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  1. July 2020 25.07.2020 - Ajax - Go Ahead Eagles 2:0 (Dutch Super Cup) - 9. Lucas Andersen, 52. Dejan Meleg Go Ahead Eagles had a real Cinderella story in the last season and their cup win brought them against us in Super Cup game. After gaining much recognition and finishing 7th in Eredivisie last season they’re predicted to come 13th this season by pundits, but good look at their players betrays that in truth they will probably fight for relegation and will do OK to stay in Eredivisie at the end of the season. Their striker department look interesting and have some promise - they had several guys scoring 10+ goals in last season and those lads were between 22-24 years of age - but rest of the team is below par and they haven’t made any significant transfers in Summer. That’s why, although we were in the middle of pre-season and all players weren’t match fit yet I predicted an easy win in Super Cup match. And so it was. We controlled the game from start to finish and it was very one-sided. Poor finishing prevented complete demolition of Go Ahead. Arkadiusz Milik was unusually poor and he wasted three opportunities himself, but after Dejan Meleg scored our second goal from corner our win was secure. very good performance and creative attack - we had 32 shots (15 on target) poor finishing - only one goal from 6 clear cut chances I’ve turned down several offers from other clubs - AS Monaco, Real Sociedad and Tottenham. In July Holland FA offered me managerial position of national team, but I had to decline this too. Gert Heerkes accepted it after that and so Go Ahead Eagles lost the manager who had offered them such a wonderful season. I also had to make a tough decision and accept Newcastle’s bid for Arkadiusz Milik. Although great striker he’s now 26 years old and it’s the last moment to make a step up to more difficult leagues. Lately my coaching staff have started to rate Ugur Sezgin better than Milik. I also offered Sezgin a new contract and he expects to be key player to remain in Ajax, so I already imagine unhappiness about first team chances between those two. Money is also an issue. I don’t want to pay over £30,000 p/w to any player and Milik earns that after very difficult negotiations. His contract will end in 2022 and I can’t extend it for less than £40,000 p/week, so this Summer is the last possible time to get any decent fee for his services. That all combined made me sell him. Transfer was agreed to £12,5m + clauses (possibly up to £14m). His replacement in Ajax this season will be Thokozani Mpengesi. Interesting to see what this South African striker really is capable of. I also allowed Rayan El Azrak and Azor Matusiwa to leave, as they were not able to make it into first team. El Azrak landed in Club Brügge for £925k+clauses and Azor Matusiwa to AZ Alkmaar for £675k+clauses. They’re both good players and any Eredivisie club would do well to get them, but they were surplus in my talented squad. For once my dealings in transfer market are supported by fans. Eredivisie transfer window as a whole has been very quiet this Summer and there haven’t been any major moves. Teams like Willem II and Sparta struggle to avoid their best young home-grown players from being poached by foreign clubs, but no big offers for players from PSV and Feyenoord. We also currently lack players that could attract really big clubs. Besides Milik only Lucas Andersen and Dejan Meleg are valued over £5m and although there are clubs showing their interest from time to time there haven’t been any serious moves to lure them away from Ajax. Players in last year of contract Thokozani Mpengesi - I really want to keep him in long term, but talks about his new contract broke down as his agent refused to back down from ridiculously low minimum release fee clause. I hope to get his signature in this fall, even if it means I have to get rid of this agent Lasse Schöne - resolute Danish midfielder will be 35 years old in the end of this season and it might turn out to be his last. he has excellent mental stats (professionalism, pressure, big matches), good creativity and free kick ability. He still has one year of good tutoring left to get the best out from our midfield prospects, but after that I can’t offer him first team role in his contract, and without tutoring role it might be better to give his place for next generation. Schöne looks like a decent coach and I might offer him a place in U-19 staff Amin Younes - in so many Summers I’ve thought about if I should hold onto this rotation winger or not. He’s had good games and he offers covers on both right and left wings, but as Justin Kluivert and Dirk van Grinsven get better, his role will diminish. Unless Dejan Meleg is sold, Younes will probably be out of the team next Summer With 20 players in first team squad we’ve got a lot of talented youngsters loaned out. GK - Joe van der Sar, Bob Leeflang, Sven Keller DR - Tom Drost, Raymond Bouwhuis DC: Navajo Bakboord, Sergio Alleyne DC: Hein Yilmaz, Danny Rutte, Fatih Celik DL: - (our weakest position in terms of prospects) DMC: - MC: Jorri van der Geest MCa: Frenkie de Jong AMR: Rene Timmer, Chelton Mühl AML: Daan van Thiel, Rayan Yilmaz ST: Dodi Hamzah, Melvin Jongeling
  2. Season In Review 2019/2020 Some positives and some negatives from this season. I used 24 players in the league and I can say that this was perhaps the best squad of our recent years - well balanced, good in depth and I was able to rotate without any doubts about players’ quality. Mental preparation, determination and motivation were very good and we stayed fit and avoided any serious injuries. Most of our players are 20-23 years old. Still couple of seasons away from their full potential, but already experienced and skillful enough. We looked very strong in Eredivisie since the first half of the season and our league title weren’t under real threat after Christmas. But our loss against Go Ahead Eagles in cup semi-final was a small shock and we couldn’t surprise in Europe too. In Champions League level we just lack skill and quality of bigger teams from bigger leagues. Golden Boot Nicolas Isimat-Mirin - PSV Eindhoven Urby Emanuelson - FC Utrecht Segun Owobowale - Feyenoord Rotterdam Best Goalscorer Majeed Waris - Feyenoord Rotterdam - 21 Niclas Füllkrug - FC Twente - 16 Arkadiusz Milik - Ajax - 14 Goalkeeper of the Year John van der Sar - PEC Zwolle/Ajax (yes, he actually had a great season in PEC Zwolle, despite playing only two average games for Ajax) Jeffrey de Lange - Ajax Joel Drommel - sc Heerenveen Young Player of the Year Justin Kluivert - Ajax Francesco Antonucci - Ajax Darren Sidoel - Ajax Manager’s Manager of the Year Me Gert Heerkes - Go Ahead Eagles Robert Maaskant - sc Heerenveen
  3. May 2020 03.05.2020 - Feyenoord Rotterdam - Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 42. pen. Jens Toornstra - 71. Justin Kluivert - teams looked well organised and motivated in this derby match and chances were rare. We were very unfortunate in the end of the first half. Referee awarded a very harsh penalty for a foul that Darren Sidoel didn’t actually make and Jens Toornstra scored from penalty. It was difficult for us to break Feyenoord defense in the second half, but after 70 minutes of football things changed. Glaring error by Feyenoord’s Leandro Bacuna allowed Ugur Sezgin to break through, but our striker made a poor shot. Fortunately Justin Kluivert was first to rebound and equalized. Ten minutes later we had a great counter and Sezgin created a very good chance for Dejan Meleg, but Kenneth Vermeer saved his shot. Some poor defending by Dragisa Gudelj allowed Feyenoord a clear cut chance in 89’, but Jeffrey de Lange managed to make a save a shot from point blank range. So, despite this unfair penalty teams were pretty equal and 1:1 looked like a fair result in the end. good shooting (17/10), although our shots were rather weak in times we defended well most of the time and won 83% of our tackles 10.05.2020 - FC Groningen - Ajax 2:3 (ED) - 21. Mathias Honsak, 45.+1 Juninho Bacuna - 7. Ugur Sezgin, 82. and 89. Justin Kluivert - we got two clear cut chances in the first ten minutes. Ugur Sezgin scored from the first, but sent the other well wide. And when Mathias Honsak equalized (wonderful dribble from our left, fooling both Gudelj and Bakboord on his way and beating de Lange with a fierce shot) the game switched to FC Groningen. Our opponents looked like they found their confidence again and we couldn’t create anything. And when in injury time Bacuna header found the net, we were in trouble. In second half I switched to higher defensive line and more intensive pressing and it paid dividends in the end. Justin Kluivert scored two goals in the last ten minutes and that broke FC Groningen. I wasn’t happy with our performance, especially about two conceded goals, but I’m happy to finish our season with a win and come-back in such a manner. good passing and ball possession was a positive from this match we actually defended rather well and didn’t allow any clear cut chances, but lost too many headers inside our own box and that put us in trouble; we also allowed FC Groningen to dribble too freely inside our half So, the league season is over. Two games in May were mixed affairs once again and I can’t remember when we last kept a clean sheet. Defensive troubles are evident at the moment and I’m really happy that it’s May, not August. I contributed in this mess by choosing line-ups so that number of starts and games would even out between players and no outfield player should start more than 40 games in this season. Considering that, we did quite well in the end. European club football season ended with Champions League final where Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea beat SLB convincingly 4:0. I convinced board to invest additional £2,7m to upgrade youth facilities to keep them in best possible condition. Eredivisie NEC Nijmegen was relegated, but SC Cambuur and Willem II Tilburg kept their place in Eredivisie after fairly convincing (I might say) relegation play-offs. PSV had to settle with 3rd place and that is obviously a blow for them. They finally made a decision to appoint interim manager Ruud Brood as their new manager. Wrong decision if you ask my opinion. Ajax goals: Justin Kluivert 16, Dejan Meleg 15, Arkadiusz Milik 14, Ugur Sezgin 14 Ajax assists: Dejan Meleg 16, Justin Kluivert 14, Lucas Andersen 9 Fans Player Of The Season: Nicolai Boilesen Darren Sidoel Francesco Antonucci Goal Of The Season: Ugur Sezgin vs. PEC Zwolle (04.04.2020) Young Player Of The Season: Darren Sidoel
