• Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

About Draakon

  • Rank

Favourite Team

  • Favourite Team

Currently Managing

  • Currently Managing
  1. September 2021 10.09.2021 - Feyenoord Rotterdam - Ajax 2:0 (ED) - 7. Gregory Otten, 78. Majeed Waris - international break was a significant one for Nathan Leyder who earned his two first caps for Belgium. But Thulani Serero returned quite tired and I had to rest him for this Feyenoord game. Noa Lang started in midfield in his place. Feyenoord had a pretty good start so far and a win over PSV proved their quality, but with their goalkeeper injured, I hoped to exploit their inexperience between sticks. It was away game and first fifteen minutes showed that our usual controlling tactics didn’t work. A mistake by Leyder gave Feyenoord their first goal, but after I switched to more structured formation we looked more attacking team for the rest of the first half. No goals though and we couldn’t get good opportunities to put this inexperienced keeper under real pressure. Nevertheless, it looked like there is a goal in this game somewhere and we continued with same tactics into the second half. Justin Kluivert headed just over in 63’. Feyenoord almost answered with a goal, but their header from corner was cleared off the line by Ricardo van Rhijn. But then Feyenoord got their second goal - IFK was first saved by de Lange, but Majeed Waris was first to rebound and find the net from narrow angle. Dodi Hamzah wasted our only clear cut chance soon after and that was it. So, the first defeat of the season and it came in a derby match. Not good. We weren’t that bad, but we lacked this last pass and good shots in attacking third. Our defense in open play wasn’t that bad either - we didn’t give Feyenoord any clear cut chances, but conceded the first goal from individual mistake and the second one from set piece. Feyenoord could find the goals even from half chances while we couldn’t find the target from anywhere. our shooting was extremely woeful, only 1 shot out of 15 found the target 14.09.2021 - Juventus - Ajax 2:0 (Champions League Group A) - 35. Paulo Dybala, 47. Rafinha - our continental season started with the toughest fixture - away against Juventus. Thulani Serero returned to midfield, but Mike van der Hoorn was suspended for yellow cards from previous season, and Navajo Bakboord took his place in defense. Both teams exchanged good attacks in the first ten minutes - Paulo Dybala broke free of defenders in 7’, but Jeffrey de Lange made a good save to deny him. One minute later Dodi Hamzah had a half chance that forced Jan Oblak to make a good save on the other end. We had some opportunities to score - good corner combination ended with a shot by Antonucci, but it was well held by Oblak and then Dybala opened score after turning skillfully around Bakboord in our box and hitting it hard and low - unstoppable for de Lange. Despite that goal we played a good first half and I encouraged lads to continue well after the break, but very quickly Rafinha got his chance (missed interception by Nathan Leyder) and increased Juventus lead. That second goal killed the game for us - Juventus eased on attacks and kept possession and we couldn’t create anything dangerous either. 2:0 defeat wasn’t good enough, but it’s not the end of the world either. we didn’t play too badly - we didn’t allow any clear cut chances to Juventus, just individual skill and good finishing gave them the edge Nathan Leyder made a second costly mistake in consecutive games; I hope he shakes this off and cuts his errors down 18.09.2021 - Ajax - Go Ahead Eagles 2:0 (ED) - 18. Alex Samizadeh (og), 87 .Dirk van Grinsven - after two tough losses motivation was high to get all three points from Eagles. I didn’t make any changes to line-up. Go Ahead, at the same time, sent out Jelmer Koning who’s on loan there from Ajax. We started well and dangerously - two good passes went behind opposition defensive line, but Hamzah couldn’t finish properly. Then Boilesen got a clear cut chance after long pass by Serero, but his shot ended in side-netting. Corner in 18’ ended with a fortunate goal for us - GAE Summer signing Samizadeh was unlucky that ball bounced into his own goal from him. It was a bit undeserved goal as our shooting hadn’t been too dangerous until that point. Deyovaisio Zeefuik headed against post from IFK in around 37’ mark and that ended first half for us. We looked solid defensively in the first 45 minutes, but our attack wasn’t smooth enough and we lacked that cutting edge in opposition penalty area. So I was relieved about 1-0 lead and hoped we won’t mess it up in 2nd half. Dejan Meleg instantly got a great chance to score, but his shot was soft and easily dealt by Eagles’ goalkeeper. After that we failed to find good chances - yes, we attacked and were there, but our attacks weren’t good enough and our midfield display was at times simply frustrating. Eagles got their best chance in 2nd half - a free kick from 18 meters. The shot was good and curled over our wall, but de Lange was ready and held it confidently. Finally, IFK in 87’ brought our 2nd goal. First attempt was cleared from the box, but Dejan Meleg curled in another cross and van Grinsven’s header went in off the bar. That meant all three points for us, although display was not really what I expected. we were good enough stats-wise: 18/9 shooting and two clear cut chances should have been enough to win it (only we wasted both of those chances and shots weren’t really that dangerous) I distributed both praise and criticism to the lads - Boilesen and Antonucci stood out while Hamzah and Leyder underperformed 17 years old Aschraf Flemming made his debut for Ajax in 2nd half, replacing Dodi Hamzah 23.09.2021 - Achilles’29 - Ajax 0:2 (Dutch Cup 2nd round) - 22. Dodi Hamzah, 54. Dirk van Grinsven - we played this cup game with substitution players, although Achilles holds 1st place in Jupiler League after 6 match days and so are not expected to roll over. We won comfortably enough though - didn’t allow any threats to our goal and although our attack wasn’t smooth enough in the beginning, we created enough chances. We just failed to finish most of them. Dodi Hamzah opened scoring for us and I’m happy that he got some confidence back from this goal. Dirk van Grinsven had at least three clear cut chances in this game, but he only managed to score once. It’s nice to see him score in consecutive goals, but it should have been a hat-trick. In conclusion - not as impressive as it could have been, but deserved win. 80% passing accuracy made me smile Justin Kluivert hurt his heel and he’ll be out for around a week - that means he’ll miss games against Vitesse and Olympique Marseilles, at least 26.09.2021 - Ajax - Vitesse Arnhem 2:0 (ED) - 7. Dejan Meleg, 37. Thulani Serero - with only 3 days between games, we go against Vitesse. And with Kluivert injured, Dejan Meleg starts on our left flank with Dirk van Grinsven on the right. Time for van Grinsven to impress and show that he can score in serious games as well. Otherwise it’s our regular team. Vitesse are missing their two mental leaders on the pitch - Kelvin Leerdam and Sheran Yeini - and perhaps that helped us a bit, but we took a comfortable win. Dejan Meleg scored an early goal (clever cross by van Grinsven there) and Thulani Serero added another after wonderful through ball by Francesco Antonucci. We had a complete control in the first 45 minutes and had 12 corners, but failed to score from those. The best chance in 2nd half fell to Dirk van Grinsven, but his shot went well over when he really should have scored. Vitesse made their first and only shot in this game when 85 minutes were played… a very solid win, although a little bit boring. 