Draakon

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About Draakon

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  1. Send me pm then. I'll try to answer.
  2. 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.
  3. December 2020 02.12.2020 - Ajax - FC Kobenhavn 1:1 (Champions League Group E) - 85. Dirk van Grinsven - 22. Lacina Traore - we needed a win to progress from Champions League group and at the same time hoped that SLB could defeat PSG in the other game. Dragisa Gudelj was suspended for this game and Francesco Antonucci with Justin Kluivert got a chance to impress. We got our first good chance in 10’, but Justin Kluivert missed his opportunity. FC Kobenhavn scored after indirect free kick and it was a frustrating goal against the run of play. We had a good possession in the first half, but couldn’t convert it into chances and things didn’t improve much after half-time break. With frustrating growing, we finally got a goal after substitute Dirk van Grinsven headed it in from corner. Francesco Antonucci got an excellent chance in 89’, but his shot hit the post. So we had to settle with frustrating draw. A small consolation is the fact that PSG did win their last game, so our result really didn’t matter and despite collecting 8 points we finished 3rd in the group. we were more attacking side in this game, with 22 shots during this match we should have used our opportunities better - we wasted two clear cut chances that we got and that’s the difference between a win and a draw 05.12.2020 - Vitesse Arnhem - Ajax 2:3 (ED) - 27. pen. Sheran Yeini, 50. Daan Thomassen - 41. Mike van der Hoorn, 53. Amin Younes, 67. pen. Dejan Meleg - Vitesse Arnhem are the most underachieving club in Eredivisie, sitting at the bottom of the table, despite investing net £3m into new players during Summer. We went to this game without Nicolai Boilesen (suspended). Dodi Hamzah looked tired before game and so Thokozani Mpengesi started in attack. On the other hand - Frenkie de Jong returned from loan spell at Malmö FF and we had one more option in midfield because of that. Vitesse put up a good fight despite their recent poor form. We wasted our first chance in 17’- Andersen put a good pass into box, but Meleg sent it wide. Nathan Leyder fouled Vitesse player in our box and Vitesse took the lead from penalty. We equalized before half-time - good corner combination found Mike van der Hoorn completely unmarked in front of goal and he calmly put it into the net. But 2nd half started poorly. Luciano Slagveer drew three defenders to him and found Daan Thomassen completely unmarked in our six yard box. Our response was quick and Amin Younes equalized again. I was unsure as a manager and often changed tactics and tweaked orders from sidelines and that probably didn’t help too. In the end, all three points belonged to us. Dejan Meleg converted a penalty after Lucas Andersen was tripped inside the area and Vitesse had no answer to that. Not happy how this game turned out, but win is a huge relief and I’m satisfied with three points. we created four clear cut chances and I’m happy with attacking play defense was surprisingly poor - we conceded three clear cut chances and that’s way too many Dejan Meleg was outstanding in this particular game - a goal and assist to him 11.12.2020 - Sparta Rotterdam - Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 7. Dejan Meleg, 41. Darren Sidoel - we continued our winning streak against Sparta Rotterdam. I had to keep my promise and start both Darren Sidoel and Francesco Antonucci. Not exactly ‘weakened team’ as our fans claimed, but we won nonetheless. Sparta started well and forced a good save from Jeffrey de Lange in around 3’ mark. But we scored the first goal - Dodi Hamzah started attacking move with excellent through ball, Dejan Meleg hit the post, but followed up himself and put it into goal in second attempt. Good goal, but could have been more clinical, especially some half an hour later when he wasted another chance from open position. We slowly got the game under our control and Darren Sidoel scored our first goal - Francesco Antonucci gave assist to that one (another great through ball). We looked very good in the first half, although finishing could have been better. Sparta tried to be more attacking after break, but couldn’t pose a real threat. On the other hand we couldn’t find any good counter attacks to break their pressure. In the end a decent 2:0 win from away game and I’m satisfied with that. it’s great to see clean sheet again, we’ve not had too many of those games; but we’ve earned it as we allowed Sparta only one half-chance; Jeffrey de Lange still had to make some great saves though good attacking creativity and through balls into area worked very well, but we missed some chances and finishing could definitely be better With 17 games now played we’ve collected 36 points. Not exactly what we need (the aim should be 40 or higher), but this winning streak has kept us in contention and confidence is growing within squad. I’ve made some decisions concerning player contracts - Dodi Hamzah and Thokozani Mpengesi were offered new contracts while Amin Younes was not. While he’s very good player for Eredivisie level, I believe it’s time for him to move on - he’s 27 now, expecting big salary, but he’s not consistent first team player and not a tutor material either, so it’s better to offer Justin Kluivert more playing time and make some space into squad. 19.12.2020 - PEC Zwolle - Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 8. Thulani Serero, 56. Justin Kluivert, 90.+2 Dirk van Grinsven - Carel Eiting was suspended for this game (we’ve really picked our yellow cards fast in this season!), but Zwolle had more trouble with injuries and their best striker Laurent Depoitre is sidelined with broken foot until Spring. Despite that they’ve done very well so far and find themselves in the middle of table near Christmas. Our first goal came from nowhere - Thulani Serero took a shot from 19 meters and that landed in top corner - outstanding strike and obviously disheartening for Zwolle. But we couldn’t keep hold of the ball and struggled to control midfield for most of the first half. Zwolle got their best chance around 26’ - Mike van der Hoorn covered offside and Sam Hendriks got the ball in our area, completely alone, but somehow sent his shot well wide. It was our turn to waste a chance in 41’ - Dodi Hamzah hesitated until defense arrived to block his shot. We were better in 2nd half though. Justin Kluivert headed in indirect free kick and then Jorri van der Geest was sent off after receiving his 2nd yellow card. After that, the last half hour was easy. Good work by Justin Kluivert on our left flank created us two more clear cut chances - Thokozani Mpengesi missed the first one, but Dirk van Grinsven scored from the other in injury time. Confident win and I’m pleased with both result and performance. After very difficult October and November I’m really satisfied with how this month turned out. Four wins in a row and we’re back in the first place. More importantly - tactics are working again, defense is better and confidence is high. Eredivisie Top of the table is still very tight, 5-6 teams are serious contenders for the title and we’re at the top merely because of goal difference. Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 13, Dodi Hamzah 5, Lucas Andersen 5, Dirk van Grinsven 5 Ajax assists: Dejan Meleg 7, Ricardo van Rhijn 6, Justin Kluivert 4
  4. November 2020 04.11.2020 - Ajax - Paris Saint-Germain 2:1 (Champions League Group E) - 44. and 59. Deyovaisio Zeefuik - 16. Bilal Ould-Chikh - after PSV match we needed a good result and had nothing to lose against PSG. We found ourselves behind after Ould-Chikh scored from indirect free kick, but we played very well against much bigger side and in the end of the first half Zeefuik scored from a corner and at half-time it was 1-1. It was a deserved goal for us and spirits were high in the dressing room. Set pieces proved to be the key when Zeefuik headed in another goal - this time from indirect free kick. Game looked much more under our control in second half, but the last ten minutes were action-packed. PSG hit crossbar from corner and then our own corner almost ended with a goal, but the ball was hacked off the line. Substitute Thokozani Mpengesi had a clear cut chance in 85’ but missed target. Despite that we held onto 2-1 win and it was a true upset in this group. Dejan Meleg and Deyovaisio Zeefuik brought this win, building both goals between them we looked very good defensively and gave PSG only one half-chance during ninety minutes 07.11.2020 - VVV Venlo - Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 6. Dejan Meleg - newly-promoted VVV have started their season well and find themselves in 11th position at the moment. I dropped Dodi Hamzah for Mpengesi in this match, because Hamzah haven’t been able to maintain his goalscoring form in recent matches. We started well and Dejan Meleg scored a good goal after good cross by Amin Younes. In 30’ long pass by Thulani Serero found Mpengesi completely alone against VVV goalkeeper, but young striker couldn’t finish. We had a good first half, but had only one goal to show for it. But after half-time we couldn’t continue as well - we gave away initiative and couldn’t create anything dangerous. 