Jump to content
Sports Interactive Community
Draakon

[FM16] Ajax Amsterdam - Building a dynasty of youth

Recommended Posts

Draakon   

August 2024

 

09.08.2024 - Ajax - Helmond Sport 1:0 (ED) - 1. Dejan Meleg

We started our Eredivisie season with home game against Helmond Sport. On paper it couldn’t have been easier start - Helmond narrowly escaped relegation in Spring and they’re predicted to finish 18th this season again.

And we were ready for it - the game had barely started when Dejan Meleg sent his shot into the net from 18 yards out, totally catching goalkeeper on the heels and giving us the flying start of the season. But the rest of the match wasn’t so smooth - we held possession, but couldn’t create enough chances and our attacking movement could have been better.

There was a foul against Justin Kluivert in 41’ and it should have been a penalty, but none was given and that didn’t help us either.

Finally, when Helmond just had to attack and leave empty spaces behind them, we created some chances, but then finishing let us down. Sieme Plat had first opportunity in 83’ and then two in a row in 90’, but inexperience perhaps hindered his composure and all of his shots were saved by Helmond goalkeeper.

That’s what I didn’t like about this game - it was too narrow win, too slippery to feel comfortable. We should have finished it 3-0 or 4-0, but couldn’t deliver. It’s good to start with a win, but I expected more from performance.

  • Sieme Plat’s three missed chances was the big disappointment - hopefully those won’t haunt him in the next game
  • Francesco Antonucci was outstanding, orchestrating our attacks from midfield

 

14.08.2024 - Willem II Tilburg - Ajax 0:0 (ED)

Willem II are newly promoted and lack quality players, but they have good teamwork and work rate and they stunned ADO Den Haag 2:0 in the first match day, so I had to be careful not to underestimate them. Willem II opted for adventurous 4-3-3 formation - probably element of surprise could help them in this season with this tactics.

I chose flexible formation and tuned creativity down to normal. Tom Drost returned to starting line-up.

Willem II got an early chance to score in 7’, but Marvin Koops made a brilliant save and avoided the goal. In 20’ Justin Kluivert’s header hit crossbar, but overall it was a drab first half without good chances for us.

We got our best opportunity to score in 54’, but Kluivert’s shot was saved and so we had to settle with goalless draw.

Poor result, as we were clear favourites against Willem II. We definitely missed our creative players in attack in this game.

  • our crossing didn’t work at all - just 43/2

 

17.08.2024 - Ajax - NAC Breda 2:0 (ED) - 32. and 38. Dejan Meleg

Back in Amsterdam Arena, we switched back to fluid shape and more creative freedom. We had to improve after Willem II draw and show that we can win those games.

Emil Brown returned from Olympic tournament and started in attack for us.

We got an early chance in 6’, but Dejan Meleg hit the post from open position. He didn’t make same mistake twice however, scoring in both 32’ and 38’ and although we didn’t look too impressive with our gameplay, those two good moments put us in front.

Second half was much less exciting. NAC Breda was left to ten men after Dave Bulthuis earned a red card in 58’ and it was easy from there.

  • Noa Lang gave outstanding midfield performance in this game

 

25.08.2024 - Ajax - Feyenoord Rotterdam 4:1 (ED) - 9. Dejan Meleg, 22., 28. and 62. Dirk van Grinsven - 25. Rashaan Fernandes

The first Klassikier Derby of this season. We analyzed what Feyenoord had done in this Summer and they have to be taken very seriously - they’ve made good moves in transfer window and spent £6m very wisely for new players.

We switched back to normal creativity. Fortunately, Holland U-23 players returned from Olympics and were in line-up for the derby match. And that means Mike van der Hoorn and Justin Kluivert were dropped to bench.

We opened scoring from a good counter. It was nice play, but Dejan Meleg finished it with excellent shot from the edge of area. Very nice indeed. Dirk van Grinsven extended our lead in 22’, but then Feyenoord got a chance and got one goal themselves - Sergio Alleyne missed his interception and that lead to shot. Marvin Koops made a great save to parry first attempt, but Fernandes got to rebound first and finished into the empty net.

