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  1. October 2039 01.10.2039 - AFC Ajax - sc Heerenveen 3:1 (ED) - 3. Jelle Sandler, 18. Peter Lemmens, 85. Stan Knol - 81. Dennis Obafemi The last game before the international break was at home against sc Heerenveen. Our opponents were doing really well - predicted to finish 7th before the season, but they’re right up there at the top of the table and their 4-4-2 formation looks like a really good team. Good news for us is that Clyde Sastrodimedjo was finally fully fit and started on the bench. Squad: Gluhalic, Sandler, Plat, Deyl (75. Visser), Lichaba, Mithat Arabaci, Vormer (59. Sastrodimedjo), Sener Arslan, Lemmens, van Dalen, Jansen (71. Knol) We started really well and Jelle Sandler turned out to be the man of the moment in 3’ - the right-back took the ball into sc Heerenveen box, skipped past the challenge of the defender and sent it next to the far post for a real striker’s finish. What a move from a defender! Wow! Peter Lemmens added another goal in 18’ and we were in control of the game after the first 20 minutes. sc Heerenveen got their best chance of the first half in 29’ when Leslie Lichaba missed the run of Dave de Mos, but the shot landed in the side-netting and so that mistake went unpunished. We were leading 2:0 at half time and things looked good enough. We had 59% possession in the first half and we used our chances well. Our second half performance was really good, too, but sc Heerenveen goalkeeper made some brilliant saves to parry Peter Lemmens’ clear cut chance and then stop Mithat Arabaci strike from 20 meters. And as we couldn’t find another goal, sc Heerenveen managed to get it in 81’ - the only good attack from them in the second half - the ball fell to Dennis Obafemi, who struck it well enough to beat Ismet Gluhalic. 2:1 and things looked nervous for a while, but then Stan Knol stunned everybody with a bicycle kick four minutes later - what a goal from the substitute and that secured the result as well. It was a good result and solid win for us, with two great goals to celebrate. our shooting was 22/7 in this game we picked up 6 yellow cards - not sure that all of those were deserved Player of the game: Jelle Sandler - the right-back scored one goal and assisted Knol’s bicycle kick 14.10.2039 - FC Utrecht - AFC Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 16. Robert Visser (og) - 82. Johan van Dalen After the international break we resumed our campaign with a trip to Utrecht, and because it was away game, it was a much tougher challenge. FC Utrecht were predicted to finish 3rd in the league, but their season has started rather poorly and their form has been inconsistent. Nevertheless, they have a good squad and we have to be careful against them. Two weeks without football have allowed us to work with player fitness and Fred Koeman was back in light training, but young defender Lamin Plat picked up double hernia while he was away with U-21 national team and he’ll be out of action at least until December. That’s a big loss, but at least we’ve got good cover for the DC position. Squad: Gluhalic, Sandler, Deyl, Visser, Lichana, Mithat Arabaci (75. Eingin Ari), Vormer, Sener Arslan, Lemmens (69. Veldman), van Dalen, Jansen (61. Knol) We conceded a very unfortunate own goal in 16’. Robert Visser went for an interception, but the ball deflected from him and went into the goal. That was a real gift for FC Utrecht. The rest of the first half was fairly even and both teams had some half-chances, but couldn’t find another goal. Their lead gave FC Utrecht some confidence, though, and we had the tough challenge of finding an equalizer in the second half. It looked like we gave FC Utrecht too much space on wings and their wingers exploited those spaces and had room to give crosses to our box. Because of that I decided to change tactics in the first half - wider formation and full-backs to FBs orders. That improved our defense, but limited our attack at the same time. Robert Visser’s missed interception almost gave a goal to FC Utrecht, but Ismet Gluhalic did brilliantly to save Marco van Heusden’s shot and although we hadn’t created much opportunities in the second half, Johan van Dalen’s goal in 82’ proved to be enough to get at least one point out of this otherwise poor game. We left with 1:1 score and I was rather relieved, because to be honest FC Utrecht played really well and we did not. we made 23 individual mistakes, missed interceptions and allowed runs to FC Utrecht players Player of the game: Sener Arslan After this game our Jong Ajax manager Andrea Polesano accepted the managerial position in Serie B team Frosinone, so we have another staff vacancy that I have to fill. 19.10.2039 - AFC Ajax - Olympiakos SF Pireaus 0:0 (Champions League Group E) To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect from Olympiakos, but we knew that if we win this game, we’re through from the group with only three games played, and the home game in Amsterdam looked like a good opportunity to go for a win. We practiced attacking set pieces before the game. Olympiakos came against us with their 4-2-3-1 formation. Both Lamin Plat and Fred Koeman were still unavailable for the game, but the rest of the first team looked ready. Squad: Gluhalic, Sandler, Deyl, Hendriks, Lichaba, Engin ARi, Vormer (70. Sastrodimedjo), Sener Arslan, Lemmens (84. Veldman), van Dalen, Jansen (59. Knol) We had a good first half and managed to create some chances, too, but our finishing failed us at those moments. Johan van Dalen sent his shot wide in 13’ when it was easier to score and his second clear cut chance in 26’ was saved. His nervousness in front of goal was evident and I only hoped that it wouldn’t cost us too much in this game. For the second half Olympiakos changed their tactics to unorthodox 4-1-3-1-1, and while it didn’t bother us too much, we failed to create good goalscoring opportunities in the śecond half. Despite our constant pressure we couldn’t break their defense and had to settle with a goalless draw. That could have been a huge missed opportunity here and I hope that we won’t regret it in the coming weeks. our shooting was 29/11 in this game we had 15 corners and won some good headers in set piece situations, but couldn’t find a goal from those Player of the game: Jelle Sandler 22.10.2039 - Helmond Sport - AFC Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 66. Marc te Boekhorst (og) Just three days later we were in Helmond, playing against local Helmond Sport. The small team was predicted to finish 15th in the league, so it should be fairly easy, but we have to be aware, because all teams could be very good at their own home. Helmond worked hard in Summer with their squad - they made a lot of transfers to rebuild the team and it’s interesting to see our own young goalkeeper Joost Smit between the sticks for them. We had Fred Koeman back in full training, finally, but Rick Hendriks suffered broken ribs in training and he’ll be out for the next 3-4 weeks, so, despite going into the season with four solid centre-backs, we’re now down to only two. Squad: Gluhalic, Sandler (56. Noordhoff), Deyl, Visser, Lichaba, Mithat Arabaci, Vormer, Sener Arslan (72. Meulensteen), Lemmens (10. Veldman), van Dalen, Jansen Injuries this week didn’t stop with Rick Hendriks - in 8’ Peter Lemmens had to come off with a twisted ankle and Stef Veldman went on - another blow to our squad. Johan van Dalen had a clear cut chance in 11’, but he sent his shot well wide (continuing from where he left off against Olympioaos) and Sener Arslan wasted his opportunity two minutes later. Helmond Sport didn’t threaten our goal much in the first half, but in injury time they showed where the danger lies - ex-Ajax defender Steven Otten won a header from IFK situation and that clipped the outside of the post - with some more luck it could have been 1:0 to Helmond. At half time I was getting increasingly frustrated with our missed chances - we controlled midfield and created opportunities, but we also needed to finish those. Helmdon defended deep in the second half and we struggled to find open spaces in their box, but fortunately, they helped us with a goal. Marc te Boekhorst tried to clear the ball, but somehow smashed it right into the top corner and we could celebrate a little unexpected goal. Clive Noordhoff’s lack of concentration gave Helmond’s Issa N’Diaye a clear cut chance in 84’, but his shot went only into the side-netting (again, fortunate for us) and we held onto our narrow lead until the end. We returned from Helmond with three points, but performance wasn’t convincing at all - it looked like motivation was there, but composure wasn’t and our finishing continued to be the main problem. we had 61% possession in this game our shooting was just 16/2 - very difficult to score when you can’t get it on target Player of the game: Erwin Vormer Peter Lemmens’ twisted ankle needs at least 3 weeks to heal, so we have another player out for the next weeks 25.10.2039 - Rijnsburgse Boys - AFC Ajax 0:3 (Dutch Cup 3rd round) - 64. Fred Koeman, 71. Wil van de Laak, 90.+2 Stan Knol For a change, a cup game and against another ammateur team, so we could relax a little and send out rotation players. Fred Koeman was back in the line-up and younger players got match experience. Because of our injuries in DC, young defender Emre Bakker was called up from Jong Ajax. Squad: Florentina, Noordhoff, Deyl, Visser (66. Bekker), Koeman, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Meulensteen (66. Kuijpers), Veldman, van de Laak, Knol Again we struggled to score in the first half, although we had chances. Stan Knol was active enough to find himself open spaces, but his shooting was not too good and shots were mostly saved or blocked. Clyde Sastrodimedjo, too, found himself a clear cut chance in 22’, but that attempt was also blocked, so despite dominating in midfield, we went to half time with 0:0. The second half was slightly better and while Stan Knol struggled to find a goal, Fred Koeman showed him how to finish - the left back moved into the box and sent the ball into the net with a really good strike. That goal released the pressure and soon Wil van de Laak added another one with a simple tap in. In injury time Stan Knol finally found the target and the final score 3:0 looked pretty respectable, despite our goal scoring problems. we had 60% possession our shooting was 29/12 in this game we created 7 clear cut chances (but wasted most of them) we had 8.05 average rating Emre Bakker made his debut for Ajax in the second half Fred Koeman, Elroy Meulensteen and Wil van de Laak stood out with great performances 30.10.2039 - AFC Ajax - FC Volendam 1:1 (ED) - 65. Stef Veldman - 5. pen. Erik Haukvik I hoped that goals we scored in the cup game gave the team some confidence and we could finish our chances better in the next game. The last game in October didn’t look too difficult - home against FC Volendam. I knew that FC Volendam would use their 4-2-2-2 formation with 2 DMC-s in away games and so we should control the midfield, but using our chances was the vital part in this game. Our young playmaker Harvey Odang was on loan at FC Volendam and he was doing fairly well for them, so it’s interesting to see him in action, too. Squad: Gluhalic, Noordhoff (79. Sandler), Deyl, Visser, Koeman, Mithat Arabaci, Sastrodimedjo, Sener Arslan (56. Meulensteen), Veldman, van Dalen (54. van de Laak), Jansen The game started with a controversy when Ifenildo Deyl tripped Nick Coonen in the box and the referee awarded a penalty. FC Volendam took the lead, but replays showed that Coonen indeed fell too easily and could have been in trouble for diving. Harsh decision for us and now we had an uphill task to find at least two goals against deep-defending opponents. That was too difficult indeed - we controlled the midfield in the first half, but lacked creativity and couldn’t create proper goalscoring opportunities. I was really unhappy with the players at half-time and when things didn’t improve, took off Sener Arslan and Johan van Dalen in 54’. That changed things for better, because Elroy Meulensteen offered more from the midfield and chances started to come. Wil van de Laak couldn’t score in 59’ when he had a good opportunity, but Stef Veldman was the man who found an equalizer in 65’ - he took the ball into the box and fired it in from the near post. Veldman had a great chance to win this game for us in 71’, but his shot from close range hit the upright - an unbelievable miss when almost anyone was able to score from there. The final whistle marked 1:1 result and that means we dropped another two points in a relatively easy game. Sure, we could blame the referee for this one, but honestly it was our poor finishing again - our second half opportunities were enough to win this. Player of the game: Stef Veldman After almost perfect September, our form started to decline in October. No reason to panic, but we failed to deliver and our inability to finish from clear cut chances starts to get frustrating. Injuries also disrupt our rhythm and we need to play better as the team to improve things. Eredivisie sc Heerenveen is leading the table, but teams have still played a very different number of games. Feyenoord is just one point behind us and the title race looks wide open at that point. It’s surprising to see AZ Alkmaar in 17th place, but I have no doubts that they could improve their form. That means FC Eindhoven should be increasingly worried about their position, number of points and overall form.