  4. 04.04.2020 - PEC Zwolle - Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 15. and 54. Ugur Sezgin, 73. Amin Younes - Noa Lang and Thulani Serero were injured and Francesco Antonucci suspended after collecting five yellow cards. Navajo Bakboord got his chance in central defense. Lasse Schöne started in midfield and I continued to trust Ugur Sezgin up front - rightfully so. After our first goal (which was, again, a cross from right to near post where Sezgin timed his run very well) both teams had the best chances from set pieces. Lasse Schöne’s error in our box went unpunished and Zwolle’s clear cut chance was blocked by Bakboord in the last moment. In the end of the first half Sezgin’s shot hit the post, but we had to settle with narrow 1-0 lead for half-time break. Our young striker scored a long shot though in the second half to add to his tally and that was a truly wonderful shot - from 20 meters to top corner, unstoppable for any goalkeeper. That was easily the most beautiful goal in this season so far and broke Zwolle’s resistance. Substitute Amin Younes added our third goal and showed that maybe I should trust him on the left flank instead of Justin Kluivert. that win clinched the title for us - 4 match days before the end of the season despite winning comfortably, we made a huge number of individual mistakes (23), Nicolai Boilesen contributed 7 into this number, despite having otherwise good game 08.04.2020 - MVV Maastricht - Ajax 1:2 (ED) - 63. Chelton Mühl - 14. Amin Younes, 79. Carel Eiting Interesting to see what MVV has become, after being taken over and having some cash for new players in January. They’ve had a mixed set of results and sit safely in the middle of league table, perhaps a sign that things move slowly in the right direction. Neither Serero or Lang were fit enough to start this match. Francesco Antonucci served his suspension and was back in the squad, though. I feel it was a poor match from us, although stats looked solid in the end and we won. But we lacked creativity throughout all ninety minutes and couldn’t create enough chances. We took the lead in the first half, from the only clear cut chance of the match. Good dribble and cross by Kluivert and Amin Younes was at the right place on the right time. MVV looked dangerous from set pieces and from their corner came equalizer. Our loaned out player Chelton Mühl scored his 10th goal of the season for MVV. We answered from a corner of our own - Carel Eiting scored his first goal of the season and that proved to be a winner. Unconvincing game, no outstanding individual performances as well, but win is a win. 11.04.2020 - Ajax - FC Utrecht 3:2 (ED) - 11. Arkadiusz Milik, 24. and 75. Dejan Meleg - 48. Sean Klaiber, 72. Stef Nijland - maintaining concentration and motivation for the remaining games is the biggest challenge now. Thulani Serero returned to this mini-rivalry against FC Utrecht. We started very well - Lucas Andersen gave a great pass between defenders and Arkadiusz Milik scored a good goal to start with. FC Utrecht started to attack more and they got a good number of corners, but we scored another goal and went to half-time with comfortable 2:0 lead. I told my team to avoid complacency, but first part of the second half saw our defense crumbling. Sean Klaiber scored a quick goal - Dragisa Gudelj missed his tackle on the left flank and Nathan Leyder forgot to track back his man from midfield. Deyovaisio Zeefuik then completely missed his header in the box and gifted Stef Nijland another goal. And so FC Utrecht equalized from two behind. Our central defensive partnership of Bakboord and Zeefuik looked in all sorts of trouble and I was afraid of the worst, but then Dejan Meleg showed what kind of footballer he is. First he got a penalty, after Calvin Verdonk tripped him in the box in 73’, but his poor spot kick was saved by Sergio Padt. He made amends a minute later though, heading in a cross by Gudelj and scoring a winner. good first half followed by poor second half, so I can’t be happy with the performance despite our win Lucas Andersen was the man of the match, pulling all strings from midfield our defense has been so poor only perhaps against Vitesse this season, and I had serious talks with both Bakboord and Zeefuik about their performance in this match 18.04. Ajax - sc Heerenveen 2:2 (ED) - 6. Amin Younes, 34. Arkadiusz Milik - 5. and 81. Jürgen Locadia - Noa Lang returned from injury and we’re finally back in full fitness for this game. sc Heerenveen have plenty to play for - they’re holding 2nd place in the table and win against us would give them great advantage over following contenders. And they came out attacking well. Their first chance was well saved by Jeffrey de Lange, but then Locadia scored just a minute later. Boilesen made unfortunate tackle while defending free kick situation and ball went to Jürgen Locadia who had an easy goal. We reacted well - just another minute later Amin Younes scored from narrow angle and equalized. Jeffrey de Lange had to save us from trouble again in 26’ - Ricardo van Rhijn lost Bobby Adekanye on his wing, but our goalkeeper showed his class. Arkadiusz Milik had a great chance two minutes later, but his header clipped the bar and went over. He nevertheless put us in front after sc Heerenveen defense was completely cut open by Francesco Antonucci’s clever pass that left our Polish striker with a simple finish into empty goal. So half time came with 2:1 lead. I wasn’t happy about our performance - we had 60% of possession in the first half, but conceded three clear cut chances and our defense looked very error-prone. In fact, we were lucky to be ahead after defending so poorly. While first half was all fireworks from both sides, sc Heerenveen reorganised their defense and 2nd half was a bit less attractive football and both teams defended better. But we couldn’t avoid conceding another goal - Jürgen Locadia scored from corner in 81’ to split points between two teams. Francesco Antonucci lost a header against him, but to be honest, the Italian playmaker has never been very impressive in the air. we played good attacking football, with Francesco Antonucci and Amin Younes being the creative force very poor defending in the first half and two goals conceded from set-pieces - that’s where our problems lied in this game and I can’t be happy with that April has been OK month as a whole and I’m happy to secure Eredivisie title so early. Results have gone to our way, mostly, but our defense has crumbled. Not sure why - perhaps too much rotation, perhaps we’re too relaxed after clinching the title. Either way we’re not convincing defensively and have conceded 5 goals in 4 games. Eredivisie sc Heerenveen look like they can switch their 3rd place from previous season for 2nd place this time. PSV are looking better, but 2nd place looks too far away for them. In the bottom of the table NEC couldn’t improve their form and are relegated. Willem II Tilburg look set for relegation play-offs. April ended with a shock in Dutch Cup final - Go Ahead Eagles trashed Feyenoord 4:1 and topped their great season with Dutch Cup win. A wonderful achievement for such a small club. It was not at all due to favorable draw - after beating us in semi-finals and winning against Feyenoord in such a convincing manner there’s no doubt that this victory is very well deserved. Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 15, Arkadiusz Milik 14, Justin Kluivert 13, Ugur Sezgin 13 Ajax assists: Dejan Meleg 16, Justin Kluivert 13, Lucas Andersen 9
  5. March youth intake was an average one. We've got one very good striker prospect - an area where we have plenty of young talent already. Remember - Ugur Sezgin is only 20 years old, we have Thokozani Mpengesi on loan at FC Twente and he's developed very well there, Dodi Hamzah is 17 years old and scored 7 goals for Sparta Rotterdam this season, and 17 years old Melvin Jongeling is coming up from our own U-19. With our single-striker formation, that's a plenty. And now there's another. Not that I'm complaining In addition to that, another average striker, ball-winning midfielder (who is a curious one, because we don't have too many players suitable for that role) and right-back (another position which is very well covered with youth talent already). I would have liked a left-back or a winger, but that has to wait, anyway. I signed only players with 2* or better potential so that I'm not crowding my U-19 team with useless deadwood, and started to turn more attention to coach reports about player personality and hidden attributes (such as consistency). Sieme Plat Best talent of this year draft. Decent in most areas, fairly determined by nature and very young - has a full year to develop before he can be offered professional contract. Good work rate and teamwork are always a big plus in my eyes, but few of the less frequent traits too - possesses decent free kicks and his off the ball movement is very good for such a young player. Let's see what comes of him in the next seasons.