29.09.2021 - Ajax - Olympique Marseille 3:0 (Champions League Group A) - 42. Dodi Hamzah, 77. and 85. Thulani Serero - second match of the group stage and first home game in this season. I replaced Mike van der Hoorn with Navajo Bakboord for this game. He deserves a chance and I reckoned that we don’t need so much aerial power against OM, but quick feet and good positioning that Bakboord possesses. In 3’ OM got a corner that was headed clear off the line by Bakboord, following counter gave us our first clear-cut chance, but Dejan Meleg couldn’t finish in 1-1 situation. Bummer. OM attacking midfield looks technically very skilled and Andrija Zivkovic dribbled through our defense, only to hit the post. Ten minutes later their Fran Villalba got a great chance, but that was well saved by Jeffrey de Lange. Right from the following corner they hit crossbar. But we were to draw the first blood - great pass by Dejan Meleg found Hamzah and our young striker sent it past OM goalkeeper to give us 1-0 lead. The first half had been very attractive by both sides and OM probably feel they’re a little bit unlucky not to score from those chances, but we showed good attacking football too and for once I can’t blame our finishing too much. Defensive errors are a little worrying though. OM started to pressure us after half-time break, but we got counters from these situations and those were dangerous. One of them in 54’ ended with a clear cut chance, but Hamzah wasted it. Three minutes later Dejan Meleg got a chance from counter, but that was saved. But when our opponents finally started to take more risks in final fifteen minutes, Thulani Serero punished them by two goals. He was first to react to loose ball in first situation and second goal came after a wonderful cross by Dirk van Grinsven. So, in the end it was a secure 3:0 win and fans were delighted. we had only 42% of possession, but 17 shots and 4 clear-cut chances, so we played very attractive counter-attacking football Thulani Serero was outstanding with his superb last fifteen minutes despite positives, we lost a lot of duels inside our box, allowed OM to make 32 dribbles and made 26 individual mistakes ourselves; that shows our weaknesses in defense September, in conclusion, was a mixed month for us. Feyenoord result was a big disappointment. Juventus defeat was perhaps more expected, but we got back to our feet and second part of the month was a lot better, especially this last result in Champions League. Eredivisie Not bad at all. PSV is in the middle of the table, Feyenoord have dropped some points too and sc Heerenveen haven’t been able to continue their last season’s form. Ajax goals: Francesco Antonucci 4, Thulani Serero 4, Dodi Hamzah 3, Justin Kluivert 3 Ajax assists: Dejan Meleg 5, Justin Kluivert 4
  2. Squad Update 2021 Midfielders Thulani Serero The second veteran in my team next to van Rhijn. Very experienced midfielder, still part of South Africa national team. But slowly starting to show his age. Hopefully he'll be good for two more years, until Pieter Stekelenburg matures. Noa Lang He has some qualities over Serero - he tends to keep his head up and spot the pass better, but hasn't developed as well as I hoped Lucas Andersen Objectively - he's lost his battle to AP position to Antonucci, and to add to this, suffered a long injury in the beginning of this season that leaves him sidelined until November, at least. It will be a struggle to come back from this. Francesco Antonucci I was able to keep him despite some interest from mid-table Premiership clubs. And I need him too as Andersen is seriously injured at the moment. Very good with and without ball, but offers less defensive support in midfield. Frenkie de Jong Third best attacking playmaker in the squad, but while Andersen and Antonucci are used with AP-attack orders, de Jong is AP-support. Turned 24 this year and can now tutor youngsters and pass forward his excellent determination. Wingers Dejan Meleg Best goalscorer and creator from last season. Also our best set piece taker. Dirk van Grinsven I definitely try to give him more playing time this season. He offers different kind of football than Meleg on our right wing - very quick, direct and precise crossing. Justin Kluivert Has had a great start to this season so far, creating and scoring goals. Still only 22 years old, so has time to improve and I hope he'll continue to convert this talent into goals. Strikers Dodi Hamzah Definitely most improved player since last season and slowly emerging into true complete forward. Described as wonderkid and I predict that I can't keep him for more than two seasons. Aschraf Flemming The best talent of my youth intake from Spring 2021. Quick, agile, naturally fit. Very determined and good finisher. Only 17 years old, but already capped for U-19 national team and earned invitation to U-21 camp too. More suitable for F9 role than CF, but Ugur Sezgin showed that this might also work very well in my formation. In this season gets his minutes from substitution and plays for reserves.
  3. Squad Update 2021 Not much has changed compared to previous season. Two players have left and a lot of youngsters have made a step up in their development. Goalkeepers Jeffrey de Lange He's OK keeper, pretty good with no major flaws, but not spectacular either. Jasper Cillessen was surely better and de Lange is not likely to reach Holland national team level. Having said that - we don't have any better talents coming up either. Plenty of decent backups like Joe van der Sar, but no great talent that could overcome de Lange in the next 2-3 years. And, as he'll be 24 soon, he'll become decent tutor for younger players. Defenders Ricardo van Rhijn Team captain is reaching to veteran status. His contribution to attacking phase is his biggest virtue in my eyes. He's created 5 clear cut chances already in this season and his crosses look always dangerous. Tom Drost Mike van der Hoorn He's had a good start to this season, but his last year was pretty poor. He caused the most clear cut chances against us and his errors led to more goals than anyone else in defensive line. Could add a goal or two more in attacking set pieces as well. Deyovaisio Zeefuik He's my first choice defensive partner for van der Hoorn, but for how long? He's turning 24 this season and he's not likely to improve much. Good as he is, I've got better prospects coming up. Perhaps it's time for him to move on, if I receive a solid £7-8m bid for him. Sergio Alleyne Perhaps the best choice to replace Zeefuik with. Physically strong, hard-working and determined, good decision making and aggressive defender. Too bad I've only got right-footed centre-backs. Nicolai Boilesen Danish left-back has been in great form this season so far and he's earned invitations to national team for his efforts, too. Dragisa Gudelj Gudelj struggles to play his way past Boilesen, but I'm not allowing him to leave either, because I don't really have a decent cover in left-back position. So, perhaps a two more year of patience is needed from him. Najavo Bakboord Defender number three in pecking order at the moment. Good talent, very good on the ball, quick feet, but perhaps a bit short and vulnerable in the air to my liking. I'll try to give him playing time depending on the opponents. Nathan Leyder Took over DMC position after Carel Eiting left. Works hard and does well, although some costly errors have slipped in too. Broke into Belgium national team this September.
