone from the stands before the second half started. To be fair, their striker had a couple of good chances in the first half in the first fifteen minutes, but they couldn’t find the net and their manager could probably wonder if it would have been a different game when they scored first. They had even more moments in the second half when our complacency kicked in, but Jay Gorter was good in our goal to make important saves and keep our clean sheet. It finished 6:0 and that was one of the most impressive first halves I’ve ever seen as a manager. The KNVB Beker second round had some tough draws, because FC Utrecht was up against Feyenoord and were also defeated at home, so AZ Alkmaar and FC Utrecht were both out of the cup very early.

Our trip to Emmen marked probably our last game at De Oude Meerdijk - the smallest stadium in Eredivisie at the moment, but FC Emmen is preparing to move to their new ground in the next year, so we’ll never come back here. The last match was a pleasant one, though - we rotated a lot, young Peter Misidjan started in the AMC position and opened things up with a lovely strike into the top corner from 21 metres. Whatever plans FC Emmen had to defend carefully and keep their clean sheet were out of the window. The penalty in 24’ made it 2:0 and then our opponents sort of collapsed - Olivier Aertssen headed in a corner before Antony made it 4:0 before half-time. Some complacency and poor defending allowed FC Emmen to score after the break, but Dramane Guehi replied with our fifth goal and it was a pretty convincing result in the end. The FC Emmen defence just couldn’t cope with our attack.

We won our last game of the year 1:0, but it should have been a more comfortable score line. We created a lot of chances in an away game against Heracles, but Gabriel Misehouy’s goal in 10’ remained the only time we actually beat their goalkeeper. Heracles didn’t pose too much of a threat in attack and I actually expected more resistance from a team who is looking for a top half finish, but obviously I’m not complaining about another three points.


 

Tactics and Players

Tactically we’ve been really good in December and our control possession style works well - we’ve had 60+% possession in every match (even against Zenit) and 70% against FC Emmen. Keeping the midfield against smaller teams isn’t surprising and playing for quick counter-attacks against us could be an obvious tactical choice, but we’ve limited the chances of opposition well.

In attack we’ve scored plenty of goals and I’m happy to see that goals are coming all over the place - many names on the score sheet, all sorts of different goals from through balls, penalties, corners and even a couple of beautiful strikes from outside of the box. Free kicks have been crucial in December - Kenneth Taylor won the game for us against SC Cambuur with a free kick and Antony’s free kick broke the deadlock against Helmond. We have three good set piece takers in the team in Taylor, Naci Ünüvar and Antony and it’s nice to see that their skills with dead ball lead to actual goals in games.

Our attack has perhaps been a little bit one-sided. Sebastien Haller has scored 23 goals, but he’s not even leading the Eredivisie goal scoring charts - he has 13 league goals, but Feyenoord’s Georginio Rutter reached 14 in the last match day. Antony has added 12 goals and 10 assists. 

David Kalokoh made his return from injury against FC Emmen and Moha is back in full training too. At times it looked like we could use another winger option when van Axel Dongen was deployed on the right wing, but now we’re back to full fitness and I have more flexibility to rotate after Christmas. That’s certainly good news.

 

Player of the Month: Sebastien Haller - the striker played in only three games in December, but impressed with four goals and his hat-trick against AZ Alkmaar was a superb show of class.

Goal of the Month: Peter Misidjan vs. FC Emmen - that’s a difficult choice. At least four brilliant goals caught my attention in December, but Misidjan’s attempt from 21 metres against FC Emmen caught everyone by surprise and the youngster gets the award


 

Youth Intake Preview

The early report in December promises an excellent intake with at least three good strikers. That’s something to look for, knowing that Sebastien Haller is reaching the end of his career.

spacer.png




 

Contracts

 

It was the last opportunity to sort out player contracts before the January transfer window. 

  • Antony had no interest in renewing his deal, so he’ll be off for bigger leagues next Summer.
  • Devyne Rensch was offered a new deal and a lot more money than I’d be willing to pay usually, but we failed to reach an agreement despite that offer, so his future with us is still in doubt.
  • Sebastien Haller signed for a one-year extension with a significant pay cut (£43,000 p/w). He’s still an excellent finisher and goal scorer and we might need him in the next season
  • Stanis Idumbo Muzambo signed an extension until 2029 - I’m a bit sorry that he hasn’t got enough playing time so far, but he has significant potential and I want to keep him around.
  • Diyae-Eddine Jermoumi signed a new deal until 2031 - he’s our main right-back if Devyne Rensch should leave.
  • Neal Viereck also earned a new deal. He’s a player who constantly outperforms his attributes, but we’re rather thin in defence and he should be a rotation/backup player for a couple of seasons.



 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

It’s the first time we’ve come through our first 17 games with straight wins and 51 points. Feyenoord have lost a lot of ground and they’ve even lost their second position to AZ Alkmaar. We’re 12 points ahead in the table with a game in hand and it looks like we’re running away with the title already in December.

There have been a lot of manager movements in December. Siem de Jong was sacked by FC Utrecht and Utrecht quickly hired Barak Bachar from Fortuna Sittard. But when Oliver Neuville was released from his position as the sc Heerenveen manager, de Jong was offered the position so the former Ajax player is now in charge of Heerenveen. 