  6. 03.03.2020 - Go Ahead Eagles - Ajax 2:1 (Dutch Cup Semi Final) - 53. Jeroen Lumu, 73. Denni Graafland - 40. Navajo Bakboord - it was the rare failure in this football season from our team. Go Ahead had a fantastic season so far, truly Leicester-like. Predicted to be relegated by media, they’re sitting in 3rd position in Eredivise and now stunned us to reach Dutch Cup final. Can’t get too much better than that for this small team. But to the game. Mike van der Hoorn and Dragisa Gudelj were back in training, but I didn’t use them in starting line-up. Yes, we missed our midfield players in Serero and Lang and Arkadiusz Milik was also not yet fit. But that’s no excuse. We should have win this game comfortably, but instead struggled to keep midfield under control and we lacked creativity. Go Ahead were well prepared for the match, they played 4-4-2 with very well chosen striker partnership and we were carved open a couple of times in defense. We went to half-time with unconvincing 1-0 lead, after Navajo Bakboord headed in Lasse Schöne’s free kick. It was a great time to score and good set piece goal when chances from open play were scarce, but Go Ahead managed to turn things around in second half. They did have some luck with them too - Jeroen Lumu’s cross turned towards goal and surprised Jeffrey de Lange, so their first goal was a total fluke. Then cross from our right took a deflection and fell onto feet of Dennis Graafland who anticipated it very well and scored from open position. We struggled to create chances and the closest we got was Lasse Schöne’s long shot that bounced back from post. Motivation and determination was there, but that was not good enough and, despite letting my anger show after game in our dressing room, I have to admit that it probably was more of a manager’s loss than players’. I lacked solid options from the bench to make a difference. Lucas Andersen went in for Francesco Antonucci, but couldn’t make a difference and all other midfield or attacking players were either not fit or too young and inexperience. our defense was awful and central defenders were 2-3 times completely outplayed by Go Ahead strikers lack of chances, we couldn’t get the last pass through and Dejan Meleg was completely invisible on our right flank 07.03.2020 - Ajax - NEC Nijmegen 3:0 (ED) - 26. Ugur Sezgin, 45. Thulani Serero, 86. Francesco Antonucci - morale was low after cup final loss, and we took this win over struggling NEC without much enjoyment, although work was done efficiently in the end. Good news from physioroom say that Thulani Serero, Noa Lang and Arkadiusz Milik were fit again and I gave them all a little bit of playing time here, but tried to keep them fresh for more important Napoli fixtures. We lacked creativity, but compensated with efficiency and took 2-0 lead before half-time. Thulani Serero returned from injury with a goal, but unfortunately suffered another trauma after a rough challenge and I had to take him out in the 2nd half. Bruised shin leaves him out of the first Napoli match. NEC got their best chances in around 83’. Mike van der Hoorn made an error that allowed Kristjan Emilsson 1-1 against Jeffrey de Lange, but our goalkeeper made a great save. Following corner gave NEC another chance, but Dragisa Gudelj’ block and the second good save by de Lange kept our clean sheet. Three minutes later Francesco Antonucci made it 3-0 after a technical lob over NEC goalkeeper and that was the game. Lack of creativity was the main struggle during this game - we only gave 18 key passes. We were a lot shorter and lighter than NEC players and that cost us in aerial challenges. But we compensated with quite good finishing and used very well those opportunities that we got. 12.03.2020 - Napoli - Ajax 0:0 (Europa League 2nd knockout round 1st leg) - we returned from Napoli with a goalless draw. Couldn’t score away goal, but did well to avoid conceding and that keeps our hopes up for the home game. Both teams had good chances in the first 15 minutes and, with Mike van der Hoorn missing, we struggled winning headers against Mario Mandzukic who is a real handful in the air. Napoli were more attacking in the first half, but we defended well and they couldn’t find too good chances. After the break Arkadiusz Milik hit the bar - unlucky not to get a goal - and after Mandzukic was taken off, Napoli lost the edge in their attack. We got a great opportunity in the end of the match, when referee awarded a very questionably penalty. Ugur Sezgin took the most of the situation and Alex Telles couldn’t believe that was called a foul. But Lasse Schöne took extremely poor penalty, blasted it right in the middle and Pepe Reina had no problems making a save. Real shame because that was a golden opportunity to take 1-0 away win from this first leg. Still, nothing’s lost yet, but some things to note down - we played well as a team, but lost a lot of challenges both in the air and on the ground, making too many individual mistakes (21). And if we want to succeed against such teams, we have to use our chances better in the second leg. The main problem is that Jeffrey de Lange suffered strained neck in this match and while he could finish this game, he will have to skip league game against Vitesse and rematch against Napoli. 15.03.2020 - Ajax - Vitesse Arnhem 0:3 (ED) - 4. Luciano Slagveer, 24. Clyde Drenthe, 58. David Moberg-Karlsson - with Jeffrey de Lange injured, I had to recall Joe van der Sar from loan. He had a solid season so far in PEC Zwolle, but now made his debut for Ajax. Between two Napoli games I rotated most of the squad and second choice player got their chance. Unfortunately, this combined with unconvincing goalkeeping by debutant van der Sar resulted in a disastrous 0:3 defeat in our own home. We didn’t play extremely poor, but made some costly errors in defense and, while I’m used to that de Lange could make a brilliant save or two in any game, van der Sar couldn’t make any significant contributions, so virtually any solid opportunity for Vitesse resulted in a goal. On the other end, we lacked creativity and despite hitting framework twice (Gudelj and Kluivert) we couldn’t break Vitesse defensive line open and didn’t get any clear cut chances during whole ninety minutes. Overall, an extremely frustrating match and I let the lads exactly know where the shortcomings were. Deyovaisio Zeefuik and Justin Kluivert were rightfully pointed out as the most underperforming players. 19.03.2020 - Ajax - Napoli 1:1 (Europa League 2nd knockout round 2nd leg) - 73. Dejan Meleg - 46. Andrea Belotti - Nathan Leyder and Noa Lang were back from injury before this match, but Jeffrey de Lange was still out, so van der Sar had to put on the gloves again. This time more successfully. We controlled the game in the first half, having 69% of possession, but Napoli played good counter-attacking football and so we had to be careful in defense. First half gave neither side any clear cut chances, but after 2nd half kick-off Napoli scored very quickly. It was a simple goal and almost set-piece like - goal kick by Pepe Reina was headed forward in midfield, ball went between defenders and we were too slow to react - Belotti used his chance excellently and van der Sar can’t be blamed for that one. We continued to control midfield, but after Dejan Meleg equalized, we still needed another goal. Justin Kluivert got our best chance in 79’, but sent his shot well wide and that was a decisive miss. 1:1 final score gave Napoli advantage because of away goal rule. we had 60% of possession and I’m pleased with overall performance, but finishing let us down we have to be more clinical in continental games like this - we missed penalty in the first match and now Kluivert’s missed ccc did cost us dearly, that was the difference between two teams in the end Nicolai Boilesen was the man of the match - defending well and contributing a lot to attack on our left flank Thulani Serero twisted his ankle in this game, again - his previous similar injury was just in February - and will be out for another 3 weeks; veteran Lasse Schöne have had a lot of games in previous weeks in central midfield, he and Noa Lang will have more starts in the next matches as well 22.03.2020 - Go Ahead Eagles - Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 4. and 19. Ugur Sezgin - Jeffrey de Lange was back in goal, Noa Lang starts in midfield and Amin Younes went to right flank. We scored two very similar goals in the first half - Darren Sidoel’s cross found Ugur Sezgin at the near post, where single striker should be, and two of his good shots gave us a healthy lead that we maintained until the end. Our second half football was less impressive - substitute Lasse Schöne didn’t impress and we couldn’t add to scoreline. Noa Lang twisted HIS ankle in the end of the first half and will be out for the next 3 weeks; it’s like a bad dream with him and Thulani Serero about ankles our shooting was accurate (11/7) and that gave us advantage over our opponents Lasse Schöne was a disappointment in the 2nd half - too many individual mistakes and not enough good passes March in review was a poor month. We won some games, but failed where it mattered - against Napoli in Europe and in a cup semi-finals. That’s not good enough. To top it off with embarrassing 0:3 defeat against Vitesse, that shows where somewhat out of sync at the moment. We’ve had troubles scoring, namely Justin Kluivert hasn’t contributed a lot lately and it shows in our results. Eredivisie Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 13, Justin Kluivert 13, Arkadiusz Milik 12, Ugur Sezgin 11 Ajax assists: Dejan Meleg 14, Justin Kluivert 11, Lucas Andersen 8
  7. 02.02.2020 - AZ Alkmaar - Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 26. Guus Hupperts - 13. Nathan Leyder - players to watch for me in this game were Francesco Antonucci and, of course, Navajo Bakboord. His first chance of many to impress as centre-back. We took the lead from free kick - Meleg’s cross found Nathan Leyder at the far post and defensive midfielder scored his first ever goal for Ajax. We were unable to add goal, despite good chances to Kluivert and Milik. Instead, we allowed AZ to equalize after some passive defending by Boilesen. It was the first and only chance our opponents got from the game and we were a little bit disappointed to finish first half 1-1, as we looked like a better team. Thulani Serero got the best chance, but his header from point blank range hit the bar and Leyder’s shot from the edge of the area bounced back from crossbar too. Unfortunately, in the second half our performance dropped. We didn’t allow any chances, but couldn’t create anything either. AZ defended well and played for a draw and our substitutions Sezgin and Schöne couldn’t change this in attack. We never managed to put AZ under real pressure in the second half and so had to settle with a draw. From players to watch, Antonucci had a good solid game in midfield, while Navajo Bakboord finished his game with poor 6.4 rating. No defensive errors from him, but he was a little bit passive defensively. + we actually created enough chances in the first half to win this game - finishing should have been better - drab game and lack of creativity in the second half 05.02.2020 - Helmond Sport - Ajax 1:3 (Dutch Cup Quarter Final) - 73. Jafar Arias - 50. Noa Lang, 90. Deyovaisio Zeefuik, 90.