  2. September 2039 11.09.2039 - FC Eindhoven - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 38. Peter Lemmens, 90. Stef Veldman Two weeks of international break have passed and we’re back to Eredivisie action with a trip to Eindhoven. FC Eindhoven are predicted to finish 17th this season and they’ve collected four defeats from their first five games - a small team should be an easy opponent for us, but we have to keep our concentration, because those away games could be tricky, especially after two weeks without games. We also have some players missing - Clyde Sastrodimedjo is still injured, Jelle Sandler serves his suspension for the red card he received in Sparta game and Fred Koeman picked up a double hernia in training - that will keep him out until the end of October. Squad: Florentina, Noordhoff, Plat, Hendriks, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Vormer, Meulensteen (67. Kuijpers), Lemmens (71. Veldman), van Dalen, Jansen (60. Knol) We had initiative in the first half, but lacked creativity. Our only good chance came in 38’ when van Dalen delivered a good cross to Peter Lemmens who scored with a simple tap-in. That goal gave us an advantage, but 1:0 is always a narrow lead that doesn’t guarantee anything, so we tried to score our second goal in the second half, but that was a much bigger challenge than anticipated. Peter Lemmens had a great chance to double his tally in 66’, but his attempt was parried brilliantly by FC Eindhoven goalkeeper. Stan Knol came in and looked hungry for goals, but he too didn’t get his shots on target. It was the last minute of the game when Stef Veldman finally found the net and put the result beyond doubt. 2:0 from away game is a solid result, but the game overall was below our standards and we just lacked creativity. we made just 15 key passes in this game we didn’t allow FC Eindhoven to create any chances we allowed FC Eindhoven players to make 21 dribbles in this game - too many Player of the game: Leslie Lichaba - no standout performers tonight, but the left-back was solid enough to deserve that nomination 14.09.2039 - FC Porto - AFC Ajax - 1:2 (Champions League Group E) - 43. Leonardo Rodriguez - 21. Sener Arslan, 90. Stef Veldman Just three days later we were in Portugal to start our Champions League game. It’s the toughest fixture of the group - away game against FC Porto - and I prepared for it by allowing some key players the day off against FC Eindhoven. Jelle Sandler and Sener Arslan look well rested, but we missed Ifenildo Deyl for this game because he has to serve his suspension for yellow cards from the last season. We practiced defending set pieces before the game and used our Champions League tactics. FC Porto came against us with their 4-4-1-1 (which is too defensive at home, in my opinion). Squad: Gluhalic, Sandler, Visser, Hendriks, Lichaba, Mithat Arabaci (40. Plat), Vormer, Sener Arslan, Lemmens (69. Veldman), van Dalen, Jansen (83. Knol) After a slow start we managed to take the lead in 21’. Sener Arslan received a cross from Leslie Lichaba. His first attempt bounced back from the post, but he finished it off from rebound and we were 1:0 ahead! FC Porto picked themselves up and started to look for the equalizer. Our position got much worse in 40’ when Rick Hendriks received a straight red card. He was the last man in defense and committed a foul to stop Tiago’s run around 40m from our goal. No complaint about the referee decision, but we had to make tactical changes - Mithat Arabaci came off and Lamin Plat went on to replace Hendriks in central defense. That left our midfield too shallow, but what could we do. Porto increased pressure on our goal and their danger man Leonardo Rodriguez started to find chances in our box. His shot in 43’ was well parried by Ismet Gluhalic, who made an excellent reflex save, but Rodriguez finished it off from rebound and the teams went to half time with 1:1 score line. It was good that we took the lead, but FC Porto controlled most of the first half and Hendriks’ red card made our position so fragile that I expected FC Porto to find a winner in the second half. To give Porto some credit - they tried hard in the second half and around 75’ their pressure on our goal increased. Rodriguez got his second clear cut chance in 77’, but Gluhalic made a great save again and kept our hopes alive. Perhaps it was that attacking mentality or something else, but Porto started to leave space behind their lines and we exploited those areas well. It was the last minute of the game when Knol found van Dalen with a great pass forward and van Dalen’s cross got to Stef Veldman at the far post. Veldman’s goal stunned FC Porto stadium and a huge roar rose from our bench. What a moment to score a winner and what a vital win it was from us, in a game like that, with only 10 men. Wonderful determination from the players - I was extremely delighted with that. we allowed FC Porto to make 31 dribbles and made 29 individual mistakes - we can partly blame our numerical disadvantage, but we need to cut those numbers back in the home game Player of the game: Sener Arslan 17.09.2039 - AFC Ajax - MVV Maastricht 2:1 (ED) - 75. pen. Stan Knol, 90.+3 Peter Lemmens - 1. Francesco Luzi Back to Eredivisie just three days later. Our schedule is indeed tough and some players looked tired before the game. We had all players cleared of suspensions, but Fred Koeman was still injured and Clyde Sastrodimedjo only just returned to light training, so two players missing for this game. MVV were predicted to finish 11th, but I expected our home advantage to be enough to win this game. Squad: Florentina, Noordhoff, Deyl, Hendriks, Lichaba, Mithat Arabaci, Vormer, Sener Arslan (59. Kuijpers), Veldman (67. Lemmens), van Dalen, Jansen (53. Knol) Perhaps our thoughts were still at the FC Porto win, but we allowed MVV to take the lead in the very first minutes. It was an unlucky tackle by Rick Hendriks that sent the ball straight to Francesco Luzi’s feet and the MVV striker scored with just 40 seconds from the kick-off. The rest of the first half was a drab football - we tried to find a way back into the game and MVV were content to defend deep and wait for our mistake. The closest that we got to the goal was Erik Jansen’s half-chance in 26’, but his shot landed against the post and that was it. I wasn’t happy with our performance and the fact that some players started to get nervous didn’t help either. The second half looked the same until 75’ - MVV defenders fouled Johan van Dalen in the box and substitute Stan Knol converted his penalty to equalize. Considering the fact that we rarely created a goalscoring opportunity so far, the penalty came as a huge relief. An in the end we managed again to pull off a miracle - in the third minute of injury time, in the very last attack, a good transition game gave us an opportunity and Peter Lemmens used it well to score a late winner - our second in consecutive games and the third game in a row in which we’ve scored in the very last minute. I was really happy with the late winner, so I almost could hide my disappointment with our overall performance until 75’. Substitutes turned things around in this game and that’s at least partly a manager’s win. we committed 22 fouls - too many we allowed MVV to make 23 dribbles - again too many Player of the game: Francesco Luzi (MVV Maastricht) 22.09.2039 - AFC Ajax - Lienden 12:0 (Dutch Cup 2nd round) - 5. Lamin Plat, 15., 29., 35. and 89. Wil van de Laak, 16. Elroy Meulensteen, 21. Brian Kuijpers, 27., 39., 50. and 60. Stef Veldman, 81. pen. Stan Knol Finally an easy game in our schedule. Clive Noordhoff was suspended for the cup game, but the rest of the players I selected from the bench and distributed playing time against the amateur team. Squad: Florentina, Sandler, Plat, Visser, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Kuijpers, Meulensteen, Veldman, van de Laak, Knol I save you from the detailed description, but we wiped the floor with our opponents. 12:0 is the new Ajax record for the biggest win. Both Wil van de Laak and Stef Veldman finished the game with four goals. van de Laak received a rare rating of 10.0 in this game. Some good attacking football, nice touches and good finishing made it look even easier than it was. our shooting was 37/23 in this game we created 8 clear cut chances our average rating was 9.24 Brian Kuijpers scored his first ever goal in this game we will play with Rijnsburgse Boys in the next round After the game I made one staff decision and appointed Rafael Mondragon as a scout to strengthen our scouting team. 27.09.2039 - AFC Ajax - Athletic Bilbao 3:0 (Champions League Group E) - 27. and 41. Peter Lemmens, 39. Sener Arslan The next Champions League game was held at Amsterdam Arena and we hosted Athletic Bilbao. Our opponents looked fairly similar to us, but my assistant manager advised me to practice defensive positioning nevertheless and it was a little difficult to choose right tactics for this game - I wanted to be attacking and take control of the game, but not to be too careless too early. Our problems with discipline have forced our squad selections in September and this time it was Rick Hendriks who needed to serve his suspension. From the physio room came encouraging news about Clyde Sastrodimedjo, who returned to full training. Squad: Gluhalic, Sandler, Plat, Deyl, Lichaba, Mithat Arabaci (73. Engin Ari), Vormer, Sener Arslan, Lemmens, van Dalen (84. van de Laak), Jansen (78. Knol) The first half was a little back and forth, at first. Peter Lemmens made a great interception in 5’ and he had a clear cut chance, but his shot was saved and the chance to score a flyer with it. Athletic had their best chance of the game in 26’ when the through ball came behind our defense and Gluhalic was a little hesitant to go for it. Jon Ander Galdeano was the first to reach it and Gluhalic made a great save to cover for his mistake. And in the next attack an excellent combination gave another opportunity to Lemmens. This time our young winger didn’t mess it up and scored with a good chip. We took charge of the game and goals started to come. Well-timed run into the box from Sener Arslan allowed him to score our second goal - a nice strike from 12 meters - and our counter-attack in 41’ gave us 3:0 lead before the half-time whistle. It was an excellent first half and things just clicked for us in those twenty minutes. The second half offered less exciting moments. Bilbao got their defense in order and we didn’t find too many chances, but at the same time we limited their opportunities as well. Still, 3:0 is a great result for us and I was really happy with our clean sheet and overall performance. Player of the game: Peter Lemmens September has been a great month for us - the results have come our way and while I wasn’t always happy with our performances and at times we had to dig deep, we managed to find a way to find another goal and turn those difficult games around. I was especially happy with our strong start in the Champions League - two wins against strong opponents put us in a very good position. Eredivisie Uneven number of games make the league difficult to judge. It looks like we’re in control, but Feyenoord and PSV are not far behind. sc Heerenveen have been surprisingly good in this season while FC Utrecht are somewhat behind the leading pack.
  3. Squad Update 2039 Goalkeepers No changes there. Both our goalkeepers look pretty equal on paper and while Ismet Gluhalic is a tad more experienced and has more than 50 international caps under his belt, Zeus Florentina made his first appearances for Curacao national team this year. Both keepers will get their chance to impress and the fight for the first team place will be fierce. Defenders Left-back situation is the same, but on the other side of the pitch Jelle Sandler has started to push Clive Noordhoff to the bench. His good performances and overall abilities in this position are slightly better and if he doesn’t mess up, Noordhoff will need to improve to fight for his position. We have better depth in central defense this year - Ronald Jansen has moved on and Robert Visser took his place - a very strong, tall and physical player who should be able to deal with tall strikers defensively. All four centre-backs look pretty equal, but Lamin Plat is labelled as wonderkid and he will certainly get some games to aid his development. For the rest of the bunch, it looked like Rick Hendriks is dropping down on the pecking order and it’s interesting to see if Visser could take over his place in the team. Midfielders No major changes here. Engin Ari is starting to decline with age and I’ve started to use Mithat Arabaci in DMC. Young playmaker Brian Kuijpers made his first appearances in the first team in Spring and he will feature more in this season. Harvey Odang went on loan to FC Volendam to give Kuijpers some game time. The main issue is with Sener Arslan’s contract - will he accept my offer or will he want to move on after this season. His departure would be a huge loss to us. Wingers No changes here, but the quality is different. Peter Lemmens is now in the Holland national team and it shows in his value, skills and performances. Wil van de Laak improves with each month and hopefully he’ll have another good season next to Johan van Dalen Strikers No changes here - Erik Jansen will be our first choice for this season and Stan Knol will provide cover, with Wesley Graafland out on loan.
  4. August 2039 12.08.2039 - AFC Ajax - Go Ahead Eagles 3:1 (ED) - 29. Robert Janse, 61. and 68. Johan van Dalen - 9. Anouar Abdellaoui The Eredivisie season kicked off later than usual in this year and we started with probably the easiest game in our schedule, hosting Go Ahead Eagles. The Eagles are predicted to finish 18th in this season and I was confident that we should win this one, but on the other hand - they stunned FC Groningen 3:1 in their first game and I was careful with my squad selection, not to send out too weak starting eleven. Eagles play 4-2-3-1 tactics and look rather attacking against big teams in away games. I asked the players to retain possession and full-backs to overlap more frequently. We had some injury problems as well - Clyde Sastrodimedjo had a torn hamstring and he’ll be out for at least until October. Robert Visser is recovering from a thigh strain that he suffered in a friendly. Squad: Florentina, Sandler, Plat, Hendriks, Koeman, Mithat Arabaci, Vormer (73. Kuijpers), Sener Arslan (68. Meulensteen), Lemmens, van Dalen, Jansen (66. Knol) It took less than 10 minutes for Eagles to find a weak place in our defense. Rick Hendriks left too much space for Anouar Abdellaoui and Zeus Florentina allowed his shot in from the near post. Very disappointing start. We equalized in 29’ - Jelle Sandler did very well to put Eagles’ defender under pressure, snatch the ball and cross for Erik Jansen who was alone in front of the goal. Jansen had another great chance to take the lead in the end of the first half, but his shot from close range was saved and so we went to half time with a 1:1 score line. I was still disappointed with our game and unhappy with the early goal that we conceded. I expected much more creativity against the smaller team, but our possession was good and generally we looked slightly better team in the first half. I was still finding the right centre-back partnership early in the season and wasn’t impressed with Hendriks-Plat duo in this game, as well. Eagles could be a small team, but Anouar Abdellaoui was the player who could be really dangerous on his own and he almost punished us in the early stages of the second half again - his shot after the Eagles counter-attack went over, fortunately, and we could breathe more easily. It was mistakes by Eagles’ defenders that cost them the game - one of those was allowing Peter Lemmens to make an interception from the throw-in in 60’. Our right winger saw his shot being parried by the goalkeeper, but the rebound fell to Johan van Dalen who finished off his chance. Van Dalen doubled his tally from IFK some minutes later and that was it. All three points from our first game and deserved win in the end, but Eagles made us work for it. Player of the game: Johan van Dalen - outstanding performance and two goals from our left winger 19.08.2039 - AZ Alkmaar - AFC Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 11. Marvin van der Zwan - 39. Erwin Vormer The second game in August led us to Alkmaar. AZ are a mid-table side, predicted to finish 12th by the pundits and they had some injury problems in midfield. All that meant we were favourites for the game, but it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. Squad: Gluhalic, Sandler, Deyl, Visser, Lichaba (69. Koeman), Mithat Arabaci, Vormer, Sener Arslan (75. Meulensteen), Lemmens, van Dalen (76. van de Laak), Jansen I don’t know what’s going on with our mental preparation and concentration in the early stages of the games, but we conceded another goal in the first 15 minutes. This time it came from a set piece - Ifenildo Deyl missed his interception of AZ’s IFK and allowed Marvin van der Zwan to get to the ball and we were 0:1 behind in 11’. We controlled the rest of the first half, though - Erik Jansen had a wonderful chance to equalize in 23’, but AZ’s goalkeeper Rob Pluim (ex-Ajax player who moved from MVV to AZ in this Summer) made a brilliant save and directed the shot against the crossbar. A good combination two minutes later presented Jansen with another clear cut chance and again he was denied by a world class save from Pluim. The equalizer came, though, and came through Erwin Vormer, who scored with a good header. That goal marked his first ever league goal for Ajax and it came in the very right moment. At half time it was 1:1, but we felt unlucky not to lead. Rob Pluim had been really difficult to beat in the AZ goal and while we had chances, we had not scored from those. Because we had general control of the game I was still optimistic that we could find the winner in the second half. We dominated the second half well and put AZ under pressure, but couldn’t create any clear cut chances after the break. Some half-chances and shots on target, but Rob Pluim was able to save those and in the end we had to settle with a disappointing draw. Wasted chances from the first half will haunt as that night and Erik Jansen especially can feel that he could have won that game for us. our shooting was 19/11 in this game - not bad we didn’t give AZ any real chances in attack Erwin Vormer scored his first ever league game for Ajax Player of the game: Jelle Sandler - gave an assist and generally played well in defense 26.08.2039 - AFC Ajax - Sparta Rotterdam 2:1 (ED) - 30. and 48. Erik Jansen - 35. Wouter Knoester Only three games in this August and the third of those was the match against Sparta Rotterdam. Our opponents are predicted to finish 8th in this season and they are another mid-table team who could cause upset against big teams in Eredivisie. We practiced defending set pieces before the game - partly because Sparta could be dangerous from dead ball situations, but we also conceded a set-piece goal against AZ, so we could improve that part of our game. Squad: Florentina, Sandler, Deyl, Hendriks, Lichaba, Mithat Arabaci (24. Koeman), Vormer, Sener Arslan, Lemmens (70. Veldman), van Dalen (86. van de Laak), Jansen We were favourites for the home game and Johan van Dalen was the first to get a half-chance in 7’ - his shot went wide. Sparta showed in 17’ that they have the ability to break our defense - some good passing found Wouter Knoester behind our line, but his angle was a bit too narrow and Zeus Florentina managed to make a good save to parry his shot. Jelle Sandler had been great in our first two league games, but tonight he was not like himself. He was constantly out of position, mistimed his tackles and committed fouls and his seventh(!) foul of the game in 23’ earned him his second yellow card of the game and we were left with 10 men with well over an hour to play. Soon Wouter Knoester scored to give Sparta the lead and we were in serious trouble. I had no right-back on the bench, so Fred Koeman had to come on to play in a rather unfamiliar position and I was pretty sure that we won’t be able to rescue ourselves from this muddy situation. But suddenly we started to play better, despite being a man down and five minutes later Erik Jansen equalized with a close range header. For the rest of the first half we had slightly better chances in the game and Sparta looked like they didn’t know how they should use their numerical advantage. Jansen had a chance to take the lead early in the second half - he needed two attempts, but he managed to tuck it in and for the rest of the game I looked anxiously and hoped that we could hold on to that narrow lead. We could and the final whistle was greeted with a massive roar from the fans - we managed to turn this game around with only 10 men and I was really proud of the team. We also managed to limit Sparta chances in the second half, so very well done from the whole team. our shooting was 15/10 in this game we allowed Sparta to make 27 key passes - that’s a lot, but I guess it’s inevitable when we play with 10 men and they have more spaces to pass into Peter Lemmens made his 100th appearance for Ajax in this game Player of the game: Erik Jansen - outstanding game from the striker and his brace gave us the win Fairly difficult month for us, in August, even though the schedule has not been so tough in the beginning of the season. We’ve had to work hard for points against smaller teams and what bothers me the most is that we’ve conceded the first goal in every league game so far - we can’t continue in that fashion and I’d like to see some clean sheets sooner rather than later. Player performances have been a little inconsistent, too, but ultimately what matters is that we’ve collected 7 points from our first three games and that’s not too bad. August finished with the news that oru U-19 manager Arturo Andreoni decided to leave the club and accept a coaching position in Olympique Lyon, so I placed an advert looking for a scout and the new U-19 manager. Eredivisie Difficult to judge, because it’s early in the season, and clubs have played an uneven number of games, but surprising to see Roda JC up there. From the title favourites PSV looks to be in a good form.
