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  1. January 2034 04.01.2034 - AFC Ajax - FC Utrecht 2:0 (ED) - 90.+2 and 90.+4 pen. Engin Ceylan Two games against FC Utrecht are very close in calendar and it was our chance to take revenge for defeat in December. FC Utrecht made a very good December, so this game here is like a six pointer in title race. Fred Koeman is suspended for this game and Dirk van Grinsven was not yet ready to start, so youngster Raimond Burg has to start on our right wing. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (70. Stekelenburg), Janssen, Burg, van Dalen (58. van der Aar), de Wit (66. Engin Ceylan) First half was rather quiet. We managed to get a few good attacks, but the first shot on target came from Tarik de Wit when already 39 minutes were played. FC Utrecht defended really well and as the game progressed, some of our players started to look more nervous. I offered some words of encouragement in half time team talk and in second half we started to look more dangerous. Simon Janssen had a good shot on target in 50’ that was saved brilliantly by FC Utrecht goalkeeper. Equally outstanding save was needed two minutes later, the shot came from de Wit that time. We looked well in the first 15 minutes after half time, but then FC Utrecht composed themselves and closed their defense more. It took all 90 minutes before we got a really good chance - young winger Raimond Burg had a great look in 90’, but his shot was saved. The final whistle was near, but we didn’t give up. Engin Ceylan worked well to keep FC Utrecht defenders under pressure and it brought dividends in injury time, when he intercepted a poor backpass from Ron Bosman and tucked it in from close range. FC Utrecht players looked in despair and two minutes later Danny Eind fouled Raimond Burg in the box and injury time penalty was awarded. It was a bit harsh call, but decision was made and Engin Ceylan doubled his tally from the spot. And after the penalty final whistle called and we had won with a fantastic finish to this game. It was a very important win for us. I was really proud for the players, because they worked hard until the end and didn’t give up and for that we were rewarded. our shooting was 22/7 we didn’t give FC Utrecht any scoring opportunities Simon Janssen had a great game for us Engin Ceylan scored his 10th goal of the season Pieter Stekelenburg made his 400th appearance for Ajax in this game 21.01.2034 - AFC Ajax - Helmond Sport 1:1 (ED) - 56. Tarik de Wit - 63. Ludovicus Depuydt It’s the third time we meet with Helmond Sport in this season. While they’ve playing slightly above expectations and are currently 14th - few places above relegation zone - we did beat them 6:2 in a cup game in December and I felt fairly confident before that game. I selected attacking formation with overlapping fullbacks and expected us to beat them comfortably in Amsterdam Arena. Johan van Dalen was injured before this game, Leslie Lichaba was back in full training (but not ready to start) and Dirk van Grinsven returned to full fitness and starting line-up. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, de Groot (68. Engin Ari), Sastrodimedjo, Stekelenburg (56. Janssen), van Grinsven, van der Aar, de Wit (62. Engin Ceylan) First half was a drab football and poor attacking movement. Our only good chance came in 9’ when Tarik de Wit sliced Helmond defense with a wonderful through ball to find Pieter Stekelenburg opening behind defensive line. However, our playmaker couldn’t use his chance and shot went straight to goalkeeper. I wasn’t too happy with 0:0 scoreline at half time and asked the team turn up tempo for second half and break Helmond defense with pace. It took some time but we found a way through - Tom Drost delivered a cross and Tarik de Wit headed towards goal - not the best of headers, but ball somehow squirmed through Helmond’s goalkeeper and went in. Vital goal for us and with that opportunities start to come. Omar van der Aar had a great chance to extend our lead in 60’, but his shot was blocked and then, out of nowhere, Helmond found and equalizer. A number of one-touch passes made a good combination and their danger man Ludovicus Depuydt finished with a good shot that Ismet Gluhalic was unable to save. We almost gave up another goal when Thibaud Simon was left too open in our area, but fortunately his shot went wide. We too had our chances to win this game - Simon Janssen was first to get to loose ball in the box in 73’, but his shot was saved brilliantly by Helmond’s goalkeeper. In the end we had to settle with disappointing draw - that result was clearly not good enough and I was disappointed with our performance. Our defense in second half was sub-par and we didn’t take our chances in attack. Substitutions failed to make positive impact and that’s a sort of thing that needs to improve, too. our shooting was 20/8 we had 54 key passes - couldn’t convert that to chances 25.01.2034 - Sparta Rotterdam - AFC Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 25. Tasos Kolonis - 33. Tarik de Wit Next up is Sparta Rotterdam in away game. We will meet them soon again in cup quarter finals that’s being held in a week, but I expect Sparta to be more dangerous in home and they probably are more attacking, too. We have Leslie Lichaba back in full fitness and he can start in left defense for us. In opposition it’s interesting to see our loan players Jaap Hoogdorp and Sjoerd de Jong in action. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Lichaba (67. Koeman), Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (72. Stekelenburg), van Grinsven, van der Aar, de Wit (64. Engin Ceylan) First fifteen minutes made me a little worried, because we gave Sparta too many corners. Sparta’s goal eventually came from open play - Edward Schans missed his interception and Tasos Kolonis calmly finished his chance. It looked like we just woke up after conceded goal and immediately started to look more dangerous in attack. Tom Drost made a smart run and laid excellent pass to Tarik de Wit and de Wit finished well to equalize. In 40’ Simon Janssen had a great chance to give us the lead, but his shot was saved, so first half finished with 1:1. I was not happy with our finishing (and in fact with the whole first 30 minutes of the game). Second half didn’t start better for us. We were too slow to react in IFK situation and gave Sparta’s central defender Nick Prent too shots on goal. Good save from Ismet Gluhalic rescued us. Then started a good period when we managed to put Sparta under real pressure. Dirk van Grinsven had two great chances in 67’ and 68’, but his shots weren’t even on target and experienced winger let us down on those occasions. Sparta managed to organize their defense better in the final 20 minutes and we had to settle for another poor draw. It was like a carbon copy of Helmond game - poor defensive mistake coupled with poor finishing in attack. I saw some very uneven performances on the pitch - some players looked really nervous. I asked Edward Schans aside after this game to give him some personal critique about his poor performance in defense. I hope he’ll take it the right way and improve in the future. 28.01.2034 - AFC Ajax - MVV Maastricht 2:0 (ED) - 37. pen. Tarik de Wit, 58. Omar van der Aar I want to finish January on a more positive note and it’s a good opportunity to do so against MVV Maastricht, because we’re clear favourites in this game and MVV are clearly underperforming in this season, even after they replaced their manager. MVV are now 17th in the table and in danger of relegation, if they can’t improve their form quickly enough. We have Johan van Dalen back in the squad and ready to start. Omar van der Aar has not impressed in recent games, so it’s a welcome news. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (65. Stekelenburg), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (2. van der Aar), de Wit (60. Engin Ceylan) We were only two minutes into the game when Johan van Dalen limped off the pitch and had to be replaced by Omar van der Aar. I was happy to see him in the starting line-up, but he got injured so fast and I had to take him off and at first sight it looks pretty bad one. Perhaps this injury derailed us, but our first half was a drab affair - we couldn’t create chances and our attacking efforts were futile. It took all the way until 37’ to find a breakthrough and we needed a penalty for that. Fred Koeman used his acceleration to skip past defender and he was tripped in the box. Tarik de Wit looked a bit complacent when steading himself for the spot kick, but he scored nonetheless and we had the lead at half time. That goal aside I have nothing good to report from the first half. Second half was similarly uneventful, only one outstanding moment of brilliance by Omar van der Aar. He received a pass and took the shot just inside the area and that was a great strike - sent into the roof of the goal with power. Unstoppable shot for any goalkeeper and at this point that strike secured us the result that we wanted. Substitute Engin Ceylan had a few good moments in second half, but no real chances came from those. He has unique ability to create space around him, turn around defenders or beat them with pace and skills, but he often doesn’t use opportunities that he gets, waiting too long with his shot or just putting it wide. I’m still not happy with our display and performance, but at least the result is good in this game. Johan van Dalen is sidelined for at least 5-6 weeks with sprained ankle MVV result was slightly better finish to fairly poor month. Results I can take, but our performance was rather poor and with players in my disposal at the moment I’ve run out of ideas how to improve it quickly. Few things have become clear in this season, especially after we dropped out of Champions League. We need to rebuild and bring new talent up quicker. It means that I’m not going to offer new contracts to several veteran players and they are heading out of the club in next Summer - Sergio Alleyne, Nketsi Matal and Pieter Stekelenburg are now free to sign new deals with other clubs. Eredivisie Despite our results we’re safely 7 points clear above Feyenoord. MVV Maastricht are sinking without trace and new manager has not been able to turn things around for them. Transfers January 2034 For us it was a fairly quiet transfer window. I was not able to find a new club to Eugene Talea and he remains in the squad until Summer. There wasn’t much interest in our first team players and I had no difficult choices to make, regarding transfers or contracts. We sent three youngsters out on loan in this January: central defender Rick Hendriks went to Telstar talented goalkeeper Rob Pluim joined Go Ahead Eagles for six month Erwin Vormer made a temporary move to Go Ahead Eagles PSV Eindhoven had the busiest transfer window. They sold their best striker Jaume Prada to Lazio for impressive £11m and brought in Chijoke Obafemi from Olympique Lille as a replacement, paying £4,2m for him. £4,2m is a big fee in Eredivisie terms, but PSV obviously made a huge profit out of this move.
