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  1. October 2030 01.10.2030 - AFC Ajax - FC Basel 3:0 (Champions League Group G) - 23. Tarik de Wit, 32. Justin Kluivert, 34. Simon Janssen October started with Champions League fixture against Basel. Basel showed they are no pushovers with their win against Dortmund in the first round, so even though it was home game for us, we needed to be wary. Basel uses adventurous 4-2-3-1 formation - narrow attacking version of it - and we have virtually no experience against that in domestic league. Squad: Koops, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba, Ari (61. de Groot), Stekelenburg, Janssen (65. Antonucci), Matal, Kluivert, de Wit (70. Capobianco) We started the game very well and right from the start we tested Basel goalkeeper with a couple of shots. We completely controlled midfield and possession and whatever idea was behind Basel tactics, they couldn’t link up their play in midfield. It took some time before we scored our first goal, but it came in 23’. Nketsi Matal showed his acceleration, burst past his defender in the box, crossed it for Kluivert who somehow couldn’t finish it off and goalkeeper saved it off the line, but de Wit was there to collect and finish. Basel needed to attack now and open up their defense even more and our counters were dangerous. Kluivert doubled our tally after good run and cross from Lichaba and just another two minutes later Janssen scored from counter. We took one foot off gas and almost got punished - our defense gve Fabian Maffio a great chance in 36’, but Koops made a good save to deny him. Despite that attack and allowed clear cut chance, I was happy with our first half - game was under our control and Basel was unable to cope with our attacking movement. Second half was pure entertainment, without pressure. FC Basel’s Philip Briza headed against crossbar from IFK and our substitute Mario de Groot hit the post from clear cut chance. Game ended 3:0 and we secured our first win in this group. Good result and good performance in front of home fans. our shooting was 22/10 Justin Kluivert and Leslie Lichaba were outstanding in this game 05.10.2030 - AFC Ajax - FC Groningen 3:2 (ED) - 4. and 53. Tarik de Wit, 87. Engin Ari - 59. Pim de Reuver, 85. Jorge Mere Eredivisie weekend came after midweek Champions League game. FC Groningen is a fairly strong team, predicted to finish 7th in the league, but because it was home game we practiced attacking movement and I asked fullbacks to overlap more than usual. We went to this game with confidence, because we had scored goals and taken wins recently and our defense had been great. Rene van den Bosch looked tired before the game and was rested, some rotation was also needed to distribute load. Squad: Koops, Alleyne, Schans, Markiet, Gudelj, de Groot (70. Ari), Stekelenburg (60. van der Wal), Antonucci, Matal, Kluivert, de Wit (65. Capobianco) Our most common corner routine is to search towering Tarik de Wit around far post and it sometimes works. At least it worked this time - his header from corner gave us the lead in 4’. The rest of the half was even battle. Nketsi Matal got some half chances, but sent his shots mostly wide. FC Groningen’s danger man was Ralf Stam, who managed to test Marvin Koops a couple of times. First half ended with our narrow lead, but I felt that things were under control. We took charge in second half - de Wit doubled his tally and I felt this game was almost won. But FC Groningen fought back. Pim de Reuver skipped past Dragisa Gudelj and scored their first goal and after our rather unsuccessful substitutions it looked like their equalizer is just a matter of time. Daan van Thiel hit the post in 72’ and wasted his clear cut chance in 76’. We looked like in survival mode, but hung on until 85’ when FC Groningen got their goal after corner. Rick Koning sent his shot against crossbar, Koops couldn’t react and collect it properly and central defender Jorge Mere scored from rebound. Initiative was all FC Groningen’s and I was seriously upset at the sidelines to give this win away, but the game wasn’t over. In a moment like this, it was our defensive midfielder Engin Ari who took the ball, turned towards goal and scored with an outstanding shot from 30 yards out. What a goal!!! In such a moment!! FC Groningen players looked gutted - they had worked so hard for the most part of second half and when final whistle sounded, they obviously felt robbed while I was delighted. I was not happy with our performance after second goal and there was some critical feedback in dressing room after game, but that goal from Engin Ari… what a move. When in May you look back at the season, there are some moments that define it and it could be one of those moments. You’re 2:0 ahead, allow your opponent back into game, start to doubt in yourself, and then one player can take over and carry the team and bring home the win - that’s something that brings confidence to everyone in dressing room. our shooting was just 23/7 - we didn’t get shots on target even when we had decent looks 19.10.2030 - SC Cambuur - AFC Ajax 0:4 (ED) - 19. Justin Kluivert, 27. Mario de Groot, 43. and 60. Nketsi Matal SC Cambuur is predicted to finish 14th in this season and so shouldn’t be too difficult opponent for us, even in away game. We continued to practice attacking movement and used our overlapping tactics against them. Pre-match news from physio room were encouraging - a lot of players, including Dirk van Grinsven, Johan van Dalen and Rene Verhoeven were back in full fitness and Tom Drost returned to training from his injury. SC Cambuur, on the other hand, had troubles - their both goalkeepers were injured and they had to use inexperienced youngster in goal against us. We rotated boldly and a lot of players got their chance to impress. Squad: Gluhalic, Alleyne, Schans, Markiet, Lichaba, de Groot, van der Wal, Antonucci, Matal (60. van Grinsven), Kluivert (60. van Dalen), de Wit (56. Capobianco) SC Cambuur looked nervous from the start and we took control of the game in the first half. Our transition football was too quick and too skilled for SC Cambuur defenders and we scored all three goals in the first half from counter-attacks. With three goals scored by our team, Tarik de Wit didn’t have much luck in front of goal. At first he wasted his clear cut chance in 25’ just firing it against goalkeeper with closed eyes. Then his header from corner hit crossbar. Despite that, we were in full control and when Matal doubled his tally in second half I could make substitutions and allow 30 minutes of football to players who were returning from injury. Mario de Groot had another opportunity to score in 82’, but his shot hit the post and went wide. In the end it was a great result for away game and I was happy for players that came in and showed how much depth we have as a team. our average rating was 8.23 Sergio Alleyne, Francesco Antonucci and Nketsi Matal were outstanding for us Mario de Groot scored his first ever goal for Ajax Nketsi Matal’s goal in the first half was his 50th for Ajax 22.10.2030 - Dortmund Borussia - AFC Ajax 4:1 (Champions League Group G) - 2. and 84. Ingo Petrovic, 16. pen. Gianluca Gaudino, 28. Igor Stamenkovic - 68. Pieter Stekelenburg Dortmund were clear favourites in this Champion League game, but they had shown already that they too can be beaten when Basel defeated them 2:1. They play pretty regular 4-4-2 tactics. I gambled a bit and left our fullback on attacking orders. Tom Drost was not yet ready to start in this game, so our usual squad from September took the field. Squad: Koops, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Schans, Gudelj (67. Lichaba), Ari, Stekelenburg, Janssen, Matal (46. van Grinsven), Kluivert (46. van Dalen), de Wit Dortmund was off to a flyer - Rene van den Bosch missed the run of his man and Ingo Petrovic scored an easy tap-in from close range. Our troubles got even worse when Simon Janssen conceded a penalty. Two bad defensive mistakes so early left us in a lurch and when Stamenkovic score the third goal from counter it summed up all our defensive woes in this game. The first half was probably our worst in this season by some margin. Dortmund’s 4-4-2 worked as a treat against our high defensive line and, of course, we helped along with some pretty horrible mistakes. Second half was more of a damage control from us. Pieter Stekelenburg managed to score a consolation goal from follow-up after corner and indeed our attacking game looked a bit better after break, but Dortmund were still generally well organized and final result was never in doubt. Goalscorer Stekelenburg made a late error when he lost the ball in midfield and following counter resulted in Dortmund’s fourth goal. It was very disappointing defeat for us, even though Dortmund were favourites at home. Our defensive mistakes were frustrating to watch and we were taught a lesson in Ruhr. we gave away 5 clear cut chances - too many even in this level against any opponent the group is now all over the place, we dropped 3rd after that defeat and as Basel managed to stun Barcelona, the Spanish giants are 4th with only 1 point. Everything is still possible in this group and every game is crucial in second round 26.10.2030 - AFC Ajax - Vitesse Arnhem 1:2 (ED) - 86. Pieter Stekelenburg - 33. Ulrik Morgensen, 59. Ronni Nissen Morale was a bit low after such a loss in Dortmund, but we set ourselves ready for league game against Vitesse. Vitas are underachieving in the league - predicted to finish 6th, but currently only 14th in the table. I continued with attacking movement training, because we were playing at home. Rene van den Bosch was rested in this game, but Tom Drost was finally ready to start and he was welcomed on the pitch by home fans. Squad: Koops, Drost, Schans, Markiet, Lichaba, Ari (53. de Groot), Stekelenburg, Janssen (46. Antonucci), van Grinsven, Kluivert (57. van Dalen), de Wit We had the best chance in the first half in 26’ - good transition move and excellent diagonal ball from Dirk van Grinsven found Justin Kluivert on the run, but our left winger blasted his shot wide. It was Vitesse who took the lead in 33’, when Ulrik Morgensen sent a half-shot, half-cross towards goal that surprised Marvin Koops and landed at the far post. It was a fluke goal, but also perhaps a sign that Koops is not as good of a goalkeeper that he usually shows. First half ended with 0:1 scoreline and it was frustrating. We had possession and initiative, but we were not able to use it and Vitesse had the lead from a fluke goal. I tried to change things and started to make substitutions early in the first half, but it was Vitesse who scored their second goal. Tom Drost was completely overplayed by Screve N’Goma on our right wing (perhaps a sign that he’s not at his best yet after injury break) and following cross found Ronni Nissen in front of our goal who scored easy tap-in. The rest of the game was just our frustrating attempts to break Vitesse defense, but we couldn’t even create anything seriously dangerous. We got a glimmer of hope in 84’ when Giovanni Somai earned his second yellow card and was sent off. Two minutes later Pieter Stekelenburg scored a wonderful long shot from 25 yards - a brilliant goal to inspire the team, but it was too late and time ran out for us. I was really unhappy with that result. It could be that Vitesse did strike lucky, but we should have played a lot better, especially with our possession and some players earned more criticism than others. our shooting was 13/3 - enough shots, but most of them went wide or were blocked we committed 20 fouls - too many and that allowed Vitesse to dictate tempo 31.10.2030 - AFC Ajax - Telstar 3:0 (Dutch Cup 3rd round) - 16. and 73. Nketsi Matal, 23. Johan van Dalen October ends with a cup game against Jupiler League side Telstar. That’s another game to give to rotation players and see who performs well and could deserve more playing time in the league. I hope that we could score some goals and get our confidence back after two defeats. All players who had played more than 10 games at this point, were rested, if possible. Squad: Gluhalic, Drost (61. Alleyne), van den Bosch, Markiet, Lichaba (67. Gudelj), de Groot, van der Wal, Verhoeven (54. Stekelenburg), Matal, van Dalen, Capobianco We took a confident win with most dangerous chances coming from counter attacks. Telstar tried to play well, but couldn’t cope with pinpoint crosses and speed of van Dalen and Matal. Matal scored two goals in this game and van Dalen was constant danger man on our left flank. I really enjoyed to see one brilliant move in 40’, when he drifted into the box, draw his fullback with him and then laid ball to the left where Leslie Lichaba was running into empty penalty box with acres of space. Unfortunately, Lichaba’s shot was defenders attempt and went well wide. Second half offered less fireworks. I was forced to take Rene Verhoeven off with injury and only one goal, coming after corner follow-up. In the end it was a solid win - some really good performances, some less convincing (Lichaba and Capobianco). our shooting was 21/8 we got 20 corners, but couldn’t use them very well (missing Tarik de Wit in those situations) Nketsi Matal had a great game Rene Verhoeven will be sidelined for 2-3 weeks with twisted knee October started well for us, but we fell short in a couple of games. Vitesse defeat was especially disappointing, because although I’ve accepted that some of the teams, even from bottom half of the table, can surprise us in away games, I believe we should be favourites for every home game in Eredivisie and this time we just didn’t deliver. Champions League campaign is most exciting, actually. I didn’t have much faith in our chances in August when groups were drawn, but at this point the group is all over the place and everybody still got a chance. Barcelona were lauded as favourites, but have failed miserably, although even they have a chance if they win three remaining games. Basel have surprised everyone with two wins over big teams. We did well against Barca and Basel, but Dortmund proved to be a class better in Signal Iduna park. Next game in November is in Amsterdam against Dortmund. Eredivisie We have a small lead. Poor result against Vitesse didn’t cost us much in the table, as other clubs have dropped points too. ADO Den Haag and sc Heerenveen are still doing well with PSV and Feyenoord still within striking distance.