1-0 lead is always a bit shaky, so I’m not happy with so narrow win and against a team like VVV we should have done better. although our attack lacked creativity, our defense was fairly good and we didn’t give VVV any real chances to score shooting accuracy should have been better (19/6) 21.11.2020 - Ajax - FC Twente 0:1 (ED) - 22. John Smit - after international break we had some tired legs in the squad, but no injuries and all players were fit enough. We allowed FC Twente surprise us with a counter in 22’ - Mike van der Hoorn missed a run by Smit and young striker executed his 1-1 opportunity very well. Disappointing goal to concede and we never really got over it. We struggled in midfield and couldn’t create chances and FC Twente stood very well in defense and held things under our control. We had to accept very frustrating loss in front of home fans. lack of creativity was our biggest problem and I think I have to change something tactically or this just won’t work poor shooting continued (18/3); of course, it’s difficult to score when you have no real sight on goal, but 18/3 is pretty horrible accuracy 26.11.2020 - SLB - Ajax 2:0 (Champions League Group E) - 27. pen. Renato Sanchez, 49. Francisco Gallucci Otero - we didn’t hope to get much out of away game, so I told the lads to relax and take it easy, there were some tired legs after FC Twente game too, so I just picked my team based on fitness and sent them out. We started well and after holding off initial pressure by SLB we got a great counter in 21’ that ended with a clear cut chance, but Francesco Antonucci hit the post from narrow angle. SLB continued to control the midfield, but we defended well and our transitions were good when we got the ball. The first goal was unfortunate one - Justin Kluivert made unnecessary foul on the edge of area and penalty was converted by Sanchez. We had worked tirelessly in defense most of the half, but in the last minutes we were very close to equalizer - Noa Lang gave a long ball that found Antonucci in the box, but his shot went wide. A very clever corner combination in injury time gave a clear cut chance to Mike van der Hoorn, but his shot was saved by SLB goalkeeper. No wonder we went to dressing room in fairly high spirits despite being 0-1 down. But second half cooled our enthusiasm quickly - Gallucci Otero scored another goal from corner and it put SLB firmly in control for the rest of the match. We continued to play fairly well until the end and what I saw on the pitch was really encouraging, but we couldn’t change the result. Despite this loss I was happy about performance - tactics worked and the lads put in a great effort, so there’s a lot of positives to take from this game ahead of the last match in group stage. it could have been a very different game if our finishing were a bit better in the first half defensive work was impressive at time, we blocked 9 shots and got into right places in the last moments In the other match of the group FC Kobenhavn went to half-time with 2-0 lead over PSG, but then fell apart completely in the second half and finished with 2-5 defeat. So close. We now have to beat FC Kobenhavn in Amsterdam and hope that SLB defeats PSG in the other game. 28.11.2020 - Ajax - FC Groningen 3:0 (ED) - 14. Dejan Meleg, 43. Mike van der Hoorn, 74. Dodi Hamzah - FC Groningen, perhaps surprisingly, occupies the first place in Eredivisie table at the moment. They’ve had a very busy transfer window, buying and selling for £8,4m on both sides of the balance sheet. No major signings, but they’ve replaced half of their first team this Summer and as it shows, it has brought success so far. No wonder I approached to this game very carefully. Because of our poor start it was a true six-pointer for us and I know how dangerous FC Groningen attacking line in Charlison Benschop and Sheraldo Becker may be. I set my team up as I did in last Champions League encounter, playing more structured in terms of formation, but more creative with decisions where to move the ball and find chances. But the feared FC Groningen never really showed up. We controlled this game pretty much from kick-off until the final whistle, getting a lot of set pieces on the way and of these situations we were the most dangerous. Dejan Meleg started with an excellent free kick from 17 meters out that went to top corner, so Warner Hahn couldn’t save it. A truly wonderful strike and one of the candidates for the goal of the season, definitely. It also was his 50th league goal for Ajax. In the end of the half Mike van der Hoorn added another goal from indirect free kick and so we could go to half-time fairly relaxed spirits. In 2nd half we continued to control the game and Dodi Hamzah completed scoring with a header that went in off the bar. I was really happy about this goal as it ended his long draught and hopefully gives him some confidence back. In the end a very convincing victory and fans were rightfully delighted about both result and performance. 27 shots shows how dominant we were defensive line made superb job shutting FC Groningen down completely Dejan Meleg was outstanding - a wonderful goal from free kick and assist to van der Hoorn’s goal from him Nicolai Boilesen picked up his 5th yellow card and will be suspended in the next match against Vitesse November has been another mixed month for us. We started with a shock win over PSG and rather drab 1:0 defeating of VVV Venlo, but after international break the loss against FC Twente was our low point in this month. Not only result, but poor display, lack of creativity and ideas on the pitch was extremely worrying. But we came over this in plucky performance against SLB, despite that result, and 3:0 over FC Groningen shows we’re back on the right track. Eredivisie I don’t believe I’ve ever seen Eredivisie table so tightly contested in December. PSV got a poor defeat against Go Ahead Eagles and couldn’t put space between themselves and the rest of the pack. Also, don’t forget sc Heerenveen down the table - they have several games in hand to take the lead. At the bottom of the table Vitesse Arnhem are really struggling, despite replacing their manager early on. I wonder if they’ll be fighting against relegation in Spring. Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 11, Dodi Hamzah 5, Lucas Andersen 5 Ajax assists: Ricardo van Rhijn 6, Dejan Meleg 5
  5. October 2020 03.10.2020 - Ajax - FC Utrecht 5:0 (ED) - 2. Thulani Serero, 17. and 22. Lucas Andersen, 73. Dirk van Grinsven, 76. Thkozani Mpengesi - I tried to change things a little and started Hamzah in complete forward role in this game. After rather poor September this game against Utrecht was a real morale boost. Hamzah tried his luck from distance, shot was saved, but Thulani Serero scored from rebound and we were ahead after two minutes were played. And FC Utrecht never really recovered. Lucas Andersen added two more goals in quick succession. It was probably the best first half I’ve seen from us this season. Substitutes van Grinsven and Mpengesi added to scoreline in 2nd half to make it 5:0. I’m really happy for Mpengesi as he was starting to get troubled by his lack of goals. I’m happy with our good attacking play and amount of chances created Lucas Andersen, Ricardo van Rhijn and Justin Kluivert were exceptional Thokozani Mpengesi scored his first ever goal for Ajax Following international break saw Darren Sidoel earn his first cap for Holland. 