  2. December 2033 03.12.2033 - AFC Ajax - PSV Eindhoven 1:0 (ED) - 23. Johan van Dalen December started with Topper derby - decisive battle against top team. PSV, of course, will come to this game from home defeat against FC Groningen, so they could be a little fragile and I hope to take advantage of that. They also look really tired - their successful results in Europe have taken a toll of their squad and fatigue starts to affect them. We practiced attacking movement before the game and I knew that PSV will use their signature 4-4-2 setup against us. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Lichaba, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (62. Stekelenburg), van Grinsven (60. Matal), van Dalen, de Wit (65. Engin Ceylan) We started the first half well. Tarik de Wit had a fierce shot in 6’ and he was really unlucky only to hit the post with that. We looked dangerous from set pieces and won headers in PSV box. Most of our attacking moves came from our left wing (unusual) and Johan van Dalen was in the middle of action in the first half. He was first to react to loose ball in 23’ and squeezed his shot in from near post. van Dalen got several clear cut chances in the first half (three, to be exact), but he couldn’t finish from those opportunities. When first half was about to end, PSV got their best chance of the game - Leslie Lichaba lost possession in midfield and following counter-attack ended with Kees van der Werff open in our box. Brilliant save from Ismet Gluhalic kept our clean sheet and allowed us to regain our composure at half time. PSV did better in second half and they got their defense organised. PSV’s Timothee Carree had a great chance in 68’ (another great save from Gluhalic). We instantly moved to counter-attack and Engin Ceylan run alone with the ball from midfield to PSV box. He had a great opportunity to score, but his shot too was saved and Nketsi Matal sent his shot directly to PSV goalkeeper. So second half was fairly even in terms of chances and gameplay. Narrow win for us in the end. We were very good in the first half and should have finished our chances better. I’m still pleased with our win and performance. we created 5 clear cut chances - good stats against PSV Eindhoven 07.12.2033 - AFC Ajax - Dynamo Kyiv 1:2 (Champions League Group G) - 85. Simon Janssen - 17. Lawrence Babatunde, 24. Walter Medina It was a decisive game in our Champions League campaign. Our task was pretty straightforward - we needed to win at home to qualify from the group. We practiced attacking set pieces before the game and I tried to find answer to Dynamo’s attacking 4-3-3 formation. Because it was home game I used our regular control-possession tactics with attacking full-backs. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (51. Stekelenburg), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (60. van der Aar), de Wit (69. Engin Ceylan) First 15 minutes were quite open football and both teams got shots on target. Olexyi Datsyuk had a good attempt in 9’ and Ismet Gluhalic made a brilliant save to deny his shot. Unfortunately it was Dynamo who took the lead in 17’ - Lawrence Babatunde header was not too dangerous, but Ismet Gluhalic dropped the ball and Babatunde finished with second attempt. Poor mistake from Gluhalic and it could be costly. Seven minutes later and Walter Medina scored another goal with a header. Johan van Dalen had the best opportunity for us in 32’, but his shot went wide, so at half time we were trailing by two goals. Problems were on both ends - we allowed Dynamo too many shots on target and didn’t finish our chances. Gluhalic mistake also was unexpected - he is not usually error-prone, but this time he let us down. We controlled midfield and possession in second half, but Dynamo defended well and we couldn’t create chances. Simon Janssen’s goal in 85’ landed in goal and it was our only consolation, but it was too little, too late. With final whistle we had to accept our defeat and the fact that Dynamo deserved qualification more than we did. We need to improve in the next season if we want to be in contest in Champions League. Champions League Group G Paris Saint Germain 13 Dynamo Kyiv 11 AFC Ajax 5 Panathinaikos 3 That result proves that we need rebuilding. Some first team players are above 30 years already and unlikely to get better. Youngsters need a lot more playing time to improve their game further. 10.12.2033 - AFC Ajax - Fortuna Sittard 2:0 (ED) - 3. Tarik de Wit, 45. Simon Janssen With Champions League campaign finished we continue with Eredivisie. We’re clear favourites against Fortuna Sittard - even more so because their first team goalkeeper Barry Tuitel was injured and replaced by 19 years old youngster. I used our attacking formation with overlapping fullbacks and tried to rotate players to distribute playing time more evenly. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (57. Stekelenburg), Matal (31. van Grinsven), van der Aar, de Wit (57. Engin Ceylan) We had a great start to the game - Tarik de Wit gave us the lead with a fierce shot. It went fairly straight to goalkeeper, but the youngster’s hands were too soft and he couldn’t make a save. Good combination from our right wing finished with a shot from Nketsi Matal - that rattled crossbar. Matal was unfortunately forced off in 31’ with injury. Tarik de Wit’s shot in 36’ was brilliantly saved by young keeper. I hoped to see our second goal and Simon Janssen found the target with his header just before half time. First half was completely under our control in midfield. I would have liked more clear cut chances, but two-goal lead is good and that second goal before half-time whistle was important. Second half didn’t offer too many exciting moments. Fortuna Sittard got their best opportunity to score in 80’ - Frank de Vlugt got a half chance after good combination. His shot did beat Ismet Gluhalic, but landed against goal post. Final score marked a solid win for us, but I feel there is enough room for improvement. Some of the players did worse than i expected. our shooting was just 20/5 we had 19 corners and couldn’t make anything dangerous out of those Nketsi Matal is out for at least 3-4 months with damaged achilles tendon. I included young winger Raimond Burg to first team to cover that loss To pieces of news after that game. Joey Pelupessy was unveiled as new MVV Maastricht manager. Europa League knockout round draw was made and we will meet Chelsea in the first round. That’s a tough draw and probably one of the strongest teams in the mix. Well, no pressure, then. 13.12.2033 - Helmond Sport - AFC Ajax 2:6 (Dutch Cup 4th round) - 52. Ludovicus Depuydt, 85. Lorenzo Kleijn - 38., 47. and 85. Omar van der Aar, 67. and 83. Engin Ceylan, 90.+1 Germain Siereveld December continued with a cup game against Helmond Sport. We had just a few days to prefer and I selected younger players for this game, to give first team players more rest days. Squad: Gluhalic, Alleyne (59. Herder), Siereveld, Hendriks, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo (70. Talea), Stekelenburg, van Grinsven (59. Burg), van der Aar, Engin Ceylan It took some time for us to create something really dangerous - Omar van der Aar had our first clear cut chance in 28’, but his shot was brilliantly saved by Helmond Sport goalkeeper. Young defender Rick Hendriks had a chance from following corner - ball fell to his feet, but his shot was blocked. van der Aar finally opened scoring in 38’ - excellent cross found him in six yard box and simple tap-in was all that was needed. Helmond Sport made their situation worse in 41’ when their Marcel Rutgers received straight red card for ugly two-footed challenge. I was not happy with our attacking play in the first half - too many offsides and we wasted our chances. However, I expected things to become easier against ten men in second half. We started second half much better - Omar van der Aar doubled his tally with awkward goal (he scored with his chest), but in 52’ Helmond managed to score one goal themselves. Clyde Sastrodimedjo lost the ball in midfield and good combination gave a great chance to Ludovicus Depuydt. Helmond’s best striker didn’t waste his opportunity and score was 1:2. Engin Ceylan then took over and scored two goals. When game started to end, we gave another clear cut chance to Helmond and Lorenzo Kleijn scored their second goal. It was obvious that our defensive line had not played together too often. Still, we finished the game strong - van der Aar completed his hat-trick with a great shot from the edge of area and defender Germain Siereveld scored from corner in injury time. I was not happy with our defense in second half - complacency was evident. However, we scored a lot of goals and used our chances well. Good result with weakened team. Young right-back Nabil Herder played in second half. our shooting was 32/16 our average rating was 8.00 we created 5 clear cut chances Omar van der Aar and Engin Ceylan had a great game for us we will play Sparta Rotterdam in quarter finals 17.12.2033 - FC Utrecht - AFC Ajax 2:0 (ED) - 11. and 78. Juddy Menga FC Utrecht are really strong team and that wasn’t going to be easy game for sure. They were predicted to finish 4th in Eredivisie and have done well so far in Europa League too. We practiced defending set pieces before the game. I hoped to see our loan player Steven Otten in action for FC Utrecht, but that was not going to happen - he was not in FC Utrecht’s starting line-up against us. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari (56. de Groot), Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven (71. Burg), van Dalen (56. van der Aar), de Wit We didn’t have the best start to this game. Juddy Menga was first to react to loose ball in our box in 11’ and opened scoring. FC Utrecht had another great chance in 15’, but Clyde Drenthe sent his shot wide. I was a bit worried at this point - we controlled possession, but couldn’t get shots on target and FC Utrecht defended really well. Tarik de Wit saw his header flicking crossbar in 32’ and Johan van Dalen had a great chance in 40’ after IFK, but his shot was too weak and was held by Utrecht goalkeeper. First half was a disappointment - we should have finished better and needed more chances. We had 58% possession in the first half, but couldn’t convert it into chances. I asked players to play with higher tempo after half time break, but that didn’t give us anything in second half. Substitutions didn’t make an impact too and when Juddy Menga doubled his tally from IFK in 78’ I knew that this game was over. Juddy Menga is one of the best goalscorers in Eredivisie and he only needed two half-chances against us to score two goals. That shows something. It was deserved goal for FC Utrecht - they played really well in defense and were patient enough to wait for their chances. It was our first league defeat of the season and something to learn from. our shooting was 16/3 - 9 long shots young winger Raimond Burg played in his first league game for Ajax 21.12.2033 - AFC Ajax - FC Volendam 2:0 (ED) - 11. Dirk van Grinsven, 26. Tarik de Wit We wanted to shrug off FC Utrecht defeat and we were clear favourites at home against FC Volendam. Volendam have done well so far and occupied 11th position in the table. Their target man Veljko Ostojic is leading Eredivisie scoring table and it’s a tough challenge for our central defenders to beat him in the air. However, Volendam looked a bit tired before this game and our bigger team and rotation is a clear advantage for us. We went to this game with attacking formation and overlapping instructions, but I made some changes in line-up, because Johan van Dalen and Engin Ari have not been good enough in recent games. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (69. Stekelenburg), van Grinsven (42. Burg), van der Aar, de Wit (63. Engin Ceylan) We controlled things well in the first half and the first chance came in 11’. Tarik de Wit fired a volley towards FC Volendam goal. The shot was saved, but Dirk van Grinsven was there to finish from rebound. Omar van der Aar wasted his clear cut chance just a minute later, but Tarik de Wit doubled our lead in 26’ and we went to half time feeling pretty confident. Second half was more quiet, but we kept things under our control until the final whistle and secured all three points. we didn’t give FC Volendam any chances in attack Dirk van Grinsven suffered damaged foot in 42’ and needs to rest for at least 2-3 weeks we’ve collected 42 points from the first 17 games - great number for any season 28.12.2033 - AFC Ajax - Vitesse Arnhem 3:0 (ED) - 14. and 19. pen. Tarik de Wit, 90. Simon Janssen Last game of the year is against Vitesse Arnhem after Christmas. January transfer window is approaching and there’s a lot of speculations in the air, so better part of my press conferences are spent on commenting possible moves of one or another player. Vitesse is a tough opponent - they’ve predicted to finish 5th and with a good reason. They brought £10m worth of new players in during Summer, including Polish striker Kamil Zalewski and more-less made this bunch of players work like a team. We practiced defending set pieces before this game and difficult choice for me was AMR position - is young winger Raimond Burg ready to start for the team in this game? Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, Engin Ari (68. de Groot), Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, Burg, van Dalen (61. van der Aar), de Wit (68. Engin Ceylan) We took the lead in 14’ - it was a moment of transition and new man Raimond Burg delivered excellent ball behind defensive line, right on the path for Tarik de Wit, who put it in from near post. Five minutes later we received a little help from the referee - Engin Ari was fouled in the box and penalty was awarded, even if it looked a bit dubious. Tarik de Wit converted the spot kick and we held two-goal lead at half time. Vitesse had some shots in the first half, but nothing too dangerous and our second goal clearly took away some of their spirit. Right after second half kick-off Vitesse danger man Kamil Zalewski showed off his skills. He skipped past Edward Schans way too easily and found himself one-on-one against Ismet Gluhalic, but somehow sent his shot wide. Zalewski got another good chance in 78’ - this time his shot hit the post. Polish striker probably felt that better finishing from his part could have changed the game, but in the last minute Simon Janssen made it 3:0 and final result marked a very convincing win for us. Tarik de Wit made his 200th appearance for Ajax Simon Janssen had a great game for us In the end of the year we extended Omar van der Aar contract until 2037 to end transfer speculations around him. I believe that 20 years old winger has plenty of time to improve and he could be part of our future for upcoming years. Eredivisie FC Utrecht have finished their year strong and they’ve climbed to second position. After both PSV and Feyenoord have dropped some points and especially after our defeat to Utrecht, they look the most likely challengers, but we still have comfortable lead in the table.