  2. September 2030 September started with international break and some bad news from training ground. Tom Drost suffered double hernia in training and he’ll be out for 7-9 weeks. We just had him for August and now we’ll miss him for the start of our European campaign. I also made a decision to loan out Clyde Sastrodimedjo, so our surplus of midfield players will be a less of a problem. Rene Verhoeven will get his minutes as our substitute box-to-box midfielder. Transfer window shut down and Moreno Markiet came to me, troubled with his lack of first team chances, so I probably need to start rotating some players to keep everyone happy. 15.09.2030 - AFC Ajax - AZ Alkmaar 0:0 (ED) Two weeks between two games, including the end of transfer window and international break. Unfortunately it hasn’t helped us at all. Training ground injury leaves Tom Drost sidelined with double hernia and he’ll be out for 7-9 weeks, also missing the start of our Champions League campaign. And if that’s not bad enough, Dirk van Grinsven also picked up a knock and he’ll be sidelined for 4-5 weeks with shin splints. Two key players out and it’s a question of squad depth and quality if we could go through that period without losing too much ground. AZ Alkmaar should be a mid-table side, but they have had the worst start of the season and they’re at the bottom of the table. Losing Yassin Yilmaz in Summer has hurt them a lot and they can’t get their game going at all. Knowing this and as it’s home game, I chose attacking formation, practiced attacking movement and ordered fullbacks to overlap. Squad: Koops, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Schans, Gudelj, Ari (51. Markiet), Stekelenburg, Janssen, Matal, van Dalen (64. Kluivert), de Wit (69. Capobianco) We controlled most of the first half, but it took some time before things started to happen. Tarik de Wit tested AZ goalkeeper with a couple of headers. I ordered players to increase tempo and it was effective around 30’ mark. Nketsi Matal got a good look on goal from counter. His shot was saved, but Simon Janssen had a clear cut chance from following corner that demanded another good save. AZ on the other side tried to exploit counters, too, and Rico van Leeuwen found a half chance in 36’. When first half ended with 0:0, I was disappointed, because I felt we didn’t create enough chances even though we controlled midfield. Our position got a lot worse in 49’ when Edward Schans received straight red card for two-footed tackle. It didn’t initially look that bad, but referee thought it was dangerous and our central defender was sent off. I had to make changes - Moreno Markiet replaced Engin Ari and took Schans’ place in defense. Against all odds the game took a different turn and we started to get more scoring chances. AZ didn’t change their narrow formation, they crowded midfield and had numbers, but left all the width to us and we could stretch game and search our attacking players with crosses. In addition to that, they continued their slow tempo, time wasting tactics that they used in first half. Simon Janssen and Pieter Stekelenburg had half chances and in injury time Nketsi Matal wasted a great chance - he could (and should!) have win it for us. Instead, we had to settle with goalless draw and I had mixed feelings about that result. I can’t complain too much after being left to 10 men for almost full 45 minutes, but I’ve rarely seen a team playing so poorly as AZ when having advantage. We had better chances in the game and with better finishing could have won it. our shooting was 27/13 we had 18 corners, but couldn’t take advantage of them Rumours around Eredivisie suggest that mystery tycoon is considering taking over FC Groningen. Exciting news, as this sort of things can shake the league a bit. MVV are still to be reckoned as considerable force in Holland after they had huge intake of funds several years ago and FC Groningen already have a decent organisation and squad to start with. 18.09.2030 - FC Barcelona - AFC Ajax 0:0 (Champions League Group G) Away game against FC Barcelona is probably the toughest fixture to start our Champions League campaign with and I don’t believe we’re ready for it. Our attacking game has been inconsistent and we’re missing two key players, so I can’t really see us progressing from this group in this season. Our strikers need to improve a lot if we want to beat European giants. We trained defensive positioning before this game. I thought long about tactical orders and put both fullbacks to support order - we could use some deep crosses, but I don’t want to leave too much space on our wings. Barca came against us with pretty standard 4-4-2 formation. Squad: Koops, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Schans, Gudelj, Ari, Stekelenburg (70. Verhoeven), Janssen, Matal, van Dalen (63. Kluivert), de Wit (59. Capobianco) We didn’t start bad at all. Barcelona pushed their defensive line high and that left some space behind it. Simon Janssen found Matal with a long ball around 9’ and his shot went just wide and another similar pass found de Wit on the run in the end of the first half. FC Barcelona left Janssen way too much time and space with the ball in midfield and as a result it looked like we controlled things, but they were dangerous from counters and set pieces. Modibo Diallo got a great chance from counter in 26’ - Marvin Koops held it well, Giammarco Ferri shot was also saved and in the last minute of the first half Diallo hit the post from open position. Surprisingly, we had 58% of possession (against FC Barcelona at Camp Nou - wow!), but had to be wary, because at times our opponents individual skills broke us apart and we had given up a couple of good chances already. We kept our defense in order after half time break and continued to control midfield, but didn’t give Barca any opportunities to score, although our own attacks were also limited. In the end it was second goalless draw in a row, but a very different game compared to AZ fixture and I was not at all disappointed. That’s a good start to this campaign. our shooting was 18/2 - we tried, but were often blocked and attempts from distance went off target Simon Janssen had a great game FC Basel pulled off an upset in the other game, beating Dortmund 2:1 22.09.2030 - AFC Ajax - Feyenoord Rotterdam 2:0 (ED) - 31. pen. Jeroen Capobianco, 55. Pieter Stekelenburg The second Klassieker derby of the season was perhaps the most important domestic fixture in September and we had something to prove after Super Cup loss. My staff warned me about Feyenoord set pieces and we practiced defending against them. Unfortunately, injury bug had bitten us and after Barca game both Johan van Dalen and Rene Verhoeven went down with training ground injuries. van Dalen will be out for 4-5 weeks with a twisted ankle and Verhoeven suffered calf strain. With Edward Schans suspended, I had limited selection options and only six substitutions for this game. I felt that Jeroen Capobianco deserves his chance and he started in attack. Young Moreno Markiet took Schans’ place in central defense. Squad: Koops, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Markiet, Gudelj (73. Lichaba), Ari, Stekelenburg, Janssen (62. Antonucci), Matal, Kluivert, Capobianco (59. de Wit) Right from the start we looked vulnerable to set pieces - Feyenoord won several headers from free kicks and corners in our box and that made me wonder, what the hell were the players doing in training?! Fortunately Marvin Koops was ready and well positioned to collect headers that came on target. We got our first chance of the game in 30’ - Nketsi Matal moved into Feyenoord box with the ball and was brought down by their young central defender, and Capobianco converted the penalty. I made tactical changes after game, ordering fullbacks to support (the same formation that served us well against Barcelona). First half ended 1:0 and despite that lead I felt that our attack hasn’t really working. We were even more motivated after half-time break and good attacking move in 55’ resulted in our second goal. Sergio Alleyne and Capobianco had attempts on goal and Pieter Stekelenburg was the man who finished it off, with a drilling shot from 15 meters. Second goal lifted some weight off our shoulders and put us in control and we kept things in order until the end of the game. It was a great derby win for us, very good job defensively - yes, set pieces were a threat, but Feyenoord had hardly any chances from open play Nketsi Matal was outstanding for us - constant danger on our right wing 24.09.2030 - AFC Ajax - RBC Roosendaal 7:0 (Dutch Cup 2nd round) - 2. and 34. Jeroen Capobianco, 6. Nketsi Matal, 17. Peter van der Wal, 38. justin Kluivert, 48. Francesco Antonucci, 89. Tarik de Wit Just two days after league game we had to play cup second round fixture against small RBC team. That’s right, TWO days later. Seriously, FA?! Most of the team looked tired and although early cup rounds have always been a chance for rotation players to show themselves, I didn’t have too much to choose from our bench. Whoever looked fit enough, got to play. Dragisa Gudelj took position in central defense while Leslie Lichaba started on left. Squad: Gluhalic, Alleyne, Schans, Gudelj, Lichaba, de Groot, van der Wal, Antonucci, Matal, Kluivert, Capobianco (75. de Wit) However tired we were, this squad fully delivered and we ripped RBC defense apart already in the first half. Peter van der Wal scored his first ever goal for Ajax with a great header, Capobianco added a brace and wingers worked as a treat. Second half continued in a same fashion, with goals from Antonucci and de Wit (yes, great to see him scoring again!) completed our impressive win. The result was exactly what I expected and great individual performances all around raised spirit in dressing room. we had 62% possession our shooting was 23/11 we had 8.92 average rating 28.09.2030 - VVV Venlo - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 56. Tarik de Wit, 85. Nketsi Matal We had four days to recover before wrapping September up in away game against VVV Venlo. It’s been just four years since VVV were promoted to Eredivisie and they surprised everyone with 5th place in the last season. This year they’re playing in Europa League and have spent some good money on their squad, so pundits have given them 9th place in pre-season tables and they’re definitely tricky opponents in away game. Again we practiced defending set pieces - Feyenoord game proved it is a serious problem for us. We had still problems with all the injuries, so I didn’t have too much options with selection. I made one change, though, and gave Jeroen Capobianco his first start in the league in this season. Squad: Koops, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Schans, Gudelj, Ari, Stekelenburg (70. van der Wal), Janssen (55. Antonucci), Matal, Kluivert, Capobianco (46. de Wit) First half was really uneventful and we couldn’t create anything remotely dangerous. Capobianco looked a bit out of place and our attack wasn’t working. It was drab match from both sides and while we looked more motivated of two teams, it was 0:0 at half time. I made changes in second half - de Wit came on and in 55’ Antonucci replaced Janssen. I changed de Wit orders and he started to play as CFs and it instantly changed the game. Kluivert found him with a cross in front of goal and the big striker made it 1:0. Things started to happen then - Edward Schans sent a good header towards goal from corner that was saved with difficulties by VVV goalkeeper and de Wit sent his header inches wide. The VVV got their best chance of the whole game - they picked our defensive line apart really well, midfielder Robin Claeys ran into box, Antonucci forgot to track him back and he had a great chance, but Marvin Koops made equally good save. VVV were searching for equalizer, but we had chances too to put this game beyond doubt. Peter van der Wal saw his shot being saved in 72’, Matal had open header from rebound and it was saved off the line. VVV goalkeeper Wouter Pastoor was doing really well to deny those shots, but Matal’s clear cut chance in 85’ secured our three points. VVV didn’t give up and Karim Benmessaoud’s header hit crossbar just a couple of minutes before final whistle. In the end it was a valuable win for us, but I can’t be too pleased, as we just edged that game and it could have been a different result on another day. We were very poor defensively and stat sheet highlighted all our problems - VVV could make 23 key passes, we allowed 26 dribbles and made 22 individual mistakes. We were not in good control of the game and need to improve in the future. But I mark this win down as another game that was won with tactical changes and substitutions, so one more good grade to manager from this one. After somewhat disappointing draw with AZ Alkmaar, September has turned out to be quite successful month for us. I’m happy with FC Barcelona draw and, of course, Klassieker derby win in Amsterdam Arena was the highlight for the fans. Eredivisie The win over VVV gave us an edge in the table and we now have two points advantage over the rest of the pack. sc Heerenveen and ADO Den Haag are still right up there, with Feyenoord and PSV also strong contenders for the title race. MVV have been really consistent and I assume it’s not going to be their year.