+3 Amin Younes - we were poor against John Heitinga’s Helmond Sport, but managed to scrape it in the end. First half was extremely disappointing. Dejan Meleg’s free kick in the beginning of the match hit crossbar and that was the closest that we got to a goal. The rest of the half was just poor passing and lack of creativity. Helmond looked in contest all the time and put up a good fight for a Jupiler League side. After Noa Lang scored, I hoped we could scrape it 1-0 despite playing poorly, but that wasn’t going to happen. Helmond got their best chance in 73’ - too passive defense by Nicolai Boilesen allowed Arias an open shot. He hit the post, but made amends with rebound. In the end experience saved us. Substitute Lasse Schöne took two great set pieces and laid goals for Zeefuik (from corner) and in injury time to Amin Younes (from free kick). Although that made final score respectable enough, I’m not too pleased with what I saw on the pitch. + a win, I guess + Lasse Schöne showed that experience matters in this kind of situations + man of the match performance by Noa Lang - poor performance in midfield, lack of creativity and good chances - Ugur Sezgin was completely invisible despite playing full 90 minutes 09.02.2020 - Ajax - FC Twente 2:2 (ED) - 7. Thulani Serero, 27. Arkadiusz Milik - 24. Thokozani Mpengesi, 90. Niclas Füllkrüg - we dropped points against FC Twente in the first match between our teams, after conceding a late goal. And we did it again in Amsterdam Arena. We scored a quick goal, but allowed FC Twente to equalize from corner - our own loaned player Thokozani Mpengesi came with a powerful header to surprise Navajo Bakboord. But Arkadiusz Milik quickly scored from great cross by Justin Kluivert and it looked like we’re in control of the match. But then we just didn’t have enough luck - first Milik’s header clipped the bar on its way over. Then Thulani Serero’s long shot rattled crossbar and Amin Younes made a good dribble, but his shot hit the post. All this was topped, of course, with FC Twente goal in the last minute. Navajo Bakboord (him again!) was too slow to stop Füllkrug turning around in the box and his shot was too good for Jeffrey de Lange. Disappointing result, but I feel that we performed well on the pitch and tactics were right, just a little bit unfortunate this time around. + good attacking football on display + man of the match performance by Lucas Andersen - late equalizer - poor shooting accuracy (20/6) - finishing should be more clinical - Navajo Bakboord was the weakest link of our defense, again 12.02.2020 - SC Cambuur - Ajax 1:3 (ED) - 84. Lars Veldwijk - 44. and 49. Dejan Meleg, 90.+1 Navajo Bakboord - the first half consisted a lot of midfield battles and our players suffered from it - first Thulani Serero and then Noa Lang suffered twisted ankles in this match. It was a pretty standard match against smaller team in away stadium. We had more possession, but not too many chances. Dejan Meleg got the best of them and in the end of the first half his shot found it’s way to the net. Justin Kluivert’s cross for the assist, again. We got the penalty in the end of the half too, after Thulani Serero was pushed by Mitch Apau in SC Cambuur box, but Meleg hit it against the post. He made amends with a fierce shot in 49’ to extend our lead, and despite conceding a late goal from experienced Lars Veldwijk, we finished the game with another goal - this time from corner. It was Navajo Bakboord’s first ever goal for Ajax - a great moment for him, surely. + good possession (62%) and attacking football + man of the match performance by Dejan Meleg - Noa Lang and Thulani Serero are both sidelined for 3 weeks with twisted ankles - too many lost headers inside our own box, that finally cost us this conceded goal 15.02.2020 - Ajax - Sparta Rotterdam 3:0 (ED) - 3. Lucas Andersen, 9. and 47. Arkadiusz Milik - an easy and confident win over smaller Sparta Rotterdam side. Europa League games are approaching and with no pressure in the league, I chose to rest Deyovaisio Zeefuik, Ricardo van Rhijn and Dejan Meleg. With both Thulani Serero and Noa Lang injured Lasse Schöne moved to midfield. Nathan Leyder took a place in central defense. We scored two goals inside the first ten minutes and Sparta never recovered from that. But we had a lot more chances than that. Justin Kluivert wasted two great scoring opportunities and Nathan Leyder hit the post from open position. But the second goal from Milik (after a great cross from left by Justin Kluivert) ended the game and we eased up on the pressure after that. Navajo Bakboord got sent off in 89’ after receiving his second yellow card in this match and I’m not happy about that. He had a very good game until that point - he won headers and made a lot of great interceptions. But this stupid red card leaves him out of the next match against PSV Eindhoven. + good attacking game and plenty of chances + clean sheet + man of the match performance by Arkadiusz Milik - shooting accuracy could be improved (21/8) and we didn’t use our chances as well as we should have - needless red card to Navajo Bakboord 20.02.2020 - Ajax - CSKA Moscow 3:0 (Europa League 1st knockout round 1st leg) - 20. Igor Akinfeev (og), 53. and 65. Justin Kluivert - it looked like evenly contested match on paper, so I sent out our most experienced players against CSKA. Our main target was to keep the clean sheet, but to score a goal or two would be most helpful. We were helped by a little bit of luck with our first goal - Nicolai Boilesen’s cross from left took a deflection from defenders and went towards goal. Akinfeev managed to save it, but not without moving over goal line with ball in his hands. 1-0. Couple of minutes after that goal Jeffrey de Lange was forced to make a great save to parry a good long shot, but that was the closest CSKA got to a goal. We had a lot of chances around 30 minute mark, but a string of great saves by Akinfeev kept CSKA in the game, but in the 2nd half we finally turned our superiority into goals. Justin Kluivert scored first after a great ball by Lucas Andersen and then added another goal after fooling a defender inside CSKA box, turning quickly around him and coolly sending it into the net. 3-0 is a great score to take from first leg and it makes us a lot more optimistic about progressing into the next round. + we created a good amount of chances + very important clean sheet in home game because of away goals rule + man of the match performance by Justin Kluivert - Arkadiusz Milik picked up a knock and will be out for 2 weeks with twisted knee 23.02.2020 - Ajax - PSV Eindhoven 0:0 (ED) - we had to settled with a goalless draw against PSV Eindhoven, but that’s okay. I have to acknowledge the fact that with Serero, Lang and Milik injured and Navajo Bakboord suspended, we were a little bit weaker. I brought young fullback Raymond Bouwhuis from Jong Ajax and midfielder Pieter Stekelenburg from U-19 team to bolster our ranks and fill the bench. PSV were weakened too. Their first team defender Nicolas Isimat-Mirin was suspended and they sold both Mickey van der Hart and Adam Maher in January for a rather small fee, so I anticipated a win, but we fell a bit short. We were better team in both first and second half, but didn’t manage to set up any clear cut chances and eventually couldn’t score, despite having a number of shots and creating more opportunities. The game was very physical - PSV’s Joel Campbell was forced off with concussion, but Nathan Leyder, Dragisa Gudelj and Amin Younes all picked up a knock from our side. + we did OK in midfield and had more shots on goal + very good defense and clean sheet + man of the match performance by Dragisa Gudelj (although none of the players did remarkably well) - casualties were high in this match - Nathan Leyder will be out for 3-4 weeks with back strain, Amin Younes is sidelined for 2 weeks with damaged foot and Dragisa Gudelj damaged his heel and will return in around a week, but all of them will miss our 2nd leg game against CSKA Moscow 27.02.2020 - CSKA Moscow - Ajax 1:2 (Europa League 1st knockout round 2nd leg) - 8. pen. Vasily Berezutskiy - 77. Justin Kluivert, 86. Dejan Meleg - with all the injuries suffered in PSV game, we were for the first time this season truly out of depth. I brought up 17 years old striker Melvin Jongeling from U-19 team to fill the bench, but we still went to this game with only 6 substitutes. Conditions were what you’d expect from Russia in February: -9 degrees temperature with snowy pitch. We had our first chance already around 3’ mark, but Igor Akinfeev showed once again that he’s a superb keeper, blocking Meleg’s shot with his feet from close range. CSKA took the lead after a very questionable penalty. Carel Eiting supposedly had his foot high in our box, but that was nowhere near opponent face and so the decision was harsh. Despite conceding early penalty we continued to create better goalscoring chances from open play. But despite having 3 clear-cut chances inside the first half, we went to the break with one goal deficit. It got better in the second half - our better creativity finally brought goals, first by Kluivert and then by Meleg. Both men still needed two chances to finally score - their first shots were blocked by superb Akinfeev - but that gave us a good comeback in this match and 5:1 aggregate win over CSKA. Youngster Jongeling was subbed in and got his chance in 85’, but nerves got better of him and he sent his shot wide of goal. That’s the learning experience, I suppose. + very good come-back after being behind for most of the match + amount of chances created - we got altogether 6 ccc-s + man of the match performance by Nicolai Boilesen - we really should have finish better and the score could have been a lot more comfortable - Carel Eiting, despite not being really guilty in this penalty situation, didn’t really recover from this and made too many errors February has been a difficult month with a lot of games, but we can be pleased with how it’s been going for us. Our league title is almost secure, we’re in Dutch Cup semi finals and we’ve beaten CSKA convincingly to progress further from our initial target in Europa League. Next opponent is Napoli and it would be a little bit more difficult, I suppose. I’ve settled Francesco Antonucci and Darren Sidoel, who are now content with amount of first team football. I’ve successfully convinced Justin Kluivert to sack his pain in the ass agent and extended his contract until 2023 after that. And with all that I managed to give young Pieter Stekelenburg and Melvin Jongeling their first taste of first team football. Eredivisie http://i.imgur.com/RM492Pm.png[/img] PSV are still down in the table, but difference in points is decreasing and I’m confident that they’ll be up there in 2nd place for the end of the season. NEC’s troubles are increasing and they’re main candidates for relegation. SC Cambuur management got a little bit too nervous about their position in the table and so their manager Henk de Jong was sacked towards the end of the month. Ajax goals: Justin Kluivert 13, Dejan Meleg 12, Arkadiusz Milik 12 Ajax assists: Dejan Meleg 14, Justin Kluivert 10, Lucas Andersen 8