Despite that goal we were in the zone and Dirk van Grinsven showed what we’ve missed in the first three games - his chip made it 3-1 just three minutes later. and he got a chance for a hat-trick, but brilliant save by Feyenoord goalkeeper in 32’ kept their hopes alive.

Van Grinsven continued to lead our attacks in second half - his good interception in 48’ led to good chance, but he smashed it against crossbar. However, he finally completed his hat-trick in 62’.

It was a great result for us, great derby win for the fans and it looks like we’re back in our best form with our key players back in the squad. Let’s see how it goes from there.

  • we made 30 dribbles in this game
  • Francesco Antonucci, Dirk van Grinsven and Emil Brown were outstanding in this game


 

30.08.2024 - FC Eindhoven - Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 10. Dirk van Grinsven, 14. Dejan Meleg

FC Eindhoven have had a great start to their season, with three straight wins despite the fact that they were predicted just 15th by media. They are helped by our loanees Peter Mulder and Cengizhan Caliskan this year.

We chose flexible shape and higher defensive line. Tom Drost was in and Tarik Gennissen was rested for this game.

We took the lead in 10’ - Dirk van Grinsven’s cross went towards goal and surprised goalkeeper, so a fluke goal helped us in this match. Dejan Meleg scored another goal just four minutes later and after that it was easy for us to keep the ball and see the match out.

Not the most exciting win, but really professional job and solid result.


 

We’ve had a great start to the season, although Willem II result wasn’t as good as expected. I’m happy with our defense - a lot of clean sheets and we haven’t given too many chances to opponents.

Player of the month: Dejan Meleg - Serbian winger have been our best goalscorer so far and filled the role of right winger well.


 

Eredivisie

xelcb0e.png

 

FC Eindhoven are doing well despite that loss against us. sc Heerenveen are also having a great start to the season and Willem II are surprising everybody with their results.On the other side of the table PSV are struggling and are still looking for their first win of the season.

 

Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 5, Dirk van Grinsven 4

Ajax assists: Francesco Antonucci 4, Emil Brown 3


Champions League Groups were drawn in the end of August and we were drawn to group F against Fenerbahce, Sporting and Sparta Prague. To be honest, we couldn’t have wished for the better draw. If you could ever say that Champions League is easy then that, at least on paper, is probably the easiest group we could have got. So everything is up to ourselves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

Transfer Update Summer 2024

 

We made one move in August - Nicolai Boilesen was asking to leave to seek new challenges and I allowed him to move to Dinamo Moscow for £250k. It was a fairly easy decision, because he was clearly our second choice behind Dragisa Gudelj, and we freed some £27,500 p/week salary funds with this move.

Small worry is that we don’t have another good left-back, but let’s see if our youngsters can grow to this role during this season.

 

In Eredivisie MVV Maastricht was again spending their cash and brought in several players. Their transfer fees are not remarkable, but salaries are and they are spending by far more than any other team. MVV pay around £27m for wages in this season. We are next in this category with ~£17m. Interesting to see if this kind of money can bring them results, because so far they haven’t have too much success in the league.


 

Eredivisie transfers

  • Brian Wagener from Ajax to Swansea City for £16,5m
  • Ali Messaoudi from FC Utrecht to Lille Olympique for £4,2m
  • Clyde Drenthe from Liverpool to FC Utrecht for £3,6m
  • Calvin Verdonk from sc Heerenveen to Feyenoord Rotterdam for £3m

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

Squad Update 2024

 

Goalkeepers

 

Marvin Koops

TadNY18.png

Young goalkeeper. Overlooked by many and undervalued, but I prefer him over Leeflang lately. Somehow manages to get clean sheets on whatever level he plays.