  3. Squad Update 2030-2031 Goalkeepers Not too much has changed in our goalkeeper department, with Marvin Koops being our first choice and a lot of younger keepers shuffling between different loan periods to get more playing time and develop. Ismet Gluhalic is back in the squad and it’s his role to provide backup and get some playing time in cup games and perhaps against smaller teams in Eredivisie. Right-backs Tom Drost is our captain - experienced and established player who can provide a lot of support in attack. But next to him we have no real other options and we haven’t pulled anyone noteworthy out of our youth system in recent years. As we have a lot of talented centre-backs, this role now falls to Sergio Alleyne, and he’s a completely different player - okay in defense, but lot less dangerous with ball. He’s fairly quick, but can’t cross properly and when Drost is injured or suspended, our attacking play suffers significantly. And unfortunately this has been the case recently - Drost was out for the most part of Spring and now suffered another injury that sidelines him for two months. Centre-backs Here I feel we are looking quite strong. Edward Schans is 24 now and leading our central defense, Rene van den Bosch is a real talent that has attracted attention of Manchester City boss Antonio Conte and Moreno Markiet returned back from loan - another solid option in defense, and the best left-footed centre-back that we have. One feature that we need in our central defense is pace, because we push our line so high up on the pitch, and all of those players are fairly quick. Sergio Alleyne can provide cover in this position, if necessary. Left-backs Dragisa Gudelj is the most experienced player in our defensive line, more than 50 caps for Serbia under his belt. Unfortunately his age is starting to show and his pace is not quite as it used to be a couple of seasons ago. Leslie Lichaba is a younger version of Gudelj - also not too quick to start with and so far he has not convinced me that he should be our first choice in this position. Defensive midfielders Engin Ari is our first choice in this position and also our set piece taker (it’s a shame we don’t have a better option in this role). After Nathan Leyder left the team in this Summer, Mario de Groot took his position and he offers something different next to Engin Ari. de Groot is more of a regista, not so good tackler and perhaps his vision and passing skills might work better against smaller team in Eredvisie in games when we control possession and attack most of the game. Midfielders Two different roles in midfield. Pieter Stekelenburg plays as box-to-box midfielder and Simon Janssen with Francesco Antonucci have advanced playmaker role. We also have Peter van der Wal and Rene Verhoeven back in the team who are suitable for both of these roles and provide depth in selection. Verhoeven is actually a very bright prospect, only 19 years old and have some interesting qualities like dangerous long shot. I hope he can use this season well to develop his game and earn more playing time. Wingers Wingers selection is the same as in last season and while we have some youth players coming up in Jong Ajax and all better prospects are right wingers, we should seriously start to think about long term replacement for Justin Kluivert. Strikers Two very different options there - Tarik de Wit is a big target man, towering figure and very strong in the air (also helps a lot in defensive set piece situations to have someone like him in the box). But he has not scored too many goals - I certainly would like our main striker to get around 20 goals in a season. de Wit also has one major flaw and it’s his nervousness in big games. Jeroen Capobianco is a very different player - smaller statue with better technical ability. Neither of them are very hard-working and it doesn’t help when we want to put opponent’s defensive line under pressure. In conclusion - I feel we need a lot better options than those two in long term, but so far there’s nobody like that in our youth team.
  4. Transfers in Summer 2030 Transfer window has been fairly quiet in this year. We didn’t have any big money moves and the most noteworthy transfer was Samir Afkir’s move from PSV to Queen’s Park Rangers for £4,7m. PSV lost their best central defender with this move. However, they picked up talented winger Yassine Yilmaz from AZ Alkmaar for free - very good signing for them and big loss for AZ. We loaned out a lot of players, but I chose only Eredivisie clubs or other top division teams in Europe. Most Jupiler League sides were rejected, because I could as well keep those youngsters in Jong Ajax and play them in Jupiler League. Loans out: Thabang Mthethwa to sc Heerenveen Louis van Duijvenbode to NEC Nijmegen Marco Oomen to Pescara (Serie A) Jaap Hoogdorp to Dijon FCO (Ligue 1) Eugene Talea to MVV Maastricht Sjoerd de Jong to Fortuna Sittard Steven Otten to Helmond Sport Fred Koeman to Helmond Sport Clyde Sastrodimedjo to Pescara (Serie A) Fathur Irawan to Almere City
  5. August 2030 We had one more friendly before Eredivisie season started and 2:0 away win over Malaga was a really good result that raised our confidence a lot after Super Cup defeat. Another fact that could help us is our fixture list - we start with two relatively easy home game and I hope to get good results from those game to start our good run. 09.08.2030 - AFC Ajax - Go Ahead Eagles 1:0 (ED) - 36. Tarik de Wit Go Ahead Eagles are predicted to finish 11th in this season, making them possible mid-table side, but I believe that bookies have got this one wrong. Old fox Alex Pastoor have worked miracles with Eagles in recent season and although I have a lot of respect for Robin van Persie, I believe that Pastoor was more capable of getting the best out of his small team. The second thing is that they relied a lot on the goals of Gerry Schuur in the last season, but Schuur was on loan from FC Groningen and returned to his club in Summer and Eagles have not been able to replace him with anyone remotely as dangerous in attack. That’s why I expected a comfortable win. We practiced defending set pieces before this game and there was a good reason for that - on average we’re 5cm shorter than our opponents and they’re clearly trying to take advantage of that. But I asked our fullbacks to overlap and expected our crosses to cut through their defense. Eagles came against us with standard 4-4-2 setup. Our goalkeeper troubles are they same, both Koops and Gluhalic are still injured and Sergio Alleyne suspended after his red card, but Rene van den Bosch is fit again and will start on the bench. Squad: van Leeuwen, Drost, Schans, Markiet, Gudelj, Ari, Stekelenburg, Janssen (70. Antonucci), van Grinsven, van Dalen (64. Kluivert), de Wit (73. Capobianco) The first moment of the game came in 12’ - Pieter Stekelenburg tried from distance and his shot smashed against crossbar. We had initiative and I hoped that we can keep the game in opponent’s half and took away some pressure from van Leeuwen, but young goalkeeper got his first test in 24’ - long ball behind our defensive line found Ludovicius Depuydt on the run, van Leeuwen could have got to it first, but hesitated and so Depuydt got a clear cut chance. However, van Leeuwen did well to save his shot and so covered for his hesitation. It was the only good chance for Eagles in this game. We got our breakthrough in 36’ - good cross from our right found Tarik de Wit in the box and towering striker headed in from close range. Well executed attack and this goal gave us 1:0 lead at half time. de Wit tried to find another goal in second half, his shot clipped crossbar in 53’, but I then asked our players to take it easy and just retain possession. We had some half chances in second half, but nothing more, but we controlled this game until end and 1:0 final score meant that we fulfilled our most important task - to start our campaign with a win. our shooting was 20/7 we made 54 key passes - moved ball well in attack, but couldn’t create too many chances out of those passes 16.08.2030 - AFC Ajax - PEC Zwolle 4:0 (ED) - 4. and 22. Justin Kluivert, 56. Dirk van Grinsven, 70. Jeroen Capobianco A week has passed since our win over Eagles. PEC Zwolle should be even more easy opponent for us - they are most likely to be relegated in this season and pundits predict them to finish 18th. Attacking movement match training was in order and we continued to use overlapping against Zwolle. Good news from physio room - Marvin Koops is ready to start in this game and Rene van den Bosch takes his place in central defense, so it’s pretty much our best eleven on the pitch for this game. I made one tactical change for this game - Justin Kluivert replaced Johan van Dalen on our left wing. van Dalen didn’t impress in our previous game and healthy rotation is in order to keep everyone in the squad motivated. Squad: Koops, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Gudelj (62. Lichaba), Ari, Stekelenburg (58. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, van Grinsven, Kluivert, de Wit (68. Capobianco) We started well and quickly showed what might come - in 2’ we played out a clever IFK combination and Engin Ari shot clipped crossbar. Two minutes later Dirk van Grinsven got his half chance, ball hit crossbar and then post, but Justin Kluivert was first to get to rebound and finished calmly. Zwolle defense was under real pressure and when Kluivert doubled his tally with simple tap-in, I felt our lead was secure. However, in every game the smaller side get at least one good opportunity and Zwolle got theirs in 25’ - Rogier Steemers was forgotten by Tom Drost and he got a clear cut chance, but his shot went wide. Just a minute later Kluivert hit post, so end to end stuff for the first 30 minutes of the game. First half ended with our 2:0 lead, but it was entertaining football, a lot of frameworks. Some defensive mistakes from us needed to be addressed at half time. Second half continued in same fashion. Dirk van Grinsven scored our third goal, but Kevin Stolk almost sent his header on target in 58’ from corner. However, another crossbar saved us. Substitute Jeroen Capobianco finished scoring for us in 70’ and so the final score was pretty convincing 4:0. I was pleased with result and our performance, but for Zwolle I’m afraid that with this kind of defense they’ll be really struggling in this season. our shooting was 25/10 we had 8.08 average rating we made 31 dribbles in the game, demonstrating individual skills against Zwolle defense Dirk van Grinsven, Justin Kluivert and Simon Janssen were outstanding in this game 21.08.2030 - MVV Maastricht - AFC Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 11. Engin Ari, 19. Simon janssen, 83. Dirk van Grinsven After two relatively easy games at home, we faced a different kind of battle in away. MVV is a very strong team, predicted to finish 5th and playing standard 4-4-2. MVV had a good Summer transfer window - they released some players who were hugely overpaid and freed a lot of salary funds in the process. Their weak link seems to be their right back. However, their experienced danger man Richairo Zivkovic suffered cruciate ligament injury in Spring and he’ll be out for at least half of this season as well. We practiced attacking movement training before the game and we had our players fit and ready for this fixture. Squad: Koops, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Gudelj, Ari, Stekelenburg (61. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen (58. Antonucci), van Grinsven, Kluivert, de Wit (65. Capobianco) We created more dangerous chances in the first fifteen minutes. Tarik de Wit had a great opportunity to score in 10’ - he had space, he took his time, but sent his shot wide. However, good throw in combination just a minute later ended up with a header by Engin Ari that went over goalkeeper and landed in the net. 1:0. Simon Janssen extended our lead with a fierce strike just inside of the area and MVV looked a bit stunned. We looked control of the game, but we still gave MVV one good chance before half time whistle - Raul Ibanez had a good look and Marvin Koops had to make a good save to deny him. At half time we had good lead, but needed to play well to keep it. MVV looked more attacking after our second goal and they were opening up their defense, but they got some good chances in the process and their crosses looked dangerous enough. I made some tactical changes, ordered team to retain possession, take a breather here and there to disrupt the flow of the game and keep things under control. It all worked well in second half. Although we didn’t create too many chances, we killed the game pretty efficiently and in the end Dirk van Grinsven found his goal to put this game beyond doubt. He turned away from his defender and passed it calmly into the net next to post - good finish. I was happy with result and I feel that we played very well for away game. 24.08.2030 - sc Heerenveen - AFC Ajax 1:0 (ED) - 10. Ramon Loswijk sc Heerenveen game is more difficult than it looks. Although predicted only 13th by media, Heerenveen have started their season well and recorded three straight wins so far. Their defense looked vulnerable, but they’re dangerous in attack and surely can score goals against any opponent. I didn’t change the squad after MVV game. Sergio Alleyne suffered bruised head in training and he had to sit out this match, but the rest of the team was ready and fit. Squad: Koops, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Gudelj, Ari, Stekelenburg (46. Verhoeven), Janssen, van Grinsven, Kluivert (52. van Dalen), de Wit (62. Capobianco) sc Heerenveen took control of the game in 10’ - their good counter opened up a chance for Vincent Scheepers. Marvin Koops made a great save to deny him, but Ramon Loswijk picked up a rebound and he scored an easy goal. Similar story continued into rest of the first half - sc Heerenveen tried to exploit any space for counters and we gave them too much of it. Our defense didn’t make things easier for us as well - Rene van den Bosch made a terrible mistake in 31’, losing ball in midfield and allowing Raymond Hoekstra to go 1-1 against goalkeeper, but luckily for us, his shot went wide. First half was generally poor for us - we couldn’t create any good chances, our tactics didn’t work. At the same time sc Heerenveen gameplan looked direct and effective. Unfortunately, second half wasn’t much better either. Substitutes failed to make any change in game and while we put sc Heerenveen under pressure for the last 10 minutes, we couldn’t create any good chances to find an equalizer. Both result and gameplay were disappointing after three good games and I looked out of ideas at the sidelines. Lot of things to iron out in next week training. Rene Verhoeven made his league debut for Ajax in second half Champions League groups were drawn in the end of August and while we were surprisingly seeded 1st in the draw, we were handed a very tough group G with FC Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and FC Basel. FC Barcelona is probably one of the toughest 2nd seeded teams to get from the draw and Dortmund are no pushovers either. There are tough games ahead and we’d do well to progress from this group. 30.08.2030 - ADO Den Haag - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 61. Francesco Antonucci, 64. Dirk van Grinsven In the end of August we had to face ADO Den Haag - another in-form team in away game, even though they’re just predicted 10th by media. They have a good young team and really dangerous striker in Dennis Graafland. I feel that we needed to bounce back from sc Heerenveen defeat and made one change in our line-up - Johan van Dalen starts on our left wing. Squad: Koops, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Gudelj, Ari, Stekelenburg (65. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen (53. Antonucci), van Grinsven, van Dalen, de Wit (63. Capobianco) We started this game well and put ADO defense under pressure. Our right wing looked more dangerous, but our crosses weren’t right there and didn’t find players in the box. Instead ADO got the first dangerous moment in 24’ when Dennis Graafland headed against our crossbar after IFK. First half ended with 0:0 and although our motivation was there, execution wasn’t and we had no real chances to show for our work in attack. We had 63% in the first half, but there wasn’t much difference between two teams. I asked players to move the ball quicker in 2nd half and this time my substitutions had desired effect. Francesco Antonucci opened scoring with a great shot and just three minutes later Dirk van Grinsven was first to react to loose ball in six yard box and doubled our lead. We concentrated on protecting our lead after that. ADO tried to surprise us with long balls behind defense and there were couple of times when Dennis Graafland got to those balls and had a good shot on target, but Marvin Koops was ready and made solid saves to keep our clean sheet. Final score 2:0 looked solid enough, but it wasn’t the most convincing win from us. Antonucci substitution changed the game and I’m pleased with three points after defeat. we made only 18 key passes - our attacking movement should have been a lot better It’s difficult to sum up August. We started very well, but defeat in Heerenveen means we’re leading the table just by goal difference and competition looks fierce at the moment. Results have been OK in general, but I’m less happy with our gameplay. I’m having a growing feeling that Tarik de Wit is not our natural false nine and he’s somehow falling out of our attacking rhythm. He scored the winner against Go Ahead Eagles, but has had four quiet games after that and it might affect his confidence. Our defense has been fairly good. Four clean sheets and only one goal conceded, but I know that we have given up one clear cut chance in almost every game and some luck and good goalkeeping have helped us in those situations. Our own ability to create chances has been OK at best - no signs of that free-flowing attacking firework that we should see, at least against smaller sides. Eredivisie
  6. July 2030 I don’t know why I pay my assistant manager so much if he can’t even arrange a few friendlies. One fixture was cancelled and we’re left with only two friendly cup games in Amsterdam before Dutch Super Cup game against Feyenoord in the end of July. The month started with OM job interview that I declined without hesitation. It is a year of World Cup tournament and against odds Holland managed to retain their title that they first won in 2026. Even more magnificent achievement and When Holland manager John van den Brom (who at some point of his career was my assistant manager in Ajax) resigned, Holland FA made me an offer to take this post. I declined politely and they appointed Unai Emery as the new manager. Few other managerial movements in Eredivisie - Robin van Persie left FC Twente after bringing them back up to Eredivisie and took over vacant Go Ahead Eagles post. FC Twente appointed Eljero Elia as their new manager. I spent part of July on renewing staff contracts and brought on young Dutchman Guus Jansen as our new U-19 coach. We had only two friendly cup games to prepare for new season before Dutch Super cup final and it was not enough - most of our players were not match fit and we were not ready for the new season. But there wasn’t much else to do than go for it. 27.07.2030 - AFC Ajax - Feyenoord Rotterdam 1:3 (Dutch Super Cup) - 90. Dirk van Grinsven - 41. Faris Coolen, 42. Richard van der Plas, 86. Manuel Santamaria Feyenoord were slight favourites for this game, even though it took place in Amsterdam Arena. But there’s a good reason why bookies favoured them - we had serious goalkeeper problems - both Marvin Koops and Ismet Gluhalic were out with sprained ankle and our best healthy keeper was young Mohammed van Leeuwen. We practiced attacking set pieces (not sure why, but trusted my assistant Diego Rivas on this decision) and hoped for the best in this game. Squad: van Leeuwen, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Gudelj, Ari (56. Markiet), Stekelenburg (56. de Groot), Janssen, van Grinsven, Kluivert (66. van Dalen), de Wit We looked good in the first half and had initiative and possession. Tarik de Wit took ambitious shot from distance in 12’ that hit the post - unlucky! - and Pieter Stekelenburg had a half chance in 31’. But Feyenoord took the lead in the end of the first 45 minutes when Faris Coolen scored from DFK. Great strike, curled over our wall. van Leeuwen perhaps should have saved it, but the shot was too strong and he couldn’t keep it out. Before we could compose ourselves, Richard van der Plas added another goal from counter (Sergio Alleyne was to blame for that goal) and we went to half time break with 0-2 scoreline. Very disappointing collapse in the last five minutes when I felt we had edged the first half. Perhaps bookies were right and Marvin Koops could save us, but I can’t blame only van Leeuwen for those goals. Second half turned into nightmare in 56’ when Sergio Alleyne received his second yellow card and was sent off. It was damage limitation from there and even van Leeuwen got to shine - he made a brilliant save to deny Gregory Otten, took away Rody Adelaar’s clear cut chance with a wonderful reflex save, but couldn’t help us with Santamaria goal in 86’. We scored a consolation goal in the last minute - Dirk van Grinsven had a moment of brilliance and he scored a great striker from the edge of area, but it didn’t change anything. It was a very disappointing defeat for us, especially against Feyenoord, and we need to improve a lot before Eredivisie season kicks off. A lot of things went against us in this game, but even so a defeat like that is not easy to forget. Sergio Alleyne had a really poor game - he was guilty of second goal and then was sent off Mohammed van Leeuwen and Moreno Markiet made their debuts for Ajax Dirk van Grinsven made his 400th appearance for Ajax
  7. June 2030 Players went to holiday, but rebuilding started for the next season. We have some departures coming up: Nathan Leyder will leave to KV Mechelen in 1st of July Noa Lang contract will end from our loan players Mark Rozema and Jeroen Jansen also won’t get contract extensions Nathan Leyder is our best player of this bunch, but overall I feel that these departures are easy to replace, and because Leyder’s huge £38,000 p/w contract those departures actually will free a lot of wage money - after a while we’ll be under £400k p/w again as the team. The most significant problem that I face in this transfer window is a huge selection of great midfielders that we have in the team already and who are returning from loan - Pieter Stekelenburg, Francesco Antonucci, Simon Janssen, Clyde Sastrodimedjo, Marco Oomen, Eugene Talea, Rene Verhoeven, Jaap Hoogdorp and Peter van der Wal are all good enough for our first team and it’s a hell of a choice to make as a manager, what to do with them. Simon Janssen is the only one who could attract attention from big clubs, but at least in June I can’t see an major interest and I’m not willing to let him leave for less than £10m. Finally I offered him a contract extension and he signed a new deal until 2034, earning £27,000 p/w. Our signing from 1,5 years ago - striker Lungisani Senyane finally joined Ajax from Ajax CT in this June ,after turning 18 years old. His transfer fee was modest £100k and he’s an average prospect next to Tarik de Wit and Jeroen Capobianco. His playing position is not exactly what I’d prefer though, so it’s probably best if we could sort out a loan move for him. There were changes in staff room too. Our long serving coach Andrea Nuti announced his retirement in the end of the season and we signed Spaniard Alberto Zacares as our new fitness coach. U-19 coach Idrissa Gueye took position as FC Eindhoven manager and I replaced him with Mark Sale from England, who has been in my staff shortlist for a while now. Couple of manager movements in Eredivisie. SC Cambuur appointed Michiel Hemmen as their new manager and Go Ahead Eagles departed with Alex Pastoor. Although we didn’t see eye to eye with Pastoor, his era was undoubtedly a successful period for Go Ahead Eagles - they won Dutch Cup five years back and reached far enough in cup tournament several times (to the final in this season, for example), and also retained their Eredivisie place despite being a small club and this is an achievement in itself. In the end of June I made the first move in transfer market and accepted FC Volendam £975k bid for Fred Vet. With clauses this transfer fee could go up to £1,2m. Vet is a highly rated 18 years old prospect who could play false nine in my system, but for me he has one major flaw and it’s his inconsistency. With our single striker formation I don’t believe we can afford the luxury of relying on this sort of striker and Volendam’s offer was generous enough to let him go. We will get 40% of their possible transfer profit as well, so financially it was a very solid deal. Despite that sell we had a quite large squad in the beginning of July and I have a difficult Summer coming up, trying to sell a couple of players (if there’s appropriate interest) and sort out decent loan moves for younger prospects.
