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Draakon

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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. March 2033 February had a lot of games, but opponents were small teams and we could win all the games we played. It’s a different story in March - only six fixtures, but tough opponents. We play FC Groningen, sc Heerenveen (twice, in the league and in the cup semi final) and PSV Eindhoven and the month will start with two Europa League games against Tottenham. 03.03.2033 - AFC Ajax - Tottenham 1:2 (Europa League 2nd knockout round 1st leg) - 26. Johan van Dalen - 41. and 83. Aimar Lopez Tottenham is a big step up from Maccabi - although they’re just 10th in English Premier League at the moment, their squad looks more like a Champions League team than Europa League and I expect two tough games. Approach is simple for us in March - use more experienced players in those games against Tottenham and allow some others to prove themselves in Eredivisie. We practiced defending set pieces before this game and used more conservative tactics that served us well in Champions League. We have some players missing in this game - Fred Koeman is suspended; Engin Ari, Dirk van Grinsven and Edward Schans are all in light training regime, but not yet fit enough to start in this one. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Lichaba, de Groot, Stekelenburg (61. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, Matal, van Dalen (68. van der Aar), de Wit (68. Ceylan) We got the early chance - Tarik de Wit had a shot from IFK in the first minute, but sent it wide of goal. Scary moment in front of our goal came in 15’ - Tottenham’s Willie McGrath won a header from corner and sent it against crossbar. Their central defender Jamaica was first to rebound, but Tom Drost did well to block his shot from close range. Both teams looked vulnerable from set pieces. It was a close game until 26’ - good attacking move and cross from our right gave Johan van Dalen an easy chance and we took the lead in this game. van Dalen had another chance in 29’, but this time it was stopped by Tottenham goalkeeper. We looked fairly good and limited Tottenham chances until the end of the first half - Aimar Lopez got away from Rene van den Bosch, Sergio Alleyne missed his interception and half-chance was all that this top striker needed to score. Pity to concede right before half time and that goal from almost nowhere gave Tottenham a way back into the game. We had actually a really good first half and I feel that we deserved to lead, but we need to be at our best in both ends to beat top teams. Second half was more quiet and it was more difficult to find good chances. We didn’t, but Tottenham found the winner late in the game. It was Aimar Lopez again, who headed in from corner - ball went in from crossbar. Nketsi Matal had a great chance to equalize in 87’’, but his shot went wide, so we fell short in the end. Home defeat and two conceded goals don’t make our chances look good for second leg game in London. Good effort by players, but we’re not just good enough. Aimar Lopez proved to be too good, a real world class striker and he was too much to handle for our defenders. our shooting was 20/8 Tottenham got just two shots on target and scored two goals 06.03.2033 - AFC Ajax - FC Groningen 3:0 (ED) - 4. and 79. Omar van der Aar, 8. Clyde Sastrodimedjo There was one Eredivisie fixture between two Tottenham clashes and it’s against FC Groningen. We were favourites for this game and in Amsterdam Arena I selected attacking tactics with overlapping instructions. Positive news from physios - Edward Schans is back in full training with Dirk van Grinsven and Engin Ari. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost (65. Alleyne), van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (52. Antonucci), van Grinsven, van der Aar, de Wit (65. Ceylan) We attacked well from the first minutes. Both Omar van der Aar and Simon Janssen had an attempt in the beginning of the game and then van der Aar headed in after van Grinsven crossed the ball for him from our right flank. It really looked easy and you might even say it had been coming for FC Groningen. Good counter attack in 8’ resulted in another goal - Clyde Sastrodimedjo the scorer. FC Groningen looked in a real mess and even though the rest of the first half was quiet, it looked like FC Groningen never really recovered from those first ten minutes. I asked the team to retain possession in second half and gave rest to key players. It wasn’t the most exciting football until 79’ - Omar van der Aar received the ball from throw in, showed wonderful technique to trick three defenders before hitting it into the net with power. Outstanding goal from that youngster. In 82’ we got a corner and Mario de Groot headed towards goal, but that was hacked off the line by arriving defenders. That was it and final whistle marked our convincing win with confident performance. our shooting was 20/9 Omar van der Aar and Fred Koeman had excellent game FC Groningen manager Robin van Persie was sacked after this defeat and FC Groningen named Ryan Donk their new manager 10.03.2033 - Tottenham - AFC Ajax 2:1 (Europa League 2nd knockout round 2nd leg) - 14. Tony Honratty, 20. Aimar Lopez - 74. Engin Ceylan We had a really difficult position before this second leg game. We needed to score at least two goals in New White Hart Lane to get something out of this tie and that looked like a huge challenge. I used common sense and we trained defensive positioning before the game. Interestingly, in FM defensive tactics could lead to more chances, so I opted for our usual Champions League setup and hoped that our defenders could contain Aimar Lopez better than we did a week ago. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, Ari (12. Koeman), Stkelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (70. van der Aar), de Wit (64. Ceylan) If we had any hopes of turning our 1:2 defeat around in this game, it was gone in 11’ wehn Leslie Lichaba committed a horrendous two-footed tackle on Tottenham player. Surely a red card and Lichaba was sent off. In a season of ups and downs for him it was another moment when he let down his teammates. After that we just had to endure the rest of the game. Tottenham executed well from half chances and they scored twice in the next ten minutes and that was it. We improved after half time break despite being a man down (or rather Tottenham got a little bit careless). In 59’ Dirk van Grinsven made a good interception in Tottenham box, but sent his shot well wide and this chance was wasted. Tottenham’s Willie McGrath’s clear cut chance in 71’ was parried by Ismet Gluhalic and in 74’ substitute Engin Ceylan scored our consolation goal. While this goal didn’t change anything for the team, it was hugely important goal for the man himself. Ceylan had played over 23 games without a goal and he finally ended his drought with that shot. Let’s hope he’ll continue scoring now. Final score 1:2 was actually pretty decent for 10 men team. Leslie Lichaba was fined for his dismissal (no complaints from him whatsoever) and I could now turn my attention to domestic competitions. 13.03.2033 - sc Heerenveen - AFC Ajax 0:5 (ED) - 8. and 12. Tarik de Wit, 21. and 31. Dirk van Grinsven, 88. Engin Ceylan sc Heerenveen started their season pretty well, but they’ve dropped from 4th place down to middle of their table. They’re still using their usual 4-4-2 tactics and we encountered it with attacking setup and overlapping instructions. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman (57. Lichaba), Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (57. Stekelenburg), van Grinsven, van der Aar, de Wit (67. Ceylan) Key events unraveled in the first 15 minutes. Tarik de Wit opened scoring after good cross from Tom Drost. Then sc Heerenveen got their chance just two minutes later - poor touch from Drost allowed Angelo to intercept and move 1-1 against Gluhalic. His shot did beat our Bosnian keeper, but bounced back from post and sc Heerenveen missed their chance to equalize. It was a very poor mistake from Drost and we were lucky to escape from that. And so, just another two minutes later another good combination from our right wing led to second goal. Tarik de Wit doubled his tally and sc Heerenveen looked a bit broken after those consecutive events. Dirk van Grinsven scored two goals in the first half - both assists gave from de Wit who fed him with beautiful through balls. sc Heerenveen defense was in disarray and even though their central defender Adnan Günes headed against our crossbar in 32’ the first half finished with 4:0 and it was game over. Brilliant first half performance in attack gave us confident lead. We controlled things in second half, although sc Heerenveen got some half-chances, but nothing too dangerous. Engin Ceylan came on from substitution again and got himself to score sheet in consecutive games. Final score marked a great result in away game and I was very happy with performance. we had 8.14 average rating we created 6 clear cut chances Tom Drost made his 400th appearance for Ajax in this game Tarik de Wit, Dirk van Grinsven, Tom Drost and Engin Ari were outstanding for us 18.03.2033 - AFC Ajax - PSV Eindhoven 4:0 (ED) - 19. Tarik de Wit, 35., 57. and 81. Johan van Dalen We remembered well our previous game against PSV in Philips Stadium. Johan van Dalen’s red card led to 0:2 defeat there and we were eager to prove that we are actually better team than that. But I have to say that PSV are not exactly the same team than they were back in Autumn. They had a very good first half of the season and they even got themselves to Champions League knockout stages, but they’ve won only three games since December and lost a lot of ground in Eredivisie table. Zakaria Baltham’s departure in January weakened their attack and they have not really reorganized their game after that. They also looked a bit tired before this game, so I counted us as favourites before this game. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman (62. Lichaba), Ari, Stkeelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven (56. Matal), van Dalen, de Wit (62. Ceylan) Tarik de Wit opened scoring in 19’. It was a fairly quiet first half until that point - we controlled midfield, but PSV defense held and we didn’t get too many chances, but after 30’ they started to crack. Johan van Dalen doubled our lead in 35’ and in 42’ de Wit had a great chance from IFK, but that time PSV goalkeeper Rene Rauws was up to challenge and produced a brilliant save to deny him. I was happy with scoreline at half time and we looked good on the pitch. Second half belonged entirely to us. Johan van Dalen redeemed himself in this game, producing a hat-trick and we didn’t allow PSV to create anything in attack. Final score 4:0 celebrated emphatic win n front of our home fans. our shooting was 26/10 PSV didn’t get a single shot - not at target, but not a single shot. They just didn’t take any attempts at all Sergio Alleyne made his 300th league appearance for Ajax Johan van Dalen, Simon Janssen and Tom Drost had a great game In this matchday it was confirmed that FC Eindhoven will be relegated this Summer. Club reacted by sacking their manager Idrissa Gueye, although that road was clear for me long time ago. 30.03.2033 - AFC Ajax - sc Heerenveen 1:0 (Dutch Cup Semi Final) - 71. Tarik de Wit International break was behind us and it didn’t give our players too much extra workload. Leslie Lichaba and Ismet Gluhalic are with their national teams, but it’s been a while since we had a player in Holland national team and I’d like to see more of our players in U-21 and U-19 teams that we currently have in them. However, March had one more game in store and it’s cup semi final against sc Heerenveen. I expected our opponents to make their conclusions from our previous encounter and change their tactics accordingly. They were perhaps too bold in home stadium, but this time we’re back in Amsterdam Arena and it usually means that teams come here with more emphasis on defense, defend deep with their lines and our scoring chances are somewhat more limited. We, on the other hand, continued with our usual attacking formation and overlapping orders. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba (72. Koeman), de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven, van der Aar (61. van Dalen), de Wit (72. Ceylan) First half didn’t offer too many chances. Tarik de Wit released Dirk van Grinsven with a lovely through ball in 37’, but his shot was saved - brilliant stop from Bob Leeflang in sc Heerenveen goal. Leeflang was the star in the first half - we had a couple of good shots on target, but he kept his goal intact. Rene van den Bosch sent his header towards goal after our corner and it bounced back from the post. We controlled midfield in this first half, but chances were rare and our finishing was not good enough, so first half finished with 0:0 scoreline. Second half was pretty similar to first half. Tarik de Wit got a couple of half chances and then finally breakthrough came in 71’. Dirk van Grinsven sent a cross between defensive line and goalkeeper and de Wit was there on time to finish with a powerful shot. That one goal was good enough to win the game and put us into cup final. In the end of the game I felt that we did well enough, although our finishing could have been better. our shooting was 21/10 we will play PSV Eindhoven in the final I’m actually pretty pleased with our March. Tottenham games were more challenging and it proved once again where we were in European level - not quite good enough to beat big teams, but certainly no pushovers either. At the same time we continued our great form in domestic competitions and it’s not only wins and points that matter, but also the way we destroyed teams like Heerenveen and PSV in this month - it convinces me that we’re on title course and Feyenoord need some serious luck to challenge our title. Eredivisie We have a gap behind us, but Feyenoord have one more game to play. PSV are well behind. FC Groningen are still struggling in relegation zone (how on earth they can’t get results with the squad that they have) and FC Eindhoven are relegated.