  3. November 2033 02.11.2033 - Panathinaikos - AFC Ajax 2:2 (Champions League Group G) - 22. Pieter Stekelenburg (og), 74. Nico Cox - 67. and 90. Omar van der Aar We defeated Panathinaikos convincingly at home and I hoped that we could repeat that sort of performance in Athens. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Stekelenburg (56. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (63. van der Aar), de Wit (71. Engin Ceylan) We got the first chance of the game in 8’, but de Wit’s shot was brilliantly saved by Panathinaikos goalkeeper. We seemed to play slightly better, but we gave Panathinaikos the lead ourselves. Panathinaikos had a free kick and Pieter Stekelenburg headed it so unfortunately towards our goal that it went over Gluhalic and landed in the net. That unfortunate own goal was the difference at half time. We enjoyed most of possession, but couldn’t create enough chances. Panathinaikos had no shots on target in the first half, yet they were leading. We started second half with more motivation and chances started to come - Dirk van Grinsven had a great opportunity to equalize in 54’, but his shot was saved. We found the goal in 67’ - substitute Omar van der Aar scored with a simple tap-in - his first touch of the game. Excellent counter-attack, good run and cross from Simon Janssen created that goal. Panathinaikos players got nervous and I smelled that we could score a winner, but it was Panathinaikos who scored another goal - they got another free kick, Sergio Alleyne didn’t clear it properly and loose ball fell to Nico Cox. I was furious with that goal and our sloppy defending. In the end we managed to save a point, but only just. Dirk van Grinsven had ambitious attempt on target in the last minute. It was saved with difficulties by keeper, but rebound fell to van der Aar, who finished his chance and scored his second goal of the game. In the end I was pleased with our late equalizer. I felt we didn’t deserve to lose, but those two defensive blunders cost us dearly and if we couldn’t get three points from this game, our chances in this group just turned a lot dimmer. Dynamo Kyiv stunned PSG in Ukraine and they gained points in comparison. our shooting was 20/13 - it’s a shame we couldn’t score more goals After this game we had a conversation with Engin Ceylan and it didn’t go well. Young striker was just recently labeled as wonderkid and he now feels that he’s too good for Ajax and wants to move to bigger club. I don’t want to give him up at only 18 years and he ended up being unhappy about that issue. The rest of the team backs me in this fight, but it’s for the best if he’ll not start too many games in the near future. 05.11.2033 - AFC Ajax - Go Ahead Eagles 2:1 (ED) - 22. Dirk van Grinsven, 30. Johan van Dalen - 80. Johan de Nooijer Back to Eredivisie and it’s the last game before international break. We’re heavy favourites, because Eagles are predicted to finish just 15th in the league. They are fighting for survival after bouncing back from Jupiler League in this Summer. We started with attacking tactics and overlapping instructions. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven (54. Matal), van Dalen (54. van der Aar), de Wit (68. Engin Ceylan) We played very good first half, controlled midfield and possession and scored two goals. Good combination from our right wing led to the first one - not the best look for van Grinsven, but he squeezed it in. Johan van Dalen doubled our lead in 30’ - his header took a big deflection and bounced into the goal. I would have liked more good chances than we got, but I was pleased with our lead at half time. I asked players to return to normal tempo and retain possession in second half. Engin Ceylan has not used his chances well in this season and he wasted another one in 70’ - he did extremely well to skip past his defender and get himself 1-1 against goalkeeper, but his shot went too straight in the middle and was saved by the keeper. And as it so often happens in games like that, Eagles got one goal back before the end. Cross came in from our left, Germain Siereveld missed his interception and it was easy chance for Johan de Nooijer. Gifted goal and a schoolboy error from Siereveld. We didn’t allow it to derail ourselves and got opportunities to score the third goal. Nketsi Matal forced a brilliant save from goalkeeper in 88’ and Engin Ceylan wasted another great chance in 90’. I was not happy with our second half - gameplay was OK, but one costly error in defense and wasted chances in attack. we had 63% possession we had 17 corners, could have used them better Simon Janssen had a great game - he created attacks from midfield and gave 15 key passes We finally managed to get agreement with Dirk van Grinsven and experienced right winger extended his contract for another year. He also agreed to significant cut of his wage, so I’m starting to reach to my target of £400,000 p/w salary funds. Captain Tom Drost also signed a contract extension and I’m happy to rely on him until 2035. 18.11.2033 - AZ Alkmaar - AFC Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 60. pen. and 90. Tarik de Wit, 64. Edward Schans International break went well and we could prepare for our game against AZ Alkmaar. AZ were predicted to finish 6th before the season, but they started their campaign poorly and only recently started to do better and have moved away from relegation zone. It was a chance for me to see our loan star Kevin de Jonge in action. We practiced attacking set pieces before this game and I hoped we could take advantage of dead ball situations. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (46. Stekelenburg), Janssen, van Grinsven (64. Matal), van Dalen (68. van der Aar), de Wit We looked a little nervous in the first half, but had two good shots on target. AZ goalkeeper made a brilliant save in 31’ to deny Tarik de Wit powerful shot. de Wit got a clear cut chance after counter in 44’, but again his shot was denied brilliantly. Engin Ari took attempt from the edge of area soon after and saw his shot bounce back from crossbar. At half time I felt that we were a little bit unlucky. AZ young goalkeeper Jorg Derksen had been brilliant so far and kept clean sheet. We continued to play good football in second half. Tarik de Wit was fouled in the box - soft penalty from referee, to be honest - and he converted the spot kick. Edward Schans doubled our lead from corner four minutes later and we pretty much secured all three points with that goal. Tarik de Wit took the ball down nicely and laid it to Schans - central defender smashed it in with real power and that was a very good shot. Substitute Nketsi Matal wasted his chance in 87’ and managed only to hit the post. de Wit doubled his tally in the last minute with excellent strike from 20 meters out. Final score was 3:0 and I was pleased with our second half performance. It was a very good result for away game and even though we were helped by referee decision, we scored two set piece goals. we lost possession 46/54 - AZ played good possession football and it worked well for them in first half Tarik de Wit had a great game for us 22.11.2033 - Paris Saint Germain - AFC Ajax 2:1 (Champions League Group G) - 68. Azel Heinrich, 78. Jose Maria - 82. Tarik de Wit Success in Paris was always a long shot for us. We practiced attacking set pieces before this game and used our Champions League tactics for us. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari (68. de Groot), Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven (62. Matal), van Dalen (62. van der Aar), de Wit To be fair, PSG dominated the first half. They had plenty of chances to score and Ismet Gluhalic made a string of brilliant saves, often two in a row, because PSG strikers also got to rebounds too often. It was survival mode for us and when half time whistle called with 0:0 score sheet I was really relieved. PSG had 6 clear cut chances in the first half and Gluhalic was just brilliant. We had our first good opportunity in 65’ - Omar van der Aar had a great chance to score, but this time it was time for PSG goalkeeper to make a brilliant save. PSG finally got what they wanted in 68’ - Axel Heinrich was unmarked in our six yard box and it was easy finish from close range. In 78’ Jose Maria played past Tom Drost and Sergio Alleyne and scored PSG second goal - individual skills of PSG strikers were just too much for our defenders. Tarik de Wit scored our goal with a header from corner. Final score didn’t look too bad, but it was deserved win for PSG and we never looked like winning in the first place. Too many clear cut chances and only heroic performance from Gluhalic kept things respectable for us. Motivation and spirit were there, but PSG was just too good. I praised players for effort to keep heads up and move forward from this game. we gave PSG 8 clear cut chances in this game Tarik de Wit scored his 10th goal of the season 26.11.2033 - AFC Ajax - ADO Den Haag 2:0 (ED) - 28. Tarik de Wit, 36. Dirk van Grinsven We have to focus back to Eredivisie after returning from paris, but it was a bit of celebration before this game, because it was my 900th game in management and of course I hoped to finish it with a win. ADO Den Haag are predicted to finish 7th in Eredivisie and they have a very good and young squad, so we have to be prepared against them. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, Engin Ari (54. de Groot), Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (69. Stekelenburg), van Grinsven, van der Aar, de Wit (59. Engin Ceylan) I said that we had to be prepared, but we actually wasn’t and almost gifted ADO an early goal. Their best striker Anthony Smith skipped past Edward Schans too easily in 3’ and had a great chance to score, but Ismet Gluhalic made a great save to deny him. Three minutes later Tarik de Wit got our first chance after elegant pass from Simon Janssen, but this shot was also saved. ADO’s Luke Doekhi then had an attempt from distance that forced Gluhalic to make a great save. With chances fairly equal after first 12 minutes the game started to calm down and slowly come under our control. Tarik de Wit scored our first goal in 28’ - Omar van der Aar gave a good pass to him, but de Wit had a great shot from first touch. Excellent strike and great team goal. In 36’ it was again van der Aar who worked well on our left flank, gave a cross into six yard box and Dirk van Grinsven slided into it, got the ball and it went over goal line. A bit clumsy, but goal is a goal. Both goalkeepers got plenty of action in the first half and first 15 minutes could have gone either way, but at half time we had two goal lead and that adds confidence. I tweaked tactics at half time, asked players to play with normal tempo and regain possession. We had one good chance in second half - substitute Engin Ceylan made a solo run from midfield and had a great look, but his shot was saved. It was another occasion where Engin Ceylan just failed to convert his clear cut chance. Final score marked our solid win and I was pleased with performance. our shooting was 16/10 - good number of shots on target 30.11.2033 - FC Twente Enschede - AFC Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 71. Ahmet Yilmaz - 4. Dirk van Grinsven FC Twente have a great season so far - they’re predicted to finish just 12th in this season and although they lost their wonderkid Jonathan Pengel in this Summer, they invested this money wisely and improved several areas of their squad. Their most dangerous striker Isaac Osei has just returned from injury and looks too tired to start this game. I chose attacking formation and asked fullbacks to overlap more. FC Twente started with 4-2-3-1 formation and we needed to take their AMC out of the game. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven (55. Matal), van Dalen (70. van der Aar), de Wit (65. Engin Ceylan) We started this game very well. Good cross from Johan van Dalen found Dirk van Grinsven at the far post and simple tap-in was all too easy to take the lead. Several half chances in first half didn’t bring more goals and it was mostly drab football after goal. We could and should have extended our lead in second half. Tarik de Wit headed against post from corner in 49’. In 56’ de Wit was fouled in the box - Rik Nijs took him down as the last man and was sent off for professional foul. de Wit went to take the penalty himself, but FC Twente goalkeeper Azar Haciyev saved his spot kick. That was a great chance and he should have taken it better. FC Twente took encouragement from that and they found equalizer in 71’ - Ahmet Yilmaz scored with a good header from IFK. Omar van der Aar lost this aerial duel. We couldn’t find another goal in remaining time and had to return with frustrating draw. We should have finished our chances better and to drop points against 10 men is unacceptable. our shooting was just 16/5 we didn’t give FC Twente any good chances to score, but yet they found the goal we committed 20 fouls - too many and in the end we were punished from set piece we made 20 individual mistakes in defense - need to be more focused in the future Despite that last result I feel that we should be pleased with our run in Eredivisie. We’re still undefeated in the league and have played well in domestic competitions. In Champions League level, though, we look like we’re a bit short of quality and execution to get the results that we need. We were no match for PSG in this season and should have won against Panathinaikos. We still have a chance to qualify from our group, but we need a win against Dynamo Kyiv in our last game to do that. What is most noteworthy from stat sheet is our poor execution from clear cut chances. Engin Ceylan especially stands out as very wasteful. We could score a lot more goals if we improve that area of our game. Set piece goals have helped us a lot and we’re fairly dangerous from corners. Eredivisie No surprises in the table, aside of poor position of MVV Maastricht. We have a few games in hand, as well, so we can feel pretty confident.
  4. Thanks for support. As you might have noticed, I've taken this save slowly, because I enjoy process - preparing for games, scouting opponents, developing youngsters, contract negotiations (keeping my team for the next seasons in mind) etc. Keeping this story alive here is just one more way to maintain this depth - rewriting my games and seasons and what have happened is just like reliving it again. I'm not a teenager and have responsibilities outside FM, both at work and with family, so I've limited myself to one match per day (which is taking me roughly 1 hour) and to be honest there are enough days in a week when I have to skip it, so to get around 5 matches per week is already good enough and usually sums up one month in FM season. Considering all this you can expect one post per week on average. I could rush this (let's say, watch games on fewer details or play games with only one pre-determined tactics or rush through pre-seasons), but that would take all enjoyment out of the game and also ruin balance between writing and actual playing.
  5. October 2033 01.10.2033 - sc Heerenveen - AFC Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 1. Angelo - 58. Edward Schans October started with trip to sc Heerenveen. Diego Rivas (my assistant) advised us to practice defending set pieces before that game and that was a bit surprising, because we should have been favourites for this game and sc Heerenveen are ranked just 14th in Eredivisie by pundits. They have started their season really well and to be fair it is difficult to understand why such a low rating. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Lichaba (46. Koeman), de Groot, Sastrodimedjo (54. Stekelenburg), Janssen (71. Talea), van Grinsven, van der Aar, de Wit We weren’t ready for kick-off and allowed sc Heerenveen to surprise us on their first attack. Cross came in from our left wing and Angelo was completely unmarked in our box. Easy finish and early goal that left me standing with spread arms at the sideline - really, guys, wtf was that?? sc Heerenveen defended well in the first half and we didn’t get too many chances. Edward Schans saw his header going inches wide of goal post in 16’, but we didn’t create anything doo dangerous. Lack of understanding in defense was also evident and first half in summary was a big disappointment. I made changes for second half - asked fullbacks to overlap and play with higher tempo. Edward Schans equalized for us in 58’ - although sc Heerenveen managed to clear our corner we regained possession and Dirk van Grinsven delivered another cross into box to find Schans. Central defender had the ball at his feet and sent his shot right next to post - very good finish for a defender. Both teams looked rather nervous in second half and there wasn’t much beauty in this football - we couldn’t find the winning goal in remaining 30 minutes and had to return with frustrating draw. I was clearly not happy with the result and performance. Poor start of the game cost us valuable points. we made 30 fouls (Tom Drost 7, Leslie Lichaba 6) - unacceptable number Mario de Groot made his 100th appearance for Ajax We’ve been looking for another U-19 coach for a while now and in the beginning of October signed ex-Ajax player Mitchell Dijks on that position. Good addition to coaching staff. 15.10.2033 - Telstar - AFC Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 34. Tarik de Wit, 42. Omar van der Aar, 63. pen. Mario de Groot International break was welcomed and allowed us to take a break. Players arrived back from injuries - Johan van Dalen and Engin Ari returned to full training. It was exciting time for Clyde Sastrodimedjo who collected his first cap for Holland. Telstar game is one of the must-win fixtures in our season. Newly-promoted Telstar are predicted to finish 18th in this season and to be fair they are a bit out of their depth in higher division. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, de Groot (67. Engin Ari), Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven, van der Aar (58. van Dalen), de Wit (58. Engin Ceylan) We controlled the game from start to finish and it was quickly clear that Telstar defenders can’t handle our quicker and more technical forwards. Omar van der Aar dribbled into the box in 23’, skinned two defenders and had a great look on goal, but his shot from close range was saved. Tarik de Wit opened scoring with a powerful header from corner and near the end of the first half we doubled our lead - de Wit intercepted Telstar throw in and laid it left for the run of van der Aar who had goal at his mercy. We scored two good goals in the first half, but at the same time allowed them too much time with the ball and only put them under real pressure in the last 15 minutes. I asked players to retain possession in second half. Near 60’ mark Telstar got their two best shots on target - substitute Rudy Hol found too much space near our goal and his second shot demanded a brilliant save from Ismet Gluhalic. But few minute later Telstar’s Dino Koeman fouled Johan van Dalen in the box and de Groot’s penalty put the game beyond doubt. Good result in the end - three goals and a clean sheet. our shooting was 23/9 Tarik de Wit stubbed his toe and will be out for a week Dirk van Grinsven was outstanding for us 18.10.2033 - AFC Ajax - Panathinaikos 3:0 (Champions League Group G) - 19. and 36. Engin Ceylan, 24. Dirk van Grinsven A must win game in this group if we want to qualify for knockout stages. I was optimistic, because it was a home game and I expected us to be better team in Amsterdam Arena. We had to get by without Tarik de Wit in this game. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (61. Stekelenburg), van Grinsven (55. MAtal), van Dalen (67. van der Aar), Engin Ceylan We took the lead in 19’ - Engin Ceylan scored excellent header. It was a deserved goal too, because we had initiative from the start. Despite our good start we were at times sloppy in defence - Panathinaikos striker Guychel Ilunga got to a loose ball first and sent it just wide in 24’. With the next attack we doubled our lead - Johan van Dalen made a good run and cross from our left and Dirk van Grinsven scored with a simple tap in. Defensive errors weren’t over - Leslie Lichaba missed his interception in 27’ and gifted Clement Long a great chance, but Gluhalic held that shot comfortably. Clyde Sastrodimedjo took several shots from distance and those looked fairly dangerous. Panathinaikos goalkeeper had to make good saves to parry them and it wasn’t far away that Sastrodimedjo could have scored a wonderful long shot goals from those attempts. Despite the fact that we allowed Panathinaikos some chances, Engin Ceylan doubled his tally in 36’ and that settled it. We had a comfortable lead at half time and managed to keep things under our control after the break. Very good home win and three points to the table. our shooting was 25/10 Tom Drost had a great game 22.10.2033 - AFC Ajax - VVV Venlo 2:0 (ED) - 76. and 81. Engin Ceylan Back to Eredivisie and VVV Venlo are our next opponents. We’re clear favourites for this game, VVV are predicted to finish 10th in this season, but home advantage should be enough to take three points without much fuss. All players were fit (although de Wit looked a bit tired after his week off) and we went to this game with overlapping fullbacks and attacking mindset. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (54. Stekelenburg), Janssen, van Grinsven (63. Matal), van Dalen (69. van der Aar), Engin Ceylan First half began with high tempo, end-to-end football that I didn’t like particularly, because I would have liked to control possession better, but in conclusion the first half offered no real chances and was drab football from both sides. We weren’t able to put VVV under pressure and couldn’t create anything dangerous. I asked players to step up the pace and play with higher tempo after break. That started to have effect after first minutes. Dirk van Grinsven got our first clear cut chance of the game in 59’, but his shot was saved. Edward Schans had an attempt from corner that was blocked from close range, but at last we applied pressure to VVV goal. Their defense finally broke in 76’ - substitute Pieter Stekelenburg moved into the box with ball and did well to cross it. Engin Ceylan headed it well and it was 1:0. Five minutes later it was again Stekelenburg who created a great chance for Nketsi Matal. Matal had two shots on target, but couldn’t score and then Engin Ceylan arrived to finish from rebound. That goal settled it. Although it was hard work until the end, we turned this game to our way and collected all three points. Pieter Stekelenburg changed the game in second half - started to create chances from midfield and lead our attacks a lot better than we managed before that. 25.10.2033 - Venray SV - AFC Ajax 0:6 (Dutch Cup 3rd round) - 6. and 8. pen. Mario de Groot, 9. and 48. Omar van der Aar, 20. Nketsi Matal, 80. Engin Ceylan Another easy game in cup game where rotation players and youngsters got their chance to impress. Squad: Florentina, Alleyne, Siereveld, Hendriks, Koeman, de Groot, Talea, Stekelenburg, Matal, van der Aar ,Engin Ceylan Not much to report from this game. We were in complete control after first ten minutes. Mario de Groot managed to get to score sheet twice and his attempt in 45’ bounced back from the post. It could have been a great hat-trick. Engin Ceylan snatched his chances in second half until his placed shot in 80’ finally ended up in goal. Six goals in total and confident win against amateur side. Great performances all around - most of the players recorded 9.0+ ratings. we enjoyed 63% possession our shooting was 28/12 our average rating was 8.88 we made 56 key passes and 35 dribbles we didn’t allow Venray any chances our next opponent in December is Helmond Sport 29.10.2033 - Feyenoord Rotterdam - AFC Ajax 1:2 (ED) - 85. Screve N’Goma - 25. and 43. pen. Tarik de Wit October finished with the most important game of the month. While we’ve been favourites in the most fixtures, this was the first game when commentators expected us to lose. And they had good reason to believe so, because Feyenoord have been on a long winning streak and they look really strong. On the other hand - playing in Eredivisie and Europa League has left their squad a bit tired and they had one less day to rest after their cup game, so no wonder their midfielders look tired before the game. Because of standings in the table it’s a true six-pointer and we want to win at De Kuip to take revenge for Super Cup defeat. We practiced attacking set pieces before this game and it’s good to see that all players are fit for so important game. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (64. Stekelenburg), Janssen, van Grinsven (70. Matal), van Dalen, de Wit (70. Engin Ceylan) Both teams are known by their well organised defense and it took time before something really dangerous happened in front of goal. Tarik de Wit opened scoring when Dirk van Grinsven found him with a good cross and our complete forward snuck it in at near post. Leslie Lichaba missed his interception in 35’ and allowed Maurice Jenner a great chance, but Gluhalic parried that shot well. Right before half time whistle it was Jenner again to make a mistake - this time in defense. He tripped Tom Drost in the box and Tarik de Wit converted our penalty to give us 2:0 lead at half time. I was very happy with our lead and performance in first half. We’ve been slightly better and our right wing has caused Feyenoord some problems. Their left-back Jan Sanafikhah has not done well to handle Dirk van Grinsven. Maurice Jenner has been unfortunate in the first half - he missed his chance and caused our second goal. Second half was again good defense from both sides, although as game progressed Feyenoord started to take more risks. Substitute Engin Ceylan had a great chance in 83’ - he got two attempts on target, but couldn’t score and almost began to regret it when Feyenoord managed to got a goal back two minutes later. Pieter Stekelenburg lost a header while defending corner. Kaj Wassenaar headed against crossbar and Screve N’Goma finished from rebound. That goal allowed Feyenoord back into game, but we held our lead for the last five minutes and took a valuable away win in the derby. That could be a crucial result in our campaign and I’m very happy with that game. our attacking movement could have been better - space opened up for us in second half, but we moved too early and were called for offside 11 times October has been a great month for us. I can complain only about sc Heerenveen result and performance, but otherwise we’re in great form, players are all fit and we look really strong now. Eredivisie We still have several games on hand, but look at the goal difference. Three giants are well above everyone else.
  6. September 2033 09.09.2033 - AFC Ajax - FC Groningen 4:2 (ED) - 4. pen. Engin Ceylan, 37. Edward Schans, 48. Dirk van Grinsven, 61. Nketsi Matal - 52. Pim de Reuver, 64. Virgil Tichelaar Our form in August was pretty good and I hoped that small international break doesn’t disrupt our rhythm. We were back to Eredivisie action and hosted FC Groningen in Amsterdam Arena. FC Groningen are predicted to finish 13th in this season and they boast with the best work rate in Eredivisie. It means we could have more trouble keeping possession and feeling comfortable with the ball. Unfortunately, during international break Johan van Dalen managed to hurt himself in training and fractured ribs will keep him out of football for 5-6 weeks. With both our left wings injured, I had to go with Dirk van Grinsven on our left flank. Engin Ceylan looked a bit tired after his games with Holland U-21. All the injuries left us with only 5 substitutions for this game. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman (69. Lichaba), Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (61. Stekelenburg), Janssen, Matal, van Grinsven, Engin Ceylan (76. Stan Knol) Soon after kick-off Dirk van Grinsven was tripped in the box by Jelmer Koning and we got early penalty. Engin Ceylan have not used his chances well in this season, but he took that spot kick well and got himself on the score-sheet. Hopefully that boosts his confidence and more goals will come. Edward Schans doubled our lead with a header from corner and we went to half time with 2:0 lead. First half was actually quiet and we didn’t create any chances from open play, but two set piece goals put us in a good position. We lost possession battle 46/54 and we need to improve that. I changed tactics at half-time, reduced overlapping and asked the team to retain possession. We continued well at first - Dirk van Grinsven scored another goal after our counter-attack, but then we allowed FC Groningen into game. Pim de Reuver scored in 52’ - Fred Koeman was too slow to react to a through ball. In 61’ Nketsi Matal (probably the shortest player on the pitch) headed in our fourth goal, but still FC Groningen had an answer. Virgil Tichelaar won a header and scored from free kick despite both Pieter Stekelenburg and Fred Koeman going into that duel. Koeman didn’t impress me in this second half, because both goals came from his area. Dirk van Grinsven wasted his clear cut chance in 82’, but then Engin Ari got injured and had to come off and we were left with 10 men, so we were satisfied to see this game out as it was. I’m pleased with three points and our goals, but defensive mistakes were also evident and we have to improve our defense in the coming cames. Possession was better in second half, so our changes probably worked well. Nketsi Matal had a great game for us Engin Ari is out for 5 weeks with sprained ankle 14.09.2033 - AFC Ajax - Paris Saint Germain 0:2 (Champions League Group G) - 51. pen. Charlie Turner, 67. Maurizio Tombari Champions League season started with the game against PSG. Gap between clubs is big enough to treat this match very carefully. We practiced defensive positioning in training and I used our Champions League tactics from the start. That means - fullbacks on support, standard approach and more disciplined mindset. Our problem is that we had too many players missing - Leslie Lichaba was suspended and several injuries limited my options in squad selection. Eugene Talea returned to fitness, though and was available for this game. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne (71. Siereveld), Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo (53. Stekelenburg), Janssen (67. Talea), Matal, van Grinsven, Engin Ceylan PSG came against us with pretty standard 4-4-2 tactics. First half was rather quiet, but both teams had one good chance to score. In 24’ Engin Ceylan found Clyde Sastrodimedjo with a good through ball, but central midfielder saw his shot being saved by goalkeeper. In 40’ Mario de Groot lost Charlie Turner for a moment and brilliant save from Ismet Gluhalic denied that opportunity. I was pretty happy with goalless first half and I felt that we contained PSG well. It changed in second half. PSG were awarded a penalty for a foul by Edward Schans, but all replies showed that it was a VERY harsh decision. Charlie Turner converted the spot kick and PSG took the lead. It was a very difficult pill to swallow, because we played well until that point. In 67’ Maurizio Tombari skipped past Edward Schans and fired his shot past Gluhalic. We had our best chance of the game in 70’ - Nketsi Matal had a clear cut chance. His shot was saved, but Dirk van Grinsven collected the rebound and somehow managed only to hit post from tight angle. Final result was a home defeat and not the best start to our campaign, but I feel that we were very unlucky in this game. Referee decision was a turning point in second half and considering our injuries and that we were missing at least four first team players we did well enough. 22.09.2033 - SVV Scheveningen - AFC Ajax 0:6 (Dutch Cup 2nd round) - 2. Raimond Burg, 27. and 38. Dirk van Grinsven, 30. Engin Ceylan, 60. and 75. Tarik de Wit Second round game in Dutch cup is more often than not against some amateur team and this year wasn’t different. I used this opportunity to play rotation players and youngsters and they did well enough. Young defender Rick Hendriks started in this game and Raimond Burg got a chance to show his skills on our right flank. Tarik de Wit returned from injury break and I gave him some minutes to regain match fitness. Squad: Florentina, Drost, Siereveld, Hendriks, Koeman, de Groot, Talea, Stekelenburg, Burg, van Grinsven, Engin Ceylan (46. de Wit) It was easy game as anticipated. Debutant Raimond Burg to himself to score sheet already in 2’ and Tarik de Wit came on for second half to score brace. Engin Ceylan took care of the most beautiful goal of the evening - his bicycle kick in 30’ could easily be one of the best goals of the season. our shooting was 36/19 we had 8.80 average rating we gave 54 key passes Dirk van Grinsven, Raimond Burg, Tom Drost, Pieter Stekelenburg, Fred Koeman, Eugene Talea and Mario de Groot had outstanding game we were drawn against another amateur team Venray in 3rd round 27.09.2033 - Dynamo Kyiv - AFC Ajax 1:1 (Champions League Group G) - 23. Joao Gabriel - 81. Tarik de Wit Cup game was a good way to regain our goalscoring confidence before long trip to Ukraine. Dynamo Kyiv want to get into top two in this group and both teams know that those two games could be key fixtures that decide final standings in this group. We’ve done well against our opponents in the past, but to be honest their squad looks stronger and more balanced than we are in this season, so no wonder that we’re underdogs for away game. We continued with defensive positioning training and used our Champions League tactics. Omar van der Aar returned to training before this game, but Engin Ari and Johan van Dalen were still out. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, de Groot, Stekelenburg (57. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, Matal, van Grinsven (57. van der Aar), Engin Ceylan (46. de Wit) Dynamo started well and they almost got the first goal in 3’ - Cleber had a great chance to score, but Ismet Gluhalic made a good save to stop this attempt. We defended most of the first half and our opponents opened scoring in 23’ - Joao Gabriel didn’t have especially good look, but his shot from 14 meters still did beat Gluhalic. First goal gave Dynamo confidence and they almost added another in 36’ - Joao Gabriel again beat our defenders to get first to ball, but his shot hit the post. First half finished 0:1 and we looked like we’re in survival mode. Partly it was a problem of tactics - Dynamo used unconventional 4-3-3 and it cut us apart like a knife. I had no idea how to stop that bleeding and try to get some possession to ourselves. Dynamo right-back Eugene Shyryaev was a nightmare - his crosses caused a lot of problems in our box and Leslie Lichaba couldn’t handle him or close him down. I changed tactics at half time - back to our more familiar flexible/control setup that we use in Eredivisie. We looked slightly better in second half, although Shyryaev got one great chance in 62’ (great save from Gluhalic). We didn’t get many shots or opportunities in attack, but in the final ten minutes somehow managed to find an equalizer. Nketsi Matal delivered a cross to the box and Tarik de Wit sent a powerful header into the net. Dynamo players were clearly frustrated, but they had too few minutes left and final whistle meant that we’ve stolen a point from Kyiv, even though we probably didn’t deserve that. we didn’t create any chances in this game and that’s a problem, looking into the future Tom Drost stood out with 7 individual errors Nketsi Matal will be out for a week with bruised head Only four games in September and although I’m not too pleased with our performances, I cant’ really complain about results. Getting points against PSG was rarely on the cards and to get one point from Kyiv is not too bad. Considering our problems with injuries and suspensions I’m rather happy to get through this difficult period without losing too many points and I hope that things will get better in October. Eredivisie We’re the only team without defeat. The table is a complete mess in that point, because teams have so different number of games played. PSV and Feyenoord are both in contention, FC Twente have improved a lot (they finished 17th in the last season) and AZ with Sparta are perhaps the biggest underachievers so far.