  5. Offseason In June and July I declined four job interviews - Evian TSG, Atletico Madrid, FC Barcelona and Olympique Lyon. Instead, I started preparing for the transfer window. Transfers Two players left at the end of June. Team captain Tarik de Wit didn’t get a new contract offer (his wage demands were around £40,000 per week and that’s too much for a player clearly below youngster Erik Jansen’s level) and also young defensive midfielder Chandra Purwanto left - he just didn’t progress enough while on loan at FC Volendam. I accepted a £375k offer from newly-promoted NEC Nijmegen for Ronald Jansen. With clauses that could get as high as £450k. Jansen was our fourth best centre-back and probably not good enough to make it to the first team, at least not in European level. So better to cash out. Robert Visser returned from loan and could get his chance in the first team this time around. I also accepted a bid from Go Ahead Eagles for Harvey Odang for similar reasons, but this deal fell through, because the player and the club didn’t reach an agreement. Eredivisie transfer window as a whole didn’t have as many high-profile moves as it had in January, but some talented players did leave the league to make the next step in their career: Ahmed Qadami from Feyenoord Rotterdam to Aston Villa for £9m Justin Brard from PSV Eindhoven to Olympique Marseilles for £8,5m Guus de Haer from FC Twente to Aston Villa for £4,9m Daan van der Weide from Panathinaikos to PSV Eindhoven for £4,5m Kevin de Jonge from FC Utrecht to Feyenoord Rotterdam for £3,9m Taha Metin from Feyenoord Rotterdam to Everton for £3,4m Gerry Nijssen from sc Heerenveen to West Ham United for £2,5m Contracts Fred Koeman, Stef Veldman, Mithat Arabaci and Johan van Dalen were the first team players who got their deals extended and their terms remained fairly similar to their current contracts, so Staff In backroom staff we had a lot of movements. Coach Simone Tribocchi’s contract ran out and he left the club. Several people retired - scout Finidi George, coach Job ten Thije, goalkeeping coach Julien Lacheur and head of youth development Matteo Cioffi. Two of those positions required imminent replacements, so I signed Ajax favourite Justin Kluivert as our new head of youth development (he fulfilled that role perfectly in sc Heerenveen so far) and brought in Italian Alessandro Iacobucci as our new goalkeeping coach. Loans As usual, several youngsters moved to loan for the next season: Wesley Graafland to Real Valladolid (La Liga) Steven Lammers to Excelsior Klaas Dekker to Heidenheim (Bundesliga) Leo Doorn to Lokeren Soren Vlijter to Fortuna Sittard Joost Smit to Helmond Sport Harvey Odang to FC Volendam Simon Roger Benteke to Almere City 23.07.2039 - AFC Ajax - Feyenoord Rotterdam 0:3 (Dutch Super Cup) - 20. Tony de Jonge, 33. Kevin Drent, 57. pen. Tini van Hemert After a couple of friendlies it was time to play for the Dutch Super Cup. In this year, the final was held at Amsterdam Arena and almost 75,000 fans flocked in to see this derby game. Feyenoord looked really strong and fielded their 4-4-2 formation, as anticipated. We missed Clyde Sastrodimedjo due to injury and Johan van Dalen had just recovered from his knock and I saw it better for him to just sit this one out. Squad: Gluhalic, Noordhoff, Deyl, Visser (54. Hendriks), Lichaba, Mithat Arabaci, Vormer, Sener Arslan, Lemmens (62. Veldman), van de Laak, Jansen (54. Knol) The game started slowly and it took some time before anything really dangerous happened and it was Erwin Vormer who almost got himself to headlines with his 11’ attempt from the distance. His long shot rattled the crossbar and we were really unlucky there, because this one looked destined for the net. Robert Visser made his debut in our central defense and he looked a bit nervous and out of position. It was he who couldn’t stop Tony de Jonge’s well-timed run into our box in 20’ and de Jonge made it 1:0. Another good combination from Feyenoord picked our defense apart in 33’ and Visser again was the player who missed his interception. Kevin Drent got the clear cut chance and used it well. At half time we were 0:2 behind and although there was nothing fundamentally wrong with our game, our defense offered Feyenoord easy chances and we couldn’t create much in attack. Our wingers couldn’t find space for crosses and van de Laak was well covered by Feyenoord defense, so losing van Dalen for this game probably made our attacking game weaker. The second half continued in the similar fashion. Feyenoord’s Jesus Herrero got a clear cut chance in 54’ but this time Ismet Gluhalic made a good save to deny his shot. That was the cue for Visser to come off, but our defense didn’t improve much. Clive Noordhoff held back Job Blaauw three minutes later and Tini van Hemert converted the penalty. It was a survival mode from there and while Feyenoord didn’t dominate the game, they looked fairly comfortable defending their lead and we never really got dangerous for them. Our attack looked poor in this game and players didn’t have the passion that those derby games need. Very disappointing defeat in front of our fans. we had just 6.69 average rating in this game we couldn’t create any chances in the 90 minutes we made 22 fouls - too many Robert Visser made his debut for Ajax in this game
  6. Season Update 2038-2039 Another season behind us, about which we can be partly happy, because in domestic competitions we took everything that we could, but partly sad, because in Europe we failed to prove our worth - first in the Champions League and, of course, Europa League loss against PSV was especially painful. The season was marked by the January transfer window and departures of Kwanele Nkoana and Mark van der Plas. I don’t believe that we’ve ever sold £40m worth of players in Winter and that definitely had an impact on our January and February results. On top of all that, some new talented players emerged - Erik Jansen scored 22 goals in this season and pushed Tarik de Wit out of the first team. Sener Arslan, Cliver Noordhoff and Peter Lemmens are now part of the Holland national team. Lamin Plat, Wil van de Laak and Brian Kuijpers got their foot into our first team and hopefully will develop further. Our stat sheet looks pretty similar to our last season, with only one exception - our 82 goals scored in the Eredivisie is a very good number (2,41 on average) and that’s partly because we had better luck with the framework. We hit the posts and crossbar only 6 times in this season (two years ago the number was as high as 27!). Ajax goals: Erik Jansen 22, Peter Lemmens 17, Stef Veldman 17, Stan Knol 14, Johan van Dalen Ajax assists: Peter Lemmens 17, Kwanele Nkoana 13, Stef Veldman 11, Johan van Dalen 11, Jelle Sandler 10 Fans Player of the Season: Jelle Sandler Stef Veldman Sener Arslan Goal of the Season: Mithat Arabaci vs. FC Twente Enschede 04/03/2039 Young Player of the Season: Jelle Sandler Eredivisie Awards Golden Boot Paulo Pires (Vitesse Arnhem Sjoerd de Jong (Sparta Rotterdam) Gerry Nijssen (sc Heerenveen) Top Goalscorer Kevin Drent (Feyenoord Rotterdam) - 29 Georges Kongnyuy (Feyenoord Rotterdam) - 23 Erik Jansen (AFC Ajax) - 18 Goalkeeper of the Year Paul Kuijpers (Feyenoord Rotterdam) Walter Wijnhoeven (Vitesse Arnhem) Daan dos Santos (FC Utrecht) Young Player of the Year Elroy Meulensteen (AFC Ajax) Job Blaauw (Feyenoord Rotterdam) Erik Jansen (AFC Ajax) Manager's Manager of the Year Me Sander Duits (Feyenoord Rotterdam) Mats Knoester (FC Volendam)
  7. May 2039 Two more games in May, and with the title secured, I hoped to give youngsters some playing time and balance out the game time between players. 01.05.2039 - Go Ahead Eagles - AFC Ajax 2:4 (ED) - 18. and 71. Anouar Abdellaoui - 35. and 49. Peter Lemmens, 62. and 80. Stan Knol The first one of those two games was a fairly easy one - Go Ahead Eagles were 16th in the table and that was a time and place to try our youngsters in Eredivisie level. Squad: Florentina, Sandler, Plat, Jansen, Koeman, Mithat Arabaci (62. Engin Ari), Vormer, Meulensteen (62. Kuijpers), Lemmens, van Dalen (62. van de Laak), Knol We started slowly and couldn’t create chances early in the game and in 18’, against all odds, Eagles took the lead. Jelle Sandler was too late to move forward and an excellent through ball found Anouar Abdellaoui behind our defensive line. The Eagles forward didn’t waste his chance and made it 1:0. I made tactical changes, asked full-backs to overlap more and put their defense under pressure, but the rest of the first half was pretty fruitless. Peter Lemmens equalized in 35’ - it wasn’t a real chance for us, just a good finish from our winger, so I was a little bit relieved that the score was 1:1 at half, time, but I had no reason to be happy with our performance. Some criticism at half time worked miracles and the second half was much better. We took the lead after Lemmens doubled his tally with a good header from close range and in 62’ Lemmens was again in the action to create our third goal - his smart interception and a cutback cross to Stan Knol made it happen. Eagles fought back - their striker Abdellaoui gained confidence from his first goal and managed to score his second in 71’, after beating Ronald Jansen in our defense, but Stan Knol’s second goal of the game put the result beyond doubt - well fired in from 14 meters. Knol could have almost completed his hat-trick later in the game, but his header landed against the crossbar. Unlucky. In the end I was pleased with a win and regarded this game as a good learning experience for some players. Peter Lemmens and Stan Knol had a great game for us 08.05.2039 - AFC Ajax - FC Groningen 3:0 (ED) - 10. Sener Arslan, 16. Stef Veldman, 82. Elroy Meulensteen The last game of the season. The last home game of the season and Amsterdam Arena was sold out, as fans flooded in to greet the champions. Our opponents FC Groningen were 10th in the table and their season had been a small disappointment for them. I sent out a fairly strong team and expected the home ground and the fans to do the rest. Peter Lemmes, unfortunately, sprained his ankle in training and had to miss this last game. Squad: Florentina, Noordhoff, Deyl, Hendriks, Lichaba, Mithat Arabaci (66. Engin Ari), Vormer, Sener Arslan (70. Meulensteen), Veldman, van Dalen (66. van de Laak), Knol The beginning of the game looked easy for us. Sener Arslan opened scoring with a fine header in 10’ and six minutes later Stef Veldman extended our lead with another good header after a counter. FC Groningen’s Marcel Visscher managed to hit the crossbar after their IFK and in 31’ Stan Knol wasted a clear cut chance for us, but in the end of the first half we had a solid 2:0 lead and I was pleased. The second half was more quiet and offered less goal scoring opportunities. Substitute Elroy Meulensteen scored from a counter (another header) and that was the final score. A confident win and I was happy to finish our season with a good performance in front of home fans. our shooting was 20/10 we made 33 dribbles in this game Leslie Lichaba was the man of the match with outstanding performance Eredivisie The final standings looked like this. Telstar was relegated, but Roda JC and Go Ahead Eagles retained their place in the top tier after relegation play-offs.