  6. February 2033 01.02.2033 - RKC Waalwijk - AFC Ajax 1:3 (Dutch Cup Quarter Final) - 33. Marco de Ruiter - 6. and 90. Omar van dre Aar, 90.+2 Nketsi Matal We had a very favourable draw in the cup - to get RKC Waalwijk, who is 17th in Jupiler League, as our opponents in quarter final stage, is a lot easier than expected. We were big favourites before the game and obviously our attacking tactics was easy choice - fullbacks overlapping and some bold rotations in the team as well. Squad: Gluhalic, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Otten, Koeman (60. Lichaba), de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Antonucci (78. Talea), Matal, van der Aar, Ceylan) We made a good start to the game and Omar van der Aar opened scoring in 6’ after our counter. But we didn’t get enough chances to extend our lead further and in 33’ RKC equalized. They got a corner and their captain Marco de Ruiter was unmarked at the far post. Ball was flicked on to that area, Steven Otten had drifted away from de Ruiter and it was easy finish from close range. We didn’t have much luck in attack - Clyde Sastrodimedjo rattled crossbar in 39’, but that was the closest we got to the second goal in the first half. I had some critical feedback to distribute at half time - performance like that is not good enough against Jupiler League teams and we had to improve in second half. We did, but the winning goal kept us waiting. Engin Ceylan had a great chance from counter in 47’ - he took the ball into box, but left himself with too narrow angle and it was saved by goalkeeper. Omar van der Aar had a great chance in 62’, but his shot went wide. With time running out, it looked very likely that we need extra time to win this game, but in the final minute we broke RKC defense. Omar van der Aar found the goal in 90’ and with pressure lifted, Nketsi Matal added another in injury time. Decent result in the end, but honestly we were saved by those late games and I don’t rate our performance good enough our shooting was 23/11 we made 36 dribbles we will go against sc Heerenveen in semi final Omar van der Aar had a great game for us 05.02.2033 - FC Eindhoven - AFC Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 38. Clyde Sastrodimedjo We continued our Eredivisie campaign against FC Eindhoven. To be honest the schedule is a bit easy in February, if I may say so - we play most of the small teams from bottom of the league and newly-promoted FC Eindhoven is struggling in the last position and most likely will be relegated in Spring. Two things that made his game tricky though - it was away fixture and the evening in FC Eindhoven Stadium welcomed us with rainy weather and very wet conditions that favoured our opponents and hampered our technical football. I continued to play with attacking tactics and overlapping instructions. Leslie Lichaba was suspended for this game and Fred Koeman took his place in left defense. Most of the other first team players returned to line-up, too. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman, Ari (61. de Groot), Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (69. Stekelenburg), Matal, van der Aar (73. van Dalen), de Wit First half was a muddy midfield battle. Neither of teams couldn’t get any really dangerous shots on target, although it was a scary moment for us in 33’ when Patrick Hillekens won a free header in front of our goal, but he sent it over and we could breathe more easily. We broke deadlock in 38’ - Omar van der Aar sent excellent diagonal ball to Nketsi Matal who crossed it into the box. Tarik de Wit saw his shot being blocked, but Clyde Sastrodimedjo picked up the rebound and scored. After first half like this I was fairly pleased to go to half time with 1:0 lead. I asked players to retain possession in second half. FC Eindhoven had to open up their game a bit more and we got good chances from counters. One of those came in 51’ - Simon Janssen’s shot was saved, Nketsi Matal had a great opportunity from rebound, but he somehow missed the target. That was a bad miss - we should have decided that game here and there. It was even more ominous sign when substitute Mario de Groot made a reckless two-footed challenge in 65’ and was sent off just four minutes after coming on. Unbelievable stupidity! FC Eindhoven took encouragement of that dismissal and the rest of the game they were going for equalizer and we tried to exploit counter-attacks that came plenty. Tarik de Wit had a great chance in 71’, but he missed both of his attempts. In 84’ he sent his shot just inches wide. One-goal lead was nervous until the final whistle and when it finally sounded I was more relieved than happy. Our finishing should have been much better in this game and we should have decided it earlier. Red card for de Groot was a different level of stupidity, obviously. our shooting was 26/8 - we created chances, but didn’t get our shots on target we had 15 corners, but couldn’t use them well enough Mario de Groot was fined for 1 weeks wages on the spot and had no complaints whatsoever 10.02.2033 - AFC Ajax - Maccabi Tel Aviv 3:0 (Europa League 1st knockout round 1st leg) - 40. and 52. Tarik de Wit, 87. Omar van der Aar Our European campaign continues in Europa League knockout round and we have pretty good chances against Maccabi Tel Aviv. We are touted as favourites for the first leg at home, at least, and practiced attacking set pieces before this game. Maccabi play fairly defensive 4-5-1 formation. I would have liked to teach Mario de Groot a lesson and sat him on the bench, but Engin Ari was suspended for this game, so de Groot got a chance to redeem himself a bit. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba (67. Koeman), de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, Matal, van Dalen (59. van der Aar), de Wit (70. Ceylan) We played well in the first half and created good chances, but missed a bit of luck in decisive moments. In 18’ a shot by Tarik de Wit rattled crossbar and two minutes later Johan van Dalen had a great look, but Maccabi goalkeeper made a brilliant save to deny him. Our goal came, however, before half time. Tarik de Wit finished our good counter by putting his shot right next to post and it was unstoppable for the keeper. Deserved goal as we looked in control of the first half - Maccabi wasn’t a threat in attack and their only striker looked too isolated on the pitch and was easily handled by our central defenders. Tarik de Wit doubled his tally early in the second half and we were cruising from there. Nketsi Matal had a good shot on target in 63’ - another brilliant save by Maccabi goalkeeper, but in the final minutes Omar van der Aar added another goal to make it 3:0. It was a very good result from the first leg and I was happy with our clean sheet as well. That put us in control of the tie and it should be fairly easy to get through this round. we had 61% possession our shooting was 24/10 we didn’t allow Maccabi any chances in attack Simon Janssen had a great game for us 13.02.2033 - Fortuna Sittard - AFC Ajax 0:5 (ED) - 6. Clyde Sastrodimedjo, 13. Tarik de Wit, 16. and 87. Omar van der Aar, 63. Francesco Antonucci Another small team in Eredivisie and another away game. Still, Fortuna Sittard is a tough cookie and I remember that we managed to just scrape a narrow 1:0 win at home, so we had to be wary of complacency. That’s why we went to van Bommel Park (yes, a stadium named after Mark van Bommel) with our full strength. Or at least with the best available players, because Edward Schans and Mario de Groot were suspended. Good news is that Dirk van Grinsven is back in full training and started this game from the bench. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Lichaba, Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Stekelenburg (56. Antonucci), Matal (56. van Grinsven), van der Aar, de Wit (62. Ceylan) We almost scored from our very first attack - Nketsi Matal curled his cross to far post and Omar van der Aar was open there, but he managed to only hit the post from narrow angle. But it was just the start and we soon took full control of the game. Clyde Sastrodimedjo opened scoring for us after calm finish from excellent through ball from Pieter Stekelenburg. Tarik de Wit scored in 13’ and Omar van der Aar extended our lead further with a great goal and in less than 20 minutes it looked like game over for Fortuna Sittard. We dominated possession and were dangerous in attack. Engin Ari had a good attempt from distance - it clipped the post and went behind - unlucky. We looked really confident and comfortable at half time, but the best was about to come. We continued to play well in second half and create clear cut chances. Substitutes Francesco Antonucci and Dirk van Grinsven combined well between themselves and a string of one-touch passes led to our fourth goal. Engin Ari started oru counter attack in 72’ and found Omar van der Aar on the run; 19 years old winger was so alone in the box that he could take three shots on the goal in a row, but was denied three times by Fortuna goalkeeper Barry Tuitel (who had a great game against us in Amsterdam Arena, but couldn’t save his team today). What a waste from van der Aar, but he got his second goal anyway, finishing in 87’ after a good cross from van Grinsven. Dirk van Grinsven looked good as well, returning from injury break with two assists. Final whistle marked our convincing win and that’s the sort of performance I expect from my team more often. our shooting was 24/16 we created 9 (!) clear cut chances we had 8.41 average rating we didn’t give Fortuna any chances in attack Omar van der Aar, Clyde Sastrodimedjo, Tarik de Wit and Tom Drost were outstanding for us 17.02.2033 - Macabi Tel Aviv - AFC Ajax 1:2 (Europa League 1st knockout round 2nd leg) - 29. Jens Dehm - 15 .Omar van der Aar, 87. Eugene Talea We travelled to Israel without pressure, because we had a healthy lead from first leg and one goal in away game would make our win in this pair secure. Rene van den Bosch was suspended for this game, but Dirk van Grinsven was back in starting line-up and I used more rotation players in this game. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo (58. Talea), Antonucci, van Grisnven (58. Matal), van der Aar (66. van Dalen), Ceylan We took the lead in 15’ - Omar van der Aar sent his shot towards goal from the edge of area. It went down low, against the movement of goalkeeper and surprised him completely. A really great strike. As I said, that goal secured our position. Good attack from Maccabi allowed them to equalize in 29’. We went too passive in defense in there and didn’t make a tackle when we should have. First half ended 1:1 and our performance was so-so. I was not happy to see some complacency on the pitch. Second half was quite the similar. Chances were rare and both teams looked to see this game out without much effort. Maccabi got their best chance in 68’ - Ismet Gluhalic made a good save to deny long shot, Mohamed Benali was first to get to rebound, but sent his shot against outside of post. In 79’ Maccabi’s Malik Kessassi received his second yellow card and was sent off, and in 87’ substitute Eugene Talea scored his first goal of the season to win this second leg for us. Our performance wasn’t really impressive and it was a little bit boring game, to be honest, but to win is always good. 20.02.2033 - AFC Ajax - Roda JC Kerkrade 3:0 (ED) - 53. Tarik de Wit, 70 Edward Schans, 80. Dirk van Grinsven Roda JC are perhaps the weakest team in Eredivisie and home game against them should be very easy, but we face fairly tough schedule until the end of February and have to rotate wisely. All players are fit and ready to play - a luxury we haven’t had too often in this season. I chose attacking tactics with overlapping instructions for fullbacks. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba, Ari, Sastrodimedjo (63. Stekelenburg), Janssen, van Grinsven, van der Aar (67. van Dalen), de Wit (63. Ceylan) We started the game and I noticed immediately that we looked a bit nervous - surprising to see it against small team at home. We couldn’t create good chances in the first half. Omar van der Aar was perhaps the most active player on our left flank and Tarik de Wit sent his header against crossbar in 24’, but it was not good enough and after 45 minutes we were still looking for our first goal. I asked players to increase tempo in second half and chances started to come. Tarik de Wit wasted his first clear cut chance, but he opened scoring in 53’ and after Edward Schans doubled our lead with a header from corner (he has contributed a lot of goals from corners in this season!) we looked more relaxed and confident. Dirk van Grinsven added our third goal (excellent cross from van Dalen to set it up) and final score looked like expected before the game. I was much more pleased with our second half and it was a good win in the end. we didn’t allow Roda JC to get any chances we had 16 corners in this game Edward Schans suffered thigh strain in second half and he’ll be out for 2 weeks 23.02.2033 - Helmond Sport - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 8. Tarik de Wit, 51. Dirk van Grinsven February schedule is tight, but our opponents are mostly small teams, so I expected us to do well against Helmond Sport in our next game. We continued with attacking formation and overlapping instructions. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (60. Stekelenburg), van Grinsven (51. Matal), van Dalen, de Wit (51. Ceylan) We started the game well and took the lead early. Tarik de Wit received the ball in the left, took it into the box and finished with a great streak to far post. We were in control of the first half and were unlucky not to score more. Tarik de Wit managed to hit crossbar twice and Johan van Dalen wasted his clear cut chance in 24’. I was pleased with our first half performance - we controlled midfield and created chances and Tarik de Wit was unlucky not to score more goals. It didn’t take us long to get our second goal after the break. Dirk van Grinsven doubled our lead with a great shot and I ordered the team to ease off and retain possession until the end. Engin Ceylan had a great chance to end his goal drought, but his shot in 56’ hit the post and made me cringe - it was easy chance and the lad knows it. He has to get over his dry spell and find some goals. Despite that miss we controlled the game until the end and took comfortable win. we had 66% possession we gave 66 key passes our shooting was 21/8 we made 32 dribbles we didn’t allow Helmond Sport any chances Tarik de Wit scored his 100th career league goal Simon Janssen had a great game for us 26.02.2033 - MVV Maastricht - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 3. Tarik de Wit, 30. Dirk van Grinsven Away game against MVV Maastricht is probably our toughest Eredivisie game in February. However, MVV players looked tired before the game and they miss a couple of their key players due to injury, so I was fairly optimistic before the game. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost ,Alleyne, van den Bosch, Koeman, Ari (66. de Groot), Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven (65. Matal), van der Aar, de Wit (67. Ceylan) Maastricht welcomed us with wet weather and it wasn’t our kind of turf. However, we scored a flyer when Tarik de Wit sent his header into goal after less than three minutes were played. Dirk van Grinsven doubled our lead in 30’ after excellent diagonal pass from Pieter Stekelenburg. MVV got their best chance of the game in 32’ - Ismet Gluhalic missed his interception when we defended a corner, our own prospect Germain Siereveld received the ball and had a chance from close range, but Sergio Alleyne managed to block it. I was pleased with our first half - we didn’t get too many chances, but we had a two-goal lead. We controlled the game in second half and retained possession. In 83’ Germain Siereveld clattered Engin Ceylan in the box and we got the penalty, but Mario de Groot couldn’t convert it and it was saved by MVV goalkeeper. Despite that penalty miss we were satisfied with our win and clean sheet. we had 60% possession we gave 57 key passes our shooting was 21/8 Dirk van Grinsven made his 500th appearance for Ajax Dirk van Grinsven will be out for a week with a stubbed toe Engin Ari suffered bruised head and is also out for a week Tom Drost and Pieter Stekelenburg had a great game for us February was a great month for us. Straight wins in domestic competitions. Even though our opponents have been mostly smaller teams, a winning streak like that doesn’t come together too often. We also defeated Maccabi over two legs and continue our run in Europa League. Good performances by most of the players and we’re generally fit and healthy, so I expect us to continue this form into March and April. Eredivisie PSV have dropped behind and they’re now third. Feyenoord have kept our pace for most of February, but in the final match day they made only a draw and we’ve now pushed the gap to three points. It’s been a very competitive season in Eredivisie again, just like in previous year, and we have to be at our best level to secure the title.
  7. January 2033 Winter break and start of transfer window turned my focus off the pitch. We had a bit busier transfer window than I expected and it started with Marvin Koops joining SC Bastia for £425k. He’d lost his position as our first choice keeper and I saw no point in keeping him on the bench. Instead, I promoted 18 years old Zeus Florentina from Jong Ajax to fill substitute role. FC Barcelona came and hijacked young defender Soner Sahin from us for his minimum release fee £2,6m. That’s a bummer, because I forgot he had that clause in his contract and Sahin was a very talented youngster, although still early in his career. 17 years old striker Wim Splinter attracted a lot of attention from European giants - FC Chelsea and Real Madrid were among the clubs to bid for him. I rejected all bids, but when AS Monaco came with their offer, he became restless and asked for transfer, so I reluctantly allowed him to leave for £2,8m + clauses (up to £3,9m). Good money, but he was a really good prospect that I wanted to keep around. Other clubs tried to strengthen their ranks too. PSV sold their best striker Zakaria Baltham to Olympique Marseille for £10,5m and invested big part of that fee (£6,25m) into Jaume Prada from Tottenham. FC Twente lost patience with Eljero Elia and the manager was sacked after another poor result in January. FC Twente are 17th and that’s obviously not good enough after first half of the season. The club appointed Stefan de Vrij as their new manager in January. We played Stekelenburg testimonial in January against Legia (did beat them easily 4:1) and it was time to return to Eredivisie football. 22.01.2033 - FC Twente Enschede - AFC Ajax 1:2 (ED) - 67. Pieter Stekelenburg (og) - 45.+1 Tarik de Wit, 51. Edward Schans It wasn’t long ago since we last played against FC Twente and they’re our opponents when Eredivisie returned from Winter break. Players are fit and ready to play, Rene van den Bosch has returned from injury and I have full squad in my disposal besides Leslie Lichaba who is away at African Cup of Nations with South African squad. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman, Ari, Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven (57. Matal), van Dalen (64. van der Aar), de Wit (73. Ceylan) We gave FC Twente an early chance - deep cross from our left found Rocky Lie A Kwie (what a name!) at our far post. He had a great look, but managed only to hit the post. In 15’ we put together a very good counter, Tarik de Wit was completely alone in the box, but his shot was saved and the chance wasted. After those chances the first half looked a bit drab, but we got the breakthrough in injury time. We had IFK, played it open shortly, Tom Drost delivered the ball into box and Tarik de Wit won his header. It was a bit ambitious to go for a goal, but FC Twente goalkeeper Yanick van Osch had come out from his line and de Wit sent his header over him and into the net. It was his 20th goal of the season and great moment to score a goal, right before half time whistle. Despite that goal I wasn’t too happy about our first half performance - there was a lot of midfield struggle and we were not creating chances. FC Twente tried to keep possession and at times were fairly good at it. Both of our wingers looked lost on the pitch and Tom Drost found himself constantly offside when he tried to overlap. I asked players to retain possession in second half and we looked slightly better after the break. Engin Ari took a DFK in 51’ - he curled it beautifully around the wall, but goalkeeper managed to parry it with difficulties. With that danger averted by FC Twente, we still found the goal from following corner. Edward Schans won a header and sent it in. In 56’ Dirk van Grinsven pulled his hamstring and had to come off. We looked confident and in control with our two goal lead until FC Twente managed to score one in 67’ - we were not able to defend their corner properly, couldn’t win headers and make clearances. There was a lot of mess in our six yard box and the ball bounced around until it went over the line and Pieter Stekelenburg was the last man to touch it. Messy stuff. We almost made it worse in 73’ - Rene van den Bosch gave a backwards header to Ismet Gluhalic, but it was too weak and was easily intercepted by Isaac Osei. FC Twente striker went 1-1 against Ismet Gluhalic, but somehow sent his shot wide of goal. Unbelievable miss when he had all the time and space to score an equalizer. It was nervous until the end and FC Twente got their last chance in injury time - they won a header from corner and it was going past Gluhalic into the goal when Tom Drost managed to make a clearance off the line. That was it and we secured narrow win from away game. I was satisfied with three points, but it was too much struggle and too nervous game against the 17th team in the table. Perhaps we’re not in the rhythm just yet. we allowed FC Twente to make 22 dribbles - that stood out from stat sheet both of our goals came from set pieces Tom Drost and Simon Janssen were outstanding for us Dirk van Grinsven is sidelined for 3 weeks with pulled hamstring 26.01.2033 - AFC Ajax - Vitesse Arnhem 1:1 (ED) - 75. Omar van der Aar - 85. Maarten Jacobs Next opponents are Vitesse - good team, currently lying on 7th place in the table. They play attacking 4-2-3-1 and their danger man Donald Jourdan has consistently found goals against us, but I hoped that home advantage will be decisive in this game. We still missed Leslie Lichaba because of his international duties, Dirk van Grinsven was injured and Clyde Sastrodimedjo started in midfield because I promised him more first team football. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman, Ari, Sastrodimedjo (70. Stekelenburg), Janssen, Matal, van Dalen (58. van der Aar), de Wit (70. Ceylan) First half ended without goals and noteworthy events. We held Vitesse under pressure for some periods and our team looked really motivated, but we couldn’t create good enough chances in the first half and no goals. In second half Vitesse raised their game and they started to get opportunities. In 51’ Sander Noorlander had a shot on target that was brilliantly saved by Ismet Gluhalic. Fred Koeman’s mistake gave Felix Wohlert a great look in 59’ - again parried by Gluhalic. We were playing with fire defensively and our own attacks looked as fruitless as they did in the first half. In 67’ I asked the players to up the tempo a bit and it changed things. Less than 10 minutes later we opened scoring - Omar van der Aar was at the right place at the right time and scored his 10th goal of the season. We switched to retain possession after our goal. Vitesse probably felt that they deserve to get at least one point from this game and in the end they did - good cross came in from between our defenders and goalkeepers to find Maarten Jacobs at the far post. Easy finish for Vitesse winger and 1:1 remained to scoreboard until the final whistle. Disappointing result for us in home game - we allowed Vitesse some very good chances and could have easily lost this one altogether. We didn’t create chances in attack and weren’t good enough in defense. our shooting was only 11/4 we lost possession battle 48/52 - not often that happens Fred Koeman made 6 individual errors and always looked like a liability in defense Johan van Dalen suffered sprained wrist in this game, but he should be OK to play through it 29.01.2033 - AFC Ajax - Feyenoord Rotterdam 2:0 (ED) - 3. Nketsi Matal, 68. Tarik de Wit January ended with another Klassieker derby. This time in the league. Because Feyenoord lead the league and are ahead by 2 points it’s a true six-pointer and extremely important game for us for all reasons. We practiced attacking set pieces before the game and I tried to replicate the tactics and attitude of the cup game in December where we managed to dominate Feyenoord completely. I made some changes with the team - Pieter Stekelenburg started in midfield, Leslie Lichaba returned before this game and started in left defense (Fred Koeman can have no complaints after his poor display against Vitesse), Johan van Dalen is not at 100%, but he’ll start in this game. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, Ari, Stekelenburg (68. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, Matal, van Dalen (56. van der Aar), de Wit, Ceylan) We scored a flyer after good transition attack when less than 3’ was played - great start and it shocked Feyenoord players a bit. Nketsi Matal was the scorer and it was his 50th league goal for Ajax. Matal had another great chance in 12’, but both his two attempts were saved and Feyenoord goalkeeper kept his team in the game. Tarik de Wit sent his shot inches wide in 16’ and it looked like our second goal is just a matter of minutes. Leslie Lichaba had a great chance in 33’, but left-back sent his shot wide. We were leading 1:0 at half time, but it was a very good first half. We were clearly better of the two teams and early goal helped us on our way. We deserved more goals, but our attacking plays were often disrupted by offside calls. We continued to control midfield in second half and in 68’ Tarik de Wit doubled our lead. Nketsi Matal did a good job, pulling two defenders on him and putting it on a plate for de Wit, who didn’t make a mistake from there. When final whistle called it marked our comfortable win. What an important result! we had 60% possession our shooting was 20/5 Nketsi Matal had a great game for us Nketsi Matal scored his 50th career league goal for Ajax Leslie Lichaba made his 100th appearance for Ajax Good results in January. We wasn’t at our best in the first games, but derby win over Feyenoord makes up for that and it takes us to lead the league table. Eredivisie PSV had dropped some points and those could be costly. There’s a gap now between them and it looks like a two-horse race for the title. At the bottom of the table I still expect FC Twente and FC Groningen to pick themselves up and start winning, but so far it hasn’t happened.