 

Bob Leeflang

Y6e5uXO.png

His fairly loyal nature is probably the reason why he's destined to sit on Ajax bench and he lacks ambition to move on and test himself in bigger leagues

 

 

Defenders

 

Tom Drost

SnNSmGT.png

 

Ricardo van Rhijn

7bjEszp.png

Team captain is still going strong and extended his contract for two more years.

 

Mike van der Hoorn

V4OM6Vw.png

 

Sergio Alleyne

ShkClrP.png

 

Tarik Gennissen

q2GzC3j.png

He's attracted attention from big clubs lately and Arsenal are actively seeking his signature. I'm afraid this might be his last season in Ajax.

 

Dragisa Gudelj

IsxS7om.png

Only decent left-back in the squad after Boilesen's departure

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

Squad Update 2024

 

Midfielders

 

Nathan Leyder

xCXOfEi.png

 

Frank van den Hoek

KU1hTC4.png

Perhaps undeservedly in the shadow of Leyder, but his best years are yet coming.

 

Noa Lang

T7uHxVG.png

 

Pieter Stekelenburg

7ExqMXv.png

 

Francesco Antonucci

d07SLtY.png

Finally Italy international.

 

Simon Janssen

dIxbvOM.png

Young midfielder who's trying to get minutes from Antonucci

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

Squad Update 2024

 

Wingers

 

Dirk van Grinsven

Dec4IoL.png

Probably our best attacking player in the whole squad. Little bit surprised he hasn't received a major bid yet.

 

Nketsi Matal

YM5AEJm.png

My coaching stuff keeps telling me to get rid of him, but I need him for backup.

 

Dejan Meleg

mnxubIX.png

Serbian winger has started this season brilliantly and took AML position back from Justin Kluivert

 

Justin Kluivert

knb3DDY.png

 

 

Strikers

 

Emil Brown

VNr5cAj.png

Inconsistency is his problem. Otherwise talented striker, capable of playing as complete forward.

 

Sieme Plat

3WO8JBA.png

Young striker. False nine, but still learning his trade

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

September 2024

 

Two news from international break.

Francesco Antonucci finally got his first cap for Italy! Even though Italy national team has dropped a lot in world rankings, it’s a great achievement for him.

I also extended Justin Kluivert’s contract until 2027. I feel that we still need him in next seasons and there’s not enough good wingers coming up from youth ranks.

 

 

14.09.2024 - SC Cambuur - Ajax 0:4 (ED) - 30. pen., 69. and 75. Dejan Meleg, 45.+1 Dirk van Grinsven

SC Cambuur has been mid-table season in recent years and they’re predicted to come 13th in this season.

Some international players looked tired after returning to club and Tarik Gennissen was rested in this game.

We were almost stunned by early goal - SC Cambuur’s Vincent Janssen hit the post from narrow angle in 3’. Five minutes later Sieme Plat sent his long shot inches wide from SC Cambuur goal. But it wasn’t the most creative football from our side, so we were helped by penalty - Francesco Antonucci was fouled and Dejan Meleg converted. Dirk van Grinsven added our second goal from corner and we went to half-time with 2-0 lead.

It was Meleg’s show in the second half - he scored another goal in 69’ and then had a chance to convert his hat-trick from penalty (replay showed that there hardly was a foul against Sieme Plat, so this call was really harsh to SC Cambuur). Meleg, however, couldn’t score from the spot, but made amends five minutes later.

It was very convincing win in away stadium. Second half was clearly ours and we used most of our chances very well.

  • 83% passing accuracy, 34 dribbles made - we clearly enjoyed ourselves on the pitch
  • Dejan Meleg and Dirk van Grinsven were outstanding in this game
  • Mike van der Hoorn suffered bruised head late in the game and will be out for 5-6 days

 

18.09.2024 - Sparta Prague - Ajax 0:3 (Champions League Group F) - 24. Tarik Gennissen, 64. pen. Justin Kluivert, 73. Noa Lang

If we want to progress from Champions League group, then we have to start well, especially against Sparta who are the weakest side of the group.