  8. April 2039 We’re set to secure our Eredivisie title in April. Opponents are easier now - we’ve played with all the stronger teams already and our focus is on the Dutch Cup final that’s held at the end of April. 03.04.2039 - AFC Ajax - FC Eindhoven 4:0 (ED) - 5. Peter Lemmens, 9. Stan Knol, 19. Sener Arslan, 88. Wil van de Laak FC Eindhoven is 16th in the table and it should be an easy game for us (and it was, in retrospect). What makes it interesting is Wesley Graafland - our hot prospect has done really well in Eindhoven and has scored 11 goals so far in Eredivisie. We practiced attacking set pieces before the game and I rotated pretty freely. Ismet Gluhalic missed this game with a dead leg, but the rest of the squad was fit and available. Squad: Florentina, Sandler, Deyl (65. Plat), Jansen, Koeman, Mithat Arabaci, Vormer, Sener Arslan (46. Kuijpers), Lemmens, van Dalen (46. van de Laak), Knol We started well and put FC Eindhoven under pressure from the first minutes. Peter Lemmens opened scoring with a header from point blank range and Stan Knol extended our lead with a good shot. Lemmens, Sener Arslan and Stan Knol wasted his chances in 15’, but Sener Arslan got to the target in 19’ with a nice shot from the edge of the area - that accurate finish virtually finished the game. I could send out youngsters at half time and the second half offered a little less chances. FC Eindhoven’s Robert de Koning received his second yellow card before the end of the game and in the final minutes Wil van de Laak got to the score sheet, too. It was a convincing win and we hardly gave FC Eindhoven any chances against us. our shooting was 25/12 in this game we had 8.01 average rating Mithat Arabaci was outstanding for us young midfielder Brian Kuijpers made his debut for Ajax in this game 09.04.2039 - AFC Ajax - AZ Alkmaar 5:1 (ED) - 2. Ifenildo Deyl, 27. Mithat Arabaci, 41. Johan van Dalen, 59. and 83. Stef Veldman - 16. Mimoun Hiele Our confidence was high and we hosted AZ Alkmaar next. AZ were 12th in the table and they’ve looked pretty inconsistent in this season. Injuries don’t help them, too. Their 4-2-3-1 formation could be tricky, so I sent out our first team players, mostly. Squad: Florentina, Noordhoff, Deyl, Hendriks, Koeman, Mithat Arabaci, Sastrodimedjo (71. Kuijpers), Sener Arslan (65. Meulensteen), Veldman, van Dalen (65. van de Laak), Jansen Again we had an excellent start - Ifenildo Deyl headed in an indirect free-kick from Stef Veldman and in 11’ Erik Jansen saw his shot being brilliantly saved by AZ goalkeeper. But we allowed AZ to equalize in 16’ - Mimoun Hiele won his aerial duel against Fred Koeman. The header hit the crossbar, but came back in front of the goal and Hiele tucked it in from close range. 1:1 didn’t last long, though - another free kick found Mithat Arabaci unmarked at the far post and we were 2:1 ahead. Our corner in 41’ led to our third goal and even though both Stef Veldman and Clyde Sastrodimedjo wasted their chances before the end of the first half, we went to the break with a solid 3:1 lead. Attacking set pieces training has certainly given us some advantage, because all three goals came from dead ball situations and AZ couldn’t organise their defense well enough in those moments. The second half was even more under our control. Stef Veldman looked like he tried the most - he had some missed chances in the first half, but in the second period he finally got his shots on target and scored two goals to make it 5:1 in the end. Excellent performance from the whole team and our home fans went home with happy smiles. our shooting was 19/11 in this game we created 5 clear cut chances we had 8.04 average rating in this game Stef Veldman and Mithat Arabaci had a great game for us 17.04.2039 - Telstar - AFC Ajax 0:4 (ED) - 16. Johan van Dalen, 24. Stan Knol, 60. and 86. Stef Veldman Telstar are at the bottom of the table, but it could have been a tricky game for us, because teams staring at the relegation often fight the most. However, Telstar’s relegation was confirmed just before the game and so our opponents looked rather downhearted and the fight was out. I sent out rotation players, because the gap in quality between two teams was evident and I wanted to balance game time in the squad. Squad: Florentina Sandler, Plat, Jansen, Lichaba, Mithat Arabaci (58. Engin Ari), Sastrodimedjo, Meulensteen, Veldman, van Dalen (57. van de Laak), Knol As expected, we controlled this game from the start. Stef Veldman wasted his clear cut chance in 15’, making his shot too soft, but just a minute later Johan van Dalen found the net with a nice finish. We almost allowed Telstar to equalize in 21’ when Chris Lopez found himself very open in the IFK situation, but his shot went wide and landed in the side-netting. Stan Knol has used his starts in April well and he has scored goals too. In 24’ he did it again, turning around with a ball and keeping his marker away to mut his shot past the goalkeeper. Well done from the striker. Stef Veldman missed his chances in the first half and his poor finishing left the mark for his performance, and Johan van Dalen too failed to score from IFK while it looked like a certain goal. So we went to half-time with a solid 2:0 lead, but it could and should have been a much bigger advantage. Either way, we looked comfortable and confident. The second half continued in the same fashion and finally Stef Veldman started to use at least some of his numerous chances in this game - his two goals in the second half made it 4:0 and we returned from this away game with a comfortable win. That win also meant that our title was secured, with three games to go. our shooting was 19/13 in this game we created 6 clear cut chances we had 8.17 average rating Stef Veldman, Elroy Meulensteen and Stan Knol had a great game 24.04.2039 - AFC Ajax - NEC Nijmegen 4:0 (Dutch Cup Final) - 32. Erik Jansen, 41. Ifenildo Deyl, 72. Wil van de Laak, 80. Peter Lemmens The cup final was our most important game in the rest of the season, but even in this match we were heavy favourites, because we played against Jupiler League side NEC. The game was held at De Kuip. We practiced attacking set pieces before the game and sent out our first team players to secure the win. NEC could be just a Jupiler League side, but they secured their title just before the cup final and will get up to Eredivisie in the next season, so their morale was high and we were aware of that. Squad: Gluhalic, Noordhoff, Deyl (69. Pla), Hendriks, Lichaba, Mithat Arabaci, Sastrodimedjo (32. Meulensteen), Sener Arslan, Lemmens, van Dalen (69. van de Laak), Jansen Clyde Sastrodimedjo got the first clear cut chance of the game in 15’, but his shot from close range was well saved by NEC goalkeeper. It has to be said that NEC did fairly well to keep their clean sheet in the first 30 minutes, but then our set piece practice started to show. Erik Jansen found our first goal from IFK and in 41’ Ifenildo Deyl doubled our lead in another free-kick situation - his first shot bounced back from the crossbar, but the centre-back kept his composure and finished his second attempt well. So we went to half-time with a good 2:0 lead and NEC hadn’t got close to our goal in this first period. NEC tried to attack more in the second half and Ismet Gluhalic had to be aware to save Gino Verhoeven’s shot in 58’, but that was it. Substitute Wil van de Laak scored our third goal soon after coming on and that was game over. Peter Lemmens added another one with a close range header and the final score was just as one-sided as the game itself was. our shooting was 21/10 we had 8.00 average rating somehow we managed to make 22 individual mistakes, with Mithat Arabaci responsible for 11 of those, not sure how that was possible Clyde Sastrodimedjo came off in the first half with a twisted knee and he’ll be out for around two weeks Peter Lemmens was outstanding in this game April was a month when everything seemed easy - easy wins with a lot of goals and even the cup final looked like a walk in a park. Eredivisie
  9. Youth Update 2039 This season's youth intake was more... low profile than usual. As in the previous seasons I hoped for a good left-back prospect, and as usual, I was disappointed. We had some decent players, but fewer than I've become to used to and I expect only one or two of the bunch to have enough talent to make it into the Ajax first team. Maarten Witschge The best talent of this year's youngsters. Driven personality and a lot of skills, but is natural in AMC and has to get accustomed to MC (APa) role in my system (but has all necessary skills to do that). On the negative side - he is injury prone, could be more professional and more consistent. Marinho Goes Looks like a very good centre-back in my eyes. Resolute character, has no evident flaws and looks athletic enough. Alper Ari The best striker of the bunch in this season. Target man, not a complete forward (but there rarely is a 16 years old ready to play as complete forward). Good in the air, but positives end there. Should get more professional attitude and work with his consistency, but the main problem seems to be his lack of technical skills. Hopefully training will fix that. For start, I asked Tarik de Wit to tutor him.
  10. March 2039 Six games in March, but this month is special, because we will meet PSV Eindhoven three times in a 30 days period. All those games are important and the league games between them are of less importance to me. 04.03.2039 - AFC Ajax - FC Twente Enschede 6:1 (ED) - 12. Peter Lemmens, 14 .Johan van Dalen, 28. and 52. Erik Jansen, 45. Mithat Arabaci, 56. Stan Knol - 52. Ifenildo Deyl (og) Before the first encounter with PSV, we hosted FC Twente in a Friday night game. Our opponents are 7th in the table, so it shouldn’t be too easy for us, but the home stadium should give us an advantage. Squad: Florentina, Noordhoff, Deyl, Hendriks, Koeman, Mithat Arabaci, Vormer, Sener Arslan (55. Meulensteen), Lemmens (55. Veldman), van Dalen, Jansen (55. Knol) The players were itching to prove that we can do better than we did against Helmond Sport. It didn’t take long before we were 2:0 ahead - Peter Lemmens and Johan van Dalen combined two goals inside two minutes. Lemmens was especially difficult to handle for FC Twente defense - he dribbled past three defenders in 28’ and cut it back for Erik Jansen for an easy finish into an empty goal. And when Mithat Arabaci blasted our fourth goal in from 17 meters, FC Twente looked thoroughly beaten - we went to half time with a solid 4:0 lead and the game was as good as over. Erik Jansen doubled his tally in 52’ to score his 20th goal of the season. FC Twente did get one goal in this game and it came in the very next attack - FC Twente forward Madalin Petrea received a good pass behind our defense and went on goal. Florentina came out to make it difficult for him and managed to make a good save, but the ball bounced against Ifenildo Deyl and went over the line. Unfortunate, but it didn’t matter too much.Substitute Stan Knol then finished things for us with a nice shot from a tight angle and the final score was 6:1. Wonderful attacking display from the team and I was very happy with the performance. our average rating was 8.38 in this game Erik Jansen scored his 20th goal of the season Stan Knol scored his 10th goal of the season Johan van Dalen, Mithat Arabaci, Peter Lemmens and Clive Noordhoff were outstanding for us in this game. 10.03.2039 - AFC Ajax - PSV Eindhoven 2:0 (Europa League 2nd knockout round 1st leg) - 15. Ifenildo Deyl, 83. Johan van Dalen Before the first important game with PSV Eindhoven we received troubling news from physios - Sener Arslan will miss at least three weeks of action due to a strained stomach muscle and that leaves him out of all of those three PSV games. That’s serious and could hurt us in those important games. But we tried to do our best with the players we had - in the first home game it was important not to concede goals and use the home advantage well. Squad: Gluhalic, Noordhoff, Deyl, Hendriks, Lichaba, Mithat Arabaci, Sastrodimedjo, Meulensteen (67. Vormer), Lemmens (69. Veldman), van Dalen, Jansen (78. Knol) We started well and almost made our chances count. Peter Lemmens found space between defenders in 2’, but his attempt went well wide. Ifenildo Deyl was the man of the moment in 15’ when we had a corner and he directed his header into the goal. The first half finished 1:0, but we had always a small initiative and a little bit more of the possession, so generally I was pleased with what I saw on the pitch. The second half continued in a similar fashion - we kept things under control, but PSV defended fairly well most of the time and chances did not come too easy for us. Johan van Dalen had a crack in 53’, but this time PSV goalkeeper made a brilliant save to deny him. van Dalen found the net in 83’ though, when he received an excellent cross from Stef Veldman and scored with a simple finish. He had two other chances in 86’, but instead of adding to his goal tally, he only managed to hit the post. Strong finish for a good game from us and the final score 2:0 was exactly what we needed - two-goal lead from the first leg and a clean sheet from the home game. Impressive. our shooting was 21/8 in this game Player of the game: Ifenildo Deyl - good goal and solid defensive performance Changes in staff after this game - Jong Ajax manager Florian Bouisson left the club to take charge of Angers SCO and we need to start looking for the new man for that position. 13.03.2039 - Roda JC Kerkrade - AFC Ajax 0:0 (ED) Only three days between games and our first team players looked a little bit exhausted, but we visited Roda JC in that week and our opponents are just 17th in the table. They’ve received six straight defeats in a row and I saw it as a good opportunity to give the first team players some rest and rotate the squad for this league game. Squad: Florentina, Sandler, Plat, Hendriks, Koeman, Engin Ari, Vormer, Meulensteen, Veldman (76. Lemmens), van Dalen (61. van de Laak), Jansen (67. Knol) It was a drab match from start to finish. Roda JC almost stunned us in 13’ when their danger man Artur Michalski hit the post after a good attack from our right. We kept things under control for the rest of the game, but our attacking play looked out of sync and we couldn’t find good chances in this game. Weakened team obviously contributed to that and Roda JC looked content to sit deep and defend. We missed Sener Arslan’s creativity in midfield and our low number of shots meant there’s hardly any reason to hope for goals. Disappointing goalless draw and some serious learning for some players in post-match analysis. our shooting was just 8/2 in this game we made only 17 key passes Player of the game: Elroy Meulensteen Engin Ari made his 300th league appearance for Ajax in this game 17.03.2039 - PSV Eindhoven - AFC Ajax 2:0 (Europa League 2nd knockout round 2nd leg) - 61. Erik Dekker, 90. Michael Jans It was time for the second leg game against PSV. Our players looked fairly well rested, but PSV were tired, because they didn’t choose to rotate in Eredivisie. Our tactics for this game was simple - defend well and search for an away goal - that would make things really difficult for PSV. PSV, however, came with a completely different approach - they fielded a 4-3-3 tactics and that immediately drew my attention. I asked full-backs to support, not attack and ordered the team to play our usual Champions League tactics. Squad: Gluhalic, Noordhoff, Deyl, Hendriks, Lichaba, Mithat Arabaci, Sastrodimedjo, Meulensteen (56. Vormer), Lemmens (71. Veldman), van Dalen, Jansen (84. Knol) We had the first good opportunity of the game - Erik Jansen had a crack in 2’, but his shot was brilliantly saved by PSV goalkeeper and in 9’ it was Ismet Gluhalic’s turn to save us. Ifenildo Deyl gave PSV centre-back Justin Brard too much space in a free kick situation and he got a great look on goal, but Gluhalic showed his skills and parried the shot. The first half finished goalless. Some half-chances for both teams and it looked like PSV tried to put us under pressure (and perhaps held a small initiative), but we were searching for that away goal from counters and set pieces, so fairly even in the first half. The second half started in similar fashion. I took Meulensteen off and sent Erwin Vormerr on, asking Clyde Sastrodimedjo to play as a RPM in midfield. Not sure if that was the reason or not, but in 61’ PSV got their goal - a good attack and cross from our right found Erik Dekker unmarked at the far post and it was an easy finish for PSV young striker. I started to change things and dropped Erik Jansen back as DLFs - he had looked lost on the pitch in the past 30 minutes or so, and I hoped that a deeper position could help him find some space between PSV lines. That didn’t happen. Erik Dekker tested Ismet Gluhalic once again in 81’ and in the final minute the inevitable happened - we left too much space for Michael Jansen in our box and the experienced striker equalized in the last minute to bring PSV level. I was extremely disappointed to concede a late equalizer like that. We had used all our substitutions and it was difficult to find anything extra in the additional 30 minutes of football. PSV too looked more careful in extra time and the game went to penalty shoot-out. We started poorly - Stan Knol and Erwin Vormer couldn’t score their penalties. But Ismet Gluhalic did well to save the third and fifth penalty by PSV and we were 3-2 behind when Ifenildo Deyl stepped up to take our fifth penalty - that, unfortunately, was saved too, and so we lost the game in the penalty shoot-out, even though we came to Eindhoven with a solid 2:0 lead from the first leg. Extremely disappointing and we surely should have been much better in this game. More than anything it looks like a manager’s defeat - I struggled to organise the team against PSV’s 4-3-3 formation, late goal