  8. Season Summary 2029/2030 We couldn’t get it going at the start of the season - lost super cup game and struggled to against stronger teams in autumn. Despite that we improved a lot after Christmas and our second half of the season was much better. Since March we were in control of the league and won Dutch Cup (which is not always easy to do). In addition to that we exceeded expectations in Champions League and reached to quarter final. Not bad, but with our statue and home grown players only it’s rather difficult to improve from here. To get into Champions League semis we need a lot of luck and favourable draws in knockout stages. However, our seeding should be now good enough so that we have reasonable chance to progress from group stage and this should be our aim in the coming years. Fans Player of the Season: Tom Drost Simon Janssen Dirk van Grinsven Goal of the Season: Pieter Stekelenburg vs. Rosenborg 03/10/2029 (also selected as the best goal of the season in Champions League!) Young Player of the Season: Engin Ari Eredivisie Awards Despite title win our players didn’t collect too many awards individually. Tom Drost had the best average rating in Eredivisie, but because of his serious injury his season was shorter than expected and perhaps this affected those choices. Golden Boot: Ron Bosman - FC Utrecht Thokozani Mpengesi - Feyenoord Rotterdam Mark Richards - VVV Venlo Top Goalscorer: Thokozani Mpengesi - Feyenoord Rotterdam (28) Mark Richards - VVV Venlo (23) Giorgio Dahmen - FC Utrecht (19) Goalkeeper of the Year: Marvin Koops - AFC Ajax Walter Wijnhoeven - Feyenoord Rottedam Mohamed Nouri - MVV Maastricht Young Player of the Year: Johan van Dalen - AFC Ajax Jordy Postma - MVV Maastricht Gerry Schuur - Go Ahead Eagles Manager’s Manager of the Year: Clarence Seedorf - Feyenoord Rotterdam Me Leonardo Massoni - sc Heerenveen The season ended with FIFA World Cup 2030 tournament in Spain and Holland had another extraordinary tournament and defended their title that they first won in 2026. Our goalkeeper Marvin Koops was part of the Holland squad and so earned himself the title of World Cup winner, although he didn’t play a single game in the tournament (and in fact is still looking for his first cap for Holland). To all those followers in this thread who commented that our goalkeeper is not good enough compared to the rest of the squad - well, at least he’s the champion
  9. May 2030 05.05.2030 - AFC Ajax - VVV Venlo 4:0 (ED) - 3. Justin Kluivert, 17. and 90.+1 Nketsi Matal, 78. Johan van Dalen In those May games it’s good to give another round of games to rotation players and try some new things. Leslie Lichaba was suspended for this game and as Dragisa Gudelj was not yet fit, I tried youngster Fred Koeman in left defense. Otherwise it was usual preparation for games - attacking movement training and overlapping instructions. Squad: Koops, Alleyne (51. Irawan), Leyder, van den Bosch, Koeman, Ari, Stekelenburg, Antonucci, Matal, Kluivert (69. van Dalen), de Wit (61. Capobianco) We controlled things from start to finish. Justin Kluivert reached first to loose ball in the box and opened scoring for us in 3’ - it was his birthday and there’s no better way to celebrate. Nketsi Matal forced a brilliant save out of VVV goalkeeper in 16’, but just a minute later our second goal still came. Tarik de Wit headed against crossbar and Matal was first to react and tucked it in - his 10th goal of the season. Solid first half ended in 2:0 lead and while second half was a bit less entertaining, Matal and substitute Johan van Dalen combined two good goals between themselves and final score marked convincing win for us. our shooting was 18/11 Nketsi Matal was once again outstanding for us Fred Koeman made his debut for Ajax in this game 12.05.2030 - Feyenoord Rotterdam - AFC Ajax 2:0 (ED) - 18. and 62. Thokozani Mpengesi The game itself doesn’t decide anything, but to have a derby match in the end of the season adds some motivation to players and fans, and I definitely want to finish this season with a win. Feyenoord secured their 2nd place with emphatic 8:1 win over ADO Den Haag in the last matchday, so they’re in good form and at De Kuip it’s not going to be easy for us. Dragisa Gudelj is back for us and starts this game, while Francesco Antonucci is suspended. It’s the last game in the club for Nathan Leyder. Squad: Koops, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Schans, Gudelj, Leyder, Stekelenburg, Janssen, Matal (58. van Grinsven), van Dalen (54. Kluivert), de Wit (70. Capobianco) We didn’t perform well in this game, despite the fact that derby match with its importance should have been in players’ minds. Feyenoord took the lead in 18’ - Thokozani Mpengesi found the net with a good shot, but it was Rene van den Bosch who left him too much space in this situation. Second half wasn’t improvement from our side. Mpengesi doubled his tally after counter and we finished our season with disappointing defeat. We couldn’t contain Mpengesi in defense (he earned his top goalscorer award with reason), Feyenoord defended well and we couldn’t create anything noteworthy in attack. we made 22 inidividual mistakes, with Rene van den Bosch responsible for 6 of those Eredivisie Fortuna Sittard and PEC Zwolle retained their Eredivisie places in relegation play-offs. FC Twente won Jupiler League and was promoted back into Eredivisie. Ajax goals: Johan van Dalen 23, Dirk van Grinsven 21, Nketsi Matal 11, Jeroen Capobianco 11, Justin Kluivert 11, Tarik de Wit 10 Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 18, Johan van Dalen 14, Nketsi Matal 11, Tom Drost 11, Justin Kluivert 10
  10. April 2030 03.04.2030 - AFC Ajax - AS Monaco 0:1 (Champions League Quarter Final 1st leg) - 67. Jean-Manuel Gaillard We exceeded all expectations with our place in Champions League quarter final and this is most probably the end of the road for us. There are only big teams in quarter finals and AS Monaco have won this competition in previous two seasons, so we’re pretty much against the wall in this one. Defensive positioning training and hoping for the best. At least we could give a respectable performance at home. Squad: Koops, Alleyne, Leyder, Schans, Gudelj, Ari, Stekelenburg (57. Lang), Janssen (66. Antonucci), van Grinsven, van Dalen, de Wit (67. Capobianco) AS Monaco started attacking right after kick-off and instantly we looked in trouble. Franjo Galovic had the first chance in 4’, but he sent his shot wide. In 25’ Dragisa Gudelj made a mistake and Galovic found himself alone in front of our goal. This time Marvin Koops made a good save. We tried to find some chances of our own and counter attacks were our best option. One good transition move gave Dirk van Grinsven a great chance, but his shot was saved. Galovic had his own opportunity right in the next attack, but another good save from Koops kept us in this game. And in 42’ Johan van Dalen managed to miss his shot while AS Monaco goal was already empty. Thrilling first half ended 0:0 and I can’t complain about scoreline, but Gudelj has struggled against Franjo Galovic - all dangerous attacks came through our left flank and goal is coming here sooner or later if he doesn’t improve. At the same time we missed two sitters in attack and our finishing has let us down again. Second half was more careful from both teams until 67’, when AS Monaco star Jean-Manuel Gaillard got his chance and finished it to open scoring. It was another attack and cross from our left. In 76’ game changed - we were on counter, Dirk van Grinsven went on goal and was tripped from behind by Juninho, who received red card for professional foul. We had 15 minutes to play with advantage and AS Monaco dropped deep to defend their lead. Unfortunately, we couldn’t break their defense. Our best chance came in 88’ from corner, but Dirk van Grinsven (again!) couldn’t finish it. So our first leg game at home finished 0:1 and that was a disappointment. Actually, it was a positive display and we had our chances in the game, but we blew too many scoring opportunities and couldn’t take advantage of AS Monaco red card late in the game. In a game like this, against team like AS Monaco we should use every single opportunity that we get and we failed to do that. our shooting was just 13/2 and we missed 3 clear cut chances 06.04.2030 - SC Cambuur - AFC Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 11. and 83. Jeroen Capobianco, 60. Justin Kluivert Eredivisie game between Champions League fixtures was obviously considered less important. Tight schedule and our secure league position allowed me to play rotation players in this game and the fact that Simon Janssen was suspended didn’t bother me at all. Nketsi Matal was ready to start for us - his first game after being sidelined for 7 weeks. Squad: Mthethwa, Alleyne (46. Irawan), van den Bosch, Schans (60. Leyder), Lichaba, Ari,Lang (54. Stekelenburg), Antonucci, Matal, Kluivert, Capobianco We took the lead early with a good goal. Justin Kluivert won his header in the box, directed it in front of the goal where Capobianco was ready to head it in from point blanc range. The rest of the first half didn’t offer much in term of chances until very late in injury time, when SC Cambuur got their first good attack and a header by Yann Kasai clipped our post, before going wide. I was still pleased with what I saw in first half - we held 68% of possession and kept things under our control. We improved our game in second half and our second goal looked like coming. Francesco Antonucci’s shot after IFK smashed against crossbar in 56’ and four minutes later Justin Kluivert doubled our lead after good cross from substitute right-back Fathur Irawan. Jeroen Capobianco wrapped things up with his second goal and final whistle celebrated our convincing 3:0 win. we had 60% of possession in this game our shooting was 20/8 - good for away game Nketsi Matal had a great game and that’s good to see right after his return from injury Noa Lang was injured in second half and that’s a serious one - broken ankle ends his season prematurely 09.04.2030 - AS Monaco - AFC Ajax 3:0 (Champions League Quarter Final 2nd leg) - 35. Franjo Galovic, 57. Jean-Manuel Gaillard, 69. Adionias Belao Second leg in this quarter final was even more challenging than it looked. After losing our home game 0:1, we needed to score at least two goals to beat AS Monaco and I wasn’t very optimistic about our chances. I set our fullbacks as LFB-s in the beginning of the game to prevent AS Monaco attacks. Squad: Koops, Alleyne, Leyder, Schans, Gudelj (65. Lichaba), Ari, Stekelenburg, Janssen, van Grinsven (59. Matal), van Dalen, de Wit (67. Capobianco) First half looked actually quite OK from us. AS Monaco attacked more, as predicted, but our defense held well until 35’, when Franjo Galovic scored from DFK. It was excellent shot that curled over our wall and there was nothing that Marvin Koops could do to save it. While our defense looked good most of the time, we didn’t get any good attacks until 43’ when Simon Janssen got our first good chance of the game. Unfortunately, his shot was saved and so we went to half time with 0:1 scoreline. We had some good chances from counters in our first leg game and counter-attacks were our best option in this game, too. Dirk van Grinsven got his best chance in 51’ after good transition, but his shot went well wide. Can’t miss chances like that if we want to get back into this game. AS Monaco showed that they can finish when opportunity presents itself and they punished us with two goals. Our young striker Jeroen Capobianco, at the same time, missed his opportunity in 70’ and so we left Monaco with 0:3 defeat. Result was disappointing. I knew that we will concede some goals in away game, but to be honest we didn’t deserve to lose 0:3. The way how we managed to waste 5 great goalscoring chances in those two games, was completely unacceptable. On this level, against teams with such class we need to finish them all if we want to achieve something and this is certainly area for improvement in the future. Holland boss John van den Brom was on the stands for this game, but I doubt he saw something noteworthy from any of our players we made 32 individual mistakes and 22 fouls - clearly struggling against skilled opponents 12.04.2030 - NAC Breda - AFC Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 28. Richard van der Plas - 44. Jeroen Capobianco We need just one more win to secure Eredivisie title, but NAC Breda are playing home and fighting against relegation, so without doubt they’ll be very motivated to give their everything against us, however big favourite we are before the game. Again I chose to select rotation players and distribute playing time in our squad. Squad: Mthethwa, Alleyne, Leyder, van den Bosch, Lichaba, Ari, Stekelenburg, Antonucci (65. Janssen), Matal (60. van Grinsven), Kluivert, Capobianco (68. de Wit) The game started slowly and we got our first good chance when 24 minutes were played. Nketsi Matal found himself with plenty of space, but sent his shot wide. Four minutes later we gave NAC Breda an easy chance to score and they used it much better. Rene van den Bosch made a tackle and loose ball in our box was picked up by Richard van der Plas, who had open look and Thabang Mthethwa was helpless. NAC certainly looked encouraged by that goal and in their next attack Donald Jourdan hit crossbar. It took some time for us to get our composure back - our usual tactics include high pressing, but we failed to put NAC under real pressure and were slow to react situations and loose balls, so second balls after our tackles often fell to opponents. Despite that we got some chances - Jeroen Capobianco effort from corner was saved off the line, Nketsi Matal had another great look in 41’ that was saved and Justin Kluivert wasted his easy tap-in just a minute later. I started to get increasingly frustrated at the sidelines, but Jeroen Capobianco saved his teammates from the harshest half time team talk with his late goal just in the end of the first half. Good pass from Pieter Stekelenburg found Capobianco on the run and young striker showed his teammates how to finish. I still wasn’t too happy with our first half performance - we had a lot of great chances, but wasted them all, even though our game improved as the game progressed. Second half was less entertaining. Francesco Antonucci tested NAC goalkeeper with his shot in 59’ and another shot from Donald Jourdan was tipped over by Mthethwa. Pieter Stekelenburg had the best chance to win it for us in 80’, but his shot from close range hit the post, nothing more. In the end we had to settle with 1:1 draw. Title was not clinched and I wasn’t happy with the result. We should have won it in the first half. How we could miss all of our five clear cut chances, is beyond understanding. With the end of the season approaching, we renewed contracts of several players. Most of their deals run until 2031, so it’s a sign that we need them in long term. Of first team squad Marvin Koops and Mario de Groot signed new deals, while negotiations with Eugene Talea broke down for now. Simon Janssen’s contract is the one that needs to be sorted out during Summer transfer window. 20.04.2030 - Fortuna Sittard - AFC Ajax 0:5 (ED) - 17., 46. and 73. Nketsi Matal, 32. and 39. Jeroen Capobianco Another relegation candidates Fortuna Sittard is our next opponent and another away game in April. Among other things it’s interesting to see our loan star Sjoerd de Jong in action in opposition team. Squad: Mthethwa, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Leyder, Lichaba (63. Gudelj), Ari, Stekelenburg, Antonucci (67. Janssen), Matal, Kluivert, Capobianco (71. de Wit) I used mostly same players as in NAC Breda game, but the lads learned from their mistakes and this game looked much more convincing from us. Our tactics looked spot on and Fortuna struggled to stop our quick transitions and counter attacks. We scored three goals in the first half even though Jeroen Capobianco missed his penalty in 31’, but he made amends with a good header from corner. However, the star of the game was Nketsi Matal. He was always dangerous from our right flank with his running and crosses and he completed his hattrick in second half. It was great to see him in such a good form so soon after his fairly long injury break. We didn’t give Fortuna any chances and final whistle finished this game with our emphatic 5:0 win and title celebrations could begin. our average rating was 8.16 we committed 27 fouls (8 by Sergio Alleyne alone), but lenient referee let us escape without too many yellow cards Nketsi Matal had an absolute stormer - he played part in all of our five goals, Jeroen Capibianco was also outstanding Sergio Alleyne suffered chest injury and unfortunately he has to miss upcoming Dutch Cup final Ening Ari also picked up a knock and he’ll miss one week with bruised thigh 28.04.2030 - AFC Ajax - Go Ahead Eagles 4:0 (Dutch Cup Final) - 3. Simon Janssen, 20. Thibaud Simon (og), 37. Tarik de Wit, 75. Francesco Antonucci Dutch Cup Final in De Kuip was highly anticipated game, but we were clear favourites for this one. Both teams had some losses in their team - Eagles missed their best goalscorer Gerry Schuur (and that, for them, was difficult to cope with). We missed Sergio Alleyne and before the game Dragisa Gudelj also injured himself in training, so our defensive line looked a bit ragged. We had no good right-back option and I chose to use Nketsi Matal in DR position. Squad: Koops, Matal, van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba, Leyder, Stekelenburg, Janssen (68. Antonucci), van Grinsven, van Dalen (60. Kluivert), de Wit (63. Capobianco) We took control early and Simon Janssen scored from corner already in 3’. That flyer set the tone to whole game and Go Ahead didn’t put up a real fight. Unfortunate own goal in 20’ extended our lead and Tarik de Wit scored our third goal with a good shot in 37’. Our lead at half time looked already beyond doubt, so we could play without pressure in 2nd half. Substitute Francesco Antonucci scored a memorable goal from 15 meters in second half and so we could celebrate our cup win and double! Our performance looked really good and we made it look easy. Simon Janssen and Nketsi Matal were outstanding in this game - Matal again performing excellent even though he was played out of position I’m generally pleased with how April turned out for us. We secured our title and won the cup and that has to go down as successful season, even though our European season was met by the wall in AS Monaco. But we exceeded expectations in Champions League, too, so we can’t be too disappointed with quarter final defeat. Some of the results in Eredivisie didn’t go our way, but I took that risk when I chose to play rotation players and that’s acceptable. I know that it will pay off in the future. Rene van den Bosch, Thabang Mthethwa, Jeroen Capobianco and Leslie Lichaba got valuable game time and developed well as a result. Eredivisie With title secured, attention turns to relegation battle. NAC Breda have limited match days to get out of the danger while Fortuna Sittard are also firmly stuck in bottom three. To see NAC Breda struggle is actually big surprise, they were predicted to finish safely in mid-table position, but the rest of the bottom five are small teams that were expected to be around relegation zone anyway.