  4. August 2021 06.08.2021 - Ajax - PEC Zwolle 3:1 (ED) - 54. Dodi Hamzah, 57. and 65. Francesco Antonucci - 81. Edwin Gyasi - we started our league season against PEC Zwolle. Lucas Andersen injured himself badly against our last friendly and is sidelined for 3-4 months with torn calf muscle, Nathan Leyder is not yet match fit and so Noa Lang started again in DMC and I opted for Navajo Bakboord in central defense. We almost got a goal in 3’, but header by Dodi Hamzah rattled against crossbar. Mike van der Hoorn had a chance from IFK in 15’, but he smashed his shot against goalkeeper. We controlled possession and attacked more, but Zwolle had the best chances from set pieces and Jeffrey de Lange had to make two brilliant saves to keep us from conceding. I was not happy about that and also not pleased with how we ended our attacks, and things improved after half-time break. First shot from corner by Antonucci was saved in 52’. Two minutes later Hamzah headed in after good cross from the left - it was a great header and it reminded me of Arkadiusz Milik, proving that Hamzah really is developing into true complete forward. Clever IFK combination created Antonucci a clear cut chance that he easily converted and, after cc by Boilesen was saved by goalkeeper, Antonucci scored another goal from corner. That looked a lot better than first half and I was pleased that our attacking set pieces training paid dividends in the game. We conceded a late goal though - Noa Lang missed his tackle on the left wing, allowing Zwolle to continue attack and then Navajo Bakboord allowed Gyasi to pass himself way too easily and shoot it past de Lange. Fortunately it didn’t change much. We played a good second half, but I can’t be happy with poor defending in set piece situations. good attacking football and 29/12 shooting attacking set pieces worked well and resulted in 2 goals Francesco Antonucci had a brilliant second half and he scored two goals 14.08.2021 - Ajax - ADO Den Haag 4:1 (ED) - 8. Nathan Leyder, 11. Dejan Meleg, 47. Francesco Antonucci, 84. Justin Kluivert - 74. Kenny Otigba. I made two changes in line-up for this game. Nathan Leyder returned to defensive midfield and Deyovaisio Zeefuik replaced Navajo Bakboord in central defense. ADO Den Haag had a good season and they’ve spent £1,6m for additional three players in Summer. They look solid enough, at least on paper, with Darlington Nagbe in attacking midfield and one of the last season’s best goalscorers Odion Ighalo up front. We practiced attacking set pieces before this game and it paid off - Dejan Meleg’s free kick found Nathan Leyder in the box and midfielder scored to celebrate his return from injury break. Three minutes later a good attack ended in clear cut chance and a goal by Meleg. Two very good chances in short period and two goals, so I was quite pleased with our first half. We started our second half in the same manner - Ricardo van Rhijn found Francesco Antonucci in a box and 3-0 was a fact. And despite ADO managed to score one back (from long attacking throw-in) we answered with our fourth strike in 84’. This time Justin Kluivert was the scorer and van Rhijn again provider. It was a very impressive win and, based on our first two games we look very strong in attack and our attacking midfielders have scored plenty of goals. very confident finishing in this game - we created four good chances and scored four goals from them great game from Justin Kluivert - a goal and assist from our left winger and his crossing was difficult for ADO Den Haag defenders we were good from set pieces, we scored one goal and we got into good positions in dead ball situations Dodi Hamzah’s shooting accuracy was a disappointment - only 1 out of 7 shots found target 20.08.2021 - Ajax - PSV Eindhoven 2:0 (ED) - 45.+1 Justin Kluivert, 89. Deyovaisio Zeefuik - now here’s a test. We went against PSV with the same line-up and hoped to use our momentum to our advantage. We come from back to back wins while PSV only got one point from their first three games - a poor draw against PEC Zwolle and losses from AZ and Feyenoord is not the start they wished for. So they looked a bit like a wounded animal and I hoped to exploit that. And we did. We got our best chance in 8’ - Justin Kluivert had a great opportunity and his shot was just saved on the goal line. But in the end of the half, in injury time, Kluivert scored from great through ball by Dodi Hamzah. Great time to score and it put PSV under pressure for the second half. Frustration of PSV players grew and they collected a lot of yellow cards. Alexander Büttner was finally sent off in 84’ after receiving his 2nd yellow and in the end of the game Deyovaisio Zeefuik’s goal from IFK secured us a very valuable win. I’m very happy with defense - we didn’t allow any chances to PSV and they didn’t get any shots on target it was our first clean sheet of this season In the end of August the draw for Champions League groups took place and that made me curse. We fell into 4th seed group again and got Juventus, FC Porto and Olympique Marseille in our group. That’s tough. That’s seriously tough. I’d be happy to finish 3rd, but even this is a huge challenge compared to previous couple of years. sc Heerenveen didn’t qualify to group stages (they were beaten 0:7 by FC Porto in qualifying stages) and so Eredivisie reputation is solely on our shoulders. 27.08.2021 - FC Groningen - Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 35. Francesco Antonucci - it was our first away game of the season and I approached a bit more carefully. FC Groningen area a tricky opponent too. We had a good chance early on, but Dodi Hamzah headed over empty goal. Francesco Antonucci scored from corner and we took the lead in the first half. Then, after the break, we concentrated more on keeping possession and limiting FC Groningen’s attacks. Successfully until injury time - they got a header from free kick that smashed our crossbar. We were a little bit lucky there, but held onto win in this game, although performance wasn’t as impressive as in previous matches. we had 60% of possession and we played really good game defensively August has been excellent for us. Four straight wins, including the one over PSV means it’s all smiles in dressing room. PSV have had a miserable start and they only got two points from five first games. We made one move in the end of transfer window. Thokozani Mpengesi left to Parma for £3,5m - that matches his minimum release fee clause. I wasn’t really sure in him making it in Ajax - he looked often too nervous on the pitch, wasn’t as good as Hamzah and considering the amount of talent we’ve got in this position coming from U-19, it was an easy sell. I brought Aschraf Flemming up from U-19 to replace him. I don’t often promote 17 years old youngsters, but he’s a true wonderkid and deserves to have a chance or two in first team despite his age. Eredivisie I usually do transfer update after transfer window is closed, but for the second time in a row there’s no point. Transfers of Carel Eiting and Thokozani Mpengesi were the only noteworthy moves in this Summer. MVV made a lot of signings, spending almost £14m on 16 players (incl. bringing 33 years old Gregory van der Wiel back to Eredivisie). Let’s see how it pays off in results