 

Champions League 

spacer.png

We collected 13 points from 6 games and I’m clearly happy with our group stage performances, but we’re up against Manchester City in the first knockout round and our hopes to get into the quarter finals are rather slim.

Link to post
Share on other sites

January 2027

 

We have some really tricky games coming up in January. We’re up against Heracles Almelo again in an away game, shortly after our league away fixture against them in December. We have a good lead in the Eredivisie table, but we have two important derby games against PSV and Feyenoord in January (both are away games) and it’s safe to say that if we won’t lose those games, it’s really difficult to challenge us for the title.

We have a full squad available at the beginning of January, but it’s 2027 and it’s time for another African Cup of Nations, so Sebastien Haller will be away for at least two weeks with the national team and we have relied on his goals a lot this season. Big chance for Dramane Guehi to step forward in important games.


 

Fixtures and Results

 

spacer.png

We played a fairly good first half against Vitesse and controlled the midfield in the home game, but our attack lacked a bit of creativity and it’s evident that Guehi is not as good a CFa as Haller is. He can spot a pass, but he does it just less frequently and his one through ball to Antony didn’t lead to a goal. The result was decided in the beginning of the second half when Devyne Rensch was too late to make a tackle and his foul was judged to be enough for a red card by Jochem Kamphuis. We reorganised and prepared for more attacks from Vitesse, but apparently our opponents were happy with just one point from Johan Cruijff Arena and didn’t put us under a lot of pressure. It was a fairly quiet second half and it remained goalless in the end - our 18 games long winning streak ended here, but I wasn’t too disappointed. Games like this happen when one of your players is sent off and you need to cope with that and to get a draw from here was good enough.

We returned to winning ways against SC Cambuur - an early penalty helped us and Dramane Guehi got his name on the score sheet to make it 2:0. In this game our opponents were left to ten men just before half-time and so the second half was much more relaxed for us. Our left-back Prince Aning scored the best goal of the game with a well struck half-volley from an acute angle that landed at the far post. Very comfortable home win and good reaction to the Vitesse result.

I felt well prepared for our cup game against Heracles Almelo, because we did beat them just in December and it was an away game, too and didn’t feel too difficult. It was the best moment for a small rotation in midfield before two difficult derby matches. Some of our selection choices were forced anyway because of Haller’s absence and Naci Ünüvar’s injury.

The cup game against Heracles included a pretty good first half - we created some good chances and dominated midfield, despite giving a day off to Davy Klaassen and Devyne Rensch - but our finishing lacked class and only a good strike from Guehi gave us the lead before half-time. I made substitutions in the second half - took off Antony and Gabriel Misehouy and did it perhaps a little bit too early, because it hampered our attack and made things easier for Heracles in defence. We still controlled the midfield and got plenty of set pieces (12 corners in the game), but couldn’t score any more goals. 1:0 is still a win, but I wasn’t impressed with our first half performance and in the second half we were outright poor, so players heard some constructive criticism after the match.

Next - two away derbies. We went to Eindhoven without Haller, Misehouy and Naci Ünüvar. That basically halved our attacking potential. On the other hand we looked really good in defence and kept PSV attacks under control. Our balanced 4-2-3-1 formation suited better for us and their 5-3-2 WB didn’t work out at all. The only goal of the game came in the first half - Devyne Rensch found Antony on the run with an accurate forward pass and the winger placed his shot calmly into the net. PSV had five attempts in the game, but none of them went on target, so one goal was enough for us and we took an important away win.

The Klassieker derby started with a slow first half and neither of the two teams offered anything exciting in attack. In the last ten minutes before half-time we managed to create a few half-chances and then carried this initiative to the second half. The best opportunity was Kenneth Taylor’s free kick from a promising position, but we finally took the lead after Antony finished a lovely combination from the middle. We looked well in control of the second half, but an unfortunate own goal from Olivier Aertssen in 87’ gave Feyenoord the equaliser and we dropped two points in a very unlucky manner. I was disappointed, because our game in the second half was much better and we deserved to win, but in the standings that draw didn’t cause any damage to our position and I was impressed with our performance with so many players missing.



 

Players

We have missed a lot of players in January - Sebastien Haller due to the African Cup of Nations, Naci Ünüvar due to injury. Gabriel Misehouy was ill and had to skip a game, Devyne Rensch served a suspension for his red card etc. Considering all this I’m quite happy with our results this month and some of the players (namely Dramane Guehi and Peter Misidjan) have impressed in league games. If we can continue to build on that then the future looks bright for us.

Because of his absence Haller didn’t add any goals to his tally, but Antony has reached 14 goals and 11 assists and he’s our main creative force in attack.

 

Player of the Month: Jay Gorter - difficult to point out the one player in January. Antony scored in both derby games, but Gorter was consistently good throughout the month.

Goal of the Month: Prince Aning vs. SC Cambuur - not too many goals in January, but the left-back scored the best of those with a well-placed half-volley from acute angle



 

Transfer Window

The obvious culmination of my poor contract and plater management was that both Antony and Devyne Rensch will leave this Summer. There was plenty of interest in both of their services and in the end Antony signed for Tottenham and Rensch agreed to join Manchester City.