  11. Youth Intake 2030 Similarly to last year, I feel that we need a very good right-back and a great goalkeeper prospect (who could rise above all this mediocrity that we currently have in Jong Ajax), but instead we received this line-up. I have to say that general level of talent is pretty good - several 2,5* players who, in my experience, can turn out to be solid first team options if they train hard and are tutored well or otherwise possess necessary mental traits. But we still didn’t get our right-back and that’s disappointing. Stef Veldman The best talent in this year’s group. Right winger, professional, has all the necessary traits and can develop a lot Soner Sahin Central defender. Good tackler and very brave. He has a balanced nature and can be tutored by my more experienced defenders, but he doesn’t have any major flaws, which is important in this position - reasonably tall, reasonably quick, good positional awareness etc. Zeus Florentina What a name. Not exactly god-like, but decent goalkeeper prospect. Good handling and reflexes, but poor in one-on-one situations.
  12. March 2030 The most important games in March are 2nd leg away game in Gelsenkirchen and Dutch Cup semi final derby against Feyenoord. I’m looking forward to new youth intake and meanwhile try to give all younger players some chances in league games. We’re missing Tom Drost and Nketsi Matal, but the rest of the squad is healthy and in recent weeks we have not collected too many yellow cards, so perhaps we can avoid suspensions that are usually so common in Spring. 02.03.2030 - AFC Ajax - Helmond Sport 3:0 (ED) - 47. Tarik de Wit, 60. Rody de Boer (og), 73. Menno Mulder (og) Helmond Sport are exceeding expectations a little bit - relegation candidates are 13th at the moment and could survive for another season, but for us they should be easy opponents in Amsterdam Arena, so I chose to us rotation players in this game. Sergio Alleyne was suspended and we had no real right back in the team, so I included youngster Fathur Irawan to match day squad - 19 years old defender is clearly not ready for Eredivisie level football, but I had no other options. Experienced Nathan Leyder started in this position, though. Squad: Mthethwa, Leyder (70. Irawan), van den Bosch, Schans, Lichaba, Ari, Stekelenburg (60. Lang), Antonucci (65. Janssen), van Grinsven, van Dalen, de Wit We controlled this game from start to finish and put Helmond players under real pressure, but goals were not coming in the first half. Johan van Dalen made a good solo run into box in 6’, but he left his shooting angle too narrow and shot was saved. Dirk van Grinsven’s chance came in 17’, but his shot was saved and four minutes later he wasted another opportunity and didn’t even get it to target from close range. Encouraging display on the pitch, but we wasted too many chances and I wasn’t happy with players at half time. We had 15 corners in first half, but couldn’t take any advantage of those situations too. Players reacted well to harsh words and we opened scoring in 47’ - Tarik de Wit headed in from corner. A wonderful moment for our striker - he ended his goalless drought of more than 8 games. To get him to score from corner is another good sign - he is a towering figure and we should use him better in set pieces. de Wit got another great chance in 60’, but his shot hit the post and then bounced in from the back of Helmond goalkeeper - unlucky (and a little bit funny) own goal for Helmond, but it was not the last of their embarrassing moments. In 73’ Menno Mulder made another own goal after ball took deflection from corner and so the final score was comfortable 3:0 win for us. Helmond Sport can surely feel unlucky with this defeat - set pieces cost them two goals and two very unfortunate own goals helped us to win. On the other hand the game was completely under our control and Helmond couldn’t create real chances for themselves. our shooting was 27/6 - not much improvement from our last game. Shooting accuracy continues to be problem and in this game we actually had good chances youngster Fathur Irawan made his debut for Ajax 06.03.2030 - AFC Ajax - Feyenoord Rotterdam 2:0 (Dutch Cup Semi Final) - 5. and 9. Tarik de Wit Dutch Cup semi final is another Klassieker derby in this season. It should be even game and it’s difficult to predict winner, but I’d like to be optimistic and we practiced attacking movement before the game. Winner of this match will play Go Ahead Eagles in the final (Eagles have made excellent cup run in this season). Squad: Koops, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Schans, Gudelj, Leyder, Stekelenburg (60. Lang), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (71. Kluivert), de Wit (67. Capobianco) We started this game really well. Johan van Dalen found de Wit in the box with a very good pass and our striker converted his clear cut chance into goal. Four minutes later it was already 2:0 - Feyenoord defense looked in disarray and they allowed us to play short simple passes inside their penalty area and de Wit again put finishing touches to this superb move. Pieter Stekelenburg had a great chance to score from IFK in 31’ - he was completely alone in front of goal, but sent his shot well wide. That was a sitter and should have been our third goal. When more than 30 minutes were played, Feyenoord finally started to play and Rashaan Fernandes got their first half chance, but Marvin Koops parried it well. First half ended 2:0 and we were leading thanks to our excellent start. Second half was much more quiet - we had possession and controlled the match, but Feyenoord got their defense in order and it was more difficult to create chances. In injury time we allowed Feyenoord another half-chance and Marvin Koops had to make his second save of the night, but with final whistle we could celebrate reaching to cup final. we were offside 10 times - movement not always on sync and Feyenoord defensive line worked well to counter our movement Simon Janssen had a great game, leading our attacks from midfield and creating chances for others 09.03.2030 - FC Utrecht - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 47. Dirk van Grinsven, 90.+2 Jeroen Capobianco FC Utrecht game could be our grudge much and there is no love lost between myself and their manager Erik ten Hag, but in the moment when this game comes in our schedule, we have more important fixtures to prepare for, so we might have take it easy. FC Utrecht had so great first half of the season, but they have dropped to 9th place now and are in really poor form, despite having their full squad fit and available. They haven’t won a game since December and it’s interesting to see what sort of spirit and tactics they show against us in their home turf. Squad: Koops, Alleyne, Leyder, Schans (54. van den Bosch), Lichaba, Ari, Stekelenburg (67. Lang), Antonucci, van Grinsven, Kluivert, de Wit (54. Capobianco) As for many games lately, we started very well, but couldn’t score in the first 15 minutes. Tarik de Wit headed just wide in 9’ and Pieter Stekelenburg had a chance two minutes later and his shot went also wide of goal. And then, as often happens, our game stalled and we stopped getting good chances. Both teams treaded carefully and mindset was rather defensive, but just before half time whistle FC Utrecht got the best scoring opportunity. Their danger man Clyde Drenthe had a very good chance, but Marvin Koops made a great save and sent us to half time with 0:0 lead. My words in dressing room must have made a difference, because right after second half kick-off we scored our first goal. Dirk van Grinsven took a shot that was too strong for FC Utrecht goalkeeper to save and we took the lead. Francesco Antonucci’s mistake gave FC Utrecht a chance to equalize just five minutes later. Fortunately Francisco Duarte shot was weak and it was easily held by Koops. Our opponents tried to prove that they are no pushovers and can put us under pressure while we tried to exploit their higher defensive line for any possible counter attacks. It was a hard fought midfield battle until the very end, but substitute Jeroen Capobianco managed to score our second goal in injury time and put this game to bed for good. Good win in away game for us. Small details decided this result in my opinion - we took our chances better and avoided too many defensive mistakes and that gave us advantage. our shooting was 23/11 - I’m fairly pleased with that Dirk van Grinsven scored his 20th goal of the season 13.03.2030 - Scalke 04 Gelsenkirchen - AFC Ajax 3:2 (Champions League 1st knockout round 2nd leg) - 11. and 29. Maurice Falkenberg, 17. Lucas Bein - 8. Dirk van Grinsven, 42. Johan van Dalen That was it - time to head to Germany for the game that could decide our Champions League season. We had a narrow 1:0 lead to take with us, but I expected Schalke to be a lot better in Veltins Arena and they definitely were. We practiced defensive positioning before that game, but I secretly hoped we could score away goal and so make Schalke’s position much more difficult. Squad: Koops, Alleyne, Leyder, Schans, Gudelj, Ari (57. van den Bosch), Stekelenburg, Janssen (57. Antonucci), van Grinsven, van Dalen, de Wit (71. Capobianco) Schalke came out with all their guns firing and they instantly got their first good chance in 2’ - we were too slow to get back to defense and they had a clear cut chance from corner. Brilliant save from Marvin Koops saved our ass. Johan van Dalen answered with a good shot from the edge of area that demanded a good save from Schalke goalkeeper and then we punished Schalke from counter - Johan van Dalen gave a wonderful cross to Dirk van Grinsven and a simple goal put us 1:0 ahead. And it wa away goal, so Schalke needed to score at least three. Schalke surely didn’t roll over and reacted exactly how they should have - Maurice Falkenburg equalized just two minutes later. Lucas Bein scored from corner to give Schalke the lead and another good counter in 29’ resulted in their third goal and aggregate lead. We looked in serious trouble to stop their ball movement and quick transitions, they looked motivated and surely showed their better skills. However, we had one more half-chance before half-time and Johan van Dalen executed well, scoring his goal and giving us back our aggregate lead. First half ended with 2:3 scoreline and it was surely a very entertaining football for both set of supporters. Our main goal for second half was to maintain our lead and we managed to do that better. Schalke got only one very good chance in 57’ - Elaninho found himself in a good scoring position, but Marvin Koops made a great save this time to keep our lead. Another brilliant save from him in 78’ denied Maurice Falkenberg his hattrick and when final whistle sounded, we had held onto that narrow margin that we had. Aggregate win by away goals sends us to quarter finals! Perhaps the result of this match was a bit harsh on Schalke - they clearly were a better team, but didn’t use all the chances that they could create. We, on the other hand, were very clinical in front of goal and goals in away goal are so valuable over those two legs. We can be really proud to reach quarter finals, but with this kind of game we have little hope to progress further. 