  5. July 2021 24.07.2021 - Ajax - SC Cambuur 2:1 (Dutch Super Cup) - 26. Thulani Serero, 58. Justin Kluivert - 55. Julian Lelieveld - as said in the end of last season, Dutch Cup had unlikely winners in SC Cambuur and Johan Mjällby has done some good work improving his team in pre-season, but we were still better team without too much effort. We missed Mike van der Hoorn and Nathan Leyder with injuries. Navajo Bakboord started in central defense and Noa Lang in defensive midfield position. We started well and after Dodi Hamzah wasted our first great chance to score, Thulani Serero found the net from IFK. We had more possession and good chances in the first half, but still finished first forty five minutes with narrow 1-0 lead. And we were punished after the break - SC Cambuur had a good counter attack and Lelieveld was unmarked on the left flank and sent it to near post - positioning by goalkeeper could have been better there and defensive coordination wasn’t the best either. But we regained our lead quickly - Francesco Antonucci found Justin Kluivert with a great pass and our left wing scored a winner after long injury break since February. We controlled second half better and had more chances - Dejan Meleg missed from open chance and Justin Kluivert’s shot hit the post. So finishing is still an issue. That’s our third Super Cup win in a row and our start of the season was solid enough. good possession (56%) good attacking football and shooting accuracy (18/11), despite some wasted chances we won majority of duels both on the ground and in the air; both tackling and heading went to our side with over 80% percentage Nothing else significant happened in July. Usual friendlies and loan deals for younger players. Toulouse offered me a job interview but no interest from more reputable clubs. I'm starting to get an idea about the squad for the next season. Let's see if this plan is interrupted by some large bids in August.
  6. Yeah, I hope so, too. Getting tactics right is a challenge because focus is completely different. In Eredivisie the challenge is how to turn our superior techincal ability (especially first touch and passing) into goals. In CL we have to be prepared to win while losing midfield, possession and battling deep in midfield. While tactics could be right, getting the familiarity high for those 6 games in a season is completely another challenge. And when everything looks good enough,we'll bound to concede from set pieces against stronger teams In Eredivisie, the Golden Boot is a different category from top goalscorer. I'm not entirely sure how Golden Boot is decided, but I think it's more connected to average rating and a little bit to goals and assists.
  7. Season Update 2020-2021 It has probably been one of the most difficult seasons in near history. We fell out of Dutch Cup very early, won Eredivisie with difficulties and, while looking very competitive in Champions League, getting knocked out from Europa League by Salzburg is not the level I expected after solid group stage in CL. Few changes are needed and perhaps necessary to rejuvenate the squad. I definitely did cut too deep, selling Ugur Sezgin to Arsenal in August and leaving myself short of attacking options. Lasse Schöne is retiring, Amin Younes (while being solid in the final stage of the season) is signing for PSV. There are plenty of young talent coming back from loan and from U-19 ranks, so finding the right balance between experience and youth is a key challenge here. Ajax Fans Player of the Season: Ricardo van Rhijn - team captain is voted once again as the player of the season by our fans. Goal of the Season: Thulani Serero against PEC Zwolle 19.12.2020 Ajax Young Player of the Season: Francesco Antonucci Goalkeeper of the Year: Jeffrey de Lange - Ajax Joel Drommel - sc Heerenveen Sergio Padt - ADO Den Haag Golden Boot: Dejan Meleg - Ajax Sheraldo Becker - FC Groningen Odion Ighalo - ADO Den Haag Top Goalscorer: Charlison Benschop - FC Groningen (20) Odion Ighalo - ADO Den Haag (20) Dejan Meleg - Ajax (16) Young Player of the Year: Rene Timmer - ADO Den Haag (on loan from Ajax) Francesco Antonucci - Ajax Justin Kluivert - Ajax Manager’s Manager of the Year: Me Robin Maaskant - sc Heerenveen Johan Mjällby - SC Cambuur - Cambuur had a great season and they won the Dutch Cup, so my previous assistant Mjällby has done a great job there
  8. May 2021 02.05.2021 - Ajax - Sparta Rotterdam 1:1 (ED) - 54. Dodi Hamzah - 89. Ali Messaoudi - we were clear favourites against injury-ridden Sparta, but failed to deliver. Nicolai Boilesen injured himself in training and his season is over (pulled hamstring leaves him out for 3 weeks). Dragisa Gudelj took his place in left defense instead. We were better team in the first half and had a purple patch of attacking pressure between 15-20 minutes when Amin Younes, Dodi Hamzah and Carel Eiting took 5 dangerous shots in a row, so Sparta goalkeeper looked like a windmill, trying to parry them at all. But goals didn’t come and first half ended in 0-0. We were better after the break - Dodi Hamzah finally broke through, but in the end we couldn’t hold our lead. Substitute Noa Lang lost the ball in midfield and following counter ended with the only chance Sparta got throughout the game and, of course, with a goal. Very disappointing to drop points like that, in a game that we should have won easily. sc Heerenveen won their game, so we’re now level on points, but better goal difference gives us advantage in the league table. our attack actually was good, we had possession and created chances, just finishing let us down 09.05.2021 - Ajax - Vitesse Arnhem 3:1 (ED) - 21., 33. and 77. Dodi Hamzah - 15. Aleksandar Boljevic - Thokozani Mpengesi suffered concussion in a game against Sparta and wasn’t fit enough for this game. Vitesse are bound for relegation play-offs and have been poor through this season, so our task should be a little bit easier than sc Heerenveen’s, who host PSV in their final game. We started very well and put Vitesse under real pressure, but then conceded a clumsy goal from corner that came completely against the run of game. We recovered quickly enough though, and two goals by Hamzah sent us to half-time with 2:1 lead. We could and should have scored