16.10.2020 - AZ Alkmaar - Ajax 0:0 (ED) - we failed to maintain this sort of form over international break. Some of the players returned a bit tired and I rested van Rhijn, Boilesen, Andersen, Serero and Meleg. That was a mistake, in retrospective, but there are many players wanting more playing time and that was their chance to prove themselves - a chance they didn’t use well to my disappointment. AZ Alkmaar should have been an easy prey - underperforming team with no real left-back and goalkeeper (their best keeper is 17 years old lad from youth ranks). We started poorly and three dangerous free kicks in the first 15 minutes looked like we could be in trouble soon. The third one demanded a great save from de Lange. It wasn’t better in attacking department - we couldn’t get a shot in before 43’ and didn’t really test this youngster between sticks. Poor performance continued in 2nd half. Both teams got the chance for a winner in injury time. Thokozani Mpengesi sent a long shot against crossbar and then AZ got a clear cut chance in front of our goal, but poor shot from close range was easily held by de Lange. Considering this, I have to say we’re lucky to get away from Alkmaar with a draw, but I’m fuming about poor display and some of the individual performances were really below par. no real chances in attacking department, probably the worst display in domestic league Dodi Hamzah disappeared on the pitch, Noa Lang stood out with his poor passing in midfield and Dirk van Grinsven couldn’t create anything on the right flank we lost too many headers inside our own box and all AZ set pieces looked dangerous October brought the first managerial casualty. Vitesse board got enough of poor results and sacked Peter Bosz. 20.10.2020 - Paris Saint-Germain - Ajax 3:0 (Champions League Group E) - 21. Marco Verratti, 71. Breem Embolo, 73. Lucas Romero - I tested my “CL tactics” against PSG, but it didn’t exactly work out. Away game against PSG is probably the most difficult one in this group, and considering this we had a reasonably well first half. We got a couple of shots in and only Marco Verratti’s strike from the edge of the area was good enough to surprise de Lange. At half-time we were 0-1 behind, but there was some positives to show. We couldn’t keep it up in 2nd half and in short period of time PSG added two goals to their tally. Nicolai Boilesen wasn’t at his best, so I subbed him for Dragisa Gudelj, but that didn’t improve things. Gudelj got a quick yellow card and his missed interception allowed Breel Embolo to score from clear cut chance. Then Lucas Romero intercepted a backpass after some poor communication between van der Hoorn and de Lange and scored an easy finish. These two individual mistakes left their mark to otherwise decent performance. we had 10 shots in this game, and 3 half-chances, not a bad display and that means we were in the game left-back department didn’t look at their best in this match, Boilesen failed to impress and Gudelj made a costly mistake 33 individual mistakes also prove that while tactics was quite good, we were outmatched by individual skills; very difficult to overcome that Half of the group stage is over and we’re 3rd with 4 points from 3 games. Not bad, but we need a little bit extra to qualify. I suppose two wins from the last three games is necessary to do that. 25.10.2020 - Ajax - SC Cambuur 3:0 (ED) - 56. Dejan Meleg, 90. Amin Younes, 90.+1 Thokozani Mpengesi SC Cambuur is currently managed by my previous assistant Johan Mjällby and Mjällby is doing a really good work, holding 9th place with this small team at the moment. Boilesen failed me against PSG, so Dragisa Gudelj starts again in left-back position. Due to given promises I had to give Sidoel and Antonucci a place in starting line-up. On the other side there were Danny Rutte and Daan van Thiel - our players on loan at SC Cambuur, so it was interesting to see them in action. Unfortunately, it was another match that ended with good result, but rather poor performance. We weren’t leaking goals and our defense looked solid enough, but attacking game rarely created any chances. Our best and perhaps only good attack in the first half came in 14’ when both Meleg and Hamzah missed their opportunities in quick succession. That was it and I was unhappy with players in dressing room. Amin Younes came in for Kluivert and it changed the game. Younes’ cross found Dejan Meleg in the box and our best goalscorer sent a good shot into SC Cambuur goal. It was a narrow lead, but it was enough and when SC Cambuur finally started to attack in the final minutes to go for equalizer, they opened up their defense and were punished by another two goals. Francesco Antonucci and Amin Younes combined the first one and Mpengesi sent a strong header into goal in injury time. Good solid win in the end, but unconvincing game as a whole. despite poor football on display, we’ve got our defense in order and that’s our third Eredivisie game in a row without conceding a goal clean sheet aside, we should have been more aggressive and tackle harder - we gave SC Cambuur too much space in midfield and allowed too many dribbles substituting Kluivert for Younes was my best choice in this game - Younes instantly made an impact and changed the game Francesco Antonucci put in an impressive performance in midfield 28.10.2020 - NEC Nijmegen - Ajax 2:1 (Dutch Cup 3rd round) - 18. and 64. Yannick Boli - 3. Lucas Andersen - with some tired legs from previous game and Topper derby coming right up, I rested pretty much everybody that I could, but this time I probably cut a little bit too deep. We took an early lead - Andersen scored from corner; but after Dirk van Grinsven wasted his clear cut chance in 15’ we conceded a goal (central defense left Boli too much time and space) and what followed was our regular drab football. We controlled 58% of possession and took 18 shots (9 on target), but weren’t able to create good chances and never really looked fluid in attack. NEC Nijmegen, on the other hand, had a moment of brilliance in 64’. Yannick Boli took a long shot from 25 meters that landed in top corner. Outstanding shot out of nowhere and completely unstoppable for any goalkeeper. And despite putting NEC under pressure we never really came close to equalizing. I was furious about performance afterwards, in dressing room. And rightfully so. I’m starting to think that Hamzah and Mpengesi are just too young to lead the line and score goals consistently and having completely unexperienced strikers is our only difference compared to previous season. The only thing that did lift my mood a little bit is the fact that both PSV and Feyenoord stumbled in 3rd round as well and are out. Cup season proves to be as surprising as last time. And of course I’d be lot more smiling when we could return with a win over PSV in Saturday. Lucas Andersen was our creative force in midfield, but only his effort was not enough to save us; mediocre performances across the board from other players 18 years old central defender Donny Geerts made his debut for Ajax in 2nd half 31.10.2020 - PSV Eindhoven - Ajax 1:0 (ED) - 8. Joel Campbell - unfortunately, we couldn’t made up for cup loss against PSV. We allowed PSV to take early lead and Joel Campbell found himself unmarked in front of the goal very quickly. We tried to find equalizer for the rest of the match, but without success. Dejan Meleg had a great chance in the end of first half and substitute Justin Kluivert wasted his one-on-one opportunity in 74’, but finishing let us down. Disappointing defeat - we lack confidence and we concede too many easy goals, so no wonder we find ourselves struggling in the table. the result was probably a bit unlucky, as the game itself was very evenly contested and we actually had more shots on target we allowed PSV too many dribbles and made too many (21) individual defensive mistakes; Dragisa Gudelj being especially error-prone - there lie the reasons of our defeat Our form has been declining rapidly in October. We got the results in the beginning of the month and at least for a while it looked like we got our defense in order, but we got our ass kicked by PSG and then finished October with defeat in cup and disappointing loss against PSV. The most difficult challenge is that we don’t have in-form players who could create chances and score goals, and whilst scoring is difficult, we concede poor goals in defense and our game is full of individual mistakes. I haven’t been in a situation like this for at least a couple of seasons, so turning this around is a real challenge. Eredivisie Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 9, Lucas Andersen 5, Dodi Hamzah 4 Ajax assists: Ricardo van Rhijn 5, Dirk van Grinsven 3, Dodi Hamzah 3
  6. For a couple of seasons it's been between £200m-£250m bank balance and around £200m transfer funds. In my experience (from previous FM versions as well) it's not going to increase much. If profits maintain positive cash flow the board just increase dividend payouts. If I could take part of shareholders AGM I imagine I'd be quite popular
  7. Squad Update 2020 ...continuing Dejan Meleg The most reliable goalscorer in the past year and our number one set piece taker. Dirk van Grinsven The quickest player in my team. Good team player and his crossing has improved, so you can say that he's a classic winger. Movement on the pitch is his weaker side though. Justin Kluivert 21-years old left winger, although it seems he's been around forever. Good overall, but not exceptional in any area. Could be quicker and more technical. Seems to score enough goals in Eredivisie level despite that. Amin Younes More skilled than Justin Kluivert, but less hard-working and more selfish too. Selecting between those two is not always easy. Dodi Hamzah Sensation of the season so far. I use him as complete forward in my formation. Very strong in the air, but good with ball at his feet too. Can score and looks composed on the pitch. And all that with only 18 years of age and ambition to drive him further. Thokozani Mpengesi He has the talent, but needs time to fully develop his skills. Good in the air and anticipation is very good, but skills with a ball and physical ability needs to be higher. Used as false nine in my formation.