certainly was my responsibility and the fact that we lack solid penalty takers as well. Our European season is over after that loss and I can only hope that we will do better in the next season. Leslie Lichaba made his 300th appearance for Ajax in this game Player of the game: Arjen Drent (PSV Eindhoven) 20.03.2039 - Sparta Rotterdam - AFC Ajax 0:0 (ED) Just three days later we travelled to Rotterdam to play with Sparta. First team players looked exhausted and I rotated freely - our lead in the table allows us to do that and so I didn’t regard the result as important, but expected a good performance from the team. Sparta are 8th and it’s a solid place for them. Our youngster Klaas Dekker has played well for them and Sparta comes to this game after defeating Feyenoord 2:0 in their previous fixture, so away game will certainly not be easy. Squad: Florentina, Sandler, Plat, Jansen, Koeman, Engin Ari, Vormer, Meulensteen (67. Odang), Lemmens, van Dalen (60. van de Laak), Jansen (67. Knol) The first half offered drab football. Possession was good, but we had no good chances. We looked poor in defending set pieces, but Sparta couldn’t capitalize on that. I was pleased that the team looked motivated and morale looked good, but we couldn’t make it count on the pitch. The second half began with a good chance for Sparta - their striker Massimo Rossi got a clear cut chance in 49’ and Zeus Florentina made a wonderful save to deny his close range shot. Sparta attacked a little better after the break and their threat from set pieces was also still there. We didn’t get our game going until the final ten minutes - Peter Lemmens tested Sparta goalkeeper with a good attempt in 81’ and in 87’ we had a corner that led to a great opportunity for young Lamin Plat. The centre-back couldn’t use his chance and his shot was too soft - ball was firmly held by Sparta goalkeeper. In the end it was a goalless draw and the game left me with mixed feelings - we played a poor second half, but the last ten minutes were good and I knew that we had a weakened team. Youngsters gained experience, but I was disappointed in some of the more experienced players. Zeus Florentina did well to keep our clean sheet. we allowed Sparta to make 22 key passes and 29 dribbles - too much freedom for them in midfield we made 22 fouls in this game - also too many Jelle Sandler made 6 fouls and 7 individual mistakes - his overall rating was good, but he looked very error-prone Player of the game: Alexander Wouters (Sparta Rotterdam) In the next week the international break came. Peter Lemmens made his debut for Holland and increased his reputation (and market value) significantly by doing that. 30.03.2039 - AFC Ajax - PSV Eindhoven 4:0 (Dutch Cup Semi Final) - 3. and 71. Johan van Dalen, 23. Erik Jansen, 32. Peter Lemmens The third derby game against PSV Eindhoven and this time it was our last chance to take a revenge in this season. Both teams had their problems - PSV still missed Chijoke Obafemi and their best goalkeeper Martijn van der Velde was also injured. We finally had Sener Arslan back in full training, but Ismet Gluhalic was still to return from Bosnia and Herzegovina national team. Mithat Arabaci returned from the international break tired and he was rested for this game. Squad: Florentina, Noordhoff, Deyl, Hendriks, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Sener Arslan (69. Meulensteen), Lemmens (62. Veldman), van Dalen, Jansen (69. Knol) We had a great start to the game - Peter Lemmens found Johan van Dalen with a wonderful cross and a tap-in from our left winger took us off with a flyer. Erik Jansen extended our lead with a fine header in 23’ and when Lemmens finished an excellent combination of one-touch passes with a goal in 31’, it surely looked like a revenge for me. PSV looked defeated after the first half and they looked like they tried to limit the damage in the second half. Every team gets at least one good chance in a game and for PSV it came in 62’ when Rogier Steemers received a great through ball behind our defense. Zeus Florentina did well to tip his shot over our crossbar and the second goal from van Dalen made it 4:0 ten minutes later. Substitute Stan Knol almost added his name to the score sheet, but his fierce shot was brilliantly saved by PSV goalkeeper. Either way I was very happy with the result and performance - for once PSV was properly beaten in Amsterdam Arena. we made only 18 key passes in this game, but we made them count and created 4 goals Johan van Dalen scored his 10th goal of the season in this game - not bad, considering how few games he has actually started Player of the game: Johan van Dalen - outstanding performance from the left winger, two goals and assist to his name we will play Jupiler League side NEC Nijmegen in the final So, a rollercoaster month for us. Started well, but the defeat by PSV in the Europa League hurt us and leaves a poor mark to this period. But we finished this March strong and showed that we can play some good football. We have given up some points in Eredivisie, but we still have a good enough lead and in April we can concentrate on securing the title. We also made some staff decisions at the end of March and I signed Italians Luca Cecarelli as our new U-19 assistant manager and Andrea Polesano as the new manager of Jong Ajax. Eredivisie
  11. February 2039 02.02.2039 - AFC Ajax - FC Dordrecht 5:0 (Dutch Cup Quarter Final) - 9. and 49. Johan van Dalen, 19., 41. and 77. Stef Veldman We have seven games in February and the month begins with the cup quarter finals. We host FC Dordrecht and it’s probably a big surprise that the Jupiler League side has reached so far. For us it’s a much easier draw than expected in this stage of the competition, so a good opportunity to give rotation players a chance. Unfortunately, Zeus Florentina will miss some games because of his calf strain, otherwise he would have been between the sticks for us in this game. Squad: Gluhalic, Sandler, Plat, Jansen, Koeman (52. Lichaba), Mithat Arabaci, Vormer, Meulensteen (58. Odang), Veldman, van Dalen, Knol The game itself was very one-sided. It looked like a training match and we controlled things from the start - Johan van Dalen and Stef Veldman were too good to handle for FC Dordrecht defense and two wingers created and combined four goals out of five in this game (one assist came from Jelle Sandler). After more difficult fixtures in January it was good to rotate and have something easier for a while. our shooting was 26/13 in this game we had 8.28 average rating we created 5 clear cut chances we gave FC Dordrecht no goalscoring chances Stef Veldman and Johan van Dalen had a great game for us and finished with 9.0+ rating Stef Veldman scored his 10th goal of the season in this game we will play PSV Eindhoven in the semi final - so there is a chance to take revenge for that loss after all 06.02.2039 - VVV Venlo - AFC Ajax 2:0 (ED) - 3. Kees de Heus, 17. Joey de Haan When we travelled to Venlo to meet VVV in our next league game, we looked ready. January was behind us, FC Dordrecht match gave us a lot of confidence and we felt good. VVV was 11th in the table and for a mid-table side they made some good additions in their squad, including the signing of ex-Ajax midfielder Gerard Karelse from West Ham United. In total they spent £3m in January and those three signings looked good for a club of their stature. Squad: Gluhalic, Sandler (53. Noordhoff), Deyl, Hendriks, Lichaba, Mithat Arabaci, Sastrodimedjo (53. Engin Ari), Sener Arslan, Veldman, van Dalen, Jansen (64. Knol) That game went south very quickly. Stef Veldman allowed VVV centre-back Kees de Heus to score when less than three minutes were played. Then we had some great goalscoring opportunities - Johan van Dalen wasted two excellent chances in a minute and Erik Jansen couldn’t finish his clear cut chance in 15’. And when Joey de Haan scored from another set piece a couple of minutes later it was all over for us. Heads dropped. Van Dalen tried again in 40’, but his attempt was met by a brilliant save from VVV goalkeeper. We were 0:2 down at half time and could pick ourselves up in the second half. VVV had two early goals and they looked content to defend, and their lead gave them enough confidence to do it well. When the final whistle called I was absolutely furious and slammed the team. Costly mistakes in both attack and defense cost us the game and as we created three clear cut chances I sincerely felt that this one was on players, not on me. we lost possession 45/55 our average rating was just 6.77 in this game we allowed VVV to make 23 key passes - way too many Erik Jansen and Jelle Sandler were especially poor in this match and they earned themselves a private talk in my office Player of the game: Jean-Paul Smits (VVV Venlo) 12.02.2039 - Vitesse Arnhem - AFC Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 8. Twan van Eck - 29. Erik Jansen We had worked our confidence up after PSV loss and looked back on track, but defeat in Venlo shattered it once again. And we had a tough game coming up right after that - Vitesse had climbed up to 2nd place in the table, taking advantage of Feyenoord’s poor form, and that’s somewhat better than was expected of them before this season. I felt that some changes in line-up were necessary after the VVV game, but to make things worse, Johan van Dalen was injured with strained stomach muscle and Rick Hendriks fell ill with a virus, so we’re seriously weakened. I called 18 years old winger Wil van de Laak into the first team to take van Dalen’s place on our left wing and hoped for the best. Squad: Gluhalic, Noordhoff, Deyl, Plat, Lichaba (56. Koeman), Engin Ari, Vormer (74. Sastrodimedjo), Sener Arslan, Lemmens, van de Laak (69. Veldman), Jansen Again we started poorly and perhaps a little out of nowhere, Vitesse took the lead in 8’. Twan van Eck tried his luck from the edge of the area and Ismet Gluhalic should have stopped it, probably, but his hand wasn’t just good enough. Erik Jansen equalized for us in 29’ after he made a good interception and took advantage of the mistake by Vitesse defenders. Jansen almost doubled his tally in 34’, but his header hit the crossbar and we went to half time with a 1:1 scoreline. The first 30 minutes were disappointing, but after our goal we looked a little bit better. The second half was much more quiet. Peter Lemmens had a crack in 57’, but his shot was brilliantly saved. Soon after that I replaced youngster van de Laak with Stef Veldman and switched Lemmens to left wing. Unfamiliar positions were one factor that hindered our attacking game and so we settled with a draw. our shooting was just 14/4 we allowed 27 dribbles in this game and only made 9 ourselves Wil van de Laak made his debut for Ajax in this game Player of the game: Eugene Talea (Vitesse Arnhem) 17.02.2039 - Vitoria Guimaraes - AFC Ajax 0:0 (Europa League 1st knockout round 1st leg) With that fragile confidence we travelled to Portugal to meet Vitoria Guimaraes. Our opponents stature is similar to ours and they were slight favourites for their home game, despite having some injury problems in the goalkeeper and right-back department. We practiced attacking set pieces before the game and sent out our best and most experienced squad with… of course, Wil van de Laak on our left flank. The biggest loss for us was Sener Arslan, who was suspended for this game, so Clyde Sastrodimedjo and Erwin Vormer started in midfield. Squad: Gluhalic, Noordhoff, Deyl, Plat, Koeman, Engin Ari, Vormer (65. Meulensteen), Sastrodimedjo, Lemmens (56. Veldman), van de Laak, Jansen (62. de Wit) To be honest, it was a boring game. Both teams looked defensive and a little bit afraid of conceding, so no really dangerous opportunities in those 90 minutes of football and I have to admit that the draw was a fair result, too. But I’m not too disappointed, because we should have an advantage in Amsterdam Arena - let’s see how that second leg game goes. our shooting was just 14/2 in this game Player of the game: Cairo Jose (Vitoria Guimaraes) 20.02.2039 - AFC Ajax - sc Heerenveen 5:0 (ED) - 12., 41., 69. and 70. Wil van de Laak, 90. Stan Knol Home game against sc Heerenveen was between two European fixtures and we didn’t feel overly confident. We hadn’t created too many chances in our previous games, players looked tired and our injury problems continued - Rick Hendriks was back in the tem, but Stef Veldman was out with a gashed leg and Wil van de Laak, who is our only left winger at the moment, looked tired - the youngster obviously isn’t used to playing two games in a week. sc Heerenveen are 8th in the table and came against us with a standard 4-4-2 formation. Squad: Gluhalic, Sandler, Plat, Hendriks (69. Jansen), Lichaba, Mithat Arabaci´, Vormer, Sener Arslan (66. Meulensteen), Lemmens, van de Laak, Jansen (66. Knol) We started well and took the lead in 12’ - Peter Lemmens found youngster Wil van de Laak at the far post and it was an easy finish from there. sc Heerenveen got their best chance of the game in 16’ - Hicham Benali saw his shot rattle the crossbar and the rebound fell to Sven Dijkstra, who had the whole goal in front of him, but Gluhalic somehow got back on time to save it off the line. Before the half time it was again van de Laak who scored - this time it was a smart decision from Erik Jansen to take down the cross and leave it for van de Laak. Two goals in the first half from him gave us a solid lead at half time. I wasn’t happy with everything I saw on the pitch, but that was good enough. van de Laak continued his show in the second half - he timed his runs perfectly and was at the right spot at the right time. His quickfire double put our win beyond doubt and sc Heerenveen defense started to fall apart. Peter Lemmens and Jelle Sandler couldn’t score from their opportunities, but substitute Stan Knol finished the game with his goal to give us an emphatic 5:0 win. The hero of the game was obviously Wil van de Laak - didn’t expect to see four goals from the 18 years old and for him it was certainly the game to remember for the rest of his career. our shooting was 19/11 we created 5 clear cut chances in this game our average rating was 8.18 we committed 22 fouls - a little bit too many Wil van de Laak, Peter Lemmens and Jelle Sandler had a great game Wil van de Laak scored his first ever goals for Aja Leslie Lichaba made his 200th league appearance for Ajax Sener Arslan made his 100th league appearance for Ajax Player of the game: Wil van de Laak 24.02.2039 - AFC Ajax - Vitoria Guimaraes 2:0 (Europa League 1st knockout round 2nd leg) - 19. Erik Jansen, 82. Peter Lemmens Vitoria were slight favourites in the first leg, but as that finished with a goalless draw, we were favoured by the bookies for the aggregate win in Amsterdam Arena. We practiced attacking set pieces before the game and our squad looked a lot stronger for this match, mainly because Sener Arslan was available again. Squad: Gluhalic, Noordhoff, Dely, Hendriks, Koeman, Mithat Arabaci, Sastrodimedjo, Sener Arslan (78. Meulensteen), Lemmens, van Dalen (69. van de Laak), Jansen (65. Knol) Vitoria showed in the first leg that they could defend well and they did that in Amsterdam, too. At least until 19’ when we took advantage of their midfield mistake. Sener Arslan won the ball back for us, passed to Peter Lemmens who crossed it for Erik Jansen. Jansen was completely unmarked and alone in front of the goal and it was an easy finish for him. In 24’ Vitoria’s Boris Tomic had a good shot from close range, but the attempt was blocked by arriving Ifenildo Deyl. Erik Jansen’s second attempt in 26’ was brilliantly saved by Vitoria goalkeeper and teams went to half time with 1:0 scoreline. We deserved our lead, but it was a narrow one and 1:1 would have given advantage to Vitoria, so there was still work to do in the second half. We looked better in the second half and controlled midfield. Our attacks finished with attempts, but good chances were more difficult to find - Johan van Dalen tested the goalkeeper twice, substitute Stan Knol saw his half-chance being tipped over the crossbar and youngster Wil van de Laak’s shot was held by the goalkeeper. It took us all the way to 82’ when Stan Knol managed to take the ball into the box and deliver a cross to Peter Lemmens. Finally a good look from close range and it was 2:0. We could relax, as this goal settled the game and secured our progression. But not relax too much, as we almost did in injury time when our defense gifted Ricardo a clear cut chance. Vitoria’s striker was through behind our defensive line, but Ismet Gluhalic made a brilliant save to parry his shot and keep our clean sheet. Despite that late threat it was a good win for us and I was happy with the result. our shooting was 22/7 Player of the game: Clive Noordhoff - solid performance from right-back both in defense and in attack surprisingly, we will play PSV Eindhoven in the next round - another chance to take revenge for our loss in January 27.02.2039 - Helmond Sport - AFC Ajax 1:0 (ED) - 86. Martin van der Pol Our month finished with a trip to Helmond. Our opponents are 15th in the table and on paper it should be an easier game. Our first team players looked tired after the Vitoria match and so I rotated heavily. Our youngster Martin van der Pol has broken into Helmond first team recently and it was interesting to see him in action. Squad: Florentina, Sandler, Plat, Jansen, Koeman (62. Lichaba), Engin Ari, Vormer, Meulensteen, Lemmens, van de Laak (62. van Dalen), Jansen (46. Knol) We had one good chance in the first half - Erik Jansen had a great goal scoring opportunity in 9’, but his shot was saved. Otherwise it was a drab first half and our attacking movement was off. I wasn’t happy with our performance at half-time, but unfortunately things didn’t improve. As the game progressed, it was Helmond who found better chances. Tom Constancia tested Zeus Florentina in 55’ and Florentina made a brilliant save to keep him at bay. Martin van der Pol sent his shot just wide in 75’ and in 86’, inevitable happened. Jelle Sandler missed his interception to allow a cross in from our right and Martin van der Pol scored from the six yard box. It could have been worse, because Ronald Jansen’s mistake in injury time gave another chance to Issa N’Diaye, but his sof shot was held by Florentina. Helmond gained a great victory and we were deservedly beaten, because we looked really poor, especially in the second half. I know that we fielded a weakened team, but that sort of below-par performance was seriously unacceptable and I let my feelings be known by the players. our shooting was just 18/4 - just not good enough chances to find a goal we made 55 key passes, but lacked that final touch to really break their defense Player of the game: Jelle Sandler - not sure why It was an up and down month for us in February. We suffered poor losses from VVV Venlo and Helmond Sport and I can’t be happy with that. But our priority was the Europa League and in those games we did well. Younger players got their playing chances - sometimes failed, but at times excelled too and Wil van de Laak’s four goals against sc Heerenveen was a bright moment and another proof that our youth work is at the best level. Eredivisie