  8. December 2032 04.12.2032 - AFC Ajax - VVV Venlo 0:0 (ED) First game in December was home game against VVV Venlo. We need a win in home game to retake the lead in the table. VVV Venlo have actually a very good team, although they lack a bit quality in defense. Either way, they’re predicted to finish 11th by media experts and that shows that they can be dangerous if they’re underestimated. I asked players to be more attacking and fullbacks to overlap in attacking phase. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch (20. Sahin), Schans, Lichaba, de Groot, Stekelenburg, Janssen, Matal, van der Aar (56. van Dalen), de Wit (70. Ceylan) We didn’t get our attack to run as smoothly as I expected and it took a lot of time before we created anything dangerous. Nketsi Matal had the best chance in 37’, but his shot was saved. It was a fairly even battle in the first half apart of this moment. VVV played well in midfield and our performance was not good enough by our standards. Second half looked fairly similar - we managed to control midfield a little bit better, but chances were rare and our attacking movement was not good enough. Young centre-back Soner Sahin won a header in corner situation in 70’, but it hit the post and bounced away. That was the closest we got to goal in this game. Final result was a disappointment - we should have played a lot better at home and used our chances better. VVV are obviously happy with one point from tough away game. our shooting was 15/10 Simon Janssen made his 200th appearance for Ajax in this game Rene van den Bosch suffered groin strain in first half and he’ll be out for 2-3 weeks Johan van Dalen suffered gashed leg and he’ll be out for a week, missing a game or two 08.12.2032 - AFC Ajax - FC Twente Enschede 2:1 (ED) - 18. Tarik de Wit, 71. Omar van der Aar - 43. Ferdi van Gerwen Next game against FC Twente didn’t allow us a lot of time to prepare. We needed to improve our attack and finishing if we wanted to win games. FC Twente have been perhaps the most underachieving team in this season - they have one of the most talented young midfielder in Jonathan Pengel and they’re predicted to finish 12th in this season, but instead they find themselves in relegation battle and it’s been difficult for them to get points. Johan van Dalen and Rene van den Bosch are injured, Tom Drost is suspended for this game, but Sergio Alleyne is fit and ready, so he’ll start in DR and youngster Soner Sahin takes place next to Edward Schans. Squad: Gluhalic, Alleyne, Sahin, Schans, Koeman, Ari (58. de Groot), Stekelenurg, Janssen (69. Antonucci), Matal, van der Aar, de Wit (74. Ceylan) We took the lead in 18’. Nketsi Matal made a good run from right wing and delivered a cross to near post where Tarik de Wit arrived right on time to put it into the goal. FC Twente equalized just before half-time break - their combination from our left allowed Ferdi van Gerwen to run into empty space and he used his chance well. Shot went into near post and goalkeeping from Ismet Gluhalic was a bit questionable in this situation, but this goal gave FC Twente confidence before half time and increased our frustration. We did better after half time break, put FC Twente under pressure and chances started to come. Tarik de Wit got a great chance from corner in 51’, but his shot was saved. Nketsi Matal got a shot on target in 56’ and then, just like in first half, FC Twente got a chance out of nowhere - good cross from our right found Ferdi van Gerwen in our six yard box and he got goal open in front of him, but Ismet Gluhalic managed to make incredible reflex save to stop that shot from close range. It was a key moment in the game, key save from Gluhalic and after a moment like that it was clear that we need to take this game. And we got this goal that we needed - in 71’ Sergio Alleyne delivered a cross to Omar van der Aar and young winger headed it in off the bar. Great goal for him and important win for us. We retained possession for the rest of the game and held onto that win. It was a narrow win and fairly even game - FC Twente probably feel that they should have got at least one point from it. I’m not entirely happy with our performance, but pleased with three points. our shooting was 23/11 Sergio Alleyne was outstanding for us in this game 11.12.2032 - FC Utrecht - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 61. and 67. Tarik de Wit It was difficult to select tactics for this game, because FC Utrecht are strong team (predicted to finish 4th) and it’s always tough against them in away game. They also came against us with standard 4-4-2 instead of their usual 5-3-2WB, that’s something different compared to previous seasons. We had Tom Drost back in line-up, but Sergio Alleyne looked tired and was rested. Soner Sahin was in starting line-up, because of van den Bosch was injured. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Sahin, Schans, Lichaba, Ari , Sastrodimedjo (46. Stekelenburg), Janssen (58. Antonucci), Matal, van der Aar, de Wit (67. Ceylan) First half was drab football from both sides with only two noteworthy moments. FC Utrecht’s Jorri van der Geest was the first player to react to loose ball in our box and his shot in 6’ cracked crossbar. Omar van der Aar had the best chance of the first half, but his shot was easily held by FC Utrecht goalkeeper. No goals at half time and we needed to change something in second half. Tarik de Wit was the man of the moment to make all the difference in second half. His shot from the edge of area went right next to post and surprised goalkeeper a little bit. Six minutes later it was again de Wit who was in action - his header from corner bounced back from crossbar, but he was ready to react and tucked in the rebound. That decided the game and we slowed things down to protect our lead. Substitute Engin Ceylan got a great chance in injury time to add our third goal, but his shot was parried by goalkeeper. I didn’t mind that, because 2:0 from away game was a very good result that I’m happy with. we collected 6 yellow cards, which is too much, although some decisions from referee were ridiculous we allowed 29 key passes (too many in Eredivisie) Leslie Lichaba looked a bit error-prone with 5 individual mistakes half of the season is over and we’ve collected 40 points out of 17 games - not too bad, but PSV and Feyenoord are doing equally well 14.12.2032 - AFC Ajax - Feyenoord Rotterdam 2:1 (Dutch Cup 4th round) - 21. and 63. Johan van Dalen - 37. Rico van Leeuwen The first Klassieker derby of the season was held in August and it finished 3:3. This time two teams meet in cup game and it’s held in Amsterdam Arena, so I hoped that home crowd could make some difference. It’s fairly tight schedule before Christmas and it looked like Feyenoord players are more tired and in need of a good rest. We practiced attacking set pieces before this game (corners have produced some good goals lately) and it’s good to see that Dirk van Grinsven is back in full training and ready for this game. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans (64. Otten), Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (72. Antonucci), van Grinsven, van Dalen, de Wit (64. Ceylan) Johan van Dalen had the first chance of the game in 9’. He sent his shot past of goalkeeper, but it rattled crossbar. A little bit unlucky there, but van Dalen was the man to open scoring in 21’ - good work and cross from our right wing from Tarik de Wit. de Wit got his best chance in 33’, but shot from close range came off too softly and was easily held by goalkeeper and in 37’ Rico van Leeuwen equalized. It was pretty much the first good attack by Feyenoord, they managed to create a gap in defense and Sergio Alleyne allowed van Leeuwen too much space in our box. Good finish, surely - he’s a quality striker - but this goal came a little bit against the run of play. We looked more in control of the game and created chances, but couldn’t score another goal in the first half. Tarik de Wit had a clear cut chance from close range in 43’, but it was saved. Dirk van Grinsven wasted his opportunity soon after and in injury time both de Wit and van Dalen had a good looks and shots on target, but goalkeeper was good enough to parry those attempts. I was not happy with scoreline at half time - we were clearly the better team in the first half and created plenty of chances, but it’s been the story of our season - we suck so badly in finishing in certain situations that it physically hurts to watch. Game was not so open in second half, but we continued to control and attack and this constant pressure paid off in 63’. Dirk van Grinsven delivered good cross to Johan van Dalen and van Dalen doubled his tally. He had a great chance to complete his hat-trick in 66’, but this shot wa saved. Final score was 2:1 - I was happy with our dominating performance, but frustrated with our poor finishing. We should and could have destroyed Feyenoord in front of our home fans, but missed that opportunity. our shooting was 22/12 we created 5 clear cut chances we had 14 corners in this game we had a very favourable draw for next round - quarter final will see us go against Jupiler League side RKC Waalwijk 18.12.2032 - AFC Ajax - ADO Den Haag 2:2 (ED) - 82. Omar van der Aar, 90.+2 Tarik de Wit - 38. and 74. Anthony Smith The last game of the year is against ADO Den Haag. We defeated them in August comfortably, but this 3:0 scoreline was a bit flattering, because they’re a good team. I expected us to do well in home game and asked full-backs to overlap and offer support in attacking phase. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman, Ari (59. de Groot), Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven (54. Matal), van dalen (70. van der Aar), de Wit The first half was even battle in midfield, but best chances fell to Den Haag. In 12’ Edward Schans missed his header and Tarik Hmouda got to go one-on-one against Ismet Gluhalic, but our Bosnian goalkeeper made a great save to deny this shot. In 38’ Anthony Smith opened scoring - good header after deep cross was sent into box from our left. Alleyne was a bit too far away in this situation. That goal gave Den Haag the lead in half-time and I was disappointed with our poor performance - we just didn’t create anything dangerous and didn’t put opposition under real pressure. My half time team talk had effect and I saw a lot more motivated faces on the pitch after half time break. Tarik de Wit had the first great chance in 64’, but his shot was hacked off the line by defender. Anthony Smith doubled his tally in 74’ after Fred Koeman missed his header while defending IFK situation. Smith scored two goals and neither of those weren’t a really good look, he just took his shots well, got them on target and beat our goalkeeper. Mark of a great striker. I knew that we deserved to get something out of this game and to be 0:2 behind was very disappointing, but motivation to prove that we’re better than that was there and we finally started to attack. Omar van der Aar finished our first good attacking combination with a goal. Tom Drost had a fierce shot on target in 86’ - saved well by goalkeeper. In the end, ADO couldn’t keep their lead. Injury time corner was flicked on by Sergio Alleyne and Tarik de Wit headed it in from far post. Late equalizer and superb comeback to get one point from this game, but I’m not happy that it took 80 minutes before we really started to play. Performances were a bit uneven and lot of players didn’t impress. However, in the end of the season that one point could make a huge difference. I’m fairly pleased with our December. We dropped points against VVV Venlo and ADO Den Haag, but we didn’t lose any games and both PSV and Feyenoord have dropped some points too. We were leading the table before that last game, but that draw allowed Feyenoord to take charge and open up two-point lead. Eredivisie sc Heerenveen have not been able to win consistently and there’s now 10 points gap between them and top three. FC Eindhoven and FC Twente are still two main relegation candidates. The rest of the pack is quite as predicted.