  8. The end of the year brought the first managerial casualties. NEC’s Wim Koevermans got sacked (no wonder, as they’re bottom of the table). I believe I forgot to mention that PSV’s Philip Cocu accepted job offer from AS Roma. PSV finally brought in Ruud Brood as interim manager, but are still looking for Cocu’s successor and that mess with managers is probably contributing a lot to PSV’s poor season. MVV Maastricht takeover by some Taiwanese tycoon means that they’re the club to watch for the coming seasons. Rumors say that this gentleman from Asia is willing to invest as much as £97m into his new football club, so it might see MVV raise to very strong club in Eredivisie. January transfer window started with loan moves. Jelmer Koning (DR) went to Go Ahead Eagles (who are still continuing their amazing season). Sven Keller (GK) went to Jupiler League side RKC until the end of the season and Donny Geerts (DC) moved to FC Emmen for the next months. Hein Yilmaz (DC) went on loan to Jupiler League leaders Excelsior. It was more difficult with Frenkie de Jong. Midfield playmaker asked for more playing time and we agreed that loan move would be good option for him, but finding a decent team that would offer good playing time was a challenge. He joined Swedish club Malmö FF until Summer. I feel I’ve been rotating A LOT throughout the first half of the season, but still some of the players are looking for more playing time. Darren Sidoel, Nathan Leyder, Francesco Antonucci and Ugur Sezgin have all been more or less complaining and I’ve reluctantly agreed to start them more, but I sense trouble as I’ve got several player pairings who are equally good on their roles and, with Kluivert and Younes back in match fitness, sharing playing time won’t be easy task. Even 18 years old Dirk van Grinsven, who’s been very involved in first team considering his age and lack of experience, thoughts he needs to get more playing time. I guess I have to loan some of them out for the next 6 months in order to keep morale high. Some movement in backroom staff too - our U-19 coach John Heitinga accepted job offer from Helmond Sport to become their new manager and I didn’t stand in his way. He’s a decent coach, but not irreplaceable and he could become good manager. We’ll lock horns already this season in Dutch Cup Quarter Final. His position in U-19 bench will remain vacant for a while. We don’t need a new coach right away and it’s always nice to have a position to offer to some of our own veterans (Lasse Schöne in two years time, perhaps). 25.01.2020 - Willem II Tilburg - Ajax 1:4 (ED) - 15. Deyovaisio Zeefuik (og) - 14. Mike van der Hoorn, 26. Francesco Antonucci, 38. Arkadiusz Milik, 89. Noa Lang - Willem II suffered heavy 7:0 defeat when we last met in August and they couldn’t put up resistance this time either. We missed Thulani Serero for this match, because he was still recovering from his damaged heel, but he’ll be good for the next match. We put our top gear in from the kick-off and first ten minutes were real fireworks, unfortunately, without goal. First young Francesco Antonucci got a clear cut chance after five minutes of football, but hit side netting. Then Arkadiusz Milik hit crossbar from good position and Justin Kluivert wasted his chance to score, sending weak shot right to goalkeeper’s hands. We finally scored from free kick, and from all of the players it was Mike van der Hoorn who scored his first goal of the season. But we conceded a quick goal right after scoring. Poor defensive cooperation led to clear cut chance. Jeffrey de Lange did brilliantly to get a hand to Giovanni Sio’s close range shot, but ball bounced awkwardly against Deyovaisio Zeefuik and went into our goal. No worries, as we quickly resumed our lead - Francesco Antonucci finally scored from his third chance in this match, and after Milik’s goal our lead was safe. Noa Lang completed scoring in the end of the match. There was a hint of luck in his goal, as the ball took deflection from defenders before beating goalkeeper, but what makes it remarkable is the fact that it was only our first long shot goal in this league season. That shows how patient we usually are with our attack and, to be honest we don’t really have too many players with decent long shot attribute. + good creativity in attack and five clear cut chances + passing and crossing stats were great (over 80% and 30% respectively) + man of the match performance by Dejan Meleg - yes, he does a lot better in AMR role - finishing could have been better, we wasted three clear cut chances - clumsy own goal - Nicolai Boilesen will be suspended for the next match after collecting his fifth yellow card 29.01.2015 - Ajax - NAC Breda 3:0 (ED) - 21. and 38. Ugur Sezgin, 61. Dejan Meleg - Thulani Serero was back with the squad. Ugur Sezgin and Carel Eiting replaced Milik and Leyder respectively. I’m planning to watch more carefully the performances of those players who demand more playing time (Sezgin in this case), and, of course, we’ve got three players on loan at NAC (Azor Matusiwa, Daan van Thiel and Rayan El Azrak) and it’s interesting to see how they do against us. It was the game when crosses did the damage against NAC and all of our goals came from crosses. Ugur Sezgin scored two goals in the first half, one assist by Kluivert and other by Meleg. And while his chances weren’t the best, his finishing in those situations was excellent. NAC Breda got their best chance from free kick - Mike van der Hoorn missed his header and ball reached to Tavares Lopes, who managed to send it into side netting from open position. After Dejan Meleg’s goal in the second half (another good cross by Kluivert) it was over. Very confident win and good way to start our second half of the season with two good matches in January. + good attacking creativity and shooting (23/12) + good crossing that made the difference (again over 30% crosses made their target) + man of the match performance by Ugur Sezgin - Mike van der Hoorn was injured in this match and he’ll be sidelined with fractured ribs for 4-5 weeks - Dragisa Gudelj picked up his 5th yellow card, so while Boilesen sat out that game, Gudelj will miss the next one Dirk van Grinsven went on loan to Celta until the end of the season and I almost agreed to send Navajo Bakboord to FC Nantes, but van der Hoorn injury means that he’ll have whole February to prove himself with our starting line-up, so he’ll stay put. Eredivisie http://i.imgur.com/nzrbS5Q.png[/img] Ajax goals: Justin Kluivert 10, Arkadiusz Milik 9, Dejan Meleg 9, Ugur Sezgin 8 Ajax assists: Dejan Meleg 12, Dirk van Grinsven 9, Justin Kluivert 8
  9. 04.12.2019 - sc Heerenveen - Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 42. and 66. Francesco Antonucci, 87. Dejan Meleg - let’s face it - most of Eredivisie teams are not fit enough to compete in multiple levels. sc Heerenveen is one of them - they looked completely tired and no wonder that we won comfortably. I experimented with attack, sending Lucas Andersen in as AMR and putting Francesco Antonucci to his place in midfield, and it paid dividends, as the young Italian scored twice. Dejan Meleg added another goal in the end of the match and so we had a convincing 3:0 win. + good shooting (20/10) + good possession (58%) - shows how well we controlled it + man of the match performance by Francesco Antonucci 07.12.2019 - Ajax - ADO Den Haag 3:0 (ED) - 11. and 72. Dirk van Grinsven, 37. Arkadiusz Milik - ADO suffered the same kind of exhaustion after their Europa League match as sc Heerenveen did in our previous game. I’ve starting to hear some complains about playing time, so I’ve promised Darren Sidoel more starts and he was in line-up for this game. Noa Lang and Dirk van Grinsven also started. The first goal was a curious one - Arkadiusz Milik blocked a clearance by ADO defender and ball fell to Dirk van Grinsven’s feet. Young winger didn’t hesitate and scored a good goal to start this match. Dejan Meleg hit the bar from corner around 34’ and few minutes later, Arkadiusz Milik scored his goal - good pressure, interception of the pass and dribble into the box followed by very good finish. ADO had their best chances in the second half, around 60’, when Jeffrey de Lange had to make two good saves, but Dirk van Grinsven’s second goal of the game put things to bed for that time. + clean sheet - this time I’d put it to good goalkeeping rather than defense; we didn’t allow any clear cut chances, but ADO had some very good shots from unlikely positions and de Lange made a good job to save those + good amount of chances created and good shooting (16/9) + man of the match performance by Dirk van Grinsven 11.12.2019 - Ajax - Basel 1:0 (Champions League Group Stage) - 60. Deyovaisio Zeefuik - we needed to secure our third place in the group and win or a draw in this game was enough to do that. I used our best eleven to face Basel and only Amin Younes and Justin Kluivert were absent because of injuries. The first half was really drab and didn’t offer much to the fans. Both teams defended well, but couldn’t create almost anything in attack. After half-time break it changed a little. First we gifted Basel a clear cut chance, but Elias Kuchunga sent the ball wide. We looked the most dangerous from set pieces and Deyovaisio Zeefuik scored a header from corner. We then had a chance to increase our lead, when Dejan Meleg and Lasse Schöne created a good free kick combination to play Arkadiusz Milik completely open, but our best striker somehow managed to miss his shot. We got game well under control from there and didn’t allow Basel any opportunities. Substitute Noa Lang got a great chance in the final minute of the match, but his close range shot was blocked by Basel goalkeeper Marvit Hitz. So we settled with 1:0 win. I’m satisfied with result, but not performance. Good defense and poor attack were enough to scrape it and give us 3rd place in the group. + good defense and clean sheet + man of the match performance by Deyovaisio Zeefuik + we looked dangerous from set pieces and scored a goal from corner - we weren’t creative in attack and our attacking players failed to impress; finishing wasn’t much better either - both our clear cut chances were missed 14.12.2019 - Ajax - FC Groningen 1:1 (ED) - 54. Dirk van Grinsven - 52. Juninho Bacuna - we have two home games in a row against FC Groningen and, considering our strong league position, the cup game is probably more important, so I rotated more for this match. Darren Sidoel, Dragisa Gudelj, Navajo Bakboord and Dirk van Grinsven started while first team players were rested after midweek Champions League game. The first half was poor football - neither side got anything going and our best chance came in 8’ from a counter, but van Grinsven’s shot was saved. We took the lead in 54’, when Dejan Meleg’s cross was headed in by Dirk van Grinsven. Rare header from our winger who can’t neither jump or head the ball correctly. Despite defending well from open play, we conceded an equalizer from corner - Thulani Serero lost his header against Bacuna and so we had to split points with FC Groningen, although we dominated the play in the last 30 minutes. + good shooting accuracy - our shots were saved, but at least they were on target + man of the match performance by Darren Sidoel - no clear cut chances and lack of good goalscoring opportunities - conceded goal from corner - again we’re hurt by set pieces 17.12.2019 - Ajax - FC Groningen 1:1 (Dutch Cup 4th round) - 15. Thulani Serero - 33. Sheraldo Becker - a little bit better performance from our team didn’t show on score sheet. 