  12. January 2039 The New Years came with a reason to celebrate, as Peter Lemmens was named European Golden Boy - a little bit unexpected, but the whole club was delighted for him. Things got a little more serious when the transfer window opened and I finally had some big decisions to make. Both our left wingers moved on in January - first Kwanele Nkoana went to PSG for a whopping £16,5m + clauses (up to £18m) - a too good money to turn down. Then Tottenham jumped in and matched the minimum release fee clause of Mark van der Plas - £22,5m. That’s a new record transfer for Ajax and nothing I could do about his departure. What it means is that I’m down to Johan van Dalen on our left wing and I also promoted a youngster Wil van de Laak, but given how important Nkoana and van der Plas have been for us, that’s a big blow to our squad. 21.01.2039 - PSV Eindhoven - AFC Ajax 2:0 (ED) - 31. Michael Jans, 55. Olvido Esperance Eredivisie returned with a trip to Philips Stadium. PSV are 4th at the moment - not too bad, but they’re not exactly in the title race. They missed their best striker Chijoke Obafemi because of the Cup of African Nations and their best defender Justin Brard due to injury. We had problems of our own - Leslie Lichaba was away with the South Africa squad and Fred Koeman was still recovering from his injury, so we had to move Rick Hendriks to DL. Johan van Dalen started in AML, as we prepared for life without Nkoana and van der Plas. Squad: Gluhalic, Noordhoff, Deyl, Jansen, Hendriks, Engin Ari, Vormer (71. Sastrodimedjo), Sener Arslan, Lemmens (56. Veldman), van Dalen, Jansen (64. Knol) Eindhoven welcomed us with rainy weather and that wasn’t a good omen. In a typically closed game, we got the first great chance in 20’, but Erik Jansen couldn’t finish from a good position. Series of missed interceptions in our left defense led to PSV cross and in the end Ismet Gluhalic came off the line to catch it, but he too missed the ball and Michael Jans could finish into the empty goal. Poor defensive errors in a row cost us the goal there. Peter Lemmens had an opportunity to equalize in 40’, but the goalkeeper made an unorthodox save with his feet and the first half finished 0:1. Drab football so far and I was unhappy with the players for wasting our chances. I switched Erik Jansen to DLFs for the second half and at first it looked like it could make a difference. Sener Arslan had a wonderful scoring opportunity in 48’, but his shot, too, was saved and when youngster Olvido Esperance headed it in from PSV free-kick, it looked like we’re about to lose this one. I was out of ideas, Rick Hendriks didn’t offer much in attack down to our left flank and van Dalen too looked like he needed more time to settle in the first team. When the final whistle called, it marked our first defeat in the league. I was unhappy about the result and performance - some players played below their usual standard and our finishing left much to desire. our shooting was just 12/3 in this game we had 6.83 average rating - another sign it was a poor display from most of the team Ronald Jansen, Erik Jansen, Stef Veldman and Johan van Dalen were all disappointing Player of the game: Olvido Esperance (PSV Eindhoven) 26.01.2039 - AFC Ajax - FC Volendam 3:1 (ED) - 16. Johan van Dalen, 19. and 52. Erik Jansen - 79. Nick Coonen Next up - FC Volendam. Volendam are 11th in the table and they’re exceeding expectations somewhat, even though they’re inconsistent and in my opinion use wrong tactics against bigger teams. We were clear favourites for the home game and I knew that Volendam would come against us with their usual 4-2-2-2 tactics with 2 DMCs (one of those were our own youngster Chandra Purwanto). We had Fred Koeman back in full fitness and our defensive line looked much better (and more attacking) than it was in our last game. I rotated the players very boldly and our starting line-up was somewhat weaker than it could have been. Squad: Florentina, Sandler, Deyl, Hendriks, Koeman (46. Jansen), Mithat Arabaci, Vormer, Meulensteen, Veldman, van Dalen, Jansen (64. Knol) We controlled the first half completely - Stef Veldman set up van Dalen for the first goal and Koeman delivered another cross for Erik Jansen for a simple tap-in. Erik Vormer could have added another goal in 21’, but his shot was brilliantly saved by the goalkeeper. Either way, we had a solid lead at the half-time and looked in complete control of the game. We continued well in the second half - Erik Jansen scored our third goal after an excellent counter, we held initiative and most of the possession. In 66’ we had another great opportunity to score - Stef Veldman won the ball back, went for one-on-one and then passed it to left, to Elroy Meulensteen who was completely alone in the box, but the midfielder somehow managed to mess up his shot and the ball landed in the hands of the goalkeeper. FC Volendam finally got their consolation goal - a run and cross from our right wing found Nick Coonen in the box and Zeus Florentina let his shot in from the near post. That didn’t ruin our mood too much, because our win was confident enough and a much-needed boost of confidence after PSV loss. our shooting was 30/12 we created 5 clear cut chances in this game we didn’t give any real chances to FC Volendam Player of the game: Erik Jansen - brace from the striker in this game 29.01.2039 - AFC Ajax - Feyenoord Rotterdam 2:0 (ED) - 21. Peter Lemmens, 31. Clyde Sastrodimedjo Tough games continue with the Klassieker Derby in Amsterdam Arena. Feyenoord looked like contenders a few months back, but at the moment they’re in 3rd place and 10 points behind us, so there’s more pride at stake, rather than the title. We practiced defending set pieces before the game and prepared for the tough fixture. The Cup of African nations is continuing, but South Africa dropped out and Leslie Lichaba returned to Ajax. He looked too tired to start against Feyenoord, though. Our opponents missed their best striker Georges Kongnyuy and obviously for them it was a bigger loss. Squad: Gluhalic, Noordhoff, Deyl, Hendriks (69. Plat), Koeman, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Sener Arslan (64. Vormer), Lemmens, van Dalen, Jansen (69. Knol) We looked like a slightly better team in the first half. Erik Jansen had our first great chance in 21’ - his shot was blocked by the late-arriving defender, but Peter Lemmens collected the rebound and put it in for his 10th goal of the season. While Feyenoord tried to find their way back into the game, we added another goal and this time it was a little bit unexpected - Clyde Sastrodimedjo had an attempt from the edge of the area that surprised the goalkeeper and went in. A really good strike and excellent individual skill from the midfielder there. The first half finished with our 2:0 lead and Feyenoord had no shots in this first period, so they really needed to do something differently in the second half. We, on the other hand, had no rush when the game resumed. Feyenoord had one good goalscoring opportunity in the second half - their young striker Harold Charan had an attempt on target, Gluhalic parried it with a good save and Michael Diemers probably should have finished it off from the rebound, but he sent it just wide of the post. With that, the whistle called and it marked our derby win in front of our home fans. A very good result and much better performance than we showed against PSV. we had 60% possession our shooting was just 14/3 in this game - Feyenoord defended well most of the time and it was difficult to create chances after our second goal Peter Lemmens scored his 10th goal of the season Rick Hendriks played his 100th league game for Ajax Player of the game: Clyde Sastrodimedjo - solid midfield performance and a great goal A little bit turbulent January. Transfers and the Cup of African Nations affected our form, but we picked ourselves up after the defeat and finished strong. With the Feyenoord beaten, it looks like we’re OK in the league and we have no serious competition for the title. Eredivisie
  13. December 2038 Six games in December and one of those stands out - our game with Fenerbahce is a must win game for us to continue our Champions League campaign. 01.12.2038 - FC Groningen - AFC Ajax 1:4 (ED) - 40. Jaap Hoogdorp - 48., 55., 59. and 67. Erik Jansen Our December begins with a trip to Groningen. FC Groningen are predicted to finish 7th in this season and I know that this could be a tricky tie for us. We practiced attacking set pieces before the game and as FC Groningen players looked to be more tired, we hoped to use it as our advantage. Squad: Gluhalic, Sandler, Deyl, Hendriks, Lichaba (67. Koeman), Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Sener Arslan (71. Meulensteen), Lemmens (65. Veldman), van der Plas, Jansen We looked like a better team in the first half and managed to put FC Groningen under pressure, but their defense wasn’t easy to break down - they made a lot of last minute tackles and crucial interceptions in their box. And while our frustration with our inability to score started to increase, we conceded a goal from a corner - we lost a header in our box and Hoogdorp received the ball with space around him and was able to finish. And while we were recovering from that blow, we almost conceded another goal - Ramadan Dincer escaped Leslie Lichaba in injury time and was one-on-one against Ismet Gluhalic, but he wasn’t able to beat the Bosnian. So we went to half time with a frustrated mood and anxious to improve in the second half. I made one tactical change in the half-time - Erik Jansen struggled to find space in the second half and I asked him to drop deeper and play as DLFs in the second half. I’m not sure if that was the reason or my team talk inspired the players, but we quickly took charge of the game in the second half. Jansen equalized with a close range header and his second goal in 55’ after our corner gave us control of the game. Four minutes later he completed his hat-trick and he was just unstoppable. Jansen finished the game with four goals and ran FC Groningen ragged in the second half. The final score was a convincing win for us and the second half performance was really impressive. Erik Jansen, Sener Arslan and Clyde Sastrodimedjo were impressive in this game Erik Jansen scored his 10th goal of the season 04.12.2038 - AFC Ajax - Go Ahead Eagles 3:0 (ED) - 2., 9. and 60. Stef Veldman Our schedule balances tough with easy and the home game with Go Ahead Eagles is definitely one of the easiest fixtures in our season. Eagles are predicted to finish 18th and are one of the main relegation candidates. I used rotation players in this game to keep our starting line-up fresh for the Fenerbahce game. Squad: Florentina, Sandler, Plat, Jansen, Koeman (55. Lichaba), Engin Ari, Vormer, Meulensteen (60. Odang), Veldman, Nkoana, de Wit (66. Knol) We took control early in the game - Tarik de Wit found Stef Veldman with his pass and it was 1:0 before two minutes were passed, and Elroy Meulensteen’s through ball set up Veldman for his second goal. The rest of the first half was more boring - Eagles looked like they’d given up and we didn’t feel the pressure to score more. Stef Veldman completed his hat-trick after our counter-attack in 60’ and after that we could send out substitute players. Fairly easy win in the end - it was a right choice to give our key players a rest. we made 33 dribbles in this game - 15 by Kwanele Nkoana we’ve now played 17 games and collected 41 points - not bad for the first half of the season Stef Veldman and Kwanele Nkoaan were outstanding for us in this game 07.12.2038 - Fenerbahce - AFC Ajax 2:0 (Champions League Group B) - 22. Jean Sanou, 42. Zulu Our task was pretty straightforward - we needed to win and hope that Atletico Madrid can beat Wolfsburg in the other game. It was difficult to select our tactics, because Fenerbahce came against us 4-3-3 formation and I had to keep full-backs in support duty to avoid our centre-backs being overwhelmed by those three strikers. Our job was a little bit more difficult, because Engin Ari and Leslie Lichaba were suspended for this game. Squad: Gluhalic, Noordhoff, Deyl, Hendriks, Koeman, Mithat Arabaci, Sastrodimedjo, Sener Arslan, Lemmens (75. Veldman), van der Plas (60. Nkoana), Jansen (69. Knol) We played a very good first 20 minutes of the game. Mark van der Plas had a great chance to score in 18’, but his shot was brilliantly saved by Fenerbahce goalkeeper. Next, Peter Lemmens saw his attempt being tipped over and Fenerbahce answered with a goal out of nowhere. It was a long kick from their keeper that surprised us - Clive Noordhoff who was left securing our defense when we had a corner, lost his header and the flick-on found Jean Sanou on the run - good opportunity, excellent strike and we were stunned by this quick attack. 0:1. van der Plas had a chance to level the score just a minute later, but he hit the crossbar and Erik Jansen sent his shot just wide in 28’ while he should have made it at least on target. We wasted our chances and it started to get frustrating when again it was Fenerbahce who were more decisive - their counter attack had two deflections - Rick Hendriks couldn’t properly block their cross from our left and Ifenildo Deyl was late to challenge Zulu in our six yard box, so the ball took a bounce from him and went in. To lose the first half 0:2 when we actually looked like a better team and created more chances, was extremely disappointing, but to overcome this deficit in the second half seemed like too difficult a challenge. We couldn’t recover from this first half after the break and in fact it was rather easy for Fenerbahce to sit back and defend for the rest of the game. The loss meant that we had to settle with the third place in our group and will continue in Europa League. Trip back to Amsterdam was not a joyous occasion and all the players looked quiet and thoughtful in our plane. It was our finishing that let us down (again) in Champions League level. I believe that tactics were good and in fact we created enough chances to score goals and win this game, but our finishing was not good enough when opportunities presented themselves and so attacking players need to improve that area of their game. our shooting was 20/10 in this game - should be enough for a win we had 19 corners, but couldn’t make those count Mark van der Plas, Erik Jansen and Rick Hendriks were disappointing in their performance Player of the game: Sener Arslan - 11 key passes from our playmaker and otherwise solid midfield performance Champions League Group B Atletico Madrid 13 Wolfsburg 10 AFC Ajax 7 Fenerbahce 4 I am disappointed with our Champions League campaign mainly because we played really good four games and collected 7 points. That built us a good platform to secure qualification to the knockout stages, but we lost two games in a row, without a single goal scored, and gave our good position away. 12.12.2038 - AFC Ajax - FC Utrecht 2:0 (ED) - 72. Stef Veldman, 90.