  9. November 2032 02.11.2032 - Dynamo Kyiv - AFC Ajax 1:2 (Champions League Group B) - 61. Emil Brown - 23. Johan van Dalen, 57. Simon Janssen November starts with a long trip to Kyiv. After narrow win at home we were prepared for a very tough away game. Tactics: I chose to counter Dynamo 4-3-3 formation with completely different setup. Formation was our usual, but mentality standard instead of control, more disciplined mindset, high tempo and fullbacks were on support duties instead of usual attack. Team news: Johan van Dalen will get his chance to redeem himself, because Omar van der Aar is not ready to start in this game. Leslie Lichaba was dropped and replaced with Fred Koeman and Engin Ari returned to DMC position. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman, Ari (63. de Groot), Stekelenburg (66. Talea), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen, de Wit (71. Ceylan) First half was fairly even until 23’ when good attacking combination gave us the lead - Dirk van Grinsven crossed and Johan van Dalen headed in from six yard box. Dynamo switched to more attacking tactics after that, but our formation stood well and we limited their chances. The closest they got to our goal was in 43’ when Emil Brown’s header scraped crossbar before going over. I was pleased with our first half display - Dynamo increased their pressure as the first half progressed, but we stood well in defense and were patient in attack. We have to take our chances when they come in this kind of games and we did exactly that. Good transition attack in second half doubled our lead - great cross from Johan van Dalen found Simon Janssen in front of goal and it was easy finish from close range. Emil Brown managed to score one back for Dynamo - deep cross came from our left to far post. Ismet Gluhalic didn’t go for it and Tom Drost allowed Brown to escape - clear cut chance and easy finish for ex-Ajax striker. That goal gave Dynamo players extra motivation and they almost got their equalizer in 85’ - Vitalyi Krasilnikov hit the post after a counter - great chance for him and we were a little bit lucky there. Final whistle marked a great result for us - we edged another close encounter and we had now two wins in a row. Engin Ari suffered bruised head in this game and he’ll be out for a week Young goalkeeper Rob Pluim signed his first professional contract in this week - he has a huge potential and could be a key player for us. One sign of this is the fact that he earned his first U-21 cap already. at the age of 16. 06.11.2032 - AFC Ajax - Sparta Rotterdam 0:0 (ED) We’ve given up some points in comparison to PSV and I wanted a good result from here. Sparta are doing fairly well and they were predicted to finish 9th in the table before this season, but I was confident that home advantage makes us favourites and chose attacking formation with overlapping instructions to fullbacks. Johan van Dalen was suspended for this game and we missed Engin Ari and Francesco Antonucci due injuries. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven, van der Aar (58. Matal), de Wit (64. Ceylan) The most noteworthy moment of the first half came in 11’ in our box - lot of mess from defenders and we weren’t able to clear the ball, so Sparta got two good chances in a row, but Ismet Gluhalic did well to save us. We controlled midfield in the first half, but Sparta defended in numbers and it was difficult to find chances, so we couldn’t find any, despite getting 8 corners in the first half. Second half was better. Tarik de Wit headed against crossbar in 47’ and his shot in 54’ again found frameworks - a bit unlucky not to score from there. I sent in Nketsi Matal in 58’ and moved Dirk van Grinsven to AML as IFa. Mata got a great chance to score in 66’, but his shot was saved. We started to apply good pressure on Sparta goal. Substitute striker Engin Ceylan had two great chances in 81’ and 87’, but youngster missed them both and final whistle marked a goalless draw. Very frustrating result, because we deserved to win with our second half performance. We were a little bit unlucky not to score, but we need to finish better those clear cut chances if we get them and we didn’t tonight. we had 60% possession we gave 57 key passes our shooting was 20/9 we had 16 corners (and didn’t use them well) we’ve now played three league games without goals and wasted 6 clear cut chances in those games, atrocious finishing Simon Janssen had a great game for us 21.11.2032 - FC Volendam - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 39. Omar van der Aar, 70. Edward Schans It was a good international break for us, especially because it allowed some players to recover from injuries. Clyde Sastrodimedjo and Francesco Antonucci are back in full training and we travelled to Volendam for our next league game. We really needed a win and to score some goals to get our confidence back. Volendam are predicted to finish 14th in Eredivisie, but they have injury problems in goalkeeping department and they had to use 17 years old youngster against us and I hoped that it gives us better chances in attack. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba, Ari (63. de Groot), Stekelenburg (72. Talea), Janssen, Matal, van Dalen, de Wit (70. Ceylan) We were in control of the first half, but it took some time before we could create anything dangerous in FC Volendam area. Tarik de Wit won a header after corner in 26’, but his header hit crossbar and bounced back. Volendam struggled to defend set pieces and in 33’ their defender pushed Edward Schans in the box in IFK situation - clear penalty and it was promptly awarded by referee. However, Tarik de Wit is not the most confident striker at the moment and his penalty was saved by goalkeeper - 17 years old Darryl Franken. How on earth can one player look like a shadow of his best days. It’s the second penalty in a row that he’s missed and his goalless streak affects us as a team. In 39’ Omar van der Aar got a free header from close range, but it smashed crossbar - it looked like we have rotten luck in all situations, but van der Aar managed to tuck it in from rebound. I was happy to lead at half time, although that penalty miss was as bad as it gets. We continued well after half time break and the best chances came from corners. Rene van den Bosch had a good look in 61’, but his shot was cleared off the line. Edward Schans headed in from another corner in 70’ and that goal settled it. We concentrated on ball possession after our second goal. FC Volendam almost scored after counter in 82’, but Andy Lyden’s shot was well saved by Ismet Gluhalic and that was it - solid win from away game. It was a bit more difficult and nervous than I expected, but in the end the players delivered. our shooting was 23/9 we had 5 clear cut chances in this game we had 18 corners and we looked fairly dangerous from set pieces Sergio Alleyne was injured in the first half - twisted knee will keep him out for 2 weeks Dirk van der Grinsven picked up a knock in second half - twisted ankle leaves him sidelined for 3-4 weeks Dirk van Grinsven had a great game for us 24.11.2032 - AFC Ajax - AS Monaco 0:2 (Champions League Group B) - 8. Franjo Galovic, 62. pen. Klajdi Idrizaj It’s difficult to see us getting any points against AS Monaco, but we were eager to prove that we’re better than the 0:7 scoreline from away game showed. We practiced defensive positioning before the game and I used the same tactical tweaks that worked so well against Dynamo Kyiv - fullbacks to support, standard setup, higher tempo and more disciplined mindset. Sergio Alleyne and Dirk van Grinsven were injured, but the rest of the first team players were available to us. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba, Ari (63. de Groot), Stekelenburg (72. Talea), Janssen, Matal, van Dalen, de Wit (70. Ceylan) We made a very good start to the game - Johan van Dalen had a shot on target in 7’ that was saved off the line and Nketsi Matal had a clear cut chance that was saved. But while we couldn’t produce a goal from those good attacks, AS Monaco scored from their first attack in 8’. Franjo Galovic beat Leslie Lichaba in the air and his header landed in top corner. That was cold shower for us and our inability to use our chances added up to it. Nketsi Matal wasted another great chance in 11’ and Tarik de Wit missed his opportunity in 31’. We went to half time break with 0:1, but our tactics worked well and I felt that scoreline was a bit unfortunate and didn’t reflect the game properly. We wasted three clear cut chances in the first half and that’s something you just can’t allow to do against AS Monaco. We were optimistic about our chances in second half until Leslie Lichaba gave away penalty after handball in our box. Very stupid move from our left-back and that made our job much more difficult. We had chances late in the game, though - we attacked well in the last ten minutes and substitute Engin Ceylan found himself twice in one-on-one situations, but he couldn’t finish his opportunities. Johan van Dalen continued our poor finishing with missed chance in injury time. When final whistle called I was really frustrated. We had numerous chances in this game, but couldn’t score a single goal and two mistakes from one player in defense cost us the game. Tarik de Wit continued his goalless run, even though he found a clear cut chance. we had 5 clear cut chances in this game, but missed them all - we could have won this game easily, but failed to do so we need to win our last game against Olympiakos and hope that AS Monaco beats Dynamo Kyiv 27.11.2032 - AFC Ajax - AZ Alkmaar 4:0 (ED) - 17. Edward Schans, 21. Tarik de Wit, 44. Pieter Stekelenburg, 90. Kevin de Jonge (og) Back to Eredivisie and we host AZ Alkmaar in our next game. AZ are predicted to finish 8th in this season and look like solid mid-table side. It’s nice to see Kevin de Jonge, who’s currently on loan at AZ and have played regularly in their central defense in this season. AZ plays pretty standard 4-4-2 tactics and we went against them with our usual formation, fullbacks overlapping because it’s our home game and I expected us to dominate midfield. I dropped Leslie Lichaba after poor display against AS Monaco and Fred Koeman took his place in left defense. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch (69. Sahin), Schans, Koeman, Ari, Stekelenburg (50. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, Matal, van Dalen, de Wit (57. Ceylan) Tarik de Wit got the early chance in 6’, but his poor finishing form continues and his shot went well wide. We opened scoring in 17’ - Edward Schans headed in from IFK. Nice goal for central defender and his second in consecutive league games. Tarik de Wit header landed in the net in 21’ and there was a massive roar in Amsterdam Arena, because de Wit FINALLY scored. It was his first goal after long drought - in fact he’s been without scoring for 816 minutes until that goal and that must have been massive confidence boost for him and in fact for the whole team. Before half time we scored our third goal and what a goal that was! Corner was delivered to outside of area and Pieter Stekelenburg sent a screamer from 30 yards straight to top corner. Wonderful goal, very well struck and the first goal that in this season that looks like a goal of the season candidate. With confident lead after first half I asked players to retain possession in second half and tuned down overlapping, so second half was less eventful. For some period it looked like AZ is trying hard to find a goal and managed to control midfield better, but we defended well and it never got too dangerous. Our own loan player Kevin de Jonge scored unfortunate own goal right before the end and final score was 4:0. I was happy with result and performance - we looked dominant in the first half and controlled things well after half time. I’d like to see games like that more often. our average rating was 8.06 AZ Alkmaar managed to get 11 corners, but we defended well in set piece situations we allowed 25 dribbles that is too many - Robin Claeys was especially difficult to handle for Fred Koeman despite all those stats, AZ didn’t get any chances in this game Pieter Stekelenburg, Nketsi Matal and Edward Schans were outstanding for us 30.11.2032 - Olympiakos - AFC Ajax 3:2 (Champions League Group B) - 9., 24. and 68. Nahuel Veron - 60. Pieter Stekelenburg, 72. Nketsi Matal Last game of the month was away game against Olympiakos, also our last game in Champions League group stage. As I noted before, we needed to win in this game and hope that AS Monaco defeats Dynamo Kyiv, if we want to progress from this group. We practiced defending set pieces before this game and used our proven European tactics that worked well in so many games already. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman, Ari (60. de Groot), Stekelenburg, Janssen, Matal, van Dalen (65. van der Aar), de Wit (69. Ceylan) Just like in AS Monaco game we got an early chance - Johan van Dalen had a good look on goal in 7’, but his shot was saved. Olympiakos got their opportunity just a minute later when Juan Mercuri found himself alone in the box, but Ismet Gluhalic made a good save to deny him. It was Olympiakos who opened scoring another minute later. Nahuel Veron skipped past Edward Schans and Fred Koeman and finished well from tight angle. He doubled his tally in 24’ and that, I felt, was the end of our hopes to qualify from this group. Fred Koeman struggled to handle him in our left flank and to concede two goals so early in this game was a disappointment. But it was still early and players weren’t prepared to give up. Pieter Stekelenburg tried his luck from distance in 28’ - his shot looked dangerous, but only scraped crossbar before going over. Johan van Dalen had a great chance from counter late in the first half, but his shot was saved and disappointing first half finished 0:2. We showed good football for some periods, but were again wasteful with our chances and made some costly mistakes is defense. If we can get away with those mistakes in Eredivisie, that’s not good enough in Champions League level. We continued to try in second half and Pieter Stekelenburg managed to score our first goal in 60’ - great counter attack, good pass from Simon Janssen and calm finish from experienced midfielder. But if that goal got our hopes up, it was not for long. Nahuel Veron completed his hat-trick in 68’ and that cooled our fire a bit. Nketsi Matal made it 2:3 - we looked dangerous in transition and finally managed to score from those chances, but it looked like we’re too late to save this one. Omar van der Aar had a clear cut chance in 90’ - that one was saved by goalkeeper, but wouldn’t have mattered either way. Final score 2:3 showed again that we have to improve our finishing if we want to get further in Champions League. we got 5 clear cut chances in this game ,but gave away 6 great chances to Olympiakos players made 26 mistakes in this game, Simon Janssen 9(!) individual errors Group B standings: AS Monaco 15, Dynamo Kyiv 9, AFC Ajax 7, Olympiakos 4 Simon Janssen had a great game for us How should I sum up November for us? In Eredivisie we looked fairly good and mostly got the results, but November was about Champions League and here we failed to deliver, although we started the month with a great result against Dynamo Kyiv. We played well, but failed to deliver and our poor finishing from clear cut chances was the main problem. It’s been a struggle for Tarik de Wit and I hope that his goal against AZ Alkmaar will give him confidence and improve his form in coming weeks. We need to concentrate on December to improve our league standings before winter break. Eredivisie Top three have moved away from the rest of the pack. We’re still in title race, but there’s not much room for mistakes.