120 minutes of football ended with a penalty shoot-out that we won confidently. We dominated the first 15 minutes and topped it with a goal. Arkadiusz Milik gave a good pass behind defense and Thulani Serero sent it into the net. FC Groningen picked themselves up after the goal and game evened out. Sheraldo Becker equalized with a shot from the edge of the area that surprised everyone. We had a great chance to end first half with a goal - Dejan Meleg got into open position after great counter-attack, but FC Groningen goalkeeper made a brilliant save. After break the game evened out. We perhaps wanted it more and both goalkeepers had to make some good saves, but no clear cut chances. The same continued in extra time - despite attacking more, we weren’t able to score and FC Groningen defended really well as unit. Penalty shoot-out went relatively easy. First Charlison Benschop hit the bar, but Arkadiusz Milik’s poor penalty was easily saved. Then Jeffrey de Lange made two good saves in a row and we confidently won the shoot-out 3-1. Nice to progress, but performance was not too convincing. + we were more attacking side; we made more shots and half of them were on target; great goalkeeping saved FC Groningen in certain moments - we lost possession battle in midfield - too many fouls (27) Dutch Cup Quarter Final takes us against Helmond Sport. It’s a favourable draw - although many strong Eredivisie teams have been knocked out, other members of the big three (Feyenoord and PSV) are still in the mix. Good start to the month were a bit overshadowed by games against FC Groningen. Those two matches showed that our attack can be shut down and Groningen deserve credit for that. Nevertheless - we secured 3rd place in our Champions League group (our opponents in Europa League knockout stages are CSKA Moscow) and our league position looks very secure to say the least. The month ended with positive news from physios - both Justin Kluivert and Amin Younes are back in training and probably fit for the next matches in January. I need them back, because I’ve been forced to play Dejan Meleg in AML and his performances have dropped considerably. I firmly believe he’s more efficient as AMR, so I can make this work now after mid-season break. I don’t expect much from January transfer window. There is minor interest about some of my players (Milik, Andersen, Meleg), but I can’t really see that any of those clubs would be willing to bid what I want for them (£15m+) and I’m not accepting less. All bids in a range below £5m for my youngsters (Sidoel, Gudelj, Leyder, Eiting, Antonucci) I’ve dismissed without thinking. Decisions were made about few of the youngsters. Azor Matusiwa (DMC) and Rayan Yilmaz (AML) earned themselves contract extensions. Matusiwa especially has had a good season with NAC Breda. On the other side Anderson Lopez (ST currently at FC Twente) and Nicky Gaddum (AMC in Jong Ajax) got permission to search for new club for the next season. I also wanted to offer Justin Kluivert a new contract, but his agent was a ***** and after just two talks dismissed our offer. I have to keep in mind asking him to drop this greedy agent. Eredivisie Ajax goals: Justin Kluivert 10, Arkadiusz Milik 8, Dejan Meleg 8 Ajax assists: Dejan Meleg 9, Dirk van Grinsven 8, Justin Kluivert 6, Lucas Andersen 6
  10. 03.11.2019 - Ajax - Go Ahead Eagles 3:0 (ED) - 5. Ugur Sezgin, 11. Dejan Meleg, 37. Justin Kluivert - Go Ahead Eagles are having a wonderful season, they’re almost Leicester City of this Eredivisie season. Promoted two seasons ago and retaining their place in top division only through relegation play-offs in Spring, they’ve now 2nd in the table and could find themselves in top position, if only they could beat us in Amsterdam Arena. But they couldn’t. And fairytale took a big hit in the hands of our weakened team (I’m preparing for upcoming Juventus match and again used rotation players). Their loss was contributed by the fact that their squad looked tired after long cup match that went to extra time, but that’s the true test of any contender - squad depth and physical ability to play more than one match in a week. Long story short - we controlled first half completely and game was won before half-time. We didn’t create too many chances, but finishing was excellent and Go Ahead looked vulnerable to through balls behind defensive line, that we exploited very well. We eased our pressure in 2nd half, but our opponents never posed a real threat to our goal and so this 3:0 win felt like a walk in a park. + good and clinical finishing + clean sheet + man of the match performance by Ugur Sezgin - Justin Kluivert picked up a knock (broken toe) and will be out until January; that’s unfortunate because I have to change my gameplan against Juventus because of that 06.11.2019 - Ajax - Juventus 0:3 (Champions League Group Stage) - 16. Paulo Dybala, 41. Memphis Depay, 75. Claudio Marchisio - we tried… and we lost. Because of Kluivert injury we started with Lasse Schöne in AMR position and perhaps that was our first mistake, because we gave away attack on the right wing (van Rhijn couldn’t rise as often as he’s used to in Eredivisie) and Dejan Meleg was effectively shut down on the left. We actually defended well and didn’t allow Juventus to have too many good chances, but we conceded the first and the third goal from corners and that was the real problem - set pieces should have been our strength, not theirs, and to concede two from corners is almost criminal. Should have know this, though, because they scored one in previous game as well. Memphis scored his goal after missed interception by Mike van der Hoorn, so there it was again - individual errors and set piece goals were the difference between two teams. We played our best football in the beginning of the second half. I took off Lucas Andersen, switched Schöne to midfield and put youngster van Grinsven on the right flank and we instantly started to attack more, play good transitions from defense to attack and pose a threat to Juventus. Unfortunately, we always missed the last pass or clinical finishing and couldn’t score in the end. Our best chance came from corner in the 81’, but both van Grinsven and van der Hoorn saw their shots blocked in the last minute and so we were defeated in front of home fans. + period in the beginning of the second half when we actually played a very good football - two conceded goals from corners is something we should’ve avoided - defensive work as a whole didn’t impress (too passive!) - poor shooting (11/2), mostly because Juventus defended so well and always managed to block our shots in the last possible moment 09.11.2019 - FC Utrecht - Ajax 1:0 (ED) - 84. pen. Urby Emanuelson - few tired legs after Juventus game and difficult choices of selecting our first eleven for this match. 5-3-2 that FC Utrecht plays has been difficult to us in the past, but in the last match against them we controlled the game comfortably, so I went with our regular 4-1-2-3. Nathan Leyder hit the bar with his shot from outside of the area, but I didn’t know it then that it would be the closest we got to a goal in this game. The first half was honestly the worst 45 minutes of Eredivisie football I’ve seen from my team in a long time. We couldn’t mark their wing-backs well enough and were ripped open several times by good counter-attacks. 16’ brought a questionable defense from the referee. Good counter by FC Utrecht ended when Mike van der Hoorn brought down Reda Bouitam in the box. It looked like a clear penalty and a red card, because van der Hoorn was the last man, but whistle was silent and we dodged that bullet. Ten minutes later Jeffrey de Lange made a good save to parry another clear cut chance and in 35’ Stef van Nijland hit the post. We gave away 5 clear cut chances in those first 45 minutes and were really really lucky to go to half-time with 0-0 scoreline. Second half didn’t change too much. Jeffrey de Lange made a wonderful save to block Pele van Anholt’s shots from two meters. I was starting to feel happy just to held a goalless draw, but another questionable decision of the referee decided the match. Penalty was given against Darren Sidoel for the high foot inside our box - a very harsh decision, so that spot-kick gave us the first defeat of the season in the league. I didn’t held myself back and slammed the referee openly in my after match comments. FA remained silent, because video evidence was clear and they had no arguments. + we were able to get most of possession (yes, I had difficulties finding positives against this match) - extremely leaky defense and six clear cut chances that we gave to FC Utrecht - late conceded goal - probably the worst first half performance by the team that I’ve ever witnessed 23.11.2019 - Ajax - PEC Zwolle 1:0 (ED) - 14. Laurent Depoitre (og) - after the loss our mood in dressing room was a bit grim and I selected our team carefully. PEC Zwolle is a newly-promoted team, but they sit in the middle of Eredivisie table quite comfortably and play perhaps a little bit above their actual abilities. On the other hand, we should be able to win them comfortably and I needed my key players rested against AS Monaco three days later - if we want to get anything out of our Champions League season, this will be a must win game for us. We started well and first clear cut chance came in the first minute, but Dejan Meleg hit the post. Laurent Depoitre tackled ball after Zwolle goalkeeper dropped it and unluckily for him put it into his own goal. We attacked well and created chances (5 clear cut chances in the first half), but just couldn’t score. Dejan Meleg, Ugur Sezgin and Dirk van Grinsven all were wasteful. On the other side of the pitch, we looked error-prone too - Zwolle got their first opportunity in the end of the first half, but this shot went well wide. In the end of the match they’ve got another chance that was easily saved by Jeffrey de Lange. We applied good pressure on Zwolle defense, but our inability to break through got me increasingly furious. 1-0 lead is always a little bit shaky and we should have performed better in front of our home fans. Despite our poor finishing we kept a clean sheet and Laurent Depoitre’s own goal gave us 1-0 win. First win of the season when I’m not at all happy with performance. We couldn’t score despite having six clear-cut chances and hitting frames of the goal three times. Ugur Sezgin and Dejan Meleg missed their chances and Dirk van Grinsven looked invisible on the right flank. Giving away two clear cut chances against a team like Zwolle is not a good defense either. + I guess I can be pleased with three points + we applied good attacking pressure and had 25 shots + man of the match performance by Darren Sidoel - he contributed well to attack and his crosses were accurate - poor finishing from open positions - errors in defense that allowed Zwolle clear cut chances 26.11.2019 - AS Monaco - Ajax 3:1 (Champions League Group Stage) - 7., 10. and 55. Stephan El Shaarawy - 71. Dirk van Grinsven - we needed to win this game to keep our dream of 2nd place alive, but failed miserably and were undone by El Shaarawy’s hat-trick. He quickly scored his first goal and added another from good counter. Our defense looked unable to defend in 1-1 situations against very skilled Monaco players and it was evident in 3rd goal situation - our defensive line were completely ripped apart by good one-touch passes and that proved we’re just not good enough yet. Our best moments of the match came around 70’ mark. First Dejan Meleg hit the bar from clear cut chance. A minute later our good counter attack ended with a goal by young Dirk van Grinsven. But that was a poor consolation, as we were defeated convincingly. + we weren’t poor in any statistical department - passed okay, tackled okay, kept mistakes at decent level and created two clear cut chances - our defenders were unable to stop skilled opponents in 1-1 situations, were a bit hesitant and made some wrong decisions that ultimately cost us those three conceded goals 30.11.2019 - Ajax - Feyenoord