even more, but just like against Sparta - chances were there but finishing wasn’t. Second half was more under our control and we got the chances too. Amin Younes wasted two opportunities and finally Hamzah completed his hat-trick when Vitesse goalkeeper blocked Dejan Meleg’s free-kick and Hamzah was the first to get to rebound. we created 8 clear-cut chances and had 29 shots, so finishing is clearly an issue Dodi Hamzah had a great night and a hat-trick for reward, finally looking like a first team striker that we need As sc Heerenveen lost 0-1 against PSV, we secured the title with this win. It’s been some time since title race has continued until the last match day. Usually we secure the title some weeks earlier. And it’s not very usual to win Eredivisie with only 75 points. That shows how even and tightly contested this year’s competition was. Eredivisie Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 18, Dodi Hamzah 14, Lucas Andersen 8 Ajax assists: Dejan Meleg 18, Ricardo van Rhijn 10, Justin Kluivert 8
  9. April 2021 02.04.2021 - Ajax - PSV Eindhoven 4:1 (ED) - 12. Lucas Andersen, 66. and 77. Thokozani Mpengesi, 90.+2 Francesco Antonucci - 63. Nicolas Isimat-Mirin - it was a true derby match, a title race six-pointer and in front of our home fans we came out victorious. Lucas Andersen opened scoring in the first half and we looked comfortable enough to desire more from the first 45 minutes. In 40’ Carel Eiting hit the post and another corner gave opportunity to Amin Younes, but his shot was saved. PSV got an unlikely equalizer - Isimat-Mirin hit a powerful shot from angle. It surprised both defense and goalkeeper and went in off the bar. But we responded quickly - substitute Mpengesi headed in from IFK and soon converted another clear-cut chance to gave us more convincing lead. Francesco Antonucci finished with a good strike in injury time. It was a very important win, a very good performance in a key match and I’m really delighted with the team. we had 57% possession and we used it well we made only a few individual mistakes and that contributed to good defense very good substitutions (Mpengesi and Antonucci) that brought this win in the second half captain Ricardo van Rhijn stood out, creating 3 clear cut chances and playing key role on the right wing 11.04.2021 - Ajax - VVV Venlo 3:0 (ED) - 7. Amin Younes, 14. pen. and 23. Dejan Meleg - great emotion from PSV match continued in a comfortable win over VVV Venlo. Mike van der Hoorn was suspended for this game and I also picked Tom Drost and Francesco Antonucci to start. Amin Younes gave us a lead with a header and after Thulani Serero was tripped inside VVV penalty box, Dejan Meleg extended our lead from the spot. He scored another goal from direct free kick from 17 meters and we were well in control when 23 minutes were played. We gave VVV Venlo their first chance in 34’ when Tom Drost was half asleep and allowed Daoud Bousbiba to run free, but Bousbiba couldn’t finish when it was easier to score and smashed it against post. We were active in the beginning of the 2nd half, but couldn’t score. Dejan Meleg hit the frameworks twice and wasted his clear cut chance (and with it his chance for a hat-trick). Thulani Serero also saw his clear cut chance saved. Last 30 minutes were already uneventful. good possession (54%) and good attack I noted complacency in 2nd half and that allowed VVV to get two good chances Dejan Meleg was outstanding in set piece situations and was unlucky not to score a hat-trick 17.04.2021 - FC Groningen - Ajax 1:3 (ED) - 45. Kamohelo Mokotjo - 39. and 47. Dodi Hamzah, 82. Thulani Serero - FC Groningen have been inconsistent in recent years, but this season they’re one of the top clubs and very difficult to beat. We had Mike van der Hoorn back after he served his suspension and I put Nathan Leyder in starting line-up, as Carel Eiting looked like he couldn’t handle pressure very well before those important games. The first half was uneventful midfield battle until 35’ - Dodi Hamzah got two great chances in a row, but couldn’t finish. He made it up four minutes later by converting a cross from left flank and giving us 1-0 lead. But we couldn’t hold it and in the end of the first half Kamohelo Mokotjo scored - Jeffrey de Lange made a small mistake in my eyes, coming out for the cross but not really getting there on time. Lucas Andersen then had a chance to put us in front, but his shot was saved and first half ended 1-1. I was disappointed about the late goal, because really we should have been 2-0 ahead, but that’s football. I sent the team out with encouraging words and told Dodi Hamzah he can make a real difference there. And he did! We got an excellent counter that he converted to start the second half really well and after that we looked like a better team on the pitch. Francesco Antonucci saw his shot saved in 63’ and then Thulani Serero secured us all three points with a shot from the edge of area that landed in top corner. Excellent finish and FC Groningen hopes were diminished. They got another opportunity in the end of the game, but Jeffrey de Lange parried Jari Oosterwijk’s shot. we looked good in attack, again - good shooting (20/11) and good crossing we didn’t look too bad defensively, but somehow gave away another two clear-cut chances and that could put us in trouble It’s been a really great month for us, after such a difficult season. This win over PSV was really special and gave us a lot of confidence and we look like a completely different team on the pitch. Eredivisie sc Heerenveen dropped points against SC Cambuur and that gives us pole position before last two match days. PSV is out of the title race and Willem II really need a miracle to avoid relegation. Lasse Schöne announced his retirement in the end of the season. I try to sign him as U-19 coach. Dutch Young Player of the Season shortlist arrived and that’s the first year when all five shortlisted players are from Ajax - Francesco Antonucci, Tom Drost and Justin Kluivert play in Ajax. Rene Timmer is on loan at ADO Den Haag and Jorri van der Geest has had a great season at PEC Zwolle. Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 18, Dodi Hamzah 10, Lucas Andersen 8 Ajax assists: Dejan Meleg 17, Ricardo van Rhijn 9, Justin Kluivert 8
  10. Ajax Youth Intake 2021 This year’s harvest has been really good and gives us 4-5 solid prospects for the coming years. Aschraf Flemming We’ve got several good strikers already and this one fits right in. Very determined nature, quick feet and good finisher. Didier Yao Interesting name, but also a very talented striker. Rick Koning Very talented right-back, but casual nature could hinder his progress. Extensive tutoring by Ricardo van Rhijn could develop a great player out of him, still.