  7. For that purpose you could check squad update posts. For van der Plas, he's probably measured against our best winger Johan Van Dalen (who is close to his full potential and rated 3*). But I'll keep it in mind and perhaps include squad report page to next squad update posts (with stars, so you could spot strong and weak points in the team).
  8. Squad Update 2033 Wingers Dirk van Grinsven Experienced winger is starting to age and his pace is not what it used to be. His technical skills and experience make up for it, at least in Eredivisie. Nketsi Matal Another experienced winger who is on the last year of his contract. Johan van Dalen Omar van der Aar One player that I hope will make a leap in his development in this season. He surprised everyone with his number of goals in the last season. I expect even more better performances and consistency in this year. Strikers Tarik de Wit Clearly our best striker and 30 goals per season should be up to his standards. Engin Ceylan Probably the best prospect in the first team. Only 18 years of age and looks like a future complete forward for Ajax.
  9. Squad Update 2033 Rene van den Bosch transfer in the end of August was our standout big move in this Summer. £8,5m+ clauses was a fair price for him and I felt that if he wanted to develop further in his career (to achieve, say, place in Holland national team) he needs to move to bigger league. That’s OK, because we’ve got capable replacements in his position. Francesco Antonucci also left to Rubin for much smaller fee. Club legend as he is, but there wasn’t enough playing time for him in this season and it was right to allow him to leave. There wasn’t sufficient interest in Eugene Talea and he remained in the team, despite the fact that we agreed to find new club for him during Summer. That’s OK and he didn’t press transfer in August. Germain Siereveld returned from loan and he is the only addition to this season squad - young and talented central defender will get plenty of playing time after van den Bosch departure. Goalkeepers Ismet Gluhalic Zeus Florentina 19 years old goalkeeper is a solid backup, but his long term future is perhaps not in Ajax, because we have much more talented keepers coming from U-19 Defenders Tom Drost Team captain is on the last year of his contract, but I hope to sign a contract extension with him sooner rather than later. Sergio Alleyne Another experienced defender - physically very good despite of his age and only now begins to show first signs of age. Germain Siereveld New young defender in the team. Physically very good and has room to develop. Could be better in the air, but we play with high defensive line and he possesses enough pace to cover ground behind him. Edward Schans Leslie Lichaba Fred Koeman Midfielders Engin Ari Mario de Groot Clyde Sastrodimedjo Sastrodimedjo have been a revelation in this Summer and pushed Pieter Stekelenburg out of our first eleven. Great work rate and has everything that you want from box-to-box midfielder. Pieter Stekelenburg Versatile midfielder, can play both box-to-box and advanced playmaker role. Good at passing and creativity. The only problem is that his big contract will end in next Summer and although I see that he could be useful in the future, his huge wage demands are not justified by his role and skills compared to other players. Eugene Talea Good rotation player for this season. Also on the last year of his contract. Simon Janssen
  10. August 2033 05.08.2033 - Fortuna Sittard - AFC Ajax 1:4 (ED) - 81. Mehdi Bah - 13. Johan van Dalen, 29. and 62. Clyde Sastrodimedjo, 75. Stan Knol First game of our new Eredivisie campaign was away fixture against Fortuna Sittard. To be honest, it should be fairly easy - Fortuna are predicted to finish just 16th in this season. On the other hand - they’ve exceeded expectations in previous seasons, so we have to be wary. First games always mean some testing in order to find the best squad and distributing playing time fairly. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schanss, Lichaba, Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven (62. de Jong), van Dalen (58. van der Aar), Engin Ceylan (70. Knol) We started well, with all guns blazing. Dirk van Grinsven delivered a great ball behind defense in 3’. Engin Ceylan took a volley, but his shot was held and that chance wasted. In 8’ van Grinsven hit post from tight angle and Engin Ceylan wasted another great chance in 12’. Goals came, however, and just a minute later Johan van Dalen opened scoring. We created plenty of chances, but finishing was a bit rusty at first. Simon Janssen wasted his clear cut chance in 27’, but when Clyde Sastrodimedjo scored after counter-attack, we had full control of the game. Despite our poor finishing it was a solid first half. Sastrodimedjo doubled his tally in second half and I could make bold substitutions. 16 years old striker Stan Knol was on the bench because de Wit’s injury and he got his chance to impress. Five minutes later he showed good anticipation, being in the right place at the right time, scoring a goal on his debut. Only poor moment of the game was when we allowed Fortuna to score their consolation goal - Leslie Lichaba lost Mehdi Bah in our box. It wasn’t the easiest shot, but Bah finished well and did beat Gluhalic that time. Final result is a very good start to our season for away game. our shooting was 23/11 we created 6 clear cut chances 16 years old Stan Knol made his debut for Ajax and became the youngest ever goalscorer for the club Clyde Sastrodimedjo and Simon Janssen had a great game Johan van Dalen suffered bruised head in this game and will be out for a week 12.08.2033 - Helmond Sport - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 47. Nketsi Matal, 74. Clyde Sastrodimedjo One week later we were travelling to Helmond. Another easy fixture on paper - Helmond Sport are predicted to finish 17th in this season. We had small problems with injuries - Tarik de Wit and Johan van Dalen were out and Eugene Talea suffered hernia in training. I made three changes in line-up: Fred Koeman started in left defense, Nketsi Matal got his chance on our right wing and Omar van der Aar replaced injured van Dalen. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost (70. Alleyne), van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman, Ening Ari (65. de Groot), Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (60. Stekelenburg), Matal, van der Aar, Engin Ceylan First half was a disappointment. We had possession, but our attacking movement wasn’t the best and we didn’t use the half-chances that we got. We lost possession too many times because offside calls and Helmond goalkeeper had a fairly easy first half. Some criticism at half time can make wonders and it inspired the team well in this time. Right after second half kick-off we took the lead - Fred Koeman provided the cross and Nketsi Matal finished with a tap-in. Helmond Sport got their best chance of the game in 66’ - Rene van den Bosch missed his interception and gave Ludovicius Depuydt a great chance, but Ismet Gluhalic made a brilliant save to deny his shot. I asked team to play slower and retain possession after that heartstopping moment, but then Clyde Sastrodimedjo doubled our lead after corner and that goal settled it. The game was more difficult than expected - one of those scrappy wins against smaller team in away stadium, but we did well to come away with 2:0 win. our shooting was 20/9 we gave 51 key passes we were called for offside 11 times Pieter Stekelenburg suffered bruised head and will miss one week of action Clyde Sastrodimedjo had a great game - his second outstanding performance in a row 20.08.2033 - AFC Ajax - Sparta Rotterdam 3:0 (ED) - 1. and 20. Johan van Dalen, 32. Engin Ari First home game of the season. Sparta have established themselves as a solid top half team in the past seasons and they’re predicted to finish 8th in this year by pundits. Some good transfers in Summer give them a lot of ground to make another step forward and our own Jaap Hoogdorp will play for Sparta as well. Because of home game we were bold and attacking. No big changes in the squad, only Dirk van Grinsven returned to starting line-up. Johan van Dalen was back to full fitness and also started on our left flank. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans (62. Siereveld), Koeman, Ari (62. de Groot), Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven (57. de Jong), van Dalen, Ceylan We started really well and scored a flyer with only 49 seconds after kick-off. Sparta gave us too much space in their box and van Dalen scored a quick goal to put us in control of the game. In 20’ van Dalen doubled his tally with a simple finish and in 32’ Engin Ari added a great goal from a stunning free kick - his second free kick goal of the season, curled around the wall from 20 yards. First half was completely under our control and game looked as well as over. Second half didn’t change much, but we allowed Sparta back into game and they started to get chances. Kevin Patist got two great chances in a row in 65’ - first shot hit the post, but he collected rebound and Ismet Gluhalic had to make a brilliant save to deny his second attempt. Despite that, we controlled most of the second half well. Johan van Dalen got a chance to complete his hat-trick in 85’, but his shot was saved and that didn’t happen. I’m pleased with the result and clean sheet. Great first half performance paved our way to win. our shooting was 25/13 we had 8.08 average rating we made 30 dribbles in this game Engin Ari, Clyde Sastrodimedjo, Tom Drost and Simon Janssen were outstanding Clyde Sastrodimedjo was called up to Holland national team for upcoming international window. Deservedly so, because he’s been outstanding in August and put in three great games in a row (rating 9.0+). 28.08.2033 - MVV Maastricht - AFC Ajax 0:0 (ED) MVV had a poor start to this season and they’re looking to improve their form. Their results have declined in the last seasons despite the fact that they still have one of the largest salaries in Eredivisie. This year they’re predicted to finish 9th. We had several players still missing - Tarik de Wit and Eugene Talea are still out and Omar van der Aar suffered hernia in training (a lot of hernias in this August). We went to this away game with our usual attacking tactics. MVV traditionally played 4-2-2-2 with 2 deep DMC-s and they tried to play direct counter-attacking football, so their defense often is difficult to break down. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (59. Stekelenburg), van Grinsven (46. Matal), van Dalen, Engin Ceylan (87. Knol) We were unlucky in the first half - Edward Schans headed against crossbar in 13’ and Engin Ceylan’s header bounced back from upright in 28’ In 44’ Engin Ceylan had a great chance to open scoring from IFK, but his shot was easily held by goalkeeper. That was a poor miss and our young striker knew he should have done better. Just a minute later Ismet Gluhalic made a brilliant save to deny Dirk Drent’s shot and in injury time Engin Ceylan had another clear cut chance - Simon Janssen found him with a good ball behind defensive line, but his shot went well over. I was not happy with our first half - sure, we were a bit unlucky, but finishing should have been better and we’ve been wasteful with our chances. Engin Ceylan showed his inexperience - that’s a sign that we miss Tarik de Wit and his composure in front of goal. Second half was pretty much the same futile struggle, only MVV got their defense in order and we had to work even harder to find chances. Engin Ceylan had the third great opportunity in 71’, but unorthodox save with feet from MVV goalkeeper stopped his shot. Final whistle meant frustrating draw for us - we knew we should have done better. We had possession and opportunities, but we didn’t take them. Three missed clear cut chances will haunt Engin Ceylan for a while, I’m afraid. our shooting was 20/7 Engin Ceylan has now missed all 5 of his clear cut chances in those first 4 league games in this season Despite my frustration over MVV result, we’ve started fairly well. 10 points out of 4 games is not bad and we’ve played well, even though I feared worse after de Wit injured himself. We’ll see if we can continue this form into September and Champions League Campaign. Eredivisie Four teams still unbeaten. PSV Eindhoven have made two draws, but one of those games were against Feyenoord and so they haven’t lost too many easy points and are on a good run early in the season. Champions League Groups Somehow we were seeded 1st in this year’s draw and ended up in Group G with Paris Saint Germain, Dynamo Kyiv and Panathinaikos. It’s not too bad for a draw - we look level with Dynamo Kyiv and should beat Panathinaikos, so qualification doesn’t look impossible at first sight. Transfers Summer transfer window was fairly typical to Eredivisie - most of the big deals were out from the league, meaning that players went to bigger leagues and money came in. Biggest transfers in Eredivisie in this Summer. Rene van den Bosch from AFC Ajax to Reading for £8,5m+ clauses (up to £10,75m) Jonathan Pengel from FC Twente Enschede to Nottingham Forest for £8,25m Donald Jourdan from Vitesse Arnhem to SC Freiburg for £5,25m Kamil Zalewski from SV Hamburg to Vitesse Arnhem for £4,1m (Polish striker to replace Jourdan) Tristan Lourens from FC Utrecht to Schalke 04 for £2,4m (young talented striker) Edu from AZ Alkmaar to PSV Eindhoven for £2,3m Jasper Achtenberg from PSV Eindhoven to Fenerbahce for £2m We decided to loan out a lot of youngsters who could not really make it into first team, but I hope to see them progress well and return to Ajax as better players: Steven Otten to FC Utrecht Jaap Hoogdorp to Sparta Rotterdam Sjoerd de Jong to Sparta Rotterdam Kevin de Jonge to AZ Alkmaar Moreno Markiet to Racing Stef Veldman to München Lions (Bundesliga team) Mithat Arabaci to Stade Rennais
  11. July 2033 We didn’t make big differences in our squad during this Summer. Players returned from loan and some of them I kept in the first team - Sjoerd de Jong and Germain Siereveld, for example. We looked fairly good in pre-season friendlies and as usual, our season started with Dutch Super Cup game, this time against Feyenoord. 23.07.2033 - AFC Ajax - Feyenoord Rotterdam 2:3 (Dutch Super Cup) - 31. Engin Ari, 53. Tarik de Wit - 19. Raymond Hoekstra, 50. pen. Georges Kongnyuy, 107. Fethi Jaziri This Super Cup game was held in Amsterdam Arena, so it almost felt like a home game. Both teams looked pretty much the same as in the last season. I decided to surprise Feyenoord with our Champions League tactics - standard mentality, with fullbacks on support and more disciplined mindset. Attacking set pieces practice should have helped us to find goals from corners and free kicks. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch (46. Siereveld), Schans, Lichaba, Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, Matal (70. de Jong), van Dalen (62. van der Aar), de Wit First half proved that Champions League tactics don’t work out in this game. Feyenoord got too much of the ball and created opportunities and after Raymond Hoekstra opened scoring in 19’, i switched back to our usual control setup and things improved. In 31’ Engin Ari equalized with a stunning free kick and we were back in the game. Tarik de Wit headed just wide in 39’ and Feyenoord got one good chance in 44’ - Ismet Gluhalic did well to parry Tony de Jonge’s shot from point blank range. Teams were level at half time, but our game improved a lot after equalizer, so I was fairly optimistic before second half. Second half started with a bad mistake from Tom Drost - team captain fouled Feyenoord player in the area and penalty was awarded. Georges Kongnyuy converted it confidently, but three minutes later de Wit replied to make it 2:2. We recovered well from that and looked like a slightly better team for the rest of the second half. No goals, though - Feyenoord defended well and players looked like they could use more match practice and understanding between each other. Key moment in extra time came in 96’ - Tarik de Wit was forced off with injury and we were left with 10 men, because we had used all our substitutions. And in 107’ Fethi Jaziri headed in from corner and delivered Feyenoord a sweet victory. This defeat did hurt us on many levels. It was my mistake to start with wrong tactical setup and we struggled to take control of the game. Extra time defeat hurts, but de Wit injury could pose a bigger problem for us - he’ll be out for at least 2 months with dislocated shoulder and that could mean some lost points in August. Sjoerd de Jong made his debut for Ajax in this game
  12. Season Summary 2032 - 2033 I have to rate this season as average by our standards. We did well in domestic competitions after losing the title to PSV in 2032 and to be honest even I’m impressed by our continuing domination in Dutch Cup. On the other hand - we couldn’t reach knockout stages in Champions League. I believe I’ve found good and suitable tactics for us against stronger teams, but narrow defeats indicates our shortcomings - poor finishing and small errors in defense cost us a lot and our opponents have more players who are able to decide the game because of their individual brilliance. Not sure we can close this gap in a season or two. On stat sheet, same problems stood out. We created 89 clear cut chances in Eredivisie (very good number), but scored only 33 goals from those chances. 37% conversion rate is not good enough. Engin Ceylan (8/1) and Nketsi Matal (7/1) stood out in this column. Finishing was even worse in Champions League. We scored a little bit more goals from set pieces - corner setup seems to work better and we got two goals from DFKs, but we didn’t get too many penalties and only scored twice from the spot in a whole season. Individually, Tarik de Wit scored 32 goals and that’s the first time any of our players has scored 30+ goals in a season since Andre Pröpper did it in 2026-2027 season. He also had a lot of unlucky shots, hitting framework more than 10 times. Speaking about squad, it was a breakthrough season for Fred Koeman and Omar van der Aar. van der Aar, just 19 years old, scored almost 20 goals in this season and gave me a chance to vary our left wing attack. Clyde Sastrodimedjo asked for more playing time, got it and proved that he’s worth it - he put in really good games in midfield, earned himself the young player of the season award from Ajax fans and that makes me wonder why we pay so much money in wages for Pieter Stekelenburg. We have some veterans in the team and it looks like Francesco Antonucci is starting to decline because of age. He still has a year left of his contract, but he started only 8 games in this season and it’s difficult for him to find playing time. Fans Player of the Season: Simon Janssen Tom Drost Dirk van Grinsven Goal of the Season: Pieter Stekelenburg vs. AZ Alkmaar 27/11/2032 Young Player of the Season: Clyde Sastrodimedjo Eredivisie Awards Golden Boot: Frank van den Hoek - FC Utrecht Robin Claeys - AZ Alkmaar Tarik de Wit - AFC Ajax Top Goalscorer: Juddy Menga - FC Utrecht - 25 Rico van Leeuwen - Feyenoord Rotterdam - 24 Tarik de Wit - AFC Ajax - 23 Goalkeeper of the Year: Ismet Gluhalic - AFC Ajax Vitrinio Apai - Roda JC Kerkrade Joost Nijhuis - ADO Den Haag Manager’s Manager of the Year: Clarence Seedorf - Feyenoord Rotterdam Me Sander Duits - PSV Eindhoven
  13. May 2033 01.05.2033 - AZ Alkmaar - AFC Ajax 1:0 (ED) - 22. Robin Claeys We could take remaining games easy and I chose to give playing time to younger players. It’s also nice to see Kevin de Jonge in action - our youngster has done fairly well in this season for AZ Alkmaar. We practiced attacking set pieces before the game and hoped to take advantage of corners and free kicks. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo (71. Stekelenburg), Janssen, Matal, van der Aar (57. van Dalen), Ceylan (65. de Wit) We had early chance in the game - Nketsi Matal delivered good cross to far post and Omar van der Aar got his shot on target, but it was held by AZ goalkeeper. AZ took the lead in 22’ when Robin Claeys won aerial challenge against Fred Koeman and headed in a good cross from our right. We had some troubles defending against AZ crosses and we were punished there. AZ had the best period between 20’-30’ and in 26’ their central defender Marcel Visscher got a good chance from IFK. Only brilliant save from Ismet Gluhalic kept us in the game. First half ended with 0:1 and I was not happy with our performance. We wasted our early chance and allowed AZ Alkmaar to take control of the game. We looked better after half time break, but couldn’t find a goal despite our created chances. Johan van Dalen missed his opportunity in 61’ and Nketsi Matal had a great chance to score in 68’. Both shots were saved and AZ Alkmaar held onto valuable win. I know that that result didn’t matter for much, but this kind of performance is not good enough by our standards. We need to finish our chances better and players understood it well. our shooting was just 17/4 - we couldn’t get enough shots on target we allowed 26 dribbles 08.05.2033 - VVV Venlo - AFC Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 1. Mario de Groot, 57. Nketsi Matal, 72. Omar van der Aar Away game against VVV Venlo is our last game of the season and I wanted to finish better. It was also nice to see Sjoerd de Jong in action. We continued with attacking set pieces training. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba (69. Koeman), de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (59. Stekelenburg), Matal, van der Aar, Ceylan) This time set piece practice paid off instantly. Clyde Sastrodimedjo delivered our free kick into the area and Mario de Groot finished it off. Well played and it looked like a training ground move. It was the only noteworthy moment in the first half. We continued to play well and concentrated after half time break - Nketsi Matal scored our second goal after good counter and Omar van der Aar added another goal with a well placed shot in 72’. We didn’t create too many chances, but finishing was a lot better and we used all scoring opportunities that we got. Great result to finish our season with. we didn’t allow VVV Venlo any chances we made 31 dribbles, but allowed VVV to make 23 dribbles Nketsi Matal had a great game for us Two games that we could play without pressure. I’m happy to finish our season with a win and that no players are in trouble for yellow cards in the first game of the next season. Eredivisie No surprises in the final standings. Big clubs in top three. FC Eindhoven are relegated and Roda JC fought bravely, but couldn’t held onto their place in play-offs. FC Groningen survived, though, but their season has been way worse than they could imagine in August last year. Ajax goals: Tarik de Wit 32, Omar van der Aar 19, Dirk van Grinsven 18, Johan van Dalen 14 Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 20, Nketsi Matal 17, Tarik de wit 14, Simon Janssen 13, Fred Koeman 12, Tom Drost 10