  8. Squad Update 2020 Not too many changes compared to last season, but a few new faces and it's always to see how youngsters have developed in the past 12 months. Jeffrey de Lange Actually really undervalued player. One of the best keepers for sure in Eredivisie. Not exceptional in any area, but doesn't make mistakes often. Ricardo van Rhijn Team captain is still on the verge of Holland national team and competition is fierce for our right-back position. Darren Sidoel Somehow plays better than his ratings should allow. Natural centre-back, but due to poor jumping I use him in right defense. Mike van der Hoorn Deyovaisio Zeefuik Good defender, but could be a little bit better physically. Nicolai Boilesen His inconsistency and defensive errors have given a chance to younger Dragisa Gudelj and Boilesen needs to perform better to stay in our first team. Dragisa Gudelj The Serb has developed nicely. Very good decisions on the pitch. Needs improvement technically, in order to support attacking moves. Carel Eiting Another player who's been working well on the training ground. I've tested him as DPL too, but in my formation I need support to defensive line from DMC and so it's more safe option. Nathan Leyder His start of the season was interrupted by injury. Versatile player, can replace central defenders as well. Thulani Serero Experienced South African midfielder is slowly starting to look for a replacement. Noa Lang Has not improves as much as I'd liked, but there's still time for him. Lucas Andersen Stayed for another year. Despite interest from Newcastle in Summer. Francesco Antonucci Ambitious lad and demanding more playing time from Andersen. Technically the best player in the squad. Lasse Schöne Veteran midfielder and I have to say that finally his minutes are decreasing and it's probably his last season in Ajax. I'll get the most out of him as a tutor in those months.
  9. September 2020 11.09.2020 - MVV Maastricht - Ajax 2:1 (ED) - 1. Godfried Frimpong, 84. Indomar Grigorie - 89. Dodi Hamzah - we had a few tired players after international break, so Nicolai Boilesen and Thulani Serero were rested, considering coming Champions League match too. Perhaps because of that, but probably because Sezgin departure, we had to take our first defeat in 15 league games from MVV. MVV is a rich club, enjoying their huge funds from sugar daddy owner, but not spending those funds very smart. They’ve signed £7m worth of new players and some of them for ridiculous faces - two strikers (moderately good according to Eredivisie standards) for £45,000 p/w salaries each, for example. Mid-table finish is expected of them, but at least they managed to get all three points against us. We were shocked by first goal before we even got a touch on ball. Frimpong god a clear cut chance after 24 seconds of football and I was fuming at the sidelines. We played decently well after that early goal and were more attacking side, but of course it was easy for MVV to stand compactly and wait for our mistakes. We had plenty of half-chances, but lacked this clinical final pass or individual brilliance and attacking players looked to adjust to Thokozani Mpengesi up front. So, when we started to take more risks, MVV scored another goal and that was the game for us. Substitute Dodi Hamzah scored a goal in his debut game, but that was a small consolation. Disappointing defeat, because MVV is a team we should beat easily and that loss hurts our league position. 16.09.2020 - Ajax - SLB 3:3 (Champions League Group E) - 34. Dodi Hamzah, 38. pen. Dejan Meleg, 75. Deyovaisio Zeefuik - 14. and 25. Jose Augusto, 61. Nicolas Gaitan - Champions League season started with home game against SLB - champions from two years ago and finalists from last season. I sent out Dodi Hamzah in first eleven after his goal against MVV, but otherwise I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. But the best it wasn’t, at least at first. We were under pressure quickly and two goals came from glaring defensive errors by Zeefuik and Nicolai Boilesen respectively. We looked in trouble and I knew if we keep going like this it will be 0-4 or 0-5 in the end of the game. So I made some tactical changes (structured shape, forget overlapping, no roaming) and it worked well. Dodi Hamzah scored a great goal to initiate our come-back. Then Lucas Andersen was fouled inside the box in free-kick situation and Dejan Meleg’s penalty equalized score before half-time. We went to break in much higher spirit and second half looked better than the first. Error by Thulani Serero allowed SLB their third clear cut chance - Jeffrey de Lange parried the first shot, but Gaitan was first on rebound (Ricardo van Rhijn perhaps a little bit slow to react in this situation). Our equalizer came 15 minutes later - scapegoat Zeefuik scored from corner. In 85’ Thulani Serero denied a great goal when his shot from the edge of area hit crossbar, so in the end it was 3:3 and both teams probably had to agree it was a fair result. Obviously a great game for fans to watch. I’m happy to get our tactics right to save this match, and 18 years old Dodi Hamzah is quickly making name for himself. But our defense looks really error-prone and we have to improve in this department. Zeefuik and Boilesen got a serious warning about their first team position if they don’t improve quickly 19.09.2020 - Ajax - NAC Breda 2:0 (ED) - 59. Thulani Serero, 65. Darren Sidoel - NAC Breda is struggling and will struggle even more during this season. They’re predicted to struggle against relegation and they’re ragged with injuries - no less than 6 players sidelined and injuries have halved their attacking lines the most. Also, they’ve not recovered from previous games and look tired even before our match. I predicted a comfortable win and chose to make two changes - Deyovaisio Zeefuik was dropped and Darren Sidoel (who’s usually playing right-back) is tested in central defense. And Justin Kluivert got his chance to prove himself on the left flank. But the game didn’t go as smoothly as I expected. We played a very drab first half. Breda parked the bus expertly and our best chance was Dodi Hamzah header in 33’ that hit crossbar. Changes were needed and I sent in Francesco Antonucci and Dirk van Grinsven in the 2nd half, and perhaps it was my tactical decision, or perhaps fatigue got the best of NAC Breda players, but we broke through. Antonucci sent a good ball to van Rhijn in Breda box. Our captain hit the post, but Thulani Serero was first to rebound. Six minutes later Sidoel added another goal from corner and that secured us all three points. Francesco Antonucci had a great chance in the end of the match, but his shot was parried by goalkeeper. I’m satisfied with result, but not exactly with performance. Dodi Hamzah didn’t continue his streak of good performances, Dejan Meleg looked poor on the right flank and our first half was below par against such opponent in home stadium. good defense was the key word, we didn’t allow Breda to take any shots and finally managed to keep a clean sheet our own shooting could have been a lot better - shots 19/5 is not good enough 22.09.2020 - FC Emmen - Ajax 0:2 (Dutch Cup 2nd round) - 30. Donovan Jap A Joe (og), 87. Dodi Hamzah - Dutch Cup opener for us was the 2nd round match against Jupiler League side FC Emmen. As usual, substitutes got their chance to impress…. and failed miserably. We got the best chance of the match in 15’, but Thokozani Mpengesi shot was saved by goalkeeper. Mpengesi looks stressed about his lack of goals and I hoped he could break this deadlock against smaller sides, but despite being fairly active, he failed to score once again. Our first half as a whole looked drab and we didn’t create enough chances. Finally we were helped by FC Emmen players - clumsy defense in corner situation ended with poor clearance that rebounded into goal and was accounted to Donovan Jap A Joe (yes, that’s a real name, apparently). Jeffrey de Lange made his best save in 41’ to parry the most dangerous shots from opponents. Poor display continued in second half - we continued to dominate possession, but attacking play lacked creativity and clear cut chances. Substitute Dodi Hamzah made an impact to game and his two good attacks in final five minutes resulted in one goal, showing again that he’s in-form striker (especially compared to Mpengesi). Final score looks OK, but performance was unimpressive. Individual performances were also unremarkable and as it was a chance for several players to prove themselves, most of them failed to do so. Defense looked solid though, and I’m happy with clean sheet. 