However, our ranks are bolstered for the remainder of this season, because Kristian Nökkvi Hlynsson and Ja-Ryong Kim returned from loan. This causes more problems than solutions because AMC and AML positions are rather crowded even without them and adding more players into the mix might cause upset about playing time. On the other hand, we sent goalkeeper Mert Alegoz back on loan to Go Ahead Eagles - he did spend a very productive season there a year ago and Eagles are now fighting against relegation and in search of every available help they could get.

On the deadline day Everton swooped in and offered £9,75m for Mateja Milovanovic. After thinking for an hour I accepted the bid because he really wanted to go to Liverpool and so he moved to England  - we’re a bit thin in defence and that transfer may cause us problems in the short term, but in the long run I feel that it was a good decision. Milovanovic is now 22 years old and he’s unlikely to improve further. His balanced personality makes him a poor mentor and he has some flaws in his game (like below average teamwork). To get almost £10m for him is very good money and I’m quite convinced that he will flop remarkably in the Premier League because he’s nowhere good enough for that standard, but his performances have been well above his actual ability lately and so it’s the best time to sell him.



 

Eredivisie 

spacer.png

We have a huge lead, but the bottom of the table is a lot more exciting - small teams like Helmond Sport and FC Emmen are well above the relegation zone. FC Groningen picked up their first win in a while, but ADO Den Haag, Fortuna Sittard and sc Heerenveen are struggling. It’s interesting to see whether small teams will drop back into the danger zone or bigger teams pick themselves up and find some much-needed form in the final third of the season.

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

February 2027

 

Fixtures and Results

spacer.png

Home game against Go Ahead Eagles was a chance to rotate the squad. A lot. Just a few first team players in the starting line-up. Jay Gorter in goal, Antony on the wing  with Naci Ünüvar who was returning from injury and needed match fitness, and Olivier Aertssen in defence but the rest of the starting line-up were our rotation players and 17 years old Jasper Vogels made his debut for the club as a left-back. It left an impact on our game in the first half - Eagles had the initiative for the first 10-15 minutes but then Dramane Guehi struck from 20 metres and scored a beautiful goal to make it 1:0 and give us the lead at half-time. One of the candidates for the best goal of the month already. I was critical to our performance in my half-time team talk and things improved after the break - Antony quickly scored the second goal and set up Naci Ünüvar for the fourth before scoring from a free kick (another beauty in that game). Eagles were left with 10 men after Boyd Lucassen received his second yellow card and Peter Misidjan wrapped things up with a late goal to make it 5:0. Pretty impressive score in the end, but we fully deserved it with our 4 clear cut chances and 3.75 xG. I didn’t need to send out our other first team players and only made two substitutions in the game (one of them forced, after David Kalokoh came off with an injury).

The cup game against Willem II didn’t pose much of a challenge either. Sebastien Haller was back in the line-up and got us going with two goals in the first half. Willem II’s Max Svensson scored one goal in 33’, but Naci Ünüvar scored with a beautiful strike from some way out just before the half-time whistle and that was game over. Gabriel Misehouy finished things off with our fourth goal in the second half. 

Our 5:0 home win over PEC Zwolle was equally convincing - Dramane Guehi started in attack and the game was his show - Guehi finished with four goals, Antony added one and we didn’t give PEC Zwolle enough space to start a come-back. Brilliant win and Guehi’s 10.0 rating in this game was a sign of standout performance.

The fixture list offered us several small clubs in a row and we continued in fine form - Helmond Sport was beaten in an away game 4:1, even though I rested several first team players and rotated the team heavily. It looked like our confidence was sky high after recent results and goals seemed to come easy to us. We conceded once, but that didn’t matter much. Squad rotation allowed us to keep our legs fresh before a tough match against Manchester City and Champions League looked more important at this point.

We played a good game against Manchester City. You might say that we managed to control the midfield more in the home game, but Phil Foden’s excellent strike in 11’ was our undoing. We managed to create three half-chances (and City created none!) but failed to score and eventually had to accept a narrow 0:1 defeat with a good performance. That’s a bummer, because I suspect that the second leg at Etihad will be much more difficult.

We finished February with a terribly poor game against FC Twente. A drab match where we didn’t create almost anything in attack, but Aertssen’s header from a corner gave us all three points. Probably the ugliest win this season. It could have been worse, because FC Twente had a penalty at the end of the first season, but their taker sent the ball right into  the hands of Jay Gorter.


 

Players

After disappointing news about Devyne Rensch and Antony leaving, we’re slowly starting to prepare for their departure. Diyae-Eddine Jermoumi could expect more playing time in the DR position and Amourricho van Axel Dongen will start to train more playing on the right wing. With Mateja Milovanovic gone, we need some depth in left defence and youngster Jasper Vogels was promoted into the first team - he’s just 17 years old, but made his first team debut against Go Ahead Eagles, played full ninety minutes against Helmond Sport and he looks like a good future replacement for Prince Aning.

With those changes we have dealt with most of the player contracts that will run out in 2027 and I turned my sight to the future to avoid the situation that we found ourselves with Rensch and Antony. We should tie down talented youngsters for a longer period, before their salary expectations get too high for the club to fulfil. In that process Peter Misidjan signed a new contract - £5,000 p/w deal which will keep him in the club until 2031.

We scored a huge number of goals in February. Dramane Guehi added a lot to his tally and Sebastien Haller returned to the line-up and continued from where he left off before the African Cup of Nations. Haller’s second goal against PEC Zwolle was his 200th league goal - impressive achievement.