Rotterdam 1:0 (ED) - 69. Arkadiusz Milik - Feyenoord’s weak spot ahead of this match was their fullbacks. Leandro Bacuna was suspended and they didn’t have adequate cover, so I hoped to exploit that. We took game under our control in the middle of the first half and put Feyenoord under pressure from 30’, but couldn’t find a goal and half-time ended 0-0. I replaced Dragisa Gudelj with Nicolai Boilesen after first half because Gudelj looked poor, missed tackles and picked up an early yellow card. 2nd half went on pretty much the same - we had possession, moved ball around Feyenoord box and looking for clinical pass or chance to find goal. Finally it came - Andersen’s cross found Arkadiusz Milik in front of the goal and Polish striker made it 1-0. Feyenoord then had to take more risks and Milik got another good opportunities to extend our lead, but was unable to beat Kenneth Vermeer in Feyenoord goal. Noa Lang had a good shot from corner around 84’, but that too fell to Vermeer. So 1-0 it was - the scoreline doesn’t exactly reflect how comfortable we looked on the pitch, but three points nevertheless. + good possession football (59%) + good defense and a clean sheet - we didn’t give Feyenoord any real chances + man of the match performance by Lucas Andersen November was a rather poor month for us. One good result (a win over Feyenoord) is not good enough to make up league game loss against FC Utrecht, poor performance against PEC Zwolle and lack of quality in continental games. The latter is the most disappointing, because it’s clear that we still are where we have been for the last few years - better than 4th seed teams, but way off from knockout stages. Eredivisie The league table is quite satisfying. We lost against FC Utrecht, but it didn’t affect our position much and I’m always happy to see PSV Eindhoven struggling. We did beat overachieving Go Ahead this month, but all other contenders for top three places have dropped points here or there during previous weeks, so we slowly are pulling away from the rest of the pack Ajax goals: Justin Kluivert 10, Arkadiusz Milik 7, Dejan Meleg 7 Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 8, Dejan Meleg 7, Justin Kluivert 6
  11. 01.10.2019 - Basel - Ajax 0:1 (Champions League Group Stage) - 26. Deyovaisio Zeefuik - we got Basel in our Champions League group for the second season in a row. We won both games last year, but this time Basel proved to be a lot tougher opponent, at least in away game. We struggled to retain possession and Basel looked like they start to get control of the match in the first half. Our best opportunity came in 19’, when Amin Younes reached first to lose ball in front of goal, but his shot was saved. But then, in 26’ a corner took an awkward bounce from defender inside the area and Deyovaisio Zeefuik put it into the empty net. In the second half both teams defended well, goalscoring chances were very limited and attackers from both sides found themselves constantly in offside position. No more goals and Zeefuik’s first goal of the season gave us valuable three points into the table. + good defense and clean sheet + man of the match performance by Dragisa Gudelj 06.10.2019 - PSV Eindhoven - Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 27. Deyovaisio Zeefuik, 33. Lucas Andersen - our match against Basel took place on Tuesday. PSV played their Europa League game on Thursday. For this Topper Derby on Sunday their team looked really tired, while we were in full fitness (that’s what good rotation does!). In addition they missed Valeri Qazaishvili due to injury and Adam Maher was also some way away from full fitness. So I really liked our chances despite it being away match. PSV got the first good chance from counter in the first half, but Jeffrey de Lange came out from goal very well and blocked the shot with his body. Few minutes later Deyovaisio Zeefuik scored a header from indirect free kick (his 2nd goal in consecutive matches) and then Lucas Andersen scored from good counter to extend our lead. PSV looked a bit stunned and we almost scored our 3rd goal - Justin Kluivert got a great pass behind defenders, his chip from long range did beat Mickey van der Hart in PSV goal, but hit the post (another shot against framework!). In 2nd half we tried to concentrate on defending and avoid complacency. PSV tried really hard to find a way to a goal, but our defensive display at times looked really impressive and so they never really got any clear cut chances. A bit dull 45 minutes from our side, because we didn’t attempt to take too many risks and couldn’t create any good counters too, but I’m still very happy with 2:0 away win over PSV. + great defensive performance and clean sheet against very tough opponent + man of the match performance by Deyovaisio Zeefuik - our crossing didn’t work and our wingers were essentially shut down by PSV full-backs International window in October brought Thokozani Mpengesi his first cap for South African national team. Francesco Antonucci returned from Italy U-21 with an injury - pulled hamstring keeps him out of the game for around 3 weeks. 19.10.2019 - Ajax - NEC Nijmegen 3:1 (ED) - 9. Justin Kluivert, 19. Thulani Serero, 28. Ugur Sezgin - 18. Giovanni Korte - with tough Juventus match coming, I rested Ricardo van Rhijn and Arkadiusz Milik. Darren Sidoel and Ugur Sezgin started instead of them. NEC came against us perhaps with too attacking and careless tactics. At least we were able to make quick transitions from defense to attack and find gaps between their defensive line. Thulani Serero waste our first good counter, but Justin Kluivert finished another one with a goal. We conceded a most stupid goal I’ve seen in this season - Mike van der Hoorn intercepted and dribbled back towards our goal, allowing ball a little bit too far from his feet and, with Korte coming to apply pressure on him, Jeffrey de Lange came out from his line and made some sort of desperate tackle on van der Hoorn, which resulted (of course) ball landing exactly on Korte’s feet and it was an easy goal into empty net from there. Fortunately we picked ourselves up quickly - Thulani Serero raided into box and fired it in just a minute later and Ugur Sezgin made 3:1 to secure us all three points. + man of the match performance by Dejan Meleg - stupid goal to concede - central defenders van der Hoorn and Zeefuik didn’t look the most convincing; they often lost Giovanni Korte, giving him too much space and didn’t mark properly 22.10.2019 - Juventus - Ajax 2:0 (Champions League Group Stage) - 68. Samir Nasri, 89. Daniele Rugani - I tried more structured, wide and counter-attacking tactics against Juventus. At least in away game we had nothing to lose and concentrating on defense looked like a wise decision. The most remarkable moment of the first half was Thulani Serero’s foul in our box that referee missed completely and so we escaped an early penalty. That helped us contain Juventus for the first 45 minutes and, although our attacks were easily fended off by Juventus defense, we didn’t allow any clear cut chances either and went to half-time break with 0-0 scoreline. We held on exactly until 68’ - Samir Nasri got an opportunity inside our box and he made it 1-0. Just before the end of the match Daniele Rugani added another goal from corner. Justin Kluivert had an opportunity to score in the end, too, but his half-chance was saved by Juventus goalkeeper. Tough loss to take. We didn’t play poorly and players gave their best on the pitch, but we gave two chances and conceded two goals. That’s how it is in Champions League against the best clubs in Europe. You can’t give up any chances and you have to take all opportunities you have yourself. Now we have two weeks to figure out, what to change before rematch in Amsterdam Arena. + good defense until first goal - too many fouls (21) - Navajo Bakboord wasn’t convincing in the defense - Amin Younes was hacked down in the end of the first half and he’ll be out with broken ankle for the next 2-3 months 26.10.2019 - Vitesse Arnhem - Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 43. Sheran Yeini - 18. Arkadiusz Milik - a few one-by-one conversations had to be made before this match. I explained to Arkadiusz Milik and Mike van der Hoorn what was expected of them and that they’ve been dropping below par lately. They haven’t been poor, but in my young team, as players of their age and stature they need to set example to youngsters, hence the bigger expectations. But for the match - I sent out our usual eleven and ´we took the lead in 18th minute. Justin Kluivert gave a great cross and Milik’s shot from the area found the net. Ten minutes later Kluivert himself got a great chance to extend our lead, but his shot from point blank range somehow hit the goalkeeper. We were punished in the end of first half by Vitesse free kick. Lucas Andersen missed his interception and allowed Ibarra a great chance. Jeffrey de Lange was able to parry, but Sheran Yeini was first to rebound and put it in. Very disappointing to concede from set piece (again) and in the end of the first half. We searched for the winner most of the 2nd half, but couldn’t create any good chances, despite having most of the possession and putting real pressure on Vitesse for the last 10 minutes of the game. I’m disappointed with this draw, because we were the better team and there were a lot of “what if”-s in this game - Kluivert’s missed chance in one end and cheap set piece goal in the other. But that’s football. Our consolation is that PSV were defeated at home by Feyenoord. + we had most of possession and we were more attacking side - too many offsides - another game in which we dropped points because poor defense in set piece situations 29.10.2019 - Ajax - FC Eindhoven 2:0 (Dutch Cup 3rd round) - 26. Frenkie de Jong, 57. Deyovaisio Zeefuik - I sent out weakened team against FC Eindhoven and experimenting a little bit, putting Frenkie de Jong in the role of CMa, instead of APa in midfield. It resulted in the first goal, because of his presence in the box he was able to get first to loose ball and so he scored his first ever goal for Ajax. Deyovaisio Zeefuik added another goal from corner in the 2nd half and so, despite failing to score more, we took easy win against Jupiler League side. + good control of the match and 64% of possession + clean sheet + man of the match performance by Darren Sidoel - not enough decisiveness in attacking phase - we had 33 shots, but too many of them were too ambitious and only 10 went on target; we didn’t create any clear cut chances, despite attacking most of the game A little bit mixed month, that October. We took a very good win over PSV in away game and got our first points on board in Champions League, but failed to convert our plucky performance into points against Juventus and failed to win against Vitesse. So, I can be satisfied - we’ve done OK, although not reaching our full potential. What I’m happy about is my rotation system and fitness of the team. Francesco Antonucci returned from injury in the end of the month and, aside of Amin Younes, players are fit and everybody have got enough playing time to progress in training, gain match fitness and be motivated and confident when in starting eleven. Eredivisie Go Ahead Eagles have had a fantastic start of the season. Relegation candidates have almost secured their stay in Eredivisie for the next season and have stunned many of the big teams in progress. In the bottom of the table NAC Breda haven’t won a single game with one third of the season played. Ajax goals: Justin Kluivert 9, Dejan Meleg 6, Arkadiusz Milik 6 Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 8, Justin Kluivert 6, Dejan Meleg 6