26.09.2020 - Feyenoord Rotterdam - Ajax 3:3 (ED) - 19. Rashaan Fernandes, 34. Jesper Drost, 90. Darren Sidoel (og) - 28. Amin Younes, 46. Dejan Meleg, 59. Dodi Hamzah - Nathan Leyder is back in training after his knock and we’re in full fitness, but so are Feyenoord. They stunned PSV at De Kuip in August, so we’re ready for a tough fixture. We conceded first, after some very passive defense and poor marking by Nicolai Boilesen that allowed Feyenoord the first chance. We equalized after van Rhijn gave a good cross to Amin Younes at the far post. We looked like we got a grip on the game, but then allowed Jesper Drost to score - Jeffrey de Lange made a rare mistake by rushing out and not getting the ball. Meleg had a chance to equalize in 40’, but his shot was saved and half-time ended with 1-2. We spent half-time talking it over and started second half excellently. Dodi Hamzah found Meleg in the box and right winger scored to equalize. And after de Lange had parried another Feyenoord shot, Dodi Hamzah gave us 3-2 lead. We looked really strong and in control and Feyenoord looked in trouble, but unfortunately we lost it all in the final minute of the match. Substitute Darren Sidoel made a poor interception and sent the ball into our goal to give Feyenoord unexpected and undeserved draw. Very disappointing ending to the match and heads were down in dressing room, although stats were fairly equal between teams and Feyenoord probably felt they deserved to get something from this performance. I’m pleased with fighting spirit and with the fact that we came from behind twice defense was awful at times, individual errors were behind our conceded goals, we made total 31 mistakes and that’s a huge number Dodi Hamzah is proving to be a real talent, a goal and assist to him against Feyenoord is a great turnout for any 18 years old striker 29.09.2020 - FC Kobenhavn - Ajax 1:3 (Champions League Group E) - 11. Lacina Traore - 74. Dirk van Grinsven, 90.+1 and 90.+4 Francesco Antonucci - I had to rest Ricardo van Rhijn and Dodi Hamzah in this match, because they looked too tired after Feyenoord game. FC Kobenhavn were unknown and we didn’t really know what to expect. But we found ourselves behind in 11 minutes after some poor defensive decisions which started from missed tackle by Darren Sidoel. We struggled to get good chances, although possession and shots were fairly equal in the match. And Lacina Traore is a tall and powerful striker and real handful in the air. Every set piece and long ball forward was a threat. In 2nd half our substitutes made a change to the game and something happened with Kobenavn players - nervousness and complacency creeped into them while our determination to equalize grew. We found a goal in 74’ - van Grinsven scored from our first clear cut chance. Kobenhavn reacted to equalizer and tried to find a winner in the last fifteen minutes, but that backfired - substitute Francesco Antonucci finished our counter-attack in injury time calmly and three minutes later made it 3:1 to final score. Great come-back after scoring the first goal and I’m happy that both substitutions made impact to the match. despite contributing to attacks, Darren Sidoel was our weak link in defense again, making 7 individual mistakes we played attacking football and got 11 out of 20 shots on target, but failed to find good chances before the final 15 minutes of the game Francesco Antonucci suffered a bruised head and have to skip our next match September has not been as good as I hoped for. Opponents in Eredivisie are getting more difficult and our defense is still very error-prone. MVV match was the low point and I didn’t expect to lose it, but we were clearly overplayed there. And in the wins we had, our football still needed much improvement. Last minute goal against Feyenoord might be considered unlucky, but that affected morale and put us behind PSV by two points. Things look a little bit better in Europe. We fought well against SLB and injury time goals gave us valuable win over Kobenhavn. Can’t complain. Eredivisie Top of the table looks very contested - PSV is in pole position at the moment, FC Groningen and sc Heerenveen are still in the mix. At the bottom of the table Vitesse are still looking for their first win and AZ also look really underachieving. Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 8, Dodi Hamzah 4 Ajax assists: Ricardo van Rhijn 4
  10. August 2020 07.08.2020 - Ajax - PEC Zwolle 4:1 (ED) - and 88. Dejan Meleg, 60. Nathan Leyder - 61. Laurent Depoitre The beginning of Eredivisie season finds us in trouble. Ugur Sezgin picked up a knock in pre-season friendlies and is sidelined for a couple of weeks with groin strain. It is olympic year and both Thokozani Mpengesi and Francesco Antonucci are away in Tokyo with their national teams. That means we’ll be without our strikers until at least August 15th, perhaps even a week longer. So, nothing else to do than put veteran Lasse Schöne to striker position and hope for the best. The rest of the team is fit and ready for the start of the season. PEC Zwolle are minnows in Eredivisie - pre-season predictions put them 17th and their manager has been in charge for only 6 days. But they’ve loaned Joe van der Sar, Jorri van der Geest and Hein Yilmaz from us for this season and it’s interesting to see how they’ll do. First half was not the most convincing, but we scored from chances that we got and two goals by Dejan Meleg gave us 2-0 lead. Second half was much better. Nathan Leyder added another goal from corner and then we made our only mistake of the game - Nicolai Boilesen gave a clumsy pass back that was intercepted by Depoitre and that was a gift to Zwolle. In the end Dejan Meleg completed his hat-trick and so the final numbers were 4-1. good shooting accuracy (16/10) was enough to gave us four goals, although Lasse Schöne couldn’t really fill the single striker role we made 35 dribbles - evidence of our individual skills against Zwolle players Joe van der Sar and Jorri van der Geest put in a solid performances for PEC Zwolle despite the result 12.08.2020 - Go Ahead Eagles - Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 31. Finn Stokkers - 14. Justin Kluivert - I made three changes to squad, to rotate players and keep some key men fresh for sc Heerenveen match. Darren Sidoel, Noa Lang and Justin Kluivert started. Pre-match week saw John Heitinga taking charge of Go Ahead Eagles - he left Helmond Sport to raise into