  11. March 2021 05.03.2021 - Ajax - AZ Alkmaar 1:0 (ED) - 59. pen. Dejan Meleg - Deyovaisio Zeefuik was suspended for yellow cards in this game, but we got Dejan Meleg back in fitness and he helped us to scrape 1:0 win against AZ Alkmaar. The game itself was drab as it has been for us recently. We defended well, but couldn’t create chances for ourselves, but we were helped by AZ defense in the second half - Lucas Woudenberg pulled Meleg’s shirt in the box and our best goalscorer added another goal from penalty spot. As the rest of the team looked very lacklustre, we can safely say that he single-handedly brought us three points that day. defense was actually pretty good and we didn’t allow AZ any chances poor attack was topped with poor shooting accuracy (10/3) 14.03.2021 - SC Cambuur - Ajax 1:5 (ED) - 11. Adama Diomande - 6. and 39. Justin Kluivert, 16. Dodi Hamzah, 51. Francesco Antonucci, 82. Thokozani Mpengesi - with over a week to prepare, this was a completely different game, and it was about time. I started Noa Lang in midfield (to compensate great work rate by SC Cambuur players) and Zeefuik returned to central defense. We started with fireworks early on. Justin Kluivert got a clear cut chance in our first attack, but it was well saved by SC Cambuur goalkeeper. Noa Lang then sent his shot narrowly wide and Dodi Hamzah wasted another chance when only 5’ were played. We then took the lead, but allowed SC Cambuur equalize (Carel Eiting’s missed interception gave Diomande an easy opportunity). But we’ve finally got our attack running and soon Hamzah made it 2-1 and Justin Kluivert extended our lead with a lovely chip in 39’. Very attacking first half by both teams, plenty of chances, but I wasn’t entirely happy with our defense. Few things were talked over in our dressing room and we started 2nd half with better concentration. Francesco Antonucci capped our excellent counter attack with a goal and substitutes Tom Drost and Thokozani Mpengesi created another goal. Second half was much better in terms of discipline and organized gameplay. We were better defensively and dictated tempo better. finally good attacking movement, good amount of chances and shooting accuracy (18/10), although finishing in our clear cut chances could have been better Justin Kluivert and Dejan Meleg were outstanding - Meleg had two assists and he created at least three clear cut chances After this matchday Willem II dropped to 18th position and their management sacked Jurgen Streppel, replacing him with Adrie Bogers. Let’s see how it works for them. Our physios brought me bad news about Justin Kluivert - he had some discomfort in his knee and was diagnosed with knee tendonitis. That means his season is over and he’ll be out for 4-5 months, meaning that he’s also sidelined for pre-season and can perhaps return before August. That’s a bummer - especially after he played so well in this last game. Amin Younes will now start as AML for the rest of the season, but I really lack cover in wide positions. 20.03.2021 - FC Twente - Ajax 2:2 (ED) - 9. John Smit, 83. Jörn Sauss - 14. Dodi Hamzah, 81. Thokozani Mpengesi - spirits were high after great win over SC Cambuur and I hoped to extend our good series. Justin Kluivert was injured and Thulani Serero was away with South African national team. I sent out Lucas Andersen in midfield and Amin Younes to left wing. It looked like our defensive troubles returned for this match. John Smit scored with a completely unmarked header, but Dodi Hamzah equalized soon enough. We had most of possession in the first half and FC Twente tried to break us with counter attacks, but both teams cancelled each other out and all in all it was an even half. We were better defensively after half time, but struggled to create chances. Finally substitute Thokozani Mpengesi scored a goal that looked like a winner, but this time we allowed FC Twente to reply with a quick goal. Very disappointing to concede so quickly after scoring and so late in the game, but in the end we had to settle with a single point. we had 58% of possession, but the number of shots was even we looked solid enough overall, but were very poor on those two situations that led to FC Twente goals March has been a lot better month for us, despite this last game. We got our confidence back from this 5:1 win and we showed once again that we can attack and we can score and, obviously, this win made a lot of good to our goal difference, which also can be crucial in the end of the season. Eredivisie Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 16, Dodi Hamzah 8, Lucas Andersen 8 Ajax assists: Dejan Meleg 15, Justin Kluivert 8, Ricardo van Rhijn 8
  12. February 2021 05.02.2021 - Ajax - ADO Den Haag 1:1 (ED) - 89. Lucas Andersen - 82. Kenny Otigba - ADO should have been easy for us, after they lost Danny Bakker and Tom Drost and their goalkeeper Sergio Padt is out injured, but we failed again and almost lost this one. We couldn’t create much during the match and after Kenny Otigba scored from corner, it took some desperate attacking during the last 10 minutes to find an equalizer. And Lucas Andersen, thankfully, took a good enough shot to take at least this one point from this game. we couldn’t dominate midfield and had only 44% of possession crossing didn’t work at all we made one defensive mistake and that was enough, but couldn’t create much in attack 11.02.2021 - FC Red Bull Salzburg - Ajax 2:1 (Europa League 1st knockout round 1st leg) - 82. Jacob Hammershoj, 90.+2 Bogdan Butko - 21. Justin Kluivert - Red Bull was an easy draw for us and it could have been much more difficult, but we failed to win the first leg in away. Ricardo van Rhijn and Francesco Antonucci were suspended, so Tom Drost started in right defense. The pitch in Salzburg was snowy and conditions were poor, so I tried my CL tactics against Red Bull and we took the lead in the first half - Justin Kluivert’s header from Meleg’s cross found the net and we scored a very important away goal. Mood in our dressing room was good at half time, as we were the better team. But, as we were already mentally settling with a narrow 1-0 win, Salzburg substitutions had effect and they equalized from counter and then scored another goal from injury time corner. It was very awful last ten minutes and we fell apart defensively. Yes, away goal still favours us, but to give up our lead like that is completely unacceptable. Tom Drost made his debut for Ajax in this match 14.02.2021 - Ajax - MVV Maastricht 1:0 (ED) - 68. Dejan Meleg - we lost against MVV in autumn and that added a little bit of edge to this game. Ricardo van Rhijn was suspended and I opted with Francesco Antonucci in midfield instead of Andersen. We weren’t ready enough and MVV got their first clear cut chance in third minute, but de Lange made a good save. We then had an opportunity to score, but Tom Drost hit the post and fireworks started in around 25-30 