Mike van der Hoorn was sidelined with his bruised head and Emil Brown started instead of Sieme Plat, who didn’t impress against SC Cambuur.

We trained attacking set pieces before this game and it soon paid off - Tarik Gennissen opened scoring for us with a solid header from corner. Sparta Prague didn’t look well prepared mentally and this was the main difference between teams.

Second half offered more scoring opportunities - Emil Brown hit crossbar in 63’, but just a minute later Dragisa Gudelj earned a penalty and Justin Kluivert converted it calmly. Noa Lang added our third goal with a stunning long shot - probably the best goal of the season so far.

  • It was a great start to this group stage - let’s see how it goes from there.
  • all three goals came from set pieces, so pre-match practice clearly paid off
  • Noa Lang was outstanding in midfield

 

21.09.2024 - Ajax - ADO Den Haag 4:0 (ED) - 12. Jeff Hardeveld (og), 22. Emil Brown, 58. Dejan Meleg, 66. Nathan Leyder

Second half of September offers a tight schedule and players look a bit tired. ADO Den Haag is definitely a team that could exploit this fatigue - they’re predicted to be 10th in this season.

I chose fluid shape and normal defensive line for this game. Ricardo van Rhijn started in right defense and Pieter Stekelenburg replaced Noa Lang in midfield.

We were helped by early own goal by Jeff Hardeveld and Emil Brown extended our lead with a good header ten minutes later. But we could and should have scored more - Stekelenburg sent his shot centimeters wide in 26’ and Dirk van Grinsven missed his opportunity in 32’. I was pleased with 2-0 lead at half time, but those missed chances should have been goals.

We continued to control the match in second half and goals by Meleg and Nathan Leyder gave us very convincing win.

I’m happy about those recent games - 3-4 goals scored, clean sheets - very convincing and it shows we’re in good shape.

  • 83% passing accuracy and 32 dribbles shows we were in good control
  • it was Ricardo van Rhijn’s 325th league game for Ajax
  • Dejan Meleg scored his 100th league goal for Ajax in this game
  • young left back Michel de Boer made his debut for the club in 2nd half

 

24.09.2024 - Heracles Almelo - Ajax 1:2 (Dutch Cup 2nd round) - 18. Mark Diemers - 73. and 92. Nketsi Matal

Tight schedule dictates that rotation players had to win this 2nd round game for us. And they really should be able to, as Jupiler League side Heracles isn’t that big of a club that could cause us any problems.

But they proved to be tougher than expected. Of course, they were helped by completely unexpected long shot by Mark Diemers, that somehow landed next to our post and was unstoppable for Bob Leeflang.

In attack we couldn’t get our game going in the first half and I was disappointed with performance at half-time.

Second half was a lot better and chances started to come - Simon Janssen forced a great save by Heracles’ goalkeeper, Justin Kluivert wasted his clear cut chance in 52’ and then Nketsi Matal finally found the net to equalize.

We avoided the worst and in extra time Matal converted his second chance to give us 2:1 win. However, it’s not good enough in my eyes and with a tight schedule like we have, playing extra time in cup games is pretty much the last thing that we need - men were completely exhausted in the end of this game.

  • we looked good on paper, had 24/12 shooting, but I still wasn’t happy with what I saw on the pitch
  • Ricardo van Rhijn and Nketsi Matal were outstanding, but it was Dejan Meleg who changed the game in 2nd half - his two crosses ended with two goals

 

27.09.2024 - MVV Maastricht - Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 19. Dejan Meleg, 70. Nathan Leyder

MVV is predicted to fight for the title this season and they have all the funds to do so. They spend £30m in this season for wages (Ajax and NAC Breda follow with only £17m in this category) and they’ve invested another £9m into new players in Summer. But they haven’t been able to turn this money into winning team and constantly found themselves in mid-table position.

MVV came against us with 4-4-2 formation and their manager promised attacking football in pre-match press conference. I answered with slightly higher defensive line. I had to rest Tarik Gennissen and Pieter Stekelenburg after long cup game.