  10. October 2032 02.10.2032 - Roda JC Kerkrade - AFC Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 77. Dirk van Grinsven First game in October is against newly-promoted Roda JC, but it wasn’t an easy game at all. Roda JC have surprised everyone with their good form - team who were predicted to finish 18th are currently 5th and exceeding all expectations. Despite that I still expected our rotation players to do the job and so I shuffled our team a lot. Squad: Koops, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo (46. Stekelenburg), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (6. Matal), de Wit (70. Ceylan) Our game was disrupted early - Johan van Dalen had to come off with broken ribs and Nketsi Matal took his place in AML, although he’s not really comfortable with playing on the left. Not sure if it was squad selection, early substitution or something else, but we couldn’t create anything for the first 30 minutes and those half chances that we got in the end of the first half weren’t too dangerous. Disappointing performance in first half and on stat sheet we had only 8 key passes - clearly not enough creativity. Changes were made at half time - Clyde Sastrodimedjo came off and Stekelenburg took his place in midfield. We got our first clear cut chance in 56’, when Dirk van Grinsven had a great look from point blank range, but somehow his shot was saved. Unbelievable miss in this kind of moment. In 60’ Nketsi Matal took a good shot and a brilliant save from Roda JC goalkeeper denied him. It started to get nervous for us, but we finally broke through in 77’ - good transition football and final pass from Engin Ceylan released Dirk van Grinsven and this time our right winger used his opportunity well. We could calm down a little after that goal and I was satisfied with keeping possession until the end. In the end, a narrow win in away game. We had no reason to be happy with that performance, but we did enough to scrape it. Second half was better in terms of created chances, so that was an improvement. we didn’t give Roda JC any chances in this game Tom Drost and Fred Koeman both committed 7 fouls - way too many Johan van Dalen will be sidelined for 3-4 weeks with broken ribs I finally found suitable additions to coaching staff and we signed Carlton Cole as a coach, Italian Mirco Paluzzi as U-19 goalkeeping coach and Jason Blunt and Daniel Ciafani as U-19 coaches. 16.10.2032 - FC Groningen - AFC Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 64. and 66. Omar van der Aar, 77 .Engin Ceylan Opponent: FC Groningen are predicted to finish 10th in Eredivisie and they have the best teamwork in the league. Definitely not easy opponents in away game. Team news: international break has allowed Omar van der Aar to recover from his injury, Rene van den Bosch is also back in full fitness, but Clyde Sastrodimedjo is out with double hernia - that’s a shame, because he was after more first team football and now his ambitions are hampered by injury. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba, Ari, Stekelenburg (69. Talea), Janssen, van Girnsven (64. Matal), van der Aar, de Wit (69. Ceylan) A little bit like in Roda JC game we didn’t create anything dangerous in the first half, even as we looked a bit more attacking team. Again I had to make some tactical tweaks at half time and switched Omar van der Aar to IFa in our left flank. Perhaps that made the difference, but our young winger made the difference in second half - he scored two goals in two minutes and that decided the game. Substitute Engin Ceylan added third goal in 77’ - good show of skills from him, to turn around his defender and pass it calmly into the net. Very good second half led to very good result in away game and I’m happy that youngsters made the difference in this game. it was another excellent game defensively - we didn’t give FC Groningen any chances Omar van der Aar and Simon Janssen had a great game 20.10.2032 - AFC Ajax - Dynamo Kyiv 1:0 (Champions League Group B) - 53. Nketsi Matal After big trashing in the first game and disappointing draw with Olympiakos, we had pretty much our back against the wall. If we want to get anything out of this group, we have to get some points and home game against Dynamo Kyiv is our most likely opportunity, although they have looked fairly strong in their games so far. Preparation: we practiced attacking set pieces to take advantage of our corners and free kicks. Dynamo Kyiv were slight favourites for this game even though it was Amsterdam Arena. They play attractive 4-3-3 formation and we don’t have too many experience against such setup. I ordered our fullbacks to support to counter the threat that three strikers posed to our defensive line. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, Ari (46. de Groot), Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven, van der Aar (23. Matal), de Wit (62. Ceylan) The game started slowly and both teams were careful in their game, not to take any unnecessary risks. In 23’ Omar van der Aar had to come off with injury and again I had to go with Nketsi Matal on our left flank. Dynamo’s Cleber had some shots on target, but we got even closer to first goal when Tarik de Wit headed against crossbar in 37’. First half was fairly even and ended without goals. Dynamo attacking trio looked skillful with ball and our defenders did well to contain them most of the time and at least for some periods it looked like we had control of the game. First half gave us encouragement and we took the lead in 53’ - Tarik de Wit flicked the cross towards far post where Nketsi Matal was waiting and finished with good shot. Dynamo wanted to equalize and they started to attack more and it almost worked. In 60’ ball fell to Walter Medina in our box and he had time and space to score, but Ismet Gluhalic made a great save to keep our lead. Dirk van Grinsven had a great chance from counter in 80’, but it was brilliantly parried by Dynamo goalkeeper. It was end-to-end stuff in the final ten minutes. Dynamo almost got lucky in 85’ when their cross bounced back from our crossbar. In following counter attack Nketsi Matal had a great chance to double our lead, but it was again brilliantly saved and follow-up from Stekelenburg was equally well parried. Dynamo had chances late in the game, but both Vitaliy Krasilnikov and Cleber wasted their opportunities (or rather it was Gluhalic who made two key saves), so final whistle brought relief to us and we could celebrate our first win in the group. Dynamo did their best to get the goal in that second half, but we held on. The last ten minutes were full of action and both goalkeepers could show their skills. Very entertaining football and I’m happy to be in the winning end of it. our shooting was 16/10 Omar van der Aar suffered fractured arm - because Johan van Dalen is also injured, I asked him to play through it with protective equipment 23.10.2032 - AFC Ajax - sc Heerenveen 0:0 (ED) We had just three days to prepare for our next league game and we have some tired legs in the squad after Champions League football. Opponent: sc Heerenveen are predicted to finish 13th, but they’re overachieving at the moment and find themselves in 4th position with some really good results in the first half of the season Tactics: I chose overlapping instructions to fullback for this home game Squad: Gluhalic, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman, de Groot, Stekelenburg, Antonucci (55. Janssen), van Grinsven (69. Matal), van der Aar, de Wit (69. Ceylan) First half was a disappointment for us. We put sc Heerenveen under good pressure in the first minutes, but it died out after 15’ and we didn’t get enough good chances in the first half. Second half was pretty much the same, although I tried to change things with substitutions. We got our best chance of the game in 82’ when Engin Ceylan went one-on-one after our counter-attack, but he was brilliantly denied by sc Heerenveen goalkeeper and that was it. We dominated midfield for the most of the game, but couldn’t break sc Heerenveen defense and our opponents are obviously happy to leave from Amsterdam Arena with a point. 27.10.2032 - De Treffers - AFC Ajax 0:9 (Dutch Cup 3rd round) - 2. Nketsi Matal, 8. and 13. Omar van der Aar, 33. and 80. Engin Ceylan, 37. Sergio Alleyne, 59. Dirk van Grinsven, 74. and 82. Simon Janssen Cup game against lower league side De Treffers was easy affair and I allowed rotation players to take this one. Some youngsters got to start, too. Squad: Koops, Alleyne, Sahin, Otten, Koeman, de Groot, Talea, Antonucci (49. Janssen), Matal, van der Aar (46. van Grinsven), Ceylan We pretty much destroyed the smaller team in this game. De Treffers probably hoped to keep their clean sheet for as long as possible, but we opened scoring already in 2’ and when Omar van der Aar scored our third goal in 13’ it was obvious that heads dropped a little. It was free-flowing football for us and De Treffers had no skill or spirit to deny us. Engin Ceylan could have scored a hat-trick, but even so it was a dominant performance. Something to gain confidence from and first team players got a valuable rest day before derby game against PSV Eindhoven. we had 63% possession and gave 59 key passes our shooting was 34/17 we created 5 clear cut chances we made 33 dribbles in this game we had 8.97 average rating most of the players had outstanding game we are now 20 games unbeaten in Dutch cup we play with Feyenoord in 4th round Francesco Antonucci pulled his hamstring in 2nd half and he’ll be out for 3 weeks 30.10.2032 - PSV Eindhoven - AFC Ajax 2:0 (ED) - 60. Laurens Antoine, 90. Dennis de Jong It was always destined to be a title six-pointer and even more so after we dropped points against sc Heerenveen. Opponent: PSV have done again really well in this season, putting together a long winning streak while also competing in Champions League level. They’re at their full strength and coming against us with their usual 4-4-2, with Zakaria Baltham their best striker with 15 goals in Eredivisie already. At home they’re slight favourites against us. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba, de Groot (26. Matal), Stekelenburg (70. Talea), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen, de Wit (70. Ceylan) Zakaria Baltham showed early why he’s such a great striker - he won shoulder to shoulder duel against Edward Schans and got the first clear cut chance of the game in 4’, but Ismet Gluhalic was ready and parried it wide. We looked error-prone in defense and I asked players to retain possession, but the key moment came in 26’ - Johan van Dalen made a reckless and completely unnecessary two-footed tackle on PSV player and was sent off early. In 30’ we got a chance when Dirk van Grinsven was tripped at the edge of PSV box and referee awarded a very generous penalty for us, but Tarik de Wit (who has already on a long spell without a goal) didn’t convert the penalty and it was still 0:0. Zakaria Baltham got another clear cut chance in 44’, but again Ismet Gluhalic made a good save and sent us to half time with 0:0. We were hopeful at half-time, but second half with 10 men was always a tough challenge. Ismet Gluhalic had a good game, but he too was human. Leslie Lichaba’s mistake allowed Rene Lems to take open shot from close range and Gluhalic saved that, but in 60’ Laurens Antoine headed in and PSV could celebrate. We had our hopes for equalizer until another mistake from Lichaba allowed Dennis de Jong to score from corner in the final minute and PSV took a derby win. I was very disappointed with result, but I can’t fault the performance of most players. To be honest, it was a tough position that Johan van Dalen put us in and we needed a lot more luck to avoid that defeat. our average rating was just 6.76 Leslie Lichaba managed to make 9 (nine!) individual mistakes and had a generally poor game we managed to be caught offside 11 times I decided to give official warning to Leslie Lichaba for poor performance (that he wasn’t too happy about) and fined Johan van Dalen for 1 weeks wages for his red card and unprofessional challenge (that he accepted without complaint) October has been generally OK. I’m happy that we finally got a win in Champions League and we played well in Eredivisie. PSV game came down not to team performance or tactics, but one reckless challenge and error of judgment by Johan van Dalen. Those things happen in a long season, you just have to accept them and move on, but that defeat leaves us 4 points behind PSV in the table, so we can’t allow too many mistakes in upcoming games. Eredivisie No surprises in top three. PSV look really formidable. FC Twente are finally starting to pick up some points to get out of relegation zone and some smaller teams who started their season really well have now slided down in the table.