minutes - after some of our attacks, MVV got a good counter and forced de Lange to make another brilliant save. We had 60% of possession in the first half, but were very vulnerable to counters and I chose not to use offside trap any more. Perhaps that helped, but we got our defense in order after half-time and Dejan Meleg finally scored after a good counter attack. I was happy with the result, but not with performance. MVV have become a difficult opponent, but we should have done better and considering the chances they got, we were rather lucky to win this one 18.02.2021 - Ajax - FC Red Bull Salzburg 0:1 (Europa League 1st knockout round 2nd leg) - 90. Jacob Hammershoj - we had every chance to overturn this 1:2 defeat to aggregate victory, but we failed again and I can’t even explain how. We had good possession, but couldn’t get any good chances and then in the final minute they came with a counter and substitute Hammershoj scored against us like in the first leg. Yes, we missed Dodi Hamzah with a gashed head, but that didn’t matter as the other attacking players were as poor as ever. very good possession (59%), but nothing to show for it poor shooting (14/3) So, Europa League is over for us and only Eredivisie to play for. Perhaps it’s even better that in current miserable form we can at least concentrate to only one competition. 21.02.2021 - Ajax - Feyenoord Rotterdam 0:2 (ED) - 67. Jesper Drost, 90. Leandro Bacuna - I know what is wrong, but I don’t know how to fix it. Our attack isn’t just working and in this match it was even more atrocious because our best goalscorer and set-piece taker Dejan Meleg was out with a bruised head and Dodi Hamzah wasn’t fit enough to start, so we created almost nothing in attack during those ninety minutes. I tried Lucas Andersen on our right flank, but he was almost invisible through the whole game. We defended well though, but despite that Feyenoord managed to squeeze two goals in - first was a shot behind and between defenders that surprised Jeffrey de Lange. Second goal came from direct free kick that our goalkeeper couldn’t stop. Morale is low in our dressing room after those defeats and we just can’t find goals from anywhere. we had 6 shots, but only one of them on target Thokozani Mpengesi is having a nightmarish season - he just can’t score from anywhere, he really can’t even be at the right places at the right time, so no shots, no goals - selling Ugur Sezgin is coming back to haunt us 24.02.2021 - NAC Breda - Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 74. Thokozani Mpengesi - a difficult away game after getting beaten by Feyenoord. Dodi Hamzah was back in team, but Dejan Meleg was still unfit and Ricardo van Rhijn looked tired before this match and was rested, so I can say that again we went with weakened squad. Tom Drost started as right-back and Amin Younes went on the right wing. In the first half our attacking troubles were clearly visible again - we were good with possession, but couldn’t create anything dangerous. Deyovaisio Zeefuik headed against post from indirect free kick and that was the closest we got to a goal. After the break NAC Breda were awarded a very questionable penalty, but Jeffrey de Lange was able to save Younes Namli spot kick and kept us in the game. We looked better in attack, but final pass was still lacking, until Justin Kluivert’s cross found Thokozani Mpengesi in the box and substitute striker scored a long-awaited goal - his first after long goal drought that lasted more than 11 games. We almost lapsed in the last ten minutes and gifted NAC a clear cut chance, but Pieter Simons put it wide from open position. In the end we held onto this win and scraped it 1-0, despite looking a bit shaky in defense and not at all convincing in attack. But I hope this win gives us some confidence that we so desperately need. our shooting was very poor - 16 shots is good, but only 4 of them went on target Jeffrey de Lange was our best player - saving a penalty and playing key role in this win 27.02.2021 - FC Utrecht - Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 90.+1 Jeffrey de Lange (og) - 27. Dejan Meleg - we were back in full fitness. I sent Francesco Antonucci and Thokozani Mpengesi out in starting line-up. The first incident came in 23’ - Mike van der Hoorn tripped FC Utrecht player in our box and we conceded another penalty in consecutive games. But just like against NAC Breda, Jeffrey de Lange stepped up and made a penalty save - second in a row! Few minutes later a great counter attack brought us our best opportunity to score and Dejan Meleg made no mistake. It wasn’t the best first half, I was upset about the penalty, but we were ahead and I hoped to build on it. I had to take off Dejan Meleg in the 2nd half (gashed head), but otherwise we got this game under our control, until injury time started and FC Utrecht got a free kick from dangerous position - ball went over our wall, de Lange got a hand on it, but unfortunate bounce from his own back put it over the goal line - very unfortunate equalizer for us and truly disheartening moment. our attack was miserable again - only 4 shots (1 on target) and we couldn’t create anything dangerous after half-time break February has been probably the worst month of my career in Ajax. We managed to get two wins in Eredivisie games despite playing poorly, we’ve dropped points against ADO Den Haag and FC Utrecht, we’ve been overplayed by Red Bull Salzburg in Europa League and we topped it with devastating 0:2 defeat against arch rivals Feyenoord. Not good at all and I’m struggling to overturn this run of poor results. Eredivisie Fortunately, other teams have been as clumsy and top of the table is still very tight. Bottom three is surprising too - Vitesse and FC Twente still haven’t found their game and smaller teams like VVV Venlo look like they can survive this season in top tier. Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 15, Lucas Andersen 7, Dodi Hamzah 6 Ajax assists: Dejan Meleg 12, Justin Kluivert 8, Ricardo van Rhijn 7
  13. I had a similar problem in FM13 (my previous FM version with this kind of save) - I couldn't get a decent DL from my youth ranks for 10 years straight. First rule in those situations is not to sell your star player unless you have successor coming from youth teams. So I held onto Boilesen and then Mitchell Dijks for until he was already 32-33 years old (in this game Dutch NT level left-back). I then had to retrain one good DR as DL (I had plenty of talent in DR) - not ideal because his right-footedness. In attacking positions it's easier, as most wingers are adapted to both wings. Wing-backs, goalkeeper and (lone) striker are your main risk areas. I take star ratings into account, but in FM16 I also consider player mentality (professionalism) and hidden attributes as consistency when deciding who will stay and who will go when youngsters reach certain age (~20 years).