+3 Erik Jansen We had to leave this disappointment behind, because less than a week later we hosted FC Utrecht in a game that looked like the most difficult match in our Eredivisie schedule in December. FC Utrecht looked really impressive in August and September, but they’ve dropped pace after that and lost some points here and there, so now they’re 10th in the table while coming to Amsterdam Arena. They have some games at hand, but at best they’re still 10 points behind us, so basically their title challenge is over before Christmas. I wanted to meet them with our best team, but Jelle Sandler was suspended for this game and Leslie Lichaba recovered from his chest injury, so I had to make at least some changes to the line-up. Squad: Gluhalic, Noordhoff, Deyl, Hendriks, Koeman, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Sener Arslan (76. Vormer), Lemmens (63. Veldman), van der Plas (70. Nkoana), Jansen The first half was a drab football from both sides - we looked to have a little bit more desire and motivation, but FC Utrecht defended well and it wasn’t easy to find chances. We were called offside way too often and that too limited our opportunities. Things improved in the second half. Soon after the kick off Clyde Sastrodimedjo tried his luck from 40 meters and his attempt rattled the crossbar. That could have been a great goal if it had gone in. Peter Lemmens looked active in attack and Erik Jansen saw his fierce shot being brilliantly parried by FC Utrecht goalkeeper in 56’. We now had FC Utrecht under pressure and it looked like the goal was just a matter of time. And we finally got it in 72’ when substitute Stef Veldman scored a header from point blank range after a good attacking move. FC Utrecht had no response and when the final whistle was about to call, Jansen extended our lead with a good shot after Nkoana gave him an excellent deep cross from our left wing. That settled it and we finished the game with a convincing win. We looked much better (or FC Utrecht looked weaker) and hopefully that win gives us our confidence back. our shooting was 23/8 in this game Player of the game: Clyde Sastrodimedjo 15.12.2038 - Roda JC Kerkrade - AFC Ajax 0:4 (Dutch Cup 4th round) - 18. Tarik de Wit, 28. Lamin Plat, 53. and 57. Stef Veldman Next up, a cup game against Roda JC. Roda JC doesn’t look like a big threat to us, especially because their main goalscorer and best striker Artur Michalski is out with injury, but because it’s an away game, it could be tricky. Almost every mid-table team could be very dangerous in front of their home fans. I considered it for a while, but because our players looked rather tired, had to rotate a lot and gave some players rest for this game. It didn’t happen to be a problem in the end. Squad: Florentina, Sandler, Plat, Jansen, Koeman, Mithat Arabaci, Vormer, Meulensteen (61. Vormer), Veldman, Nkoana (61. van Dalen), de Wit (61. Knol) We took initiative right from the kick-off. Stef Veldman got the early chance to open scoring in 2’, but his shot was saved. Erwin Vormer’s attempt from 12 meters hit the crossbar and then we finally got through in 18’ when Tarik de Wit finished from close range to score his 200th goal for Ajax. Youngster Lamin Plat doubled our lead with a good header from IFK and we went to half time with a solid 2:0 lead. To be fair, it had been easy so far and it looked like Roda JC had given up already before the kick-off. The second half went on in a similar fashion - de Wit had a chance to double his tally in 54’, but his shot was saved - Stef Veldman, however, slotted it in from the rebound and Veldman found the target again four minutes later. At this point I could relax and bring on substitutions. Very easy win in the end and I’m happy with the performance. our shooting was 17/11 in this game we had 8.16 average rating Stef Veldman, Jelle Sandler and Lamin Plat had a great game Tarik de Wit scored his 200th goal for Ajax Player of the game: Stef Veldman we will play FC Dordrecht in quarter finals 19.12.2038 - MVV Maastricht - AFC Ajax 2:4 (ED) - 20. Petr Hykel, 71. Cees Janssen - 5. Sener Arslan, 31. and 42. Kwanele Nkoana, 45.+1 Stef Veldman Our last game of the year took us to Maastricht. MVV are currently 14th in the table and are playing below expectations in this season, but our young prospect Robert Visser has done fairly well for them and gathered more than 20 first team appearances in their central defense. MVV plays a pretty standard 4-1-2-3 DM Wide formation. Squad: Florentina, Sandler, Deyl (70. Plat), Hendriks, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Vormer, Sener Arslan (62. Meulensteen), Veldman, Nkoana, Jansen (62. Knol) We had again a great start and took the lead after our corner. MVV cleared the ball, but Kwanele Nkoana whipped it back into the box and Sener Arslan timed his run well to reach it on time - easy finish and his first goal of the season gave us the lead. But MVV didn’t give up and they equalized after an excellent counter-attack. Their cross found Petr Hykel in our six-yard box and his close range finish made it 1:1. They moved well in this counter, I have to give them that. But before the first time finished, Kwanele Nkoana took over and put us in charge. At first he calmly brought the ball into the box to make it 2:1 with a calm right-footed finish, then added another goal with a free header and in injury time created an excellent chance for Stef Veldman. Veldman couldn’t finish with his first attempt, but made amends from the rebound after the goalkeeper parried his first shot. We had a good lead at half time and I was happy with our four goals. MVV obviously tried to play for counter-attacks and at times those looked dangerous, but their defense let them down and our four goals were not something that they prepared for. I asked the team to retain possession in the second half - it limited our chances, but MVV found their second goal in 71’ after Lamin Plat made a bad mistake in our box. His missed interception gave Cees Janssen a chance and it was 2:4. That goal didn’t help MVV too much, but emphasized that our defense should have been better in this game. Solid win in the end, despite our sloppy defense. MVV recovered well after their first half and tried to play good football after the break. our shooting was 9/7 - we didn’t have enough shots, but were lethal in front of goal we allowed MVV to make 23 key passes and 21 dribbles - a sign that we gave up initiative after the break Player of the game: Kwanele Nkoana - he started all the dangerous attacks in the first half December was a good month for us in domestic competitions, but we lost the most important game to Fenerbahce and with that I’m very disappointed. Eredivisie We’re at least 9 points clear in the table. At the bottom, Telstar looks doomed even before Christmas.
  14. November 2038 Five games in November - although the month includes international window, six is less than usual and the schedule is not too difficult. We have big games in the Champions League, but the Eredivisie fixture list balances it with easier games (at least on paper). 02.11.2038 - AFC Ajax - Atletico Madrid 0:0 (Champions League Group B) To be honest, we were encouraged by our performance in Madrid and we went to this game with confidence that if we do what we did in the away game, we could get a good result at home. We knew how to prepare, too - defensive positioning training and tactical changes that made our formation more structured, wider and full-backs on support duty. Couple of problems in the squad: Clyde Sastrodimedjo was still injured and Peter Lemmens picked up a thigh strain in training, so two forced substitutions in the line-up from us. Squad: Gluhalic, Noordhoff, Deyl, Hendriks, Lichaba, Engin Ari (73. Mithat Arabaci), Vormer, Sener Arslan, Veldman, Nkoana (62. van der Plas), Jansen (64. de Wit) The first half was defensive from both sides. I was very happy with our good defensive organisation and Atletico 4-4-1-1 formation didn’t pose too much of a threat. We had two unlucky moments in the first half - both Erik Jansen and Rick Hendriks saw their headers flick the crossbar. There was a sense that if the game is so close then one goal could be decisive, so we just didn’t have luck on our side in those moments. As the game progressed without goals, it looked like our confidence grew and Atletico players started to get nervous. And with that, chances started to come our way. Kwanele Nkoana tested Atletico goalkeeper, but his shot in 53’ was brilliantly parried. Stef Veldman found Erik Jansen in a box with a clever backheel pass, but the young striker wasted his clear cut chance. Substitute Tarik de Wit also moved in the right zones and his two attempts in the final ten minutes went just wide of the goal. The game finished with Mark van der Plas’ excellent chance for the winner in injury time, but again we couldn’t capitalize of that clear cut chance and had to settle with a goalless draw. I felt a little unlucky that we couldn’t find a winner, but I was very happy with our overall display and defensive organisation - a draw against Atletico surely counts as success. our shooting was 17/4 - we attacked well, but could have get more shots on target we didn’t allow Atletico to create any chances in this game and that’s a huge praise to our defensive team effort Player of the game: Giovanni Galante (Atletico Madrid) Kwanele Nkoana came off with a stubbed toe and he will miss around one week of action 06.11.2038 - AZ Alkmaar - AFC Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 89. Robin Claeys - 31. Mark van der Plas We were clearly encouraged by our good display against Atletico Madrid and went to Alkmaar with confidence. AZ are predicted to finish 12th and they look like an average mid-table side, with some good attacking players, but rather weak defense. Their 4-2-3-1 formation looks fairly attacking, though. We had Clyde Sastrodimedjo back in full training, although I decided not to start him after his injury. Squad: Gluhalic, Noordhoff, Deyl, Hendriks, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Vormer (63. Mithat Arabaci), Sener Arslan (78. Meulensteen), Veldman, van der Plas, Jansen (61. Knol) The first half was a drab football from both sides, but we had one great scoring opportunity and that was enough to take the lead - Mark van der Plas received the ball in the box and while AZ goalkeeper Azär Haciyev got his hands to it, he couldn’t collect the ball properly and van der Plas finished from close range. Because 1:0 is a narrow lead, I asked the players to retain possession in the second half. Things looked good for us in 57’ when Stef Veldman was tripped by Harun Firat in the box, but Erwin Vormer sent his penalty right into the middle of the goal and it was easily saved by Haciyev. Veldman earned another penalty ten minutes later, but again we missed it - this time substitute Stan Knol couldn’t finish his chance from the spot. And, of course, after two missed penalties, it was almost mandatory that we conceded our lead right at the end of the game - AZ got their first good chance after a counter-attack and Robin Claeys finished it calmly, sending us packing with just one point. To be honest, I was furious with the team - to waste a lead like that, to miss two penalties in one game and drip two valuable points in a game that we should have won, was completely unacceptable. That’s poor concentration and a poor result. despite our conceded goal, we extended our unbeaten streak to 30 games Mithat Arabaci made his 100th appearance for Ajax in this game Player of the game: Sener Arslan - solid midfield performance from the playmaker 20.11.2038 - AFC Ajax - Sparta Rotterdam 1:0 (ED) - 37. Clyde Sastrodimedjo What the AZ game showed is that we need to finish better. Next up was Sparta Rotterdam, but this time it was a home game. Our opponents were predicted to finish 10th in this season. They’re kind of a busy team who always mixes things up (for example they had 1 5 new signings in this Summer), don’t improve a lot, but somehow always end up with a safe mid-table finish. We used this international break well and most of the players returned from injury - Peter Lemmens, Johan van Dalen, Kwanele Nkoana and Harvey Odang are all fit and ready to go. But some of the younger players carried a lot of load in international teams - Erik Jansen clearly needed a rest and will miss this game. Squad: Gluhalic, Noordhoff, Deyl, Hendriks, Lichaba. Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Sener Arslan (72. Meulensteen), Lemmens, Nkoana (61. van der Plas), Knol (68. Jansen) We controlled the midfield completely in the first half, but good chances kept themselves waiting. We finally found the goal in 37’ when Clive Noordhoff delivered an excellent cross and Clyde Sastrodimedjo timed his run into the box perfectly. Easy finish for the midfielder. Our goal opened things up a little and before the half-time we had two more clear cut chances, but both Stan Knol and Kwanele Nkoana couldn’t beat the goalkeeper. It was a good first half and as the end was really promising, I expected us to score more goals in the second half. The second half, however, was not so good - we struggled to create opportunities and substitutions didn’t help our rhythm too. It was Sparta who had the best opportunity in the second half - their IFK found Abdellah Messaoudi unmarked in our box, but Ismet Gluhalic made a great save to parry his clear cut chance. I asked the players to retain possession and hold onto our lead - the final whistle marked our win and we collected another three points, but I’m not happy with our performance - we should have been much more convincing and finishing, apparently, is still an issue. We were so close to squandering it all again, just like we did against AZ Alkmaar. We have to be better. our shooting was 9/4 - just nine shots in a home game is not good enough Stan Knol and Kwanele Nkoana were extremely poor in attack in this game Player of the game: Peter Lemmens - 9 key passes was enough to get that award 24.11.2038 - AFC Ajax - Wolfsburg 0:2 (Champions League Group B) - 13. and 77. Jose Antonio Gomez The second Champions League match in November. We did beat Wolfsburg in the away game, so there was no reason to think that we couldn’t do it in Amsterdam Arena. My first goal was to win, of course, but a draw would have been good enough to keep the score between us in our favour. We practiced defending set pieces before the game and sent out our best eleven. I used our proven Champions League tactics - with more disciplined formation and full-backs in support duty to avoid leaving our centre-backs in one-on-one situations against Wolfsburg strikers. Squad: Gluhalic, Noordhoff, Deyl, Hendriks, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Sener Arslan, Lemmens (51. Veldman), van der Plas (68. Nkoana), Jansen (61. de Wit) We started well and had two good goalscoring opportunities in the first ten minutes. Engin Ari delivered a long IFK and Erik Jansen got to it first, only to see his shot being held by Wolfsburg goalkeeper. Mark van der Plas had a crack in 8’ and his attempt was also saved. And then Wolfsburg took control of the game after a close range header from Jose Antonio Gomez. It was a disappointment after our good start and got our players nervous. One more good chance from dead ball situations in 40’ - Ifenildo Deyl had a good opportunity, but he too couldn’t beat the keeper. We went to half time with 0:1 score and I knew that nervousness was the problem in the first half - we clearly had more chances than Wolfsburg, but just needed to be more confident and it was my job to get the player’s heads straight. Unfortunately my team talk wasn’t good enough to do it. We continued to make clumsy mistakes in attacking moves and our shots went wide. Wolfsburg didn’t put us under pressure, but they had the best opportunities in the second half. Bernd Dammhayn managed to hit the post in 69’ and when Gomez added another goal in 77’ it was all over for us. Experienced Engin Ari made a poor mistake in this situation - his backwards header was easily intercepted by Gomez and it was an easy finish for any Bundesliga striker. In the end the result was a disaster for us. I hoped that we could rise to the occasion as a team. Instead, we buckled under pressure and failed - both players and me as a manager. Defensive errors were obvious and while Wolfsburg didn’t put us under much pressure, we gifted them those scoring opportunities that they used very clinically. our shooting was 18/10 - good stats, but goalless nevertheless we allowed Wolfsburg to make 31 dribbles in this game Clive Noordhoff damaged his heel in this game and he’ll be out for a week Player of the game: Jose Antonio Gomez (Wolfsburg) 28.11.2038 - AFC Ajax - Telstar 6:0 (ED) - 1. Peter Lemmens, 27. Tarik de Wit, 56. and 57. Kwanele Nkoana, 65. and 69. Stan Knol The mood was not good after the Wolfsburg game - a lot of reflection and there was a sense that players thought about their own and team performance. Fortunately, our next game was a fairly easy fixture against Telstar. Newly-promoted Telstar is predicted to finish 17th and one look at their team gave me the feeling that they’re really not a good enough team to retain their place in the league. They haven’t won a league game since August and it’s difficult to see them getting points from Amsterdam Arena. We practiced attacking set pieces before the game and I took the liberty to rotate with the squad. Ifenildo Deyl and Erik Jansen looked tired after the Wolfsburg game and needed a rest anyway. Squad: Florentina, Sandler, Plat, Hendriks (63. Jansen), Lichaba, Mithat Arabaci, Vormer, Meulensteen (68. Odang), Lemmens, Nkoana, de Wit (56. Knol) At least some of the players were really determined to show that they could do better than we did in the Wolfsburg game. Peter Lemmens was one of them and he took charge of the game right after the kick-off. He took the ball, skipped past two challenges and fired it in with less than one minute played. Lemmens also gave a cross to de Wit’s goal and with that we went to half-time with a solid 2:0 lead. Our pre-match training paid off in 56’ when Kwanele Nkoana added our third goal from IFK. Nkoana added another goal right away and that decided the game. The rest of the match was a damage limitation for Telstar, but we didn’t stop - substitute Stan Knol wanted to show that he, too, can do better than he did against Sparta, and he added another two goals to make it 6:0 for the final score. Our big lead allowed us to experiment with individual orders - I tested Elroy Meulensteen as CMa in midfield and Stan Knol was lethal in front of goal despite playing as DLFs. If Telstar had problems with confidence after their long losing streak, this defeat probably destroyed their spirits completely. our shooting was 19/12 we had 8.52 average rating Peter Lemmens, Kwanele Nkoana, Erwin Vormer and Leslie Lichaba were outstanding in this game Player of the game: Peter Lemmens - superb performance with a goal and three assists I feel that we didn’t play as well as we could have in November - I was very happy with our display against Atletico, but after that our focus wasn’t exactly. We should have been much better in games against AZ and Sparta. The Wolfsburg defeat certainly hurt and it’s very important to leave it behind so that we could focus completely to our last Champions League game with Fenerbahce. Eredivisie We have dropped points here and there, but we’re still going undefeated and we’re slowly increasing our lead in the table.