the ranks of Eredivisie managers. We scored first goal from corner, but early signs showed we’re vulnerable and at our best. Long cross almost surprised both Sidoel and de Lange, but ball was headed against crossbar by Eagles striker. Jeffrey de Lange had to show his skills in 29’ and parry two shots in a row from close range. Inevitable finally happened in 31’ when Deyovaisio Zeefuik missed his header and Finn Stokkers used his chance well to equalize. I have to say we were lucky to be equal at half-time and second half wasn’t much better. We couldn’t create chances and our defense looked awful. Go Ahead almost scored a winner in 85’, but another shot hit the post and so we escaped with a draw. I was furious at players after this game - Go Ahead Eagles are minnows compared to us and we should have done a lot better. Not only result, but performance as well was completely unacceptable. Not good at all to drop points so early in the season. our shooting was poor (13/3) and we almost didn’t tackle at all defending was atrocious at times and Deyovaisio Zeefuik was the one to blame for the goal 15.08.2020 - Ajax - sc Heerenveen 2:0 (ED) - 5. Dejan Meleg, 31. Dirk van Grinsven - after poor result against Eagles it was clear that another game with Lasse Schöne as our striker will not do. I started Dejan Meleg in that role, because Ugur Sezgin was still not fit and Dirk van Grinsven moved to right flank. sc Heerenveen finished 2nd last season and they’re solid candidates to top three finish this time as well, so not a team to underestimate. Meleg instantly made an impact, intercepting a throw in and using his chance to score a flyer. Half an hour later Dirk van Grinsven’s header made it 2:0 and that was good enough for the win. sc Heerenveen got their best chance after half time break, but Dragisa Gudelj reached back on time to block Ryan Babel’s shot. we had better part of possession, but didn’t took too many risks and so settled with 2:0 scoreline we had 15 corners - evidently we have to start using those set-pieces better in the future young midfielder Pieter Stekelenburg made his debut for Ajax in 2nd half 22.08.2020 - Ajax - Willem II Tilburg 2:0 (ED) - 11. Lucas Andersen, 18. Amin Younes - Ugur Sezgin is finally back in full training (although lacking match fitness) and ready to start against Willem II. Thokozani Mpengesi was also back from Olympics. I dropped Justin Kluivert after his rather quiet performance against Heerenveen and Amin Younes took his place. Willem II looked very tired after their previous game just three days ago and couldn’t put up a real fight. We scored our first goal from excellent counter and soon it was 2:0 - goal by Amin Younes. Plenty of chances followed, but couple of good saves by their goalkeeper kept the score respectable for our opponents. Perhaps we should have finished with better efficiency, but actually the game was very well under our control and Willem II didn’t really have a chance to score. we played better than scoreline shows, controlling the match easily - 81% passing accuracy and 31 dribbles are just a few numbers to show that Dejan Meleg and Lucas Andersen were exceptional, creating chances and participating in almost every attack we took 4 yellow cards - perhaps referee favoured Willem II a little, but in such a match it is by far too many Thokozani Mpengesi made his debut for Ajax (although didn’t have much impact in 2nd half) After that match, three of our players (Ricardo van Rhijn, Darren Sidoel, Ugur Sezgin) received invitation to Holland national team. Champions League draw was also made and we were seeded 4th in this draw (dropping down from 3rd seed from last couple of seasons). But despite that the draw was rather favourable for us - we’ll go against PSG, SLB and Kobenhavn. Could have been much worse and 3rd place looks like our minimum target. If we perform well against bigger teams we might even have a chance. 29.08.2020 - ADO Den Haag - Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 4. Ugur Sezgin, 83. pen. Dejan Meleg - Francesco Antonucci returned from Olympics and we’re back to full squad. ADO Den Haag is difficult opponent, especially in Kyocera stadium. Bookies put them in 5th position in pre-season predictions, they’ve spent around £3m on new players and additionally bolstered their squad with three our loanees (Sergio Alleyne, Tom Drost and Rene Timmer). So I expected a very tough match and that’s what we did get. We scored an early goal - good strike by Sezgin - and it took ADO a little bit by surprise. But they recovered quickly and Jeffrey de Lange had to make his first save of the night in 7’. ADO looked very dangerous from corners and they got several of them. There was panic in our box two or three times and desperate clearances avoided the worst. In 33’ Odion Ighalo got a chance to equalize and Jeffrey de Lange had to save us again and I started to get more worried. We finished first half with 1-0 lead, but we didn’t look convincing at all. ADO had 10 shots in the first half, 5 of them on target and our numbers were only 2 and 1 respectively. Lucky to hold the lead in such display. We tried to improve in 2nd half. Amin Younes had a chance in 57’, but his header went over. We didn’t create enough chances, but at least we got our defense more less in order. In 82’ substitute Thokozani Mpengesi initiated a move that resulted with penalty. Marvin Zeegelaar tripped Dejan Meleg from behind and, being the last man, saw straight red card for professional foul. After Meleg converted his penalty this game was decided. But despite winning 2:0 against difficult opponent in away match, I’m not satisfied with performance. We were lucky to get a win from this match and, similarly with Go Ahead game, we looked so much worse in away game than we had been at home. we lost too many duels, both in tackling and heading department; lost midfield and allowed ADO to dictate tempo, dribble with ball, create chances and put our defense under pressure; allowing 14 shots (6 on target) is far too many, we only had 5 shots and 2 of them on target (but two goals from them, so finishing was clinical) Start of the season has been fairly good for us. Four wins from five games and 13 points is not bad. Away games have been a struggle so far and our performances against Go Ahead and ADO Den Haag have not been very encouraging. On the other hand, a win over sc Heerenveen is a very good result. Dejan Meleg have scored 6 goals and he’s been the most creative player as well, setting up 6 clear-cut chances. Eredivisie All big teams have started strong and top of the table doesn’t offer surprises. I’m usually adding transfer update to my August review, but not this time. The reason being that after Arkadiusz Milik’s transfer there hasn’t been any major moves in Eredivisie. A lot of player movement between Eredivisie mid-table teams (FC Groningen, AZ Alkmaar, Vitesse, FC Twente etc.), but transfer fees have been around £1-2m. In the last day of transfer window Arsenal swooped in and came for Ugur Sezgin with strong intent to lure this wonderkid to Emirates stadium. I bargained a lot, but finally settled with £19m fee + clauses (potentially up to £23,5m). That’s a big blow to our ambitions in Champions League, but I couldn’t have kept him more than a year or two longer anyway. I recalled young Dodi Hamzah from Sparta Rotterdam to cover after Sezgin’s departure. Hopefully Mpengesi and Hamzah can prove their talent in this season. Other than two big sales from us, it was a fairly unremarkable transfer window.