16.03.2030 - AFC Ajax - Go Ahead Eagles 1:1 (ED) - 66. Johan van Dalen - 79. Mohamed Saidi Just three days have passed since our Champions League triumph. Home game against Go Ahead Eagles could be considered as rehearsal for our cup final, but honestly I didn’t give much attention to that. We’re still 12 points clear in the table and with another two Champions League games coming up, we’re fielding rotation players in Eredivisie whenever possible. Attacking movement practice (it was home game after all) and overlapping instructions set, I expected our rotation players to give their best. Squad: Mthethwa, Alleyne, Leyder, van den Bosch, Lichaba, Ari, Stekelenburg (61. Lang), Antonucci, van Grinsven, Kluivert (65. van Dalen), de Wit (55. Capobianco) We had our best chance of the first half in 10’ - good counter and cross from our right found Tarik de Wit in front of goal, but poor shot was aimed directly at Eagles’ goalkeeper and so it was saved. Our opponents got their clear cut chance in 31’ and their danger man Gerry Schuur found the gap in our defense. However, Thabang Mthethwa made a good save to deny him and another brilliant save from our South African goalkeeper denied attempt by Asier Nunez. Justin Kluivert headed against post in 42’ and so the first half ended without goals. We had no right to be happy with our first half - we needed to be more patient with our possession and more decisive in transition. I felt we should be more aggressive in defense, however we managed to collect 15 fouls in the first half and constant stoppages disrupted our game and allowed Eagles to take a breather. After some harsh words it looked like the players were more motivated. Substitute Noa Lang tried his luck from distance, but luck wasn’t on his side and the ball smashed crossbar. Another substitute Johan van Dalen made instant impact - his first touch of the ball resulted in our goal and it looked we finally have a breakthrough. But defensive errors weren’t over and we continued to make unnecessary fouls. Eagles free kick gave Mitchell Tissingh a chance and Mthethwa had to make another good save. However, a follow up still resulted in a goal - Mohamed Saidi sent the ball into far post from the edge of area. It was a great shot and not much that Mthethwa could do about it, but generally illustrated our poor team defense. Eagles were content to defend in their own half after equalizer and so the game ended 1:1. I was upset that we couldn’t hold onto our lead and really disappointed with our overall defensive performance. Thabang Mthethwa did well and impressed with some good saves, but he alone couldn’t keep our clean sheet. We lost way too many duels in midfield and in our box, made too many defensive mistakes and as a conclusion can’t complain about luck. Instead it was just a poor performance in home game. we committed 24 fouls - a way too many, although it’s a small miracle that we didn’t collect any yellow cards 5 individual mistakes from Sergio Alleyne and Rene van den Bosch stood out from stat sheet 29.03.2030 - AFC Ajax - ADO Den Haag 1:1 (ED) - 66. Jeroen Capobianco - 39. Kabiru Obafemi ADO Den Haag are another overachievers in this season, next to VVV Venlo, and they currently occupy 4th place in the table, so I didn’t expect an easy game, but after international break our squad looked rested and I fielded pretty much our strongest line-up. Squad: Koops, Alleyne, Leyder, Schans, Lichaba, Ari, Stekelenburg (66. Lang), Janssen, van Grinsven, Kluivert (57. van Dalen), de Wit (62. Capobianco) We started this game well, as expected for any Eredivisie fixture in Amsterdam Arena. Nathan Leyder headed just over from IFK and Tarik de Wit headed against crossbar in 25’. Dirk van Grinsven had a great chance in 28 - unusually for him his shot was saved and then ADO Den Haag took the lead in this game. Leslie Lichaba missed his tackle and allowed Brian Sabajo to run into our box, one pass found Kabiru Obafemi, central defenders gave him space to turn around and it was 1:0. Very frustrating, because we completely dominated this first half until that goal and so half time scoreline was disappointing on both attacking and defensive terms. We should have used our own chances better and this defensive mistake was unacceptable. Substitutes changed the pace of game in second half. Jeroen Capobianco converted his chance in 66’ after good work by Johan van Dalen laid ground on this goal. Capobianco got another great chance in 76’, but young striker couldn’t make it two for two and so we had to settle with second poor draw in a row. I was very disappointed with this result mainly because we had our best line-up on the pitch for this one and it was also a home game, so no excuses. Poor result and some disappointing individual performances contributing to it. our shooting was 21/9 - not really too bad we allowed ADO players to make 20 dribbles - too many for any Eredivisie side We haven’t showed our best form in the last couple of games, but we achieved our most important goals in March - we did secured our place in Dutch Cup final and progressed to Champions League quarter finals against all odds. So in conclusion I can’t be too critical about our results. Eredivisie Feyenoord and PSV are still fighting for 2nd place in the table, but relegation battle has become more intense. NAC Breda have found some good results, finally, and final matches could be real survival fight for those teams in bottom five places.
  13. February 2030 With our league standing I can fully concentrate on Champions League knockout phase that starts again in February. We were drawn against Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen in the first round and that has to count as a fairly good draw for us. Month will end with away game against PSV Eindhoven - PSV have gained a good momentum and derby is our most difficult domestic match in February. 02.02.2030 - Vitesse Arnhem - AFC Ajax 0:0 (ED) We’ve had to fight for our wins in previous games and I expected to get another three points from Vitesse. Attacking movement practice and overlapping instructions set us up quite straightforward. Squad: Koops, Drost, van den Bosch, Schans, Gudelj, Ari, Stekelenburg (57. Lang), Janssen (62. Antonucci), van Grinsven (70. Matal), van Dalen, de Wit For my frustration it was a very drab match and we couldn’t get our attack going at all. Vitesse stood well in defense, their fullbacks didn’t push up at all and instead eliminated our wingers completely. Crosses didn’t work and it was difficult to find any look on goal. Our only clear cut chance came after corner in 39’ - Johan van Dalen had a good look, but his shot was saved and that opportunity never repeated itself. In second half Tarik de Wit sent a free header just a bit wide of goal and that was it - goalless draw to start our month. Not good enough from attacking players. we made 54 key passes - moved ball well, but didn’t make a crucial assist that could have led to real opportunity Vitesse tried to surprise us with long balls forward, but our central defenders were ready for that and well positioned - as a result Edward Schans made 41 interceptions in a single game February started badly for FC Groningen manager Michiel Hemmen, who was fired. FC Groningen are just 14th in the table and that was not good enough for their board 06.02.2030 - AFC Ajax - PEC Zwolle 3:0 (Dutch Cup Quarter Final) - 29. Justin Kluivert, 39. Rene van den Bosch, 72. Nketsi Matal Cup quarter finals are played in February instead of usual end of January and we are clear favourites against PEC Zwolle. Zwolle have done really well to reach so far, but their Eredivisie survival should be their main priority and I used this chance to rotate players. Zwolle players looked tired from their last game while we looked reasonably fresh. Leslie Lichaba was suspended from our squad. Squad: Mthethwa, Drost, van den Bosch, Leyder, Gudelj, Ari (46. Alleyne), Lang, Janssen, Matal, Kluivert, de Wit (55. Capobianco) We controlled this game from start to finish. Nketsi Matal almost headed in when 12 minutes were played, but his header striked post. South African winger looked clearly hungry for goals and he tested Zwolle goalkeeper a couple of times, but it was Justin Kluivert who scored an opener. Left winger got to rebound after Tarik de Wit shot was saved and put it into empty net. Young centre-back Rene van den Bosch doubled our lead with a good header from corner and at half time we looked well in control. van den Bosch was clearly encouraged by his goal and in the beginning of second half he won a couple of more dangerous headers from set pieces, pulling one good save out of goalkeeper. Nketsi Matal finally got his goal in second half and 3:0 was good enough lead to see this game out. I was pleased with result and with players who came in in this game, they delivered well. Justin Kluivert impressed in this game and scored his first goal in 6 weeks Engin Ari will be sidelined with bruised thigh and he’ll miss a couple of games we’ll face Feyenoord in semi finals 10.02.2030 - AFC Ajax - MVV Maastricht 2:1 (ED) - 4. Dirk van Grinsven, 44. Justin Kluivert - 36. Mirko Roland Home game against MVV was a bit of revenge match because of our loss in away game. I was optimistic that we can win in Amsterdam Arena. We continued with attacking movement preparation, but unticked overlapping instructions. Engin Ari is out, Edward Schans is suspended - that limits my defensive options in this game. Squad: Koops, Drost (33. Lang), Alleyne, van den Bosch, Gudelj (63. Lichaba), Leyder, Stekelenburg, Janssen (61. Antonucci), van Grinsven, Kluivert, de Wit MVV started with their usual 4-2-2-2DMC formation, but deep midfield didn’t help them at the beginning and we scored a quick goal to take initiative. Dirk van Grinsven received a wonderful cross from Kluivert and converted it calmly into goal. Tom Drost had to come off with injury in the first half and I had to shuffle things around in defense and MVV followed quickly with equalizer - Mirko Roland made a very skillful solo run into our box and fired it hard and low. Marvin Koops was unable to react, but the goal goes to Pieter Stekelenburg’s conscience. He followed Roland for a long time, but wasn’t decisive enough to make a tackle and young winger punished his hesitation. However, Stekelenburg made up for his mistake quickly - his through ball found Justin Kluivert in the box and winger’s goal sent us to half time with 2:1 lead. We controlled game better in second half and with 20 minutes to go, MVV needed to take more risks and we started to find chances from counters. Noa Lang denied a great goal in 69’, when his shot from distance did beat a goalkeeper, but hit post instead. Justin Kluivert had a great chance in 79’ and then again in injury time, but first of those was stopped by brilliant save from goalkeeper and second went wide. Wasteful, but I can’t be too harsh - he scored goals in consecutive games and when final whistle came, his goal proved to be a winner. Deserved win in the end and we have now been unbeaten in 12 games in a row. we made 51 key passes, the number illustrating our 2nd half midfield dominance Pieter Stekelenburg was outstanding for us with his passing Marvin Koops made his 200th league game for Ajax Tom Drost’s injury was even worse than suspected - his leg is broken and his season over Drost’s injury is a big blow and we will miss him a lot in our Champions League games. We don’t have another solid choice for DR position - youngster Fathur Irawan is far from ready to play in Eredivisie, yet alone in Champions League. I have no other options than use Sergio Alleyne in DR and young Rene van den Bosch will get more starts in central defense. 13.02.2030 - AZ Alkmaar - AFC Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 59. Nathan Leyder, 86. Sergio Alleyne February schedule is tough and we had only three days to recover from our last match before midweek game took us to Alkmaar. Drost’s injury forced some changes in defensive line, but defenders will have a real handful tonight, as AZ striker Rico van Leeuwen is an excellent player and ready to exploit any miscommunication and lack of concentration from our defenders. Engin Ari is back in training, but not yet fit to start. Squad: Koops, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Schans, Gudelj, Leyder, Stekelenburg (65. Lang), Janssen (50. Antonucci), van Grinsven (70. Matal), van Dalen, de Wit Our defense looked error-prone from early on and in the first 15 minutes we gave AZ two excellent chances to score. Sergio Alleyne was the first culprit - his poor backwards header towards Marvin Koops was easily intercepted by van Leeuwen and striker found himself 1-1 against our goalkeeper. However, his shot hit the post and we were saved for now. In 15’ Nathan Michiels got a chance from corner and this time Marvin Koops parried his shot with good reaction save. Another brilliant save by Koops denied Deyovaisio Zeefuik’s header in 39’ and we went to half time with 0:0. We had possession in the first half, but AZ got all the chances. We were really poor in defensive set pieces, AZ won dangerous headers in our penalty area we have to thank Koops that we didn’t concede at least two goals. At the same time we couldn’t get any real chances in attack. AZ picked things up right after second half kick-off - Rico van Leeuwen received a long ball behind defensive line and went again 1-1 against Marvin Koops. Fortunately for us, he blasted his shot over our goal. It was the third clear cut chances that we gave away and I was silently fuming at the sidelines. But then things changed to our favour. Nathan Leyder scored from IFK - good goal from defensive player, although completely against the run of play in this moment. It was his first goal of the season and desperately needed at that point. I ordered my team to retain possession after goal and hoped that final whistle could come sooner. Our situation became a lot easier in 80’ when injury left AZ with 10 men and in 86’ Sergio Alleyne finished this game with our second goal. And what a goal that was! Great strike from 15 meters into top corner and there was nothing that AZ goalkeeper could do about that. Wonderful goal for any defender. When final whistle sounded I knew that we had won a very unlikely victory. AZ should have scored three goals, but Rico van Leeuwen kept missing his chances against us and experienced Nathan Leyder with his set piece goal inspired our win in second half. I’m not pleased with defense and overall performance should have been a lot better, but good result. our shooting was 10/2 - not good enough Sergio Alleyne recovered well from his early mistake and had a great game with a brillian goal 16.02.2030 - AFC Ajax - PEC Zwolle 4:1 (ED) - 9. Nketsi Matal, 24. and 76. Justin Kluivert, 33. Rene van den Bosch - 28. Faruk Aydin Second time in February we meet with PEC Zwolle, this time it’s Eredivisie fixture. Not much time to recover from our previous game and with important