  15. October 2038 October will include an international break, but also six fixtures for us. The Champions League will continue, but Eredivisie games should get a little bit easier, because we play with smaller teams this month. 03.10.2038 - AFC Ajax - Helmond Sport 2:0 (ED) - 54. Erik Jansen, 76. Stan Knol This should be easy - Helmond Sport are predicted to finish 15th and while they replaced more than 10 players in the Summer transfer window, I don’t see much improvement in their squad. We had Clive Noordhoff and Tarik de Wit back in full training and he didn’t start. Also, Sener Arslan looked tired and was rested, but home games against small teams are good for rotation anyway. Squad: Florentina, Sandler, Deyl, Hendriks, Koeman, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (46. Vormer), Meulensteen, Veldman, Nkoana (64. van der Plas), Jansen (71. Knol) Uncharacteristically, a couple of our players grew nervous in the first half. Helmond defended well (or we just couldn’t create enough chances), but our only good scoring opportunity in the first half came in 25’ - Stef Veldman saw his shot being saved and the rebound fell to Jelle Sandler - the full-back took his shot with a typical defender’s manner and sent it straight towards the goalkeeper, so good chance went to waste and the first half finished 0:0. It was a drab game so far and I expected much better from the team. I asked players to retain possession and full-backs to overlap more in the second half and it brought results, even though not from the open play. We had a corner in 54’ and Rick Hendriks did exceptionally well to head it back into the six yard box where Erik Jansen was waiting and finished calmly. Substitute Stan Knol finished our good combination from right wing in 76’ and then we could relax a little. It wasn’t our most convincing performance, but the second half was a little better and good enough to secure all three points. our shooting was just 15/4 - not impressed by that we didn’t give Helmond Sport any chances in this game Player of the game: Stef Velmdan - outstanding performance from the right winger The international window came and while some players could concentrate on training, Mark van der Plas made his debut for Holland in a friendly game against Argentina. Sener Arslan was also selected and the midfielder managed to score his first ever goal for the national team. I used this time to make some staff additions and we signed Andrew Sparkes as U-19 goalkeeping coach and Riccardo Fadini as Jong Ajax coach. 15.10.2038 - FC Twente Enschede - AFC Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 74. Karim Doumbia - 57. Clyde Sastrodimedjo With a successful international window behind us, we continued our campaign with a trip to Enschede. FC Twente are a top-half team, predicted to finish 6th and the game looks similar to sc Heerenveen away fixture. It also offered a similar disappointing result. But first, some team news. While Clive Noordhoff and Tarik de Wit were fully fit, we missed Elroy Meulensteen who picked up a small knock in Holland U-21 team and Erik Jansen returned so exhausted that it looked wiser to rest him for this game. Squad: Gluhalic, Noordhoff, Deyl, Hendriks, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Sener Arslan, Lemmens (67. Veldman), Nkoana (74. van der Plas), Knol (70. de Wit) We looked like a slightly better team in the first half and created some half-chances. Our most dangerous moment came in 6’ when Sener Arslan had a good attempt on target, but it was brilliantly saved by FC Twente goalkeeper. Peter Lemmens also saw his shot being parried by the keeper and when the first half finished goalless, the commentators had only praise for Paul Kuijpers in FC Twente goal. We needed to put it up a notch in the second half and we finally managed to take the lead in 54’ when Clyde Sastrodimedjo finished our counter-attack with an excellent strike. Deserved lead at that point, but unfortunately we couldn’t keep it until the end. In 74’ FC Twente had an attack from our right wing and when the cross came in, it went over Ismet Gluhalic who tried to reach it in the near post. The ball got to Karim Doumbia, who headed it into the empty goal - disappointing defensive mistake again and because we couldn’t find another goal in the last 15 minutes, we dropped another two points in an away game. we conceded a goal, but we didn’t allow FC Twente any real chances in this game we made 22 individual mistakes in this game - too many Player of the game: Paul Kuijpers (FC Twente) - the goalkeeper made a few key saves in this game and finished this match with 9.1 rating 20.10.2038 - Atletico Madrid - AFC Ajax 2:1 (Champions League Group B) - 31. pen. Dennis Jansen, 90.+2 Palhinha - 19. Peter Lemmens Atletico Madrid is by far the most dangerous team in our group. They’ve won six La Liga titles in the past seven years, so Real/Barca hegemony has truly finished in Spain. I experimented with very closed tactics and formation - structured and wide formation, more disciplined orders to players and fullbacks on support duty. Hopefully that helps us. Squad: Gluhalic, Noordhoff, Deyl, Hendriks, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (70. Vormer), Sener Arslan, Lemmens (80. Veldman), van der Plas, Jansen (68. de Wit) We started well and found our first clear cut chance with only after two minutes of football. Erik Jansen found himself in a one-on-one situation after our counter, but his shot was saved when he definitely should have scored. We had some problems while defending set pieces and couldn’t clear Atletico corner in 12’ properly - some rushed clearances and missed tackles led to Dennis Jansen chance. Fortunately, this time he hit just the post and Clive Noordhoff made a determined block to stop the next shot. We didn’t give up and a good attack gave us the goal - Mark van der Plas crossed from the left and a simple tap-in from Peter Lemmens made it look easy. Atletico equalized from the spot after Ifenildo Deyl conceded a penalty, so the first half finished 1:1. It was entertaining football so far and I can’t be too disappointed - we had two good chances and one costly mistake in our box, but held on well. Atletico put us under pressure and they had 11 corners in the first half, but those periods weren’t too long and generally we coped well. It looked that our tactical instructions worked. Our defensive formation was even better in the first half and a few chances also came our way. Mark van der Plas tested Atletico goalkeeper with a good shot in 68’, Peter Lemmens saw his attempt going just wide of the post and Engin Ari had a half-chance after our corner, but in the end the class was decisive and Atletico somehow managed to find the winner in injury time. Loose ball in our box fell to Palhinha, who fired it in right before the final whistle. That was a harsh and extremely disappointing result, because we fought so bravely and for once could have caused upset in the Champions League. Can’t fault the performance and motivation of the players, just couldn’t hold onto that point. we made 28 individual mistakes in this game - too many, but as a team we did well and covered for those mistakes Player of the game: Ismael Louza (Atletico Madrid) 23.10.2038 - AFC Ajax - Roda JC Kerkrade 2:1 (ED) - 56. Mark van der Plas, 76. Peter Lemmens - 55. Yann N’nah Nze Just three days later we were back in Amsterdam and hosted Roda JC. Our opponents are predicted to finish 13th in this season, and because the Champions League match was still in our legs, we had to make some rotations in the team. Elroy Meulensteen was back in full training and he was on the bench for us. We practiced attacking set pieces before the game, because I hoped that we could take advantage of the number of corners we should get in a home game. Squad: Gluhalic, Sandler, Deyl, Hendriks, Koeman, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (35. Vormer), Sener Arslan, Lemmens, van der Plas (71. Nkoana), Jansen (69. Knol) The first half was rather poor. Two noteworthy moments before the break were Fred Koeman’s half-chance after a clever free-kick combination and Roa JC got their best moment in 17’ when we gave their best striker Artur Michalski too much space in our box and he smashed the post with his strike. I was not happy with our game and inability to create chances and let the team know about it. After the second half kick-off, it looked like my team talk worked - Erik Jansen had two good shots and Mark van der Plas saw his attempt being tipped over by Roda JC goalkeeper. But in 55’ we conceded a goal and gave Roda the initiative. It was a defense-splitting through ball that found Yann N’nah Nze (what a name!) in our box and it was 0:1. We reacted well, I have to give the guys that credit. Just a minute later it was 56’ - Mark van der Plas header went in off the bar. I made substitutions and it looked that the motivation was there, although chances - not so much. Still, we finally did find the goal - Peter Lemmens again with a tap-in after a cross from Stan Knol. Substitutes Knol and Kwanele Nkoana posed the most threat in the remaining fifteen minutes and in the end it was a narrow win for us. Despite the result I felt that we got away with that poor performance - it should have been a much easier game in front of home fans. Not very convincing display - some defenders were nervous and Erik Jansen looked absent in our attacking moves. our shooting was 23/9 - despite the numbers we couldn’t create enough dangerous chances Clyde Sastrodimedjo came off in the first half and he’ll be out for two weeks with a twisted knee Player of the game: Peter Lemmens - a goal and assist from right winger 27.10.2038 - AFC Ajax - EVV 4:0 (Dutch Cup 3rd round) - 34. Lamin Plat, 49. Mark van der Plas, 73. and 77. Tarik de Wit Draw was favourable for us and we will play another amateur side in the third round. The second easy fixture in this Autumn and time to send out rotation players. Tarik de Wit recovered from his injury and it was a good training match for him. Squad: Florentina, Sandler, Plat, Jansen, Koeman, Mithat Arabaci, Vormer, Meulensteen (65. Blom), Veldman, van der Plas, Knol (69. de Wit) We took some time before we got our first goal, but went to half time with a solid 2:0 lead. Youngster Lamin Plat opened the scoring from the corner and van der Plas doubled our lead with a solid header. It looked like we were too possession-oriented and should have looked for a goal more often, so I ditched retain possession orders for the second half. We continued to struggle in front of goal in the second half, too, but only until de Wit came on - he looked very goal-hungry and started with a quickfire double to make it 4:0. In the end it was a comfortable win for us and EVV were probably relieved that they weren’t destroyed by a bigger margin. our shooting was 31/9 - we struggled to get our shots on target EVV had no shots in this game we had 8.06 average rating Jelle Sandler and Stef Veldman were outstanding for us in this game Lamin Plat scored his first ever goal for Ajax young midfielder Henk Blom made his debut for Ajax in the second half we will play Roda JC Kerkrade in the 4th round 30.10.2038 - FC Eindhoven - AFC Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 9. Erik Jansen We finish our month with a trip to Eindhoven and that should be a fairly easy away game - FC Eindhoven are predicted to finish 16th in this season and they’ve suffered seven straight defeats coming into this game, so they find themselves in a relegation fight and struggle to keep their nose above water. They boast the best work rate in Eredivisie, but that alone is not enough to get them points. Our hot prospect Wesley Graafland features in their team in this season and I’m keen to see him in action. We still miss Clyde Sastrodimedjo for this game, but it doesn’t matter too much, because I planned to rotate anyway. Squad: Florentina, Sandler, Deyl, Hendriks, Lichaba, Mithat Arabaci, Vormer, Sener Arslan (70. Meulensteen), Lemmens (77. Veldman), Nkoana, Jansen (62. de Wit) We took the lead early - Erik Jansen directed his header towards the goal and although the goalkeeper got his hands to it, he couldn’t parry the ball properly and it landed in the net. However, after our quick goal it was a drab match and even though FC Eindhoven players looked nervous, we couldn’t create any more dangerous chances. I asked players to retain possession in the second half and while we controlled things well, the second period was equally poor in the attacking phase. In the end we collected all three points, but it was a poor performance by our standards - midfield looked without a creative spark and we created only one half-chance in the entire game. Definitely need to improve that. our shooting was just 13/5 we lost possession 46/54 - here the FC Eindhoven work rate showed we made 36 dribbles in this game, but couldn’t use those open spaces we made 21 fouls - a little bit too many Player of the game: Kwanele Nkoana - made 17 dribbles and showed individual skills on the left wing, but his play didn’t lead to anything substantial October was… fairly OK, but nothing more. We got the points that we needed, even while playing poorly. Atletico defeat definitely hurt us and that injury time goal perhaps took away some of our spirit and confidence for the next games. Eredivisie It’s difficult to judge things - we’ve collected some good wins, but Feyenoord, PSV and FC Utrecht have games in hand and they could close the gap if they continue well. It doesn’t look good for FC Eindhoven - they’re 18th and have suffered eight straight defeats in a row, struggling to find goals. They better turn this around quickly or it will be relegation for them.
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