  11. July 2020 25.07.2020 - Ajax - Go Ahead Eagles 2:0 (Dutch Super Cup) - 9. Lucas Andersen, 52. Dejan Meleg Go Ahead Eagles had a real Cinderella story in the last season and their cup win brought them against us in Super Cup game. After gaining much recognition and finishing 7th in Eredivisie last season they’re predicted to come 13th this season by pundits, but good look at their players betrays that in truth they will probably fight for relegation and will do OK to stay in Eredivisie at the end of the season. Their striker department look interesting and have some promise - they had several guys scoring 10+ goals in last season and those lads were between 22-24 years of age - but rest of the team is below par and they haven’t made any significant transfers in Summer. That’s why, although we were in the middle of pre-season and all players weren’t match fit yet I predicted an easy win in Super Cup match. And so it was. We controlled the game from start to finish and it was very one-sided. Poor finishing prevented complete demolition of Go Ahead. Arkadiusz Milik was unusually poor and he wasted three opportunities himself, but after Dejan Meleg scored our second goal from corner our win was secure. very good performance and creative attack - we had 32 shots (15 on target) poor finishing - only one goal from 6 clear cut chances I’ve turned down several offers from other clubs - AS Monaco, Real Sociedad and Tottenham. In July Holland FA offered me managerial position of national team, but I had to decline this too. Gert Heerkes accepted it after that and so Go Ahead Eagles lost the manager who had offered them such a wonderful season. I also had to make a tough decision and accept Newcastle’s bid for Arkadiusz Milik. Although great striker he’s now 26 years old and it’s the last moment to make a step up to more difficult leagues. Lately my coaching staff have started to rate Ugur Sezgin better than Milik. I also offered Sezgin a new contract and he expects to be key player to remain in Ajax, so I already imagine unhappiness about first team chances between those two. Money is also an issue. I don’t want to pay over £30,000 p/w to any player and Milik earns that after very difficult negotiations. His contract will end in 2022 and I can’t extend it for less than £40,000 p/week, so this Summer is the last possible time to get any decent fee for his services. That all combined made me sell him. Transfer was agreed to £12,5m + clauses (possibly up to £14m). His replacement in Ajax this season will be Thokozani Mpengesi. Interesting to see what this South African striker really is capable of. I also allowed Rayan El Azrak and Azor Matusiwa to leave, as they were not able to make it into first team. El Azrak landed in Club Brügge for £925k+clauses and Azor Matusiwa to AZ Alkmaar for £675k+clauses. They’re both good players and any Eredivisie club would do well to get them, but they were surplus in my talented squad. For once my dealings in transfer market are supported by fans. Eredivisie transfer window as a whole has been very quiet this Summer and there haven’t been any major moves. Teams like Willem II and Sparta struggle to avoid their best young home-grown players from being poached by foreign clubs, but no big offers for players from PSV and Feyenoord. We also currently lack players that could attract really big clubs. Besides Milik only Lucas Andersen and Dejan Meleg are valued over £5m and although there are clubs showing their interest from time to time there haven’t been any serious moves to lure them away from Ajax. Players in last year of contract Thokozani Mpengesi - I really want to keep him in long term, but talks about his new contract broke down as his agent refused to back down from ridiculously low minimum release fee clause. I hope to get his signature in this fall, even if it means I have to get rid of this agent Lasse Schöne - resolute Danish midfielder will be 35 years old in the end of this season and it might turn out to be his last. he has excellent mental stats (professionalism, pressure, big matches), good creativity and free kick ability. He still has one year of good tutoring left to get the best out from our midfield prospects, but after that I can’t offer him first team role in his contract, and without tutoring role it might be better to give his place for next generation. Schöne looks like a decent coach and I might offer him a place in U-19 staff Amin Younes - in so many Summers I’ve thought about if I should hold onto this rotation winger or not. He’s had good games and he offers covers on both right and left wings, but as Justin Kluivert and Dirk van Grinsven get better, his role will diminish. Unless Dejan Meleg is sold, Younes will probably be out of the team next Summer With 20 players in first team squad we’ve got a lot of talented youngsters loaned out. GK - Joe van der Sar, Bob Leeflang, Sven Keller DR - Tom Drost, Raymond Bouwhuis DC: Navajo Bakboord, Sergio Alleyne DC: Hein Yilmaz, Danny Rutte, Fatih Celik DL: - (our weakest position in terms of prospects) DMC: - MC: Jorri van der Geest MCa: Frenkie de Jong AMR: Rene Timmer, Chelton Mühl AML: Daan van Thiel, Rayan Yilmaz ST: Dodi Hamzah, Melvin Jongeling
  12. Season In Review 2019/2020 Some positives and some negatives from this season. I used 24 players in the league and I can say that this was perhaps the best squad of our recent years - well balanced, good in depth and I was able to rotate without any doubts about players’ quality. Mental preparation, determination and motivation were very good and we stayed fit and avoided any serious injuries. Most of our players are 20-23 years old. Still couple of seasons away from their full potential, but already experienced and skillful enough. We looked very strong in Eredivisie since the first half of the season and our league title weren’t under real threat after Christmas. But our loss against Go Ahead Eagles in cup semi-final was a small shock and we couldn’t surprise in Europe too. In Champions League level we just lack skill and quality of bigger teams from bigger leagues. Golden Boot Nicolas Isimat-Mirin - PSV Eindhoven Urby Emanuelson - FC Utrecht Segun Owobowale - Feyenoord Rotterdam Best Goalscorer Majeed Waris - Feyenoord Rotterdam - 21 Niclas Füllkrug - FC Twente - 16 Arkadiusz Milik - Ajax - 14 Goalkeeper of the Year John van der Sar - PEC Zwolle/Ajax (yes, he actually had a great season in PEC Zwolle, despite playing only two average games for Ajax) Jeffrey de Lange - Ajax Joel Drommel - sc Heerenveen Young Player of the Year Justin Kluivert - Ajax Francesco Antonucci - Ajax Darren Sidoel - Ajax Manager’s Manager of the Year Me Gert Heerkes - Go Ahead Eagles Robert Maaskant - sc Heerenveen
  13. May 2020 03.05.2020 - Feyenoord Rotterdam - Ajax 1:1 (ED) - 42. pen. Jens Toornstra - 71. Justin Kluivert - teams looked well organised and motivated in this derby match and chances were rare. We were very unfortunate in the end of the first half. Referee awarded a very harsh penalty for a foul that Darren Sidoel didn’t actually make and Jens Toornstra scored from penalty. It was difficult for us to break Feyenoord defense in the second half, but after 70 minutes of football things changed. Glaring error by Feyenoord’s Leandro Bacuna allowed Ugur Sezgin to break through, but our striker made a poor shot. Fortunately Justin Kluivert was first to rebound and equalized. Ten minutes later we had a great counter and Sezgin created a very good chance for Dejan Meleg, but Kenneth Vermeer saved his shot. Some poor defending by Dragisa Gudelj allowed Feyenoord a clear cut chance in 89’, but Jeffrey de Lange managed to make a save a shot from point blank range. So, despite this unfair penalty teams were pretty equal and 1:1 looked like a fair result in the end. good shooting (17/10), although our shots were rather weak in times we defended well most of the time and won 83% of our tackles 10.05.2020 - FC Groningen - Ajax 2:3 (ED) - 21. Mathias Honsak, 45.+1 Juninho Bacuna - 7. Ugur Sezgin, 82. and 89. Justin Kluivert - we got two clear cut chances in the first ten minutes. Ugur Sezgin scored from the first, but sent the other well wide. And when Mathias Honsak equalized (wonderful dribble from our left, fooling both Gudelj and Bakboord on his way and beating de Lange with a fierce shot) the game switched to FC Groningen. Our opponents looked like they found their confidence again and we couldn’t create anything. And when in injury time Bacuna header found the net, we were in trouble. In second half I switched to higher defensive line and more intensive pressing and it paid dividends in the end. Justin Kluivert scored two goals in the last ten minutes and that broke FC Groningen. I wasn’t happy with our performance, especially about two conceded goals, but I’m happy to finish our season with a win and come-back in such a manner. good passing and ball possession was a positive from this match we actually defended rather well and didn’t allow any clear cut chances, but lost too many headers inside our own box and that put us in trouble; we also allowed FC Groningen to dribble too freely inside our half So, the league season is over. Two games in May were mixed affairs once again and I can’t remember when we last kept a clean sheet. Defensive troubles are evident at the moment and I’m really happy that it’s May, not August. I contributed in this mess by choosing line-ups so that number of starts and games would even out between players and no outfield player should start more than 40 games in this season. Considering that, we did quite well in the end. European club football season ended with Champions League final where Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea beat SLB convincingly 4:0. I convinced board to invest additional £2,7m to upgrade youth facilities to keep them in best possible condition. Eredivisie NEC Nijmegen was relegated, but SC Cambuur and Willem II Tilburg kept their place in Eredivisie after fairly convincing (I might say) relegation play-offs. PSV had to settle with 3rd place and that is obviously a blow for them. They finally made a decision to appoint interim manager Ruud Brood as their new manager. Wrong decision if you ask my opinion. Ajax goals: Justin Kluivert 16, Dejan Meleg 15, Arkadiusz Milik 14, Ugur Sezgin 14 Ajax assists: Dejan Meleg 16, Justin Kluivert 14, Lucas Andersen 9 Fans Player Of The Season: Nicolai Boilesen Darren Sidoel Francesco Antonucci Goal Of The Season: Ugur Sezgin vs. PEC Zwolle (04.04.2020) Young Player Of The Season: Darren Sidoel