  14. Send me pm then. I'll try to answer.
  15. January 2021 With transfer window approaching, I offered new contract to Carel Eiting (until 2024). I also accepted bids for Donny Geerts - I really like this central defender, especially his professional mentality, but talent is not really there to make it in Ajax, so it’s better if he moved on. Midfield might get rather crowded after Frenkie de Jong returned and Brian Wagener was promoted to first team, but not in a month or so. de Jong picked up an injury (back strain) in training and he’s out for 3-4 weeks and, of course, Cup of African Nations is being held in this year. For us it means we will miss Thulani Serero and Thokozani Mpengesi who received invitations to South Africa national team. Noa Lang will get a serious chance to prove himself as box-to-box midfielder and I hope to share playing time better as those players are absent. After decision not to offer Amin Younes new contract he accepted an offer from PSV (half of the salary he demanded from us) and I’m not sure if it does any good to his hopes for more first team football. 23.01.2021 - Ajax - Go Ahead Eagles 4:0 (ED) - 3. Dodi Hamzah, 28. Francesco Antonucci, 65. Lucas Andersen, 69. Mike van der Hoorn - besides Serero and Mpengesi, we missed Darren Sidoel in this game due to small injury and for me it made choosing my line-up even easier. We looked very strong after winter break and completely demolished Go Ahead. Excellent combination between Kluivert, Meleg and Hamzah gave us the first goal and we played really great football in the first half. Very intensive pressure resulted in our second goal. Substitute Lucas Andersen and Mike van der Hoorn added to scoreline in the second half. Go Ahead Eagles never really got a chance and we looked completely in control. we controlled midfield (60% possession) and were defensively solid very good attack - 21/10 shooting and we finished all three clear cut chances that we created Ricardo van Rhijn, Francesco Antonucci and Dejan Meleg stood out in this great team performance In January transfer window I signed Emil Brown from Ajax CT for £575k - another talented striker from South Africa. He was instantly loaned out to PEC Zwolle until the end of the season, but nevertheless - meet the man. 27.01.2021 - sc Heerenveen - Ajax 3:0 (ED) - 6. Jude Aneke, 53. Rui Pedro, 84. Marc Klok - after such a great win we crashed and burned completely against sc Heerenveen. And that was an important fixture. sc Heerenveen have done great in this season, but they had three defenders out with injuries, so was Jürgen Locadia and their winger Mimoun Mahi was with international squad. Despite that advantage we were soundly beaten. I made two changes to squad - Dragisa Gudelj started in left defense and Lucas Andersen returned to midfield - purely rotational purposes. sc Heerenveen took the lead when Mike van der Hoorn failed to clear a cross and ball fell to Jude Aneke. In 13’ our counter gave Dodi Hamzah a clear cut chance, but our young striker couldn’t finish. We gave another two chances to Heerenveen, but managed to block those shots in the last moments. It was a really poor first half and our game was severely hampered by weather - damp pitch was in poor condition and our technical football was very limited. Dejan Meleg was completely out of the game and Andersen couldn’t create much from midfield. sc Heerenveen continued in second half - and this time it wasn’t even our poor defense - Rui Pedro just slammed his shot into top corner from 20 meters out and that destroyed our morale. Marc Klok finished a game with his first goal of the season - symptomatic for us in this game - we lost the ball in midfield and sc Heerenveen attack ended with a goal. I was furious with my team - we really embarrassed ourselves with this result. Looking more closely to stats, the teams were fairly even. Possession was 50/50 and shots were 13/14. Only difference being that while sc Heerenveen created good chances, we didn’t. Resulting in a probably the worst result of our season. 23 individual mistakes indicates how we couldn’t adjust to poor weather and misjudged movement of the ball in those conditions Dragisa Gudelj had a miserable first half - he made 6 errors in the first 45 minutes and picked up a yellow card - first player to receive official warning for poor performance in this season Only small consolation is that PSV have been stunned even more - they led 2:0 against NAC Breda, but had to settle with 2:2 draw after injury time equalizer, and then were defeated 2:1 by FC Utrecht after last minute winner. That must hurt a lot… 31.01.2021 - Willem II Tilburg - Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 21. Justin Kluivert, 29. Mike van der Hoorn - we were eager to prove that we’re better than sc Heerenveen result showed. Thulani Serero and Thokozani Mpengesi returned from Cup of African Nation and that bolstered our lines. After disappointing game Dragisa Gudelj landed on the bench. Francesco Antonucci started instead of Lucas Andersen in midfield. We struggled to finish our chances at first. Dodi Hamzah was particularly struggling - his shot was saved in 6’, and then he wasted his half-chance in 21’ with a poor shot. But set-pieces worked for us - Justin Kluivert and Mike van der Hoorn both scored from corners. Dodi Hamzah continued to struggle - he constantly got into right positions, but Willem II goalkeeper Menno Vink was superb with his saves. Francesco Antonucci got our only clear cut chance in 40’, but that too was saved. I was still satisfied with possession and good attacking play in first half, and we settled with 2-0 lead after break and concentrated on keeping possession. our good shooting accuracy (20/12) was defied by good efforts of Willem II goalkeeper Dejan Meleg was outstanding - two of his corners resulted in a goal We got two good results in January, but it’s best to forget sc Heerenveen game as good as possible. But luckily for us, the other teams struggled with their games too and we held on to top position in Eredivisie table. Eredivisie Healthy four-point lead in the table, but competition is still fierce. In the bottom of the table both Vitesse and FC Twente are fighting against relegation and look too good to drop down, so VVV and Willem II are in danger zone as well. Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 13, Dodi Hamzah 6, Lucas Andersen 6 Ajax assists: Dejan Meleg 10, Ricardo van Rhijn 7, Justin Kluivert 5 Transfer window was fairly quiet in January, but two major moves went through. AS Monaco came in the end of January and made a bid for Darren Sidoel. I sold him for £7m + clauses (possibly up to £8m) and recalled young right-back Tom Drost from ADO Den Haag to replace him. Fans were a little bit upset about this transfer, but I struggled to offer him enough playing time. Although his average rating was superb, he wasn’t really centre-back (not good enough in the air) and not really right-back (not technical enough). With great prospect in Tom Drost I feel it was a good move to the club. ADO Den Haag lost another player - their midfield playmaker Danny Bakker went to Derby County for £4m. Decent fee for a player like that, but of course for ADO he was a key midfielder and they’re worse without him. Other transfers were less significant in terms of transfer fee.