  11. September 2032 Transfer window closed and international break went by really fast. We were busy finding new staff, but although there were several candidates for U-19 coach positions, none of them matched our high criterias. We finalized works in our training facilities and they were upgraded to highest level once again - works that started some 6 months ago were concluded in September. No it was time to return to Eredivisie football and Champions League was about to start. 11.09.2032 - AFC Ajax - Fortuna Sittard 1:0 (ED) - 73. Omar van der Aar It should have been easy home game - Fortuna Sittard were ranked just 15th in pre-season predictions, but those first games after international break are always tricky and it wasn’t different this time as well. I opted for more attacking formation with overlapping instructions for full-backs. We were ready for the game - Leslie Lichaba and Edward Schans were back to full fitness, but both Eugene Talea and Francesco Antonucci were injured in training and have to miss some games. Squad: Koops, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba (61. Koeman), Ari (52. de Groot), Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (69. van der Aar), de Wit We controlled midfield from kick-off and had a number of great chances in the first half to open scoring. Johan van Dalen had a great look in 8’, but he only managed to hit the post. His shot in 25’ was denied by brilliant save from Fortuna goalkeeper. I was very disappointed to go to half time with 0-0, because we had done enough to take comfortable lead, but failed to finish our chances. Fortuna players were encouraged by score-sheet and they defended bravely in 2nd half in hopes to get away from Amsterdam Arena with a point, but it wasn’t to be. Dirk van Grinsven found Omar van der Aar with a cross and youngster finished his only chance of the game better than van Dalen did in the first half. 1:0 is a narrow lead and we almost lost it in the final moments of the game. Fortuna got a corner in injury time, we were unable to win the header and ball bounced dangerously near our goal line for couple of times until Marvin Koops collected it and referee could blow the whistle. We won, but by narrow margin and that sort of result at home is not good enough to my standards. Johan van Dalen has to improve his finishing in next games. 14.09.2032 - AS Monaco - AFC Ajax 7:0 (Champions League Group B) - 13., 30., 47. pen. and 50. Jurij Dinaburskij, 53. and 89. Franjo Galovic, 57. Leonel Bangert Our Champions League campaign started with a tough match in away stadium against AS Monaco. Monaco are one of the favourites for Champions League title in those times and looking at their squad list makes any manager worry - most of their players are rated 5* compared to our team and I expected a tough match, although not exactly like it turned out. But omens were there - AS Monaco had been 29 games unbeaten before that game. We practiced defensive positioning before the game and I relied on our most experienced players. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba (56. Koeman), Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (56. van der Aar), de Wit (58. Ceylan) AS Monaco were more attacking team from the start, but in the first half we could keep up the pace for the most time. Twice we were not good enough to stop their best striker Jurij Dinaburskij - for the first goal their midfielders found him with excellent lob behind our defensive line and for second goal it was Leslie Lichaba’s missed interception to blame. 0:2 scoreline at half time was something that was to be expected - we couldn’t really stop AS Monaco from scoring, but at least we looked respectable and tried to play football. Second half, however, was another story. Johan van Dalen made a stupid foul to give away penalty and after that the floodgates opened. It probably was down to the fact that our heads dropped a little after third goal, but we were under heavy pressure for the next 15 minutes and when the storm ended we were 0:6 behind and hammered badly. At least some players tried to create something in the final minutes, to get consolation goal or at least something positive out of this hell. Simon Janssen sent his shot inches wide in 82’ and Engin Ceylan managed to hit crossbar in 86’, but we couldn’t find our goal and in the last minutes Franjo Galovic added 7th goal to AS Monaco. Without a doubt, that was an awful result. Honestly, I expected us to lose, but not THAT bad. In fact, it was the worst defeat of my career and I can’t pick out anything positive out of this game. Players decided to react and refunded fans who travelled with us to Ettori Stadium - obviously it wasn’t a performance that any of our fans enjoyed and most of the players felt guilty. To make things worse - Holland manager Roberto Martinez was on the stands and I believe some players hurt their chances of getting a call to national team. we gave away 7 clear cut chances our average rating was just 6.33 - I can’t remember it being so low we made 23 individual errors, 6 of those came from Engin Ari It was the first game of our Champions League campaign - while it was embarrassing defeat, it was just one defeat and we still have 5 games to go, so better to forget this game as quickly as possible and move forward. Perhaps inappropriate timing, but after that game I agreed to sign a new contract with Ajax. New deal lasts until 2036 and will bring me £24,000 p/week. 18.09.2032 - AFC Ajax - Helmond Sport 5:2 (ED) - 12., 24. and 51. Tarik de Wit, 69. Dirk van Grinsven, 85. Omar van der Aar - 75. Lorenzo Kleijn, 77. Sergio Alleyne (og) We needed to bounce back from that horrible defeat with a win and home game against Helmond Sport looks like a good option to regain our confidence. Helmond are ranked just 16th by pundits and it was a must win game for us in Amsterdam Arena. I chose attacking formation with overlapping orders, but didn’t mess with our line-up: pretty much our best eleven went out. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Alleyne, Schans (52. Otten), Lichaba, de Groot (52. Koeman), Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven, van der Aar, de Wit (57. Ceylan) We quickly took control of the game - Tarik de Wit got a chance in 12’ and finished well. Our corner was cleared by Helmond defenders, but Dirk van Grinsven delivered another ball into the box and de Wit was ready for it. Our striker doubled his tally in 24’ and although van Grinsven wasted his great chance in 33’, we went to half time with solid 2:0 lead. I asked the team to retain possession in second half and switched Omar van der Aar to IFa on our left wing and it soon paid dividends. Young winger found de Wit with a nice ball and de Wit completed his hat-trick. However, just a minute later Leslie Lichaba picked up his second yellow card and was sent off. We were leading 3:0, but a man behind. That didn’t stop us at first - Dirk van Grinsven scored our fourth goal (his 150th league goal for Ajax!), but then we lost concentration and almost allowed Helmond back into game. Substitute Steven Otten weren’t alert in our box and Lorenzo Kleijn got his foot in from close range to find the target. Just two minutes later it was a very similar cross from our left and this time Sergio Alleyne was on time to get to the ball first … only to put it into our own goal. 4:2 in less than two minutes. However, that was all that our opponents could do in this game and Omar van der Aar extended our lead further in 85’. In summary it was a good win, although those two conceded goals didn’t make me happy and Lichaba’s red card was careless and unnecessary. our shooting was 17/12 Dirk van Grinsven scored his 150th league goal for Ajax Tarik de Wit and Dirk van Grinsven had a great game 22.09.2032 - NAC Breda - AFC Ajax 0:3 (Dutch Cup 2nd round) - 9. Rene van den Bosch, 55. Engin Ceylan, 79. Clyde Sastrodimedjo It’s good that we get some easier games to build up our confidence after that heavy loss. Having said that - NAC Breda are not perhaps the easiest opponents in 2nd round - Jupiler League side could cause upset against anyone on home turf and we had to avoid complacency. Leslie Lichaba was suspended for this game and I was bold to allow several rotation players a chance to impress. Squad: Koops. Drost (53. Otten), Alleyne, van den Bosch, Koeman, Ari (64. de Groot), Sastrodimedjo, Stekelenburg, Matal, van der Aar, de Wit (53. Ceylan) We were control of the game in the first half, but didn’t create enough good chances. We got one good shot on target and it was our central defender Rene van den Bosch who scored from corner - he found himself in a good position in the box and Stekelenburg found him with a good pass. We secured the result in second half with goals from Engin Ceylan and Clyde Sastrodimedjo. Sergio Alleyne needed just some luck to score with a header from IFK, but that bounced back from the post. In the end I still felt that we didn’t create enough clear cut chances, but we scored three goals and kept a clean sheet, so I can have no complaints. our shooting was just 17/5 Omar van der Aar pulled his hamstring in this game and is out for 3 weeks Pieter Stekelenburg and Nketsi Matal were outstanding for us we got De Treffers for our 3rd round opponents - a lot easier draw, at least on paper 26.09.2032 - AFC Ajax - MVV Maastricht 2:0 (ED) - 25. Germain Siereveld (og), 27. Engin Ari Easy games are over and MVV will provide a much more difficult test. They have finished in top half of the table in recent seasons. They’re too inconsistent to really challenge top three, but on a good day can beat almost every club in Eredivisie. This season they’re predicted to finish 7th, but we’re favourites in Amsterdam Arena and MVV are missing some first team players, so this should play to our advantage. It’s also interesting to see how our hot prospect Germain Siereveld does for MVV. We went to the game with attacking formation and overlapping instructions. Leslie Lichaba was suspended for second game in a row and so giving Fred Koeman some first team opportunities. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman (67. Otten), Ari, Stekelenburg (63. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen, de Wit (58. Ceylan) MVV tried to defend deep in this game, using 2 DMCs, and that worked well for them for the first 20 minutes, but then two goals in short space of time made a difference. The first was unfortunate own goal for Siereveld, who stood on the way of Dirk van Grinsven’s cross. Two minutes later Engin Ari put it into the net after corner and that put us in control of the game. We switched to more conservative tactics in second half, but MVV never really challenged our goal until 87’ when Raul Ibanez sent his shot on target. Ismet Gluhalic was ready for that, despite having fairly quiet game until that point and his save kept our clean sheet. In conclusion, it was a solid win and I had nothing to complain about. 29.09.2032 - AFC Ajax - Olympiakos 1:1 (ED) - 30. Johan van Dalen - Edilson We finished September with our second Champions League game. We needed to bounce back from that trashing we got from AS Monaco and I hoped that players can do a lot better in front of home fans. We practiced defending set pieces before the game. We had Leslie Lichaba available again, Francesco Antonucci and Eugene Talea were also back to full training. Tom Drost, on the other hand, was suspended for this game. Squad: Gluhalic, Alleyne, van den Bosch (55. Otten), Schans, Lichaba, Ari (58. de Groot), Stekelenburg (73. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen, de Wit We started the game better and had two great chances in the first 15 minutes, but Johan van Dalen and Dirk van Grinsven both missed their opportunities, so it was Olympiakos who took the lead in 22’ - Edilson was unmarked in the box and it was easy finish for him from point blank range. We fought back and van Dalen equalized in 30’ and in the end of the first half Olympiakos switched their tactics to more defensive formation. We looked like a better team in that first half, but I was really unhappy with our finishing and missed chances. Olympiakos did well to kill the game after half time break. We controlled midfield, but couldn’t create any real chances, so in the end we had to settle with draw. That was a disappointment, because we needed points from those home games and I feel we’ve lost two in that game. Rene van den Bosch was forced to come off with bruised rib and he’s out for a week I look back to September with mixed feelings. We’ve done well in league games and actually looked confident in those wins, but terrible defeat in Monaco leaves its mark to this month and our Champions League performances have not been good enough. Perhaps weaknesses in our squad are being exposed by quality teams, I don’t know. Eredivisie No surprises in top three, but sc Heerenveen are doing really well to be so high in the table. FC Twente are underperforming, but I expect them to improve in the coming months.