 

Player of the Month: Antony - the right winger was our creative spark in attack with three goals and four assists in February

Goal of the Month: Dramane Guehi vs. Go Ahead Eagles - outstanding strike, curled into the top corner from 20 metres.


 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

Feyenoord have dropped to 4th position. Relegation battle is still fierce with five teams within a single point. Surprisingly, FC Groningen and sc Heerenveen are amongst them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

March 2027

 

Fixtures and Results

 

We have two kinds of games in our schedule in March - we start off with a difficult away derby against Feyenoord in the cup semi final. Then hosting AZ Alkmaar who have proved to be tough opponents this season and a trip to Etihad where I need to get our tactics just right to avoid heavy beating. On the other hand we have a number of league games against smaller teams that we should win easily and that allow us to rotate the team and give rest to key players.

 

spacer.png

 

The Klassieker derby at De Kuip was a great success and I was very happy with our 2:0 win. We had an early penalty when Naci Ünüvar was fouled right in front of the goal just a moment before he was about to receive a cross from van Axel Dongen. The referee gave a penalty and showed a yellow card, but in my opinion it could have been red, because it was a foul by the last defender. Sebastien Haller saw his penalty being saved (very rare for him), but reacted first and scored from the rebound. We controlled the rest of the game well, avoided unnecessary risks and limited Feyenoord attacks. Our opponents had the best chance of the game from a dangerous free kick in 17’, but Toma Basic curled it over the wall and against the crossbar. We maintained our control over proceedings until Feyenoord had to take more risks and Dramane Guehi scored our second goal late in the game - a lovely chip over the goalkeeper - and put the result beyond doubt. I was especially happy with the win because it was a tactical win - I felt that we were spot on with our approach and balanced attack and defence excellently.

Another derby against AZ Alkmaar turned out to be a much easier win than anticipated - we didn’t give AZ any chances in the game and scored three goals. Dramane Guehi started again and scored a brace to make it 10 goals this season. Davy Klaassen added another goal from the spot. AZ players lacked their usual fighting spirit and their body language didn’t indicate a derby at all. 

I rested several first team players before our Champions League fixture and our next win over sc Heerenveen didn’t look as smooth, but another 3:0 final score showed that we are able to beat any team in Eredivisie even if we rotate some players. Again very solid defensively and although we didn’t play all out attack ,we scored three goals. Dramane Guehi was again leading the line with two goals.

I hoped that we could at least put up a fight at the Etihad against City, but it wasn’t to be. We lost too many easy balls in midfield and after Haaland scored their first goal in 7’ it was pretty much game over for us. We weren’t under huge pressure, but City controlled the proceedings confidently and scored two goals each in the first and second half. Our best chance came late in the game when Antony got one-on-one against their goalkeeper, but curled it against the crossbar. Not good enough and obviously I know that our squad (especially defence) is not good enough to contain City, but the game left me wondering whether a more defensive mentality would have made a difference in this one. Worth a try next time. Either way, our Champions League campaign stops here.

We returned to winning ways in the next league match against Fortuna Sittard. We controlled most of the game comfortably and Ja-Ryong Kim scored our first goal (his first for the club) and Fortuna’s Mickael Tirpan was sent off for a terrible tackle in 31’, but we somehow allowed the 10-men Fortuna to equalise out of nowhere in the end of the first half. The second half was much better, though, and three more goals secured all points from the home game. Fortuna made 22 fouls in this match and it was their undoing in the end, because another player was sent off in 73’ and we scored a penalty and added a goal from a free kick, so set pieces were clearly in our favour.



 

Players and Tactics

We failed collectively against City, but other games offered plenty of great moments. We generally defended well and scored a lot of goals and there’s a lot of confidence in the way that we play in recent months. After our Champions League campaign finished, I guess it’s reasonable to start to prepare for the next season, so Devyne Rensch and Antony will feature less in remaining games. I started to train Amourricho van Axel Dongen as a right winger (IWa) - he should take over from Antony and it means that youngsters will get more chances on our left flank.

There’s been a lot of injuries in March - Naci Ünüvar, Devyne Rensch and Kristian Nökkvi Hlynsson were missing part of the month with various injuries, David Kalokoh returned to full fitness before the sc Heerenveen match and Moha picked up a knock in the end of the month. All those fitness problems have forced some of the squad selections and made things a bit more difficult for us, but fortunately it hasn’t affected our results too much. 


 

Player of the Month: Dramane Guehi - scored five goals in March and showed that he could compete with Haller for a place in the first eleven.

Goal of the Month: Dramane Guehi vs. Feyenoord Rotterdam - calm finish with a chip to secure our derby win.


 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

 

PSV Eindhoven have secured their runner-up position and three clubs battle for the third place. Relegation fight is still fierce and it’s not at all clear who will go down this season.



 

Youth Intake

The bunch of youngsters who arrived in March is pretty good in my eyes, although my head of youth development called it an average intake. But for me there were two main differences compared to previous years:

I got a potential star striker and a number of decent prospects who could make it into the first team if they work hard enough in the next years

The overall characters were much better than we had a few years back. Most of the players had good determination and professionalism and only a couple of ‘unambitious’ characters who had also low potential, so I had no problems to strike them off the list

So, this is the top talent list for the intake:

spacer.png



 

John Meeuwis 

spacer.png

That is the boy who was talked up for me in December - only 15 years old and already a 1,5* striker. I see a great future for him already. His arrival should put away all fears about Haller’s retirement.