We scored the only goal in the first half, but MVV kept their word and were more attacking side. We were often under pressure in defense and the best chance for MVV came when Marcin Figiel tried audacious bicycle kick in our 6 yard box, but reaction save by Marvin Koops parried it brilliantly.

Second half was better from us - Dirk van Grinsven had the great chance in 61’, but it was saved. Three minutes later MVV long shot cracked the post and then Nathan Leyder scored a nice goal from long shot just outside of the area.

That was a nice result in the end and I’m happy that we could turn this game to our side, but MVV were really tough opponents and the battle on the pitch was quite even, actually.

  • we struggled defensively and allowed 33 key passes and 21 dribbles to be made by MVV
  • number of individual mistakes was unacceptable (25), Mike van der Hoorn was responsible for 9 of those

 

September was a wonderful month for us - all wins, no goals conceded in the league and a good start in Champions League. Can’t wish for better month, really.

Player of the month: Dejan Meleg - 5 goals scored and he made a difference in the game against Heracles. He’s in a wonderful form and has already scored 10 goals for us.

 

Eredivisie

hkJc11X.png

 

sc Heerenveen, FC Groningen and Feyenoord Rotterdam are still up there and despite great start we haven’t put too much distance between us and the rest of the pack. PSV are really struggling.

 

Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 10, Dirk van Grinsven 5

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 7, Dejan Meleg 5, Francesco Antonucci 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

October 2024

 

01.10.2024 - Ajax - Sporting Lisbon 2:2 (Champions League Group F) - 25. Emil Brown, 74. Justin Kluivert - 14. pen. Marco Asensio, 83. Joaozinho

Sporting is the strongest team in our group, so I thought before the game that draw would be good result for us at home. We started well and played good first ten minutes, moving well in attack and got a few shots in, but then everything changed. Sergio Alleyne made a poor decision in defense, his foul as the last man gave him straight red card and Sporting took the lead from penalty kick.

We were behind 0-1, we were left to ten men and all our tactics were out of the window. It was a survival mode after that call, but we didn’t give up just yet.

Dirk van Grinsven’s deep cross was catched by Sporting goalkeeper Fuba, but he dropped ball and Emil Brown was there to finish into empty net. Despite that equalizer we were pressed in defense most of the time and in 40’ Marvin Koops had to make two great saves in a row to keep us in game.

I was happy to go to half-time with 1-1 and hoped we could somehow keep this score until the end of the game. Fireworks continued in 2nd half - first Koops made another brilliant save in 57’ to parry Sporting’s clear cut chance and two minutes later van Grinsven wasted his opportunity to score.

However it was Justin Kluivert’s header that gave us lead in the game. Sporting answered in 83’ - Joazinho punished us after good counter. We were a bit careless to leave too much space behind our defense.

It was a great game to watch and good result in the end. We definitely deserved to get something out of this and I’m really happy with this draw, given the circumstances.

  • Dirk van Grinsven was outstanding in this game.

 

05.10.2024 - AZ Alkmaar - Ajax 0:0 (ED)

AZ are predicted to finish 9th in this season and most noteworthy of their Summer signings is Deyovaisio Zeefuik. Ex-Ajax central defender had two rather poor seasons in Aston Villa and after realizing he couldn’t make it in the Premier League, signed to AZ for free.

I chose fluid shape and allowed more creativity to players. Only one change in line-up was made - Tarik Gennissen was tired and I allowed him rest.

There’s nothing much to report from the match itself. It was a drab game for whole 90 minutes - a couple of half-chances for us was all that we got and our attacking spark was completely lost. We were solid in defense, but that was not good enough to win and for me personally it was below-par performance. We had only one good chance in 55’, but Justin Kluivert blew it and that was it.

  • our shooting was 10/1, our crossing was 39/1
  • we allowed 23 dribbles to AZ which is too much against any Eredivisie team
  • Tom Drost made his 100th game for Ajax in this match

 

19.10.2024 - Ajax - FC Twente Enschede 1:0 (ED) - 41. Dejan Meleg

FC Twente are predicted 12th by media, but as usual in recent seasons they’re really underperforming, so home game should count as must win against them.