  14. April 2033 02.04.2033 - Sparta Rotterdam - AFC Ajax 3:3 (ED) - 20. pen. and 45.+3 pen. Corey Moore, 44. Engin Ari (og) - 1. Simon Janssen 15. Engin Ari, 90.+2 Tarik de Wit Sparta is a solid mid-table side, but they looked very injury-ridden before this game and I hoped that it would make our job easier. We went against them with attacking formation and overlapping fullbacks despite it being away game. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost (8. Otten), Alleyne, Schans, Koeman (51. Lichaba), Ari, Stekelenburg, Janssen, Matal, van der Aar (46. van Dalen), de Wit We needed just 24 seconds to open scoring. Fred Koeman delivered a cross into box and Simon Janssen finished it. In 8’ Tom Drost had to come off with injury and Steven Otten went in from substitution. Engin Ari doubled our lead with a great shot from outside of the area and it looked like easy-breezy for us in that moment, even though Sergio Alleyne wasted his clear cut chance from IFK two minutes later. But it wasn’t to be and things turned around in a very horrible fashion. First referee decided that Edward Schans had his foot high in our penalty box and awarded Sparta a penalty in 20’ - nobody later could understand how and why that decision was made. Corey Moore converted the penalty. In 44’ we made a mess while defending free kick and the ball bounced into our goal and the last touch was made by Engin Ari. Ari was in the centre of attention just a few minutes later too - his foul in the box caused another penalty that Corey Moore converted deep in injury time (correct decision this time from the ref) and from 2:0 lead we had gone to 2:3 in just one half. Incredible and frustrating at the same time. Individual mistakes have messed up our defense and inexperienced Steven Otten had been poor so far in his role. We needed to improve in second half, but at first Sparta continued to threaten our goal. Corey Moore had a great chance to score his hat-trick in 48’, but Ismet Gluhalic made a brilliant save to deny him. Stefan de Jong had another good attempt on target and then we slowly started to get back into game. We took better care of the ball, but Sparta defended well and they had freedom to create counter-attacks. Edward Schans had one good shot on target in 54’, but generally we were not able to create good chances. Corey Moore posed a threat for us in counter attacks and in 82’ he had another great chance - reflex save from Gluhalic held us in the game. And our saviour came in injury time - long ball from Simon Janssen found Tarik de Wit, who kept his calm, rounded one defender and fired it in. Equalizer out of nowhere and so late in the game, adding more drama to already entertaining match. Final result 3:3 was relief more than anything else. We can complain about that one penalty decision that initiated Sparta comeback, but truthfully it was probably the worst defense I’ve seen in a long time. Steven Otten didn’t justify his selection, Engin Ari scored a great goal, but caused two in defense and all in all it’s better to forget this game as quickly as possible. we conceded 5 clear cut chances in this game, against Sparta! what the hell! we allowed 22 dribbles, another mark of our poor defense Ismet Gluhalic made his 100th appearance for Ajax Tom Drost will be out for a week with concussion 09.04.2033 - AFC Ajax - FC Volendam 2:0 (ED) - 44. and 50. Dirk van Grinsven We all knew that we had to play better in this game not to allow poor performance from Sparta game to haunt us. When Eredivisie campaign is nearing to end, some players start to get the pressure and it shows in their nervousness. Nevertheless, it’s our home game and we are favourites, so attacking tactics and overlapping instructions remain in place. Few problems with injuries - Mario de Groot twisted his knee in training and Tom Drost is out with concussion. Squad: Gluhalic, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Schans (70. Otten), Koeman (60. Lichaba), Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven, van der Aar, de Wit (60. Ceylan) This time we had much better control of the game. It took some time, but we started to increase our pressure around 20’ and started to find chances. Dirk van Grinsven wasted his great chance in 23’ and Omar van der Aar sent his shot wide from open position in 29’, but in the end of the first half we found the goal after good transition attack. Omar van der Aar delivered the ball to Dirk van Grinsven and our experienced winger found the net. van Grinsven picked up from where he left off in second half and his second goal put us in control of the rest of the game. We started to retain possession and generally just saw things out. FC Volendam didn’t try too hard to turn things around and in the end it was a solid win and big improvement from Sparta result. our shooting was 19/11 no real chances for FC Volendam we made 32 dribbles in this game Fred Koeman suffered gashed head in this game and he too needs to be sidelined for a week 15.04.2033 - AFC Ajax - FC Utrecht 2:1 (ED) - 37. and 57. Johan van Dalen - 31. Stan van Dijk We need just one more win to secure Eredivisie title, but it won’t be easy. FC Utrecht did just beat Feyenoord 3:0 at De Kuip and their striker Juddy Menga is currently Eredivisie best goalscorer. We missed Engin Ari because of yellow cards and as Mario de Groot is still injured we had to start with Edward Schans in DMC. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Lichaba, Schans, Sastrodimedjo (46. Stekelenburg), Janssen, van Grinsven (70. Matal), van Dalen, de Wit (70. Ceylan) The game started slowly and while we had small initiative, FC Utrecht got the first goal. Juddy Menga gave excellent through ball and Stan van Dijk timed his run well. Sergio Alleyne was too late to cover that and van Dijk scored from 1-1 opportunity. We equalized in 37’ and it was excellent DFK from Johan van Dalen. He has not used to take set pieces, but he was on duty in this game and he took this one really well - curled over the wall and beat the goalkeeper. It was all even at half time. Second half was more under our control. Johan van Dalen doubled his tally with a simple tap-in and we took the lead in 57’. We had a chance to extend our lead in injury time - John Prins fouled Nketsi Matal in the box and Rene van den Bosch (another unusual set piece taker) couldn’t score from the spot. Either way we won the game and secured our league title with that result. our shooting was 23/12 24.04.2033 - AFC Ajax - PSV Eindhoven 3:1 (Dutch Cup Final) - 6. Pieter Stekelenburg, 18. and 85. Johan van Dalen - 45.+1 Kees van der Werff The last game of the month was the cup final against strong PSV team. It was good to have our league title secured and some pressure off our shoulders, so we could fully concentrate on this game. I wanted to repeat our March performance against PSV, but the final was held at De Kuip and it wasn’t our home ground. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba (85. Koeman), Ari, Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven (78. Matal), van Dalen, de Wit (71. Ceylan) We started the game really well - Pieter Stekelenburg reacted first to loose ball in the box and his goal made it 1:0. Johan van Dalen soon doubled our tally and we took full control of the game, but just before half time whistle PSV got their first half-chance and midfielder Kees van der Werff scored one goal back from a counter. I was very disappointed with that conceded goal and with a good reason. That goal allowed PSV back into game and they took heart from it in the second half. PSV found some chances from counters and in 66’ they had a great opportunity to equalize. Rene Lems found himself with space in our box, but he blasted his shot well over. PSV started to push in attack and left a lot of space behind their lines, so finally in 85’ we punished that risk - good transition attack allowed van Dalen to score his second goal and that settled it. It was a great result and I was happy to held onto that win. PSV could rue their missed chance, but that’s football. we won our 4th consecutive Dutch Cup and are now on 24 games winning streak Simon Janssen had a great game for us Dirk van Grinsven came off with damaged knee cap and he’ll be sidelined for 3-4 weeks I can be pretty pleased with our games in April. We allowed things to carry away in our first game against Sparta, but secured league title and won in the cup final. To win both domestic titles is a big result after our runners-up position in the last season. Eredivisie
  15. Youth Intake 2033 New intake of youth players came in this March. As we currently have pretty good cover in all positions, I didn’t have any special requests about our talent recruiting department. Perhaps a new striker after Wim Splinter moved away? Anyway, the buch that I got is: Mark van der Plas Probably the best talent in this group. Left winger with good decision making and physically quick and strong. Likes to shoot from distance - nobody knows why. Stan Knol Talented striker. Not really complete forward material yet (but they rarely are in this age). Quick player, can finish well. Not the best consistency, according to my coaching staff, but that’s OK. Sener Arslan Two-footed midfielder. Not really sure just yet if it’s more advanced playmaker or box-to-box midfielder in my system. Could be better physically, but generally looks like a good prospect
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