 

Rik Vos

spacer.png

Decent young centre-back. Brave and determined and good with the ball as well, so suits my favourable BPD role well. A bit slow and that might be a problem because we play with a high defensive line, but we have time to work with that in extra sprint sessions.

 

Riswan Sinaga

spacer.png

A decent goalkeeper prospect with Indonesian roots. Not particularly good in anything, but doesn’t have too many glaring weaknesses either and with his fairly professional character I’m sure he’ll make the most of our coaching staff and training facilities.

Link to post
Share on other sites

April 2027


 

Fixtures and Results

 

Four games in April. We start with back to back fixtures against teams who are fighting against relegation, but our focus is clearly on the cup final against FC Twente.

spacer.png

We won both of our two first games in April 4:1, although they were completely different matches. We allowed ADO to take a lead against us in a rather poor first half, but Naci Ünüvar saved us - the midfielder scored two beautiful free kicks to give us a 2:1 lead and in the second half we controlled the proceedings. Again our opponents were left to ten men after Chima Okoroji was shown his second yellow card in 65’ and you might say that ADO’s constant fouls were their undoing. In the end we finished with 28/12 shots and 3.66xG, so it looked like a fair result. This win also secured our ninth straight Eredivisie title.

The next game against FC Groningen was a bit similar in a sense that I wasn’t at all happy with our first half. We were helped by an early own goal by Purcy Juliaans and managed to double our lead, but then allowed Romano Postema to walk straight through our defence and score right after our goal to put some pressure on us for the second half. FC Groningen retained hope until Gabriel Misehouy scored twice in the last minutes and put this game to bed.

The cup final at De Kuip was a bit tougher than I anticipated, although our league games against FC Twente have not been too easy as well. They look like a team who can defend if they need to and they were definitely determined in the final. We struggled to get our shots on target in the first half and FC Twente were patient to wait for their chances - and they managed to build a couple of good attacks in the first period. However, we always held an initiative and our attack improved after the break - at first Sebastien Haller missed his clear cut chance in 56’, but the breakthrough came after I sent on Peter Misidjan in 73’. Devyne Rensch found him in front of the goal with his cross two minutes later and it was 1:0. Davy Klaassen scored from the spot in injury time to make it two and that was it - our third consecutive KNVB Beker win made both the board and some players really happy.

For a moment it looked like we had nothing to play for after the cup final, but I was promptly reminded by journalists that we might break the Eredivisie points record and I was obviously motivated to put together the unbeatable season. We hadn’t lost a single match so far and we had only four more to go, so the players agreed to do their best to win them all.

4:1 proved to be the most popular score line this month, because it was our final result against FC Utrecht as well. Antony was the start of the game with his hat-trick. It’s become quite usual that I’m not happy with our first half performance and it was the case again, because we allowed FC Utrecht to equalise right after our opener, but we lifted our game in the second half and the final score was well deserved.



 

Players

Injuries have become more frequent in Spring and several players are out with smaller/moderate traumas, but at least the ones who have suffered long term injuries are getting fit again (Kristian Nökkvi Hlynsson and David Kalokoh). I’ve tried to play less with Antony and Rensch and at least in Eredivisie our next season’s right wing combination of Jermoumi and van Axel Dongen should do OK, but it’s probably not good enough in the Champions League level.

We’ve scored plenty of goals in April and even though they’re fairly evenly distributed it means our top scorers stand out in the competition. Antony reached 20 goals this season and Sebastien Haller’s penalty against FC Utrecht marked his 30th goal of the year. Naci Ünüvar, Dramane Guehi and Amourricho van Axel Dongen also are in the double digits.

 

Player of the Month: Olivier Aertssen - attacking players have been inconsistent, but Aertssen has been the rock in our defence.

Goal of the Month: Naci Ünüvar vs. ADO Den Haag - a brilliant free kick, curled around the wall.


 

Contracts

Rico Speksnijder signed a new three year deal until 2031. He’s a valuable squad player for us and deserved a raise. At the same time I failed to reach to agreement with Amourricho van Axel Dongen - we’re forced to find a new right winger after Antony’s departure and the best option at the moment is van Axel Dongen, but his agent insists that he’d be promised to play on the left wing as IWs. Sebastien Haller extended his current deal for another year, accepting a 25% pay cut. I believe he’ll score goals and lead the dressing room for another couple of years.



 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

Relegation battle continues to be tense and sc Heerenveen looks in real trouble now with only three games to go.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Fixtures and Results

 

Three games in May and we have to avoid defeats to complete our invincible league season. The fixture list wasn’t particularly challenging, but our last game is against Vitesse who look solid in top five places and in good form, so that could be a bit more difficult.

 

spacer.png

A narrow win against Willem II Tilburg put us over the 90 points line, but the performance left a lot to desire. Antony squeezed in a shot from a narrow angle and that proved to be a winner, but we allowed momentum to shift in the beginning of the second half and in a period of 10-15 minutes Willem II managed to hit the woodwork three times, so we were a bit lucky to keep our clean sheet. Our opponents defended well with their 4-1-4-1 DM formation and our attack didn’t look the sharpest, but at least we got another three points on the board.