International break allowed us to regroup, but some players again returned exhausted after long stretch of games. Young left-back Michel de Boer injured himself in training and he’ll be out for 2-3 weeks (strained stomach muscle). Tarik Gennissen and Francesco Antonucci were too tired to start. I opted for Ricardo van Rhijn in right defense and sent Pieter Stekelenburg to midfield instead of Antonucci.

We didn’t have too many chances in the first half - Dirk van Grinsven hit crossbar in 16’, but Dejan Meleg used our only clear cut chance well and scored a winner just before half-time whistle. Second half was more quiet until the end - Dirk van Grinsven got a great chance in injury time, but his shot was saved. It was a narrow win, but valuable three points for us. Our attack is still not good enough yet and we struggle to involve Emil Brown into movements in attacking play, so most of creativity and goals come from wingers.

 

22.10.2024 - Fenerbahce - Ajax 0:0 (Champions League Group F)

Games against Fenerbahce are crucial in this group to determine 2nd and 3rd place, so good result against them in Istanbul was very important. I chose flexible shape, higher defensive line and removed overlapping instructions from full-backs.

Sergio Alleyne was suspended after his red card against Sporting, so central defense was made of Gennissen and van der Hoorn. Dragisa Gudelj looked tired, but started anyway, because he’s our only left-back at the moment. But Antonucci was fresh again and that was good.

We played positive football in the first half - without great chances, but two of our shot hit the framework. Emil Brown managed to clip crossbar in 16’ and Antonucci’s shot in 22’ smashed the bar with full force.

We continued to play well after the break and forced a few good saves out of Fenerbahce goalkeeper, but our best chance came in the end of the match - substitute Nketsi Matal had a wonderful opportunity to win it for us, but his shot was saved in 89’ and so we had to settle with goalless draw despite good performance.

 

27.10.2024 - PEC Zwolle - Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 40. Dirk van Grinsven, 82. Nketsi Matal

PEC Zwolle is predicted to finish 16th, so it should be easy enough after difficult Fenerbahce challenge. I chose fluid, more creative tactics and switched defensive line back to normal.

Ricardo van Rhijn and Pieter Stekelenburg started in this game to add to our creativity and good passing/crossing game.

We didn’t look too dangerous in attack until the end of the first half. Dirk van Grinsven scored from the first great chance that we got. He got his second opportunity just two minutes later, but this time the shot hit the post from narrow angle.

Our task was made easier in the beginning of the second half - Zwolle’s Bob Groenendijk received his second yellow card and so our opponents were one man down for the rest of the game. Substitute Nketsi Matal scored a good header in 82’ to clinch our three points and that was it.

It was OK result away from home. Perhaps we should have scored more with our one man advantage, but I’m pleased with 2:0 too.

  • PEC Zwolle didn’t take a single shot during 90 minutes
  • Nketsi Matal scored his first league goal for Ajax

 

30.10.2024 - ADO’20 - Ajax 0:5 (Dutch Cup 3rd round) - 1. Sieme Plat, 6. Justin Kluivert, 18. Emil Brown, 34 .and 41. Nketsi Matal

Amateur team ADO’20 were easy draw for us and rotation players got to show their skills. It was decided very quickly and there’s nothing much to report other than we were head and shoulders above them in quality. Easy-breezy.

  • our shooting was 27/16
  • Nketsi Matal and Justin Kluivert were outstanding for us in this game
  • Sieme Plat was injured early in this game and he’ll be sidelined for 2 weeks (twisted knee)

 

 

October has been a good month too. We’re still without defeat in Eredivisie and we’ve played two good games in Champions League, with every hope to progress from this group.

Our football could be more attacking and we don’t score too many goals, but our defense is top class and we hadn’t conceded in the last five games.