  12. Squad Update 2032 Midfielders Engin Ari First choice for defensive midfielder role, especially against in more difficult games and in Champions League level. Also, embarrassing to admit - still our best set piece taker. Mario de Groot He can get enough playing time in DMC position, because he’s a bit different player than Engin Ari. I use de Groot mostly as regista and he contributes more to attacking phase of the game. Pieter Stekelenburg Stekelenburg had a difficult season - he suffered spinal injury in Autumn and was out for full three months and that allowed Rene Verhoeven to emerge. But now, after Verhoeven left to Atletico Madrid, Stekelenburg assumed his usual role as our first choice box-to-box midfielder Eugene Talea Sadly, his development stalled a little bit. He’s decent rotation option, but nothing more. Clyde Sastrodimedjo Sastrodimedjo had a great season on loan at MVV Maastricht and now he returned to Amsterdam and wants to compete for first team role. He’s a very good fit to box-to-box midfielder role - quick and hard-working, covers a lot of ground and can pass the ball. Few weaknesses too - he’s very poor in the air and also very one-footed. That last flaw visibly hinders his passing options on the pitch Simon Janssen Simon Janssen missed almost entire last season with cruciate ligament injury and he’s now worked with himself all Summer to get back in form. With Francesco Antonucci getting older, Janssen is our first choice advanced playmaker Francesco Antonucci Italian looked very formidable in Spring, despite his age, but he’s getting slower and his quality starts to drop a little. Could still be good against smaller teams when we dominate possession - his touch, passing and creativity can cut through most of bus-parking defenses, but his role in the club will decline now. Wingers Dirk van Grinsven Amazingly great on our right wing. Can score and create opportunities. Very consistent and highly motivated player. Nketsi Matal South African is experienced backup in AMR role. Quick and agile despite his age and role model for younger players. Johan van Dalen van Dalen is another player who was a small disappointment in the last season - he didn’t score as many goals as in the previous year and wasn’t as consistent as I expected. Needs to improve in this year. Omar van der Aar Hot prospect who got his chance in the first team after Justin Kluivert left in January. He brings something else to AML position, because he’s more suitable to IFa role and cuts more inside, moving into channels and creating space for others. Just 19 years old, but great prospect for the future. Strikers Tarik de Wit Definitely our first choice striker and perhaps the one irreplaceable player in the squad. Engin Ceylan Great prospect for the future. Not exactly CFs type of player, but really talented forward who moves well without the ball and can finish his chances. Only 17 years old, but features often from the bench, so he’ll have all the chances to develop his game in this season.
  13. Squad Update 2032 Not much has changed over Summer. We have a slightly smaller squad and in most positions we have two players. Goalkeepers Ismet Gluhalic Ismet Gluhalic is perhaps the biggest surprise of the last season. Over the past year he’s played himself to our no. 1 goalkeeper and Marvin Koops finds himself on the bench. He’s perhaps not that good in one-on-one situations, but overall he’s calm and confident between sticks and doesn’t make mistakes. On the verge of Bosnia & Herzegovina national team, too. Marvin Koops After losing his place to Gluhalic in the last year, it’s the time for difficult choices for Koops (and the club, as well). He’s 29 years old and his contract is about to end in the next Summer. Koops himself did let me know that he might be looking for new challenge, but we didn’t receive any serious bids for him and so he remains in the squad for now, but as we do have some decent youngsters coming up, it makes sense if he’ll leave in 2033. Defenders Tom Drost Team captain is in veteran status now, but his professional attitude and high natural fitness means he’s as reliable as ever in our right defense. Sergio Alleyne Another veteran defender who, despite his age, manages to outperform his younger teammates. Rene van den Bosch Actually I was a little bit disappointed with his performances in the last season. It should have been his time to really emerge and raise his game to new level, but instead he looked much more error prone than Sergio Alleyne and didn’t develop as quickly as I hoped. If he wants to move to bigger teams and more challenging leagues, he should make the most of this season. Edward Schans Reliable centre-back, who is very consistent and calm on the bench. Not likely to improve much in the future and probably won’t attract any interest from big teams, but good enough to be our first team option for coming years. Steven Otten With Moreno Markiet out on loan for this season, Steven Otten returned to club and fills the role of young rotation player. Physically good enough in the air (in Eredivisie terms) and capable of providing cover in DL position. Leslie Lichaba Leslie Lichaba is another player who developed a lot in the last season. He wasn’t really convincing in Autumn, but after Dragisa Gudelj left in January he started to play more and became more consistent, too. Provided a lot of assists from his left flank and can improve our attacking play with his overlapping, but on the other hand - I expect to see our youngsters to become better players than Lichaba currently is, so protecting his first team status will be a tough challenge Fred Koeman One of those youngsters who challenge Lichaba in this position. 21 years old and quick as a devil, but his technical ability, positioning and composure need to improve.
  14. Transfer Window Update Summer 2032 It was a fairly busy transfer window for Dutch clubs. Three big sales from three teams and some movements within the league topped it off. Rene Verhoeven from AFC Ajax to Atletico Madrid for £18,5m Richard van der Plas from Feyenoord Rotterdam to Manchester United for £13,5m Mirko Roland from MVV Maastricht to Tottenham for £12,25m Screve N’Goma from PSV Eindhoven to Feyenoord Rotterdam for £4,9m Rico van Leeuwen from AZ Alkmaar to Feyenoord Rotterdam for £3,8m Marco Valk from Swansea to PSV Eindhoven for £3m AFC Ajax players on loan: Moreno Markiet to Racing (La Liga) Sjoerd de Jong to VVV Venlo Jaap Hoogdorp to Nacional de Madeira (Portugal) Germain Siereveld to MVV Maastricht Mithat Arabaci to Westerlo (Belgium)
  15. July 2032 Four friendlies in July went fairly well - one win and three draws, but our opponents were fairly good teams, so it’s not a bad string of results. We made three decisions about younger players and sent Moreno Markiet, Jaap Hoogdorp and Sjoerd de Jong out on loan for another season. Hopefully they’ll get good playing time in good leagues and I hope they’ll improve in this season. 24.07.2032 - AFC Ajax - PSV Eindhoven 1:1p (Dutch Super Cup) - 35. Johan van Dalen - 50. Rene Lems We’re slight favourites for this Super Cup game and I hoped we could show PSV that we’re the better team despite their Eredivisie title in Spring. We practiced defending set pieces before this game, because we conceded some goals from free kicks and corners in pre-season friendlies. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba, Ari, Stekelenburg (72. de Groot), Antonucci (63. Janssen), van Grinsven (63. Matal), van Dalen, de Wit We looked very good in the first 10 minutes - Leslie Lichaba tried from distance - good shot, but still saved by PSV goalkeeper. We defended well, but a bit aggressively and picked up too many yellow cards early in the game and the match turned into midfield battle after the first 15 minutes. It looked fairly even game until we picked up our pace later - good combination from our left flank gave Johan van Dalen a chance and he took his shot well. Tarik de Wit had a great chance just three minutes later - lovely combination of short passes and good through ball left him open in the box, but his shot was saved. That could have decided the game, but even as we went to half time at 1:0 I was fairly pleased with what I saw on the pitch. In second half PSV came out a bit more motivated and it didn’t take long until they equalized - combination from our right left Rene Lems with the ball in our box and he scored with a lovely shot. Our defense gave him too much space and time, but I have to give credit to Lems - he put it right next to far post and there was not much that Ismet Gluhalic could do about it. Second half was mostly even battle and I hoped that substitutions could make impact, but in 79’ we were left with 10 men - Leslie Lichaba injured his groin and I had to take him off. We moved Engin Ari to DL (unusual position for him) and tried to hold on until the final whistle. PSV started to attack more, but curiously we had the best chances late in the game. Johan van Dalen sent a header towards goal in 85’ and it bounced back from crossbar. Very unlucky not to score. Nketsi Matal got himself into good positions and he had a half chance in injury time - he was in good position, got the ball, but it was at his left foot and he’s very right-footed, so it wasn’t the best shot and goalkeeper got his hand to it. When ninety minutes were over, I knew that it’s going to be tough thirty minutes of extra time for us. PSV took control of the game in extra time, taking advantage of their numbers and our tired feet. They had two clear cut chances, but Gluhalic positioned himself right and held the shot both times. We were under pressure, but managed to hold on and take this game to penalties. It took 8 shots in penalty shoot-out and when Johan van Dalen missed his spot kick it was over for us. PSV took the Super Cup win. I was obviously disappointed, but I feel that we played fairly well and were rather unlucky and Lichaba injury put us into really poor position. Lichaba will be out for at least 6-7 weeks with his injury and that will affect our start of the season. 28.07.2032 - Petrolul - AFC Ajax 0:1 (Champions League 3rd Qualification round 1st leg) - 76. Dirk van Grinsven Because of our place in Eredivisie we had to start our European campaign from qualification rounds and our first opponent is Romanian side Petrolul. They look like a solid mid-table side in Eredivisie and we were favourites against them and I hoped that we could score some goals in away game to give us good pole position for second leg. Leslie Lichaba was injured and Dirk van Grinsven was dropped after poor performance in Super Cup game. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Koeman, Ari, Stekelenburg, Antonucci (59. Janssen), Matal (66. van Grinsven), van Dalen (71. van der Aar), de Wit We were favourites for a reason and looked like a better team in the first half. Pieter Stekelenburg took an ambitious shot from distance that was parried by brilliant save from Petrolul goalkeeper. Unlucky to score from there. Petrolul looked complacent and we tried to exploit that, but couldn’t find a goal. Nketsi Matal and Tarik de Wit wasted their clear cut chances and when first half finished without goals I was a bit disappointed with our finishing. Second half started pretty much the same when Johan van Dalen managed to pass the ball wide of empty goal in 51’ - can’t believe he didn’t score from there. Petrolul tried to keep their clean sheet, but it wasn’t to be - substitute Dirk van Grinsven sent a beautiful header next to post and that was too good for goalkeeper to stop. It was his 200th goal for Ajax and a very nice effort to mark that occasion. Petrolul lost their fire a bit and in 83’ Fred Koeman almost doubled our tally when his shot bounced back from crossbar and in 88’ van Grinsven sent his shot inches wide after our good counter. In the end I was a bit disappointed with our finishing - we wasted three clear cut chances in this game and that’s not good enough. Still, I’m fairly pleased with our result and clean sheet in this away game. our shooting was 25/8 we made 52 key passes Edward Schans surprised me negatively with 5 individual mistakes First two games have been promising - we’ve played well, although our finishing has let us down. But what I’ve seen on the pitch is quite encouraging - our tactics look good and players are doing well. We will have enough match practice before Eredivisie season kicks off and I hope that it gives us advantage in early matchdays.
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