Home win over FC Emmen was a bit uneventful - Gabriel Misehouy scored a brace (and took his goal tally to 10 in this season) and David Kalokoh scored his first goal of the campaign - I’m delighted that he hit the target after missing so much of the season because of two major injuries.

Vitesse was one of the two teams who managed to get a draw against us in the first match between two clubs and they started strongly at GelreDome, too, but Haller’s header in 7’ gave us the lead. Vitesse’s Ritsu Doan had two of his goals chalked off for offside infringement, but in 18’ he finally scored and two teams went to half-time with a 1:1 score line. We were slightly better in the second half and created chances, especially in the final 20 minutes. Substitute Dramane Guehi scored in 86’, but it wasn’t the winner, because we allowed Vitesse to score again late in injury time and the game finished 2:2 - a bit disappointing, because our second half performance was good enough to win this game, but Vitesse are really good team and credit to them for fighting until the end.


 

Players

Three games look too few to judge players properly. Good news about the squad is that we’re finally almost fully fit and our players who struggled with long term injuries (Kristian Nökkvi Hlynsson, for example) are finally fit again. Our medical staff will face Summer in a much better mood than they had in Spring.

Player of the Month: Olivier Aertssen - the most consistent in the squad.

Goal of the Month: Antony vs. Willem II Tilburg - squeezed in from an impossible angle. Much technical skill needed to pull this off.


 

Eredivisie

spacer.png

That’s official - sc Heerenveen will go down to Keuken Kampioen Divisie. Go Ahead Eagles saved themselves with a win over FC Groningen in the final match day, so Groningen will play relegation play-offs. Two big teams in relegation trouble is the big surprise in this season’s table.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Season Summary 2026-2027


 

Competitions

This season will be remembered for our invincible Eredivisie season and our 96 points is a new league record - a magnificent achievement and it shows how big was the gap between us and other clubs. We can’t rest on laurels, of course, but at the moment it makes me feel very confident about the future.

We were competitive in the Champions League and got into the knockout stages, only to run against the brick wall called Manchester City. Nothing to be ashamed of - with our youth only policy European giants tend to have too much quality to compete against. So, no regrets.

We managed to win the KNVB Beker again and now have three consecutive wins. A lot can go wrong in cup games and one mistake could end your campaign early, so I’m very happy that we have been able to keep that winning streak going.

 

spacer.png


 

Finances

 

spacer.png

 

Our turnover and profit hasn’t changed much over the years, but because we sell players and never buy we have around £760m in the bank and the board can feel very secure about finances.



 

Players

It was a challenging season for team selection - in some positions we didn’t have enough competition and that was especially true about defence. When Mert Alegoz went on loan and Mateja Milovanovic departed in January Jay Gorter played all games in goal and we had only two true centre-backs in Olivier Aertssen and Neal Viereck. Jasper Vogels emerged from youth ranks to provide options in the left-back position, but generally our defensive line was the same.

On the other hand - in midfield and both wings we had a surplus of talents after Kristian Nökkvi Hlynsson and Ja-Ryong Kim returned. I struggled to provide all players enough first team opportunities (even though some of them were injured from time to time). Julian Brandes failed to make it into the first team and will leave the club because of that, but further trimming of the squad is needed in that area.

Different players were leading the team in different periods of the time. Antony was consistently good in attack and his goals+assists record was impressive. Sebastien Haller was unstoppable in attack before Christmas, but the African Cup of Nations in January caused a dip in his form and then Dramane Guehi started to show that he, too, can score when given enough first team opportunities. In Eredivisie our goal tally was impressive - we scored 94 times and conceded just 12 goals in 34 games, so a lot of clean sheets and just a bit short of 3.00 average goals per game.

We were also extremely lethal from set pieces - our corner goals dried up a bit compared to previous seasons, but 6 goals from direct free kicks is a new Eredivisie record. We have excellent free kick takers in Kenneth Taylor, Antony and Naci Ünüvar and that paid dividends several times in important moments.

 

spacer.png




 

Loan Players

We didn’t loan out too many players this season, but those players had mostly successful seasons.

Can Tas and Nikita Tamm spent a year in Almere City and both were solid first team players for our feeder club. Tamm managed to score13 goals and turned up to be one of our most talented youngsters, ending up in the NxG Top 50 list as well, so I have huge hopes for him. Can Tas developed nicely and his leadership skills could become handy in the future. We’re a bit thin in the centre-back department after Milanovic’s transfer in January. That’s why Can Tas will probably be staying in Ajax next season and can hope for at least some first team football.

Young striker Yoram Boerhout was loaned to AZ Alkmaar. I could describe his status as a regular starter, because he featured in a lot of games, but his performances were very inconsistent - he scored 10 goals which indicates that he’s solid enough as a striker, but considering his game time and the status of the club he should have scored more - at least expectations were higher. In certain games (and both matches against Ajax) he disappeared on the pitch and looked awfully quiet. According to his attributes there is some sort of material for a complete forward, but there are some doubts about his future. It might be reasonable to sort out a more successful loan move for him in the next season.