  14. 04.04.2020 - PEC Zwolle - Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 15. and 54. Ugur Sezgin, 73. Amin Younes - Noa Lang and Thulani Serero were injured and Francesco Antonucci suspended after collecting five yellow cards. Navajo Bakboord got his chance in central defense. Lasse Schöne started in midfield and I continued to trust Ugur Sezgin up front - rightfully so. After our first goal (which was, again, a cross from right to near post where Sezgin timed his run very well) both teams had the best chances from set pieces. Lasse Schöne’s error in our box went unpunished and Zwolle’s clear cut chance was blocked by Bakboord in the last moment. In the end of the first half Sezgin’s shot hit the post, but we had to settle with narrow 1-0 lead for half-time break. Our young striker scored a long shot though in the second half to add to his tally and that was a truly wonderful shot - from 20 meters to top corner, unstoppable for any goalkeeper. That was easily the most beautiful goal in this season so far and broke Zwolle’s resistance. Substitute Amin Younes added our third goal and showed that maybe I should trust him on the left flank instead of Justin Kluivert. that win clinched the title for us - 4 match days before the end of the season despite winning comfortably, we made a huge number of individual mistakes (23), Nicolai Boilesen contributed 7 into this number, despite having otherwise good game 08.04.2020 - MVV Maastricht - Ajax 1:2 (ED) - 63. Chelton Mühl - 14. Amin Younes, 79. Carel Eiting Interesting to see what MVV has become, after being taken over and having some cash for new players in January. They’ve had a mixed set of results and sit safely in the middle of league table, perhaps a sign that things move slowly in the right direction. Neither Serero or Lang were fit enough to start this match. Francesco Antonucci served his suspension and was back in the squad, though. I feel it was a poor match from us, although stats looked solid in the end and we won. But we lacked creativity throughout all ninety minutes and couldn’t create enough chances. We took the lead in the first half, from the only clear cut chance of the match. Good dribble and cross by Kluivert and Amin Younes was at the right place on the right time. MVV looked dangerous from set pieces and from their corner came equalizer. Our loaned out player Chelton Mühl scored his 10th goal of the season for MVV. We answered from a corner of our own - Carel Eiting scored his first goal of the season and that proved to be a winner. Unconvincing game, no outstanding individual performances as well, but win is a win. 11.04.2020 - Ajax - FC Utrecht 3:2 (ED) - 11. Arkadiusz Milik, 24. and 75. Dejan Meleg - 48. Sean Klaiber, 72. Stef Nijland - maintaining concentration and motivation for the remaining games is the biggest challenge now. Thulani Serero returned to this mini-rivalry against FC Utrecht. We started very well - Lucas Andersen gave a great pass between defenders and Arkadiusz Milik scored a good goal to start with. FC Utrecht started to attack more and they got a good number of corners, but we scored another goal and went to half-time with comfortable 2:0 lead. I told my team to avoid complacency, but first part of the second half saw our defense crumbling. Sean Klaiber scored a quick goal - Dragisa Gudelj missed his tackle on the left flank and Nathan Leyder forgot to track back his man from midfield. Deyovaisio Zeefuik then completely missed his header in the box and gifted Stef Nijland another goal. And so FC Utrecht equalized from two behind. Our central defensive partnership of Bakboord and Zeefuik looked in all sorts of trouble and I was afraid of the worst, but then Dejan Meleg showed what kind of footballer he is. First he got a penalty, after Calvin Verdonk tripped him in the box in 73’, but his poor spot kick was saved by Sergio Padt. He made amends a minute later though, heading in a cross by Gudelj and scoring a winner. good first half followed by poor second half, so I can’t be happy with the performance despite our win Lucas Andersen was the man of the match, pulling all strings from midfield our defense has been so poor only perhaps against Vitesse this season, and I had serious talks with both Bakboord and Zeefuik about their performance in this match 18.04. Ajax - sc Heerenveen 2:2 (ED) - 6. Amin Younes, 34. Arkadiusz Milik - 5. and 81. Jürgen Locadia - Noa Lang returned from injury and we’re finally back in full fitness for this game. sc Heerenveen have plenty to play for - they’re holding 2nd place in the table and win against us would give them great advantage over following contenders. And they came out attacking well. Their first chance was well saved by Jeffrey de Lange, but then Locadia scored just a minute later. Boilesen made unfortunate tackle while defending free kick situation and ball went to Jürgen Locadia who had an easy goal. We reacted well - just another minute later Amin Younes scored from narrow angle and equalized. Jeffrey de Lange had to save us from trouble again in 26’ - Ricardo van Rhijn lost Bobby Adekanye on his wing, but our goalkeeper showed his class. Arkadiusz Milik had a great chance two minutes later, but his header clipped the bar and went over. He nevertheless put us in front after sc Heerenveen defense was completely cut open by Francesco Antonucci’s clever pass that left our Polish striker with a simple finish into empty goal. So half time came with 2:1 lead. I wasn’t happy about our performance - we had 60% of possession in the first half, but conceded three clear cut chances and our defense looked very error-prone. In fact, we were lucky to be ahead after defending so poorly. While first half was all fireworks from both sides, sc Heerenveen reorganised their defense and 2nd half was a bit less attractive football and both teams defended better. But we couldn’t avoid conceding another goal - Jürgen Locadia scored from corner in 81’ to split points between two teams. Francesco Antonucci lost a header against him, but to be honest, the Italian playmaker has never been very impressive in the air. we played good attacking football, with Francesco Antonucci and Amin Younes being the creative force very poor defending in the first half and two goals conceded from set-pieces - that’s where our problems lied in this game and I can’t be happy with that April has been OK month as a whole and I’m happy to secure Eredivisie title so early. Results have gone to our way, mostly, but our defense has crumbled. Not sure why - perhaps too much rotation, perhaps we’re too relaxed after clinching the title. Either way we’re not convincing defensively and have conceded 5 goals in 4 games. Eredivisie sc Heerenveen look like they can switch their 3rd place from previous season for 2nd place this time. PSV are looking better, but 2nd place looks too far away for them. In the bottom of the table NEC couldn’t improve their form and are relegated. Willem II Tilburg look set for relegation play-offs. April ended with a shock in Dutch Cup final - Go Ahead Eagles trashed Feyenoord 4:1 and topped their great season with Dutch Cup win. A wonderful achievement for such a small club. It was not at all due to favorable draw - after beating us in semi-finals and winning against Feyenoord in such a convincing manner there’s no doubt that this victory is very well deserved. Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 15, Arkadiusz Milik 14, Justin Kluivert 13, Ugur Sezgin 13 Ajax assists: Dejan Meleg 16, Justin Kluivert 13, Lucas Andersen 9
  15. March youth intake was an average one. We've got one very good striker prospect - an area where we have plenty of young talent already. Remember - Ugur Sezgin is only 20 years old, we have Thokozani Mpengesi on loan at FC Twente and he's developed very well there, Dodi Hamzah is 17 years old and scored 7 goals for Sparta Rotterdam this season, and 17 years old Melvin Jongeling is coming up from our own U-19. With our single-striker formation, that's a plenty. And now there's another. Not that I'm complaining In addition to that, another average striker, ball-winning midfielder (who is a curious one, because we don't have too many players suitable for that role) and right-back (another position which is very well covered with youth talent already). I would have liked a left-back or a winger, but that has to wait, anyway. I signed only players with 2* or better potential so that I'm not crowding my U-19 team with useless deadwood, and started to turn more attention to coach reports about player personality and hidden attributes (such as consistency). Sieme Plat Best talent of this year draft. Decent in most areas, fairly determined by nature and very young - has a full year to develop before he can be offered professional contract. Good work rate and teamwork are always a big plus in my eyes, but few of the less frequent traits too - possesses decent free kicks and his off the ball movement is very good for such a young player. Let's see what comes of him in the next seasons.