  12. 14.09.2019 - Ajax - SC Cambuur 3:0 (ED) - 23. Noa Lang, 25. Justin Kluivert, 48. Dejan Meleg - SC Cambuur looked like a solid top-half team 3-4 seasons ago, but they’ve declined in recent years and were no match against us in Amsterdam Arena. I rested some key players before upcoming Champions League game and we missed Nicolai Boilesen who hurt his heel again in international game and hat to sit out this game. Things started to happen between 20-30 minutes in first half. We went from defense to attack very well and first good counter ended with a shot against post, taken by Dejan Meleg. Three minutes later another counter found Noa Lang in the box - his first shot was parried by goalkeeper, but Lang himself was first to rebound and scored his first league goal for Ajax!. Two minutes later Justin Kluivert added another goal and Cambuur looked like they gave up after that. Meleg scored his goal in the 2nd half and 3:0 marked a convincing win. + good midfield performance and 59% of possession + 5 clear cut-chances created + man of the match performance by Justin Kluivert 18.09.2019 - Ajax - AS Monaco 0:1 (Champions League Group Stage) - 28. Luan - we were drawn against Juventus, AS Monaco and Basel in group stage. That home game against Monaco was a must-win match if we wanted to progress from this group. We knew that and we were well prepared for this game. Key men were rested and fit, so I had no excuses about that loss. We had initiative for most of the first half. Our best chances came from corners, but we couldn’t find a first goal. Instead, AS Monaco found a goal from pretty much their first attack - Luan got a head to cross from our left flank - it wasn’t even a good chance, but his header was too good for de Lange. We continued to fight in the 2nd half, but Monaco defended well and we we couldn’t convert our possession into clear cut chances and goals. In 53’ Lucas Andersen headed over from 6 yard box, and that was our best opportunity. AS Monaco defender Niklas Süle was sent off with straight red card in 88’, after he brought down Ugur Sezgin and stopped our promising attack, but it didn’t leave us enough time to use our advantage in numbers. Disappointing defeat and that hits our ambitions of progression hard, early in the group stage. + we played disciplined game in defense and didn’t allow any real chances - key players failed to deliver - Mike van der Hoorn, Dejan Meleg and Arkadiusz Milik all failed to deliver - too many individual mistakes (23) 21.09.2019 - Sparta Rotterdam - Ajax 1:2 (ED) - 12. Mitchell te Vrede - 42. Amin Younes, 61. Arkadiusz Milik - Champions League matches are tough on legs, so I rotated some players to allow some rest and have opportunity to players who are fresh. Navajo Bakboord started in defense, Francesco Antonucci in midfield and Amin Younes replaced Meleg on the right wing. It looks like key players were out, but I had complete trust for all 22 players and had no doubt that they could win against Sparta. But we conceded a first goal and it was one of the new guys to make a mistake - Bakboord missed his interception of cross and Mitchell te Vrede had an easy goal from close range. We were determined to turn things around and chances started to come - in 23’ Arkadiusz Milik’s shot hit the bar, ball bounced in front of the goal few times and was then hacked away by defenders. Milik got another clear cut chance in 38’, but this time he sent it wide. New starter Amin Younes was finally the one to equalize, after great cross from left by Justin Kluivert. 1:1 was a lot better scoreline at half-time than 0:1 and I prepared the squad for the 2nd half. Milik’s shot in 61’ found his way into the net and 2:1 was good enough to secure three points. Sparta started to take more risks in final 30 minutes and that left gaps behind their defensive line. We got good counters and one of those ended with a cross into box, where Ugur Sezgin took a shot. Unfortunately the ball bounced from one post against the other and then away from goal. I couldn’t believe it didn’t went in! We have hit A LOT of shots against framework in those first games of the season and this match wasn’t any different. Still, a good three points after conceding first goal and I’m happy with a come-back. + good possession (57%) and overall midfield performance + man of the match performance by Amin Younes + good amount of chances created - poor shooting accuracy (21/6) - Navajo Bakboord’s mistake that allowed Sparta goal 24.09.2019 - vv Haaglandia - Ajax 0:10 (Dutch Cup 2nd round) - 6. Yassine Belghar (og), 12., 33. and 60. pen. Amin Younes, 13. Dirk van Grinsven, 28., 54. and 67. Ugur Sezgin, 69. and 89. Justin Kluivert - early stages of Dutch Cup are usually a goalfest and this time we really slammed poor Haaglandia down, despite fielding a team full of substitutes and youngsters. Amin Younes were great against Sparta and continued his goalscoring form with hat-trick in this match, Ugur Sezgin added another three goals and substitute Justin Kluivert managed to score two in the 2nd half. But man of the match was young winger Dirk van Grinsven, who scored only one goal, but laid 7 (seven!) assists. That’s a new Dutch Cup record! + confident performance throughout the match, good defending and confident shooting + man of the match performance by Dirk van Grinsven 30.09.2019 - Ajax - MVV Maastricht 4:1 (ED) - 30. pen. Justin Kluivert, 38. Ugur Sezgin, 41. Dirk van Grinsven, 74. Lasse Schöne - 26. Guyon Fernandez - with another Champions League game coming up, I took a deep look at MVV and found out they were poor team destined to relegation. They won Jupiler League two seasons ago and finished 13th last year, but haven’t made smart transfers and are struggling to find consistency and their defense leaks goals from left and right. So I decided to go on with my youngsters and give star players another day off. Another good news were that Frenkie de Jong has finally recovered from injury and he started on the bench. Seconds after kick-off I realized I’ve sent out very inexperienced team - only Nicolai Boilesen was older than 21 years and this inexperience almost cost us. We got good chances early on, but Sezgin and Kluivert slammed their shots against MVV goalkeeper. Then the punishment came - long ball over defense. Navajo Bakboord missed his header completely, Guyon Fernandez went 1-1 against de Lange and chipped it in from 22 meters - nice goal, but I was furious about this kind of rookie mistake by Bakboord. Luckily for the team, they picked themselves up fairly quickly. Dirk van Grinsven was tripped in the box and Kluivert equalized from the spot. Second goal was a curious one - Noa Lang’s deep cross went dangerously towards goal, MVV keeper got his hand on from just under the bar, but Ugur Sezgin picked it up and fired it into the empty net for a goal. And after van Grinsven had volleyed in Kluivert’s cross, we could relax a bit. In second half we continued to attack, but also continued to struggle with finishing. Plenty of creativity and good chances, but poor shooting. Actually, shooting accuracy was OK, but we just couldn’t get the ball past goalkeeper. Substitute Lasse Schöne headed in our fourth goal and so the game ended with 4:1 scoreline. + good shooting accuracy (21/15) + 9 clear cut chances + man of the match performance by Nicolai Boilesen - poor finishing - despite getting shots on target, we should have scored more from those chances we got - conceded goal marked the 2nd costly error by Navajo Bakboord this month; it’s getting difficult to trust him in defense Overall I’m happy with the month - we look extremely strong defensively and goals are coming from every corner of the pitch. Only this loss against AS Monaco reminds us our inability to show similar performances in Champions League Eredivisie Ajax goals: Justin Kluivert 8, Dejan Meleg 6, Arkadiusz Milik 5 Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 8, Justin Kluivert 5
  13. Wingers Dejan Meleg Our best goalscorer from previous season signed a new contract in this September that keeps him in Ajax until 2023. Gets a lot of goals and assists. Usually takes our free kicks and corners too. Dirk van Grinsven The youngest member of this 22-men squad. Bursting speed and acceleration and good crossing make this 18 years old right winger a great prospect Justin Kluivert Still a little bit inconsistent, but gets plenty of goals nevertheless. Although it feels like he's been around for a while now, he's only just 20 years old. Amin Younes Playing time on the left wing is divided between Kluivert and Younes. Younes is contributing less in defense, but is a very good dribbler and has ability to beat his opponents with unexpected moves. Strikers Arkadiusz Milik Injury messed up his last season and it took a while for him to get his confidence back, but Milik's goalscoring form has returned for now and he's probably the best striker in Eredivisie Ugur Sezgin Probably wants a little bit more playing time, but this young man has plenty of time do develop. Great talent and professional mindset.
  14. Midfielders Carel Eiting Young defensive midfielder enjoyed first team status last season, but this year he has to fight harder for game time. Nathan Leyder Spent last season in French club AJ Auxerre. Very versatile controlling midfielder - good work rate, quickness and teamwork. Thulani Serero Noa Lang I've become to trust this box-to-box midfielder in last season and he'll get more playing time next to Serero. Lucas Andersen Lucas Andersen had to step up after Abdelhak Nouri left in January, and he's done well enough. Very creative attacking playmaker. Great first touch and technique Francesco Antonucci Returned from a season long loan in Getafe. Only 20 years old, but probably the most skillful player in the team - great first touch, dribbling and agility. Frenkie de Jong Spent last year on loan at Belenenses, but the beginning of this season was marred by injury and he's found himself behind Andersen and Antonucci. Lasse Schöne Experienced Dane has been a great servant in previous seasons, but age is starting to get to him and his playing time diminishes. The oldest player of the squad. Still a great tutor though, and very useful with set pieces.
  15. After John Heitinga retired and Andre Onana left, with bunch of players coming back on loan, I've selected 22 players four our first team this season. Goalkeepers Jeffrey de Lange Our only goalkeeper in the squad. Sven Keller from Jong Ajax is ready to replace him if necessary, but I'll use my 7 bench places for outfield players this season. Was a substitute player last year, but first choice keeper this season - that's a big step, but he's done OK so far. Defenders Ricardo van Rhijn Team captain's last season was disrupted by injury, but he's back to fitness and ready to command our defensive line. Darren Sidoel Very talented right-back. Mike van der Hoorn The most experienced of our central defenders. Now on the verge of Holland national team - he got his first invitation, but was unable to earn his first cap just yet. Deyovaisio Zeefuik Navajo Bakboord Solid 3rd choice after van der Hoorn and Zeefuik. Spent last season in Sparta Rotterdam, being a key defender there. Nicolai Boilesen Dragisa Gudelj Very good competition with Boilesen for left-back position. Very good anticipation and decisions and it show on the pitch. A bit less attacking than the Dane, though.