Goalkeeper Mert Alegoz went to Go Ahead Eagles in January to try and save them from relegation. That didn’t work out as hoped and his performances are difficult to judge, because as a goalkeeper you’re under a lot of pressure in the small club and are destined to concede a lot of goals, but his attributes showed that exposure to regular first team football has a huge impact to young players - he developed more on loan than he did in the previous six months in Ajax (although he got an occasional first team match in here as well). 

Left-back Bedirhan Celikel also showed improvements in his attributes and even his determination has improved while on loan (although his personality is still unambitious). Iti is possible that I have to make a decision about his future in Ajax this Summer, because he will enter his last year of contract and also turned 21 years old in January and this means he should either make it into the first team or move on. His attributes are decent and my coaches say that his potential is around 3,5* which is good enough, but because of his personality I’m not sure he will actually reach his potential and I’m reluctant to keep unambitious players in my first team. With Jasper Vogels emerging from the youth ranks I’m not under real pressure to find another left-back, so perhaps it’s wise to sell Celikel this Summer.



 

Club Awards

spacer.png

 


 

Eredivisie Awards

We took a number of trophies in the award season - Olivier Aertssen won the Golden Boot, Jay Gorter impressed pundits with his 20 clean sheets and took the Goalkeeper of the Year award. PSV’s young star Erik Geurts was selected as the Young Player of the Year, but Dramane Guehi and Gabriel Misehouy made it into the top three.

I was selected as the Manager’s Manager of the Year again.


 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

 

spacer.png

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Summer 2027


 

Transfers

 

We lost two key players in Devyne Rensch and Antony this Summer and we also knew that Julian Brandes will leave the club after his contract ran out, but July still brought some transfer news that was not met by good reaction from Ajax fans.

Gabriel Misehouy attracted a £58m bid from Inter and although it was a bit shy of his £60m minimum release fee clause, I decided to accept and give him a chance in Serie A. FC Bayern then stepped in and offered £69m for Naci Ünüvar and the attacking midfielder packed his bags and moved to Germany. 

On one hand, both Naci Ünüvar and Misehouy were too good for Eredivisie and needed to move on and the money we received for them was good enough. I also knew that the AMC and AML position were the most packed with talented players and their departure will give chances to other youngsters who needed it, but at the same time it was dreadful to think that we lost all of our three creative midfielders in a single transfer window and that’s a huge gap in our first team in short term. 

I also decided to sell our young striker Björn Feldhofer for £200k + 40% next sale clause. He’s a talented youngster and I would have liked to keep him around because of his driven personality. He’s rated as 3,5* potential but his finishing attribute is just 6 and that’s not good enough for a striker in the first team. I can’t see him improve that much so it wouldn’t be a weakness. We had a bunch of talented strikers coming up from the academy in March, so we shouldn’t lack talent in the coming few seasons, so I’m sure Feldhofer won’t be missed.

 

We had made some space in the first team with those moves, but few positions had still a surplus of players, so we loaned Ja-Ryong Kim to Vitoria Guimaraes for a season and Bedirhan Celikel went on loan to SK Rapid. I felt that three strikers is also a bit too much and we could find a loan move to Yoram Boerhout, but it had to wait until the transfer deadline day when a Ligue 1 side Clermont came with a loan bid and he went to France for a season.


 

Contracts

After our star players left it’s time to revise our contracts and tie down our future first team players. Amourricho van Axel Dongen earned a long contract extension until 2032. Diyae-Eddine Jermoumi is almost irreplaceable at right-back and he too extended his deal until 2032 and Rico Speksnijder extended his deal until 2031.

We’re still to negotiate with our two veteran players - Sebastien Haller and Davy Klaassen. Both are in their last season now, but I expect to agree terms for another year with both of them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Squad Update 2027


 

It’s a painful Summer - we’ve lost no less than four first team players and they’re all key players who we relied upon, especially in the Champions League level. We have enough talented youngsters to fill the ranks, but the drop in quality is undeniable, at least in the first months and it will be extremely difficult to repeat the success of previous seasons.


 

Goalkeepers

At least Jay Gorter is still here in the goal and hopefully will save our defence from inevitable embarrassment this season. Mert Alegoz is a capable second choice and with plenty of smaller teams in Eredivisie now, he should get around 10-15 games comfortably.

spacer.png

spacer.png

 

 

Defence

A lot of changes in our defensive line. Devyne Rensch is gone and Diyae-Eddine Jermoumi will be our first choice right-back from now on. The main problem is we didn’t have a proper substitution for him. Polish Pawel Wachowicz is honestly not ready to make a first team debut and other defenders lack versatility to play the position. Olivier Aertssen and Neal Viereck enjoyed the lack of competition last season and featured in almost all games, but young Can Tas looks very promising and has developed well on loan, so he’ll try to nudge at least Viereck out of the first team. Things are a lot better on the left - the position we lacked depth just a few years ago is now even a bit crowded - Prince Aning is a very good option, Jasper Vogels is our breakthrough prospect and did well in 6 games last season. Bedirhan Celikel is also rated as an Eredivisie level player, but he has to go on loan, because three players in one position is too much.