Champions League game coming in midweek, it’s again time for rotation players to step up, even though I expect Zwolle to fight harder for their Eredivisie survival than they did in cup quarter final. Squad: Mthethwa, Alleyne, van den Bosch, Schans (61. Leyder), Lichaba, Ari, Lang, Janssen, Matal (53. van Grinsven), Kluivert, de Wit (46. Capobianco) We quickly took control of the game - Nketsi Matal scored an opener after only nine minutes and in 24’ Justin Kluivert made it 2:0 after excellent pass from Simon Janssen. But we allowed Zwolle back in the game just four minutes later - Faruk Aydin scored with open header from IFK - careless from our defense and perhaps Thabang Mthethwa should have come out and collect this cross, but he hesitated and so Zwolle striker could look up and direct his header comfortably. After conceded goal we switched gear again - Nketsi Matal had a great chance in 33’, but he hit the post. However, Rene van den Bosch headed in from following corner - his second goal in February! Justin Kluivert had one more shot to Zwolle goal in the first half, but it went against crossbar and at half-time we could be quite pleased with our game so far - we looked completely in control, although we should have scored more goals. We looked relaxed in second half and didn’t press so much any more. Justin Kluivert scored our fourth goal after very good one touch pass from Noa Lang and that decided the game. In summary it was very good win, considering the squad and players I fielded. Justin Kluivert and Simon Janssen were outstanding in this game Rene van den Bosch scored his first ever league goal for Ajax Nketsi Matal came off with injury in 2nd half - strained knee ligaments will leave him sidelined for 6-7 weeks FC Groningen made a decision about their managerial post and they appointed Danny Schreurs - extremely poor choice in my opinion, but perhaps Schreurs could guarantee them at least mid-table finish to build on for the next season. 19.02.2030 - AC Ajax - Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen 1:0 (Champions League 1st knockout round 1st leg) - 72. Johan van Dalen With our good Eredivisie standings we can fully concentrate on Champions League. However favourable that draw looked at first sight, Schalke are really strong team and comfortably leading Bundesliga table at the moment, so we’re slight underdogs despite playing first leg at home. I had no obvious choice for pre-match training, so I opted for attacking set pieces practiced. Squad: Koops, Alleyne, Leyder, Schans, Gudelj, Ari, Stekelenburg (72. Lang), Janssen (62. Antonucci), van Grinsven, Kluivert (65. van Dalen), de Wit We almost conceded early goal - Schalke won a header from IFK in the first minute of the game and it landed against our crossbar. But after that scary moment we gained control of midfield and got initiative up front. Dirk van Grinsven got a good shot from counter that was brilliantly saved by Schalke goalkeeper and Justin Kluivert had a couple of looks. First half ended without goal, but despite scoreline I was pleased with what I saw - defense looked solid and we had tested Schalke goalkeeper a couple of times. Second half offered less chances, but we got the goal that we needed. Good combination from our left wing, Dragisa Gudelj found substitute Johan van Dalen in the box and young winger scored his 20th goal of the season to give us valuable 1:0 win. Clean sheet in this scoreline is almost as valuable as this goal, because we didn’t allow Schalke to score away goal. Really good win and we have all chances before 2nd leg game. 24.02.2030 - PSV Eindhoven - AFC Ajax 1:0 (ED) - 38. Melvin Jongeling February schedule has been so tight that even five days between games look like a rest. Month will close with Topper derby, this time in Eindhoven. Despite the fact that we destroyed PSV 6:0 in Amsterdam, they’re a bit different team in February, looking in good form and they just defeated LOSC Lille 3:1 in Europa League knockout stages. That could mean that perhaps Eredivisie is not entirely depending on our European coefficient points in this season, but it also means that PSV comes to this game a little bit tired. Squad: Koops, Alleyne, Leyder, Schans, Gudelj, Ari, Stekelenburg, Janssen (65. Antonucci), van Grinsven, Kluivert (60. van Dalen), de Wit (70. Capobianco) First half was uneventful for the first 30 minutes, although we controlled more possession. Both teams moved well in defense and strikers found themselves in offside position too often. Things changed in 36’ when Nathan Leyder almost gifted a goal to PSV. Melvin Jongeling put our experienced defender under pressure, won the ball and went for our goa, but Marvin Koops was ready and made a good save. Koops couldn’t help us two minutes later though, when a good PSV attack from our right ended with a cross to box and Jongeling was there to finish. Koops perhaps should have covered his near post better, but that goal meant we were 0:1 behind at half time. We tried to equalize in second half, but only got ourselves half chances and our shooting accuracy was awful, so shots rarely went on target. Instead Melvin Jongeling had a chance to double his tally in 72’ - he turned skillfully around Edward Schans, but another great save by Koops kept our score respectable. However, in the end we had to accept our third defeat of the season. I was really disappointed with our attack - we just couldn’t get shots on target and both our central defenders made bad mistakes in this game. our shooting was 21/3 - probably our worst game in this regard Despite derby loss I’m not too upset and look positively to things. We’re still in competition in all three fronts and Schalke win was our biggest achievement in this month. Eredivisie Despite this win over us, PSV are still 10 points behind us in Eredivisie and we’re looking good for the title with 9 games to go. FC Utrecht have continued their poor form into February and they’re free falling towards mid-table finish. After several seasons the top of the table look like it did more than 10 years ago, with three big teams occupying top three places. VVV Venlo are still up there, surprising everybody and NAC Breda look dangerously close to relegation if they don’t turn things around really fast.
  14. January 2030 02.01.2030 - AFC Ajax - SC Cambuur 3:0 (ED) - 16. Sergio Alleyne, 84. Jeroen Capobianco, 90. Dirk van Grinsven New year started a little bit differently. We don’t usually have a game in the beginning of January, but this time one league game was scheduled here. SC Cambuur have been solid mid-table side in recent seasons and they’re predicted to finish 13th in this season. We were favourites for the game, but we had some players missing - Dragisa Gudelj was still injured, Derian Tepperik and Engin Ari suspended. Because we had no left-back I recalled Leslie Lichaba back from loan. Squad: Koops, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Lichaba, Leyder, Stekelenburg (59. Sastrodimedjo), Janssen, van Grinsven, van Dalen (69. Kluivert), de Wit (66. Capobianco) We started really well and dominated the first half completely. Tarik de Wit had a great chance already in 4’, but his shot was a failure and was held by goalkeeper. Tom Drost and Nathan Leyder had shots on target, but it was Sergio Alleyne who opened scoring. Central defender finished his chance from IFK to score his first goal of the season. At half time our lead was narrow, but I was happy with what I saw on the pitch - we controlled possession, created chances and looked dangerous from set pieces. Second half looked more quiet until SC Cambuur had to change their tactics to more attacking in the last ten minutes. That opened space for us in attack and we took advantage of that. Substitute Jeroen Capobianco scored after good transition attack and Dirk van Grinsven finished things off before final whistle. It was a deserved goal to van Grinsven, who had worked hard and created chances for others. 3:0 is a solid game and I was happy with both result and performance. our shooting was 22/9 we made 37 dribbles Dirk van Grinsven was outstanding in this game Leslie Lichaba made his debut for Ajax In January I made a decision about Derian Tepperik and young left-back wonderkid left to Dortmund Borussia for £16,5m. With possible clauses the transfer could be worth up to £18,75m. He is a great prospect and it’s unlikely he would extend his contract past 2032 and to be honest I feel that Dortmund is a good option for Tepperik - big enough team for his ambition, but small enough to get first team chances and develop as a player. 26.01.2030 - FC Groningen - AFC Ajax 1:2 (ED) - 80. Pim de Reuver - 10. Simon Janssen, 13. Johan van Dalen Three weeks have passed and the most notable change in the squad is that all players are finally fit again, we had time to prepare for the second part of the season and I feel we’re ready for next games. FC Groningen are underachieving team, but trying to improve by bringing in good loan players in January transfer window. We practiced attacking movement and I chose to use overlapping fullbacks against FC Groningen, even in away game. Squad: Koops, Drost, Alleyne, Schans, Gudelj (66. Lichaba), Ari, Stekelenburg, Janssen (69. Antonucci), van Grinsven, van Dalen, de Wit (56. Kluivert) It took less than 15 minutes to score two goals. Some good passing after corner in 10’ found Simon Janssen in the box. Our playmaker had some time to take his shot and it landed in top corner - unstoppable for goalkeeper. Three minutes later Johan van Dalen extended our lead - good run and pass from Tom Drost led to this goal. In 35’ Edward Schans had a great chance from IFK, but his shot was saved by goalkeeper. First half looked really good for us - again we looked dangerous in set pieces and led by two goals, but FC Groningen had not given up yet and we had some troubles keeping possession (first half possession was lost 44/56). Second half was much more quiet again, we tried to retain possession and limit FC Groningen’s chance with the ball. Unfortunately my substitutions were not successful - Leslie Lichaba particularly looked error-prone and his mistake allowed Pim de Reuver to score in 80’ - good pass from midfield, some poor defensive positioning and de Reuver broke our offside trap and then it was nothing that Marvin Koops could do. I was satisfied with three points, but wasn’t happy with our second half performance - part of it was my own fault, because I’m responsible for substitutions and team talks. we allowed 23 key passes and 26 dribbles - allowed FC Groningen to feel too comfortable with the ball 30.01.2030 - AFC Ajax - sc Heerenveen 1:0 (ED) - 3. Johan van Dalen Last game of the January and we welcome sc Heerenveen in Amsterdam Arena. I’m happy to see Mario de Groot in action - he’s on loan at sc Heerenveen and he’s having a great season so far. sc Heerenveen played conservative 4-4-2 tactics. We went against them with attacking setup with overlapping instructions. Squad: Koops, Drost, Leyder, Schans, Gudelj, Ari, Stekelenburg, Janssen (56. Antonucci), van Grinsven (70. Matal), van Dalen, de Wit (59. Capobianco) We weren’t ready for the match and sc Heerenveen almost scored in 2’ - good cross came in and Marvin Koops made a mistake with his interception, but Raymond Hoekstra sent his header wide of empty goal. It took just a minute to react and in the following attack we scored our own goal after good counter. Johan van Dalen converted his clear cut chance to score his 50th goal for Ajax. Despite that quick goal it was a drab first half and we didn’t create enough chances. Our midfield didn’t link up properly with our attacking three. Second half looked pretty much the same, until sc Heerenveen started to take more risks and that resulted in our chances. Substitutes Nketsi Matal and Jeroen Capobianco had opportunities, but sc Heerenveen goalkeeper made some good saves to deny them, so the final score remained 1:0. Despite those good attacks in the end of the game I expected better performance in home game. Good defense and clean sheet, though. our shooting was 17/11 we allowed 22 dribbles - we have some improvements to make in our game when without ball Three wins in January puts us in the lead of Eredivisie table, but not only that. We are on a good winning streak, confidence is high and Derian Tepperik’s departure has not affected our game too much. I sent three players on loan in January transfer window. Young goalkeeper Mohammed van Leeuwen went to RKC Waalwijk, Sjoerd de Jong moved to Fortuna Sittard and Clyde Sastrodimedjo went to Braga. Sastrodimedjo featured in first team in the first half of the season, but he wanted more playing time and I thought that six months on loan could do good for him. Noa Lang can expect more playing time in midfield because of that. Eredivisie FC Utrecht have experienced a real mid-season slump, they have only one win from the last five games and dropped 4th, so we’re now 11 points clear. PSV and Feyenoord have gained places while NAC Breda and Fortuna Sittard look in trouble at the bottom of the table.
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