 

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

 

 

Midfield

Centre of the pitch looks familiar. Kenneth Taylor remained in the club, Davy Klaassen will provide leadership and experience, Bart Smits and Rico Speksnijder will be our rotation players and young Juremy Jansen is an understudy for Taylor. He’ll train with the first team and try to develop his determination to fulfil his potential. We have some interesting players coming up through the youth ranks, but I’m hoping that Klaassen will stick around for another couple of years - his contract is about to run out in 2028, but I’m positive we’ll reach an agreement and will extend it further.

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

 

 

 

Attacking Midfield

Here we have lost the most of the talent and quality we had last season. Antony has gone, so have Naci Ünüvar and Gabriel Misehouy. Virtually the whole creative midfield will be at least a couple of levels weaker than we’ve used to and we’ve also lost capable set piece takers in Naci Ünüvar and Antony. Because we generally have a surplus of left wingers and in my formation I’d prefer right-footed players to play on the left and left-footed players to play on the right wing, Amourricho van Axel Dongen and David Kalokoh make a transition to AMR IWa role - they both have a decent finishing ability to score goals when a chance will come and both are two-footed players. Young and ambitious Peter Misidjan will get his chance to impress in the AMC position, Stanis Idumbo Muzambo and Kristian Nökkvi Hlynsson will hope for more game time as well. We have a hot (but yet unproved) Estonian prospect Nikita Tamm on the left wing - he’s potentially a 5* player, but let’s see how his actual performances justify that hype. Moha will also feature more frequently on the left wing.

There’s a lot of talent, but not enough experience and sadly some of the player personalities could be better. Some players are also more injury prone than others - Hlynsson and Kalokoh missed a lot of weeks last season and that almost guarantees that most of the players will get his fair chance in this campaign. I don’t have a proper first team choice in this line (except perhaps van Axel Dongen), so it’s interesting to see how it turns out.

On the downside that attacking midfield is definitely not good enough for Champions League level and if we get through the group stage with those players I’d be really impressed.

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

 

 


 

Strikers

Three players are looking up for that position and all three are capable of playing my preferred CFa role. Sebastien Haller brings (international) experience and his goal scoring record so far has been impressive. Dramane Guehi really showed his ability in the last season and is driven to push for the first team place. Yoram Boerhout went on loan in search of more game time. Haller has still the pole position for the starting line-up in August, but it might not remain that way until Spring.

spacer.png

spacer.png

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

August 2027


 

Fixtures and Results

spacer.png

We started off with a traditional Johan Cruijff Schaal. This time we had a home advantage, because it was held in Amsterdam, but we had to accept a narrow defeat to PSV Eindhoven. We fielded a little bit of an unfamiliar starting line-up and it looked like the players hadn’t gelled properly just yet. We had a small initiative in the first half, but couldn’t finish our half-chances and then in the second half we allowed PSV to counter after Haller lost possession in attack. I was a bit disappointed, because I felt that we didn’t really deserve to lose this one, but on the other hand we didn’t do enough to win it either.

Our Eredivisie campaign kicked off with a match against FC Twente and things in attack looked much better in this one - we scored an early goal, Klaassen added another from penalty, but our defence looked a bit error-prone and we allowed FC Twente to score before Aning’s strike made it 3:1 at half-time. We continued in the same fashion after the break - two more goals, but conceded from an indirect free kick. In the end I could be happy with five goals, but to concede two at home was a bit too much and it will be addressed in the next training sessions. Amourricho van Axel Dongen was our creative spark up front - he had seven key passes, created five chances and finished with a goal and assist.

Away trip to Arnhem was our first tricky game in the league schedule. In the pre-match press conference journalists reminded me that we haven’t won the last four games against Vitesse, so we were a bit careful and started with a balanced mentality, so the first half was a bit uneventful and both teams looked to defend carefully. I switched back to our usual positive and sent on Peter Misidjan. The young attacking midfielder had an instant impact on the game - his forward pass released Dramane Guehi and we scored our first goal just a minute after restart. Guehi added another goal with a simple finish from van Axel Dongen’s cross and Misidjan scored from a set piece. We couldn’t keep our clean sheet, though - Vitesse’s Majeed Ashimeru found the top corner with his strike from the edge of the area, so even though we looked pretty good defensively we conceded a goal.

The last game in August was against Willem II. It’s curious that after FC Groningen and sc Heerenveen went down, the Eredivisie is full of smaller teams and the clubs like FC Twente, Heracles and Willem II can consider themselves top half teams. We did beat them 4:2 however, but the game reminded me of our win over FC Twente - we were good in attack and scored goals (even if luck had its part, like Kenneth Taylor’s opener from 24 metres that took a huge deflection from a defender and went in), but we conceded two goals and that is not good enough. Willem II has tall strikers and they played crosses to the box for their target man Darell Tokpa. Even though we knew what they wanted to do it was almost impossible to counter it with shorter defenders, so Tokpa headed in twice in the second half to keep Willem II in the game, but it wasn’t enough. Amourricho van Axel Dongen was again our best player on the pitch - he dished out three assists and gave six key passes to finish with 9.2 rating. 



 

Players and Tactics

Our tactics haven’t changed, but the line-up is a lot different and it’s evident that the players aren’t too familiar with each other, but I hope it will get better in a month or two. We have a lot of young players in the starting eleven and in certain games some players have shown either nervousness or complacency and that’s something to keep an eye on as a manager. I need to know who can handle pressure and choose these players for big games.