 

Player of the month: Dirk van Grinsven - we’ve relied on him offensively and he’s shown some good football both in Eredivisie and in Champions League

 

Eredivisie

5nTFnbs.png

 

We’ve put some space between us and challenging teams. NAC Breda are doing really well, but Feyenoord look the most dangerous, considering both standings and their form. At the bottom of the table we find surprisingly PSV in 16th and FC Twente in 17th place. MVV is also underachieving - considering their resources, a mid-table finish is just not good enough.

 

 

Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 11, Dirk van Grinsven 6, Nketsi Matal 5

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 10, Dejan Meleg 5, Francesco Antonucci 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

November 2024

 

November started with two news about managerial movements. Firstly, PSV board had enough from Ruud Brood. Defeat against ADO Den Haag was the final drop and he was sacked. Secondly, my own assistant manager Jon Parkin left Ajax to take charge at Leeds United.

I quickly scanned the ranks of my backroom staff and discovered that we lack suitable candidates to this position, so I reached out and signed Spanish Diego Rivas - good at man management and judging players, used to play 4-1-2-3 formation, only flaw is he doesn’t speak Dutch.

 

03.11.2024 - Ajax - sc Heerenveen 0:0 (ED)

sc Heerenveen finished 2nd in last season and they’re predicted to be 4th in this year, so I anticipated difficult game against them. I chose flexible shape for this game, and our first team players were rested and fresh because of easy cup game.

We looked like a better team in the first half, but only got two half-chances and no goal. sc Heerenveen young goalkeeper Charl Simonse showed why he’s so highly rated by experts.

As so often in those games we only got one great chance to score and this time it fell to Nketsi Matal, but his shot in 75’ hit the post and so the chance was wasted. Emil Brown forced another brilliant save from Simonse in 80’ and so sc Heerenveen hang onto draw.

We were clearly better team, but poor finishing cost us points in this game.

  • our shooting was 24/11, so statistically we looked pretty good in attack
  • we had 23 corners, but couldn’t create too much from those
  • this clean sheet means we’ve gone 6 games without conceding - a new Ajax record

 

 

06.11.2024  - Ajax - Fenerbahce 2:0 (Champions League Group F) - 57. Dirk van Grinsven, 84. Emil Brown

While draw in Istanbul was good enough, we needed a win in Amsterdam and so this game was crucial for us in this campaign.

I chose flexible shape and pushed our defensive line higher, just as in away game and we practiced attacking set pieces in training before the game.

Pieter Stekelenburg replaced tired Francesco Antonucci in midfield, but I relied on my usual first team.

After careful first half by both team, we were more attacking after the break. Dirk van Grinsven opened scoring for us - he received the ball, skillfully turned around two defenders and smashed it home. Fenerbahce had to attack after that and it left some space for us to exploit - our good counter in 84’ resulted in second goal by Emil Brown.

Fenerbahce got their best chance in injury time, but that shot was confidently held by Marvin Koops.

  • our shooting accuracy was only 16/5, but it proved to be good enough
  • Noa Lang was outstanding with his midfield performance in this game

 

09.11.2024 - PSV Eindhoven - Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 20. Emil Brown

PSV are struggling in 16th position and after sacking of Ruud Brood they’re without manager, and they also got 5 players missing with injuries and suspensions.

It was a tight schedule for us in November, so I chose to rest Tarik Gennissen, but Dragisa Gudelj and Emil Brown had to play through fatigue. Justin Kluivert replaced Dejan Meleg on our left wing.

We were slightly better team in the first half with couple of opportunities - Dragisa Gudelj had a point blank header in 16’, but it was held comfortably by goalkeeper. Emil Brown was our attacking star that night - his good dribble from midfield into penalty box resulted in a good goal. Both teams continued to try hard in 2nd half and PSV got their best chance in 73’, when Sergio Alleyne made a good block on Valeri Qazaishvili’s shot. So, no more goals and in the end it was another narrow win for us. Our performance had some flaws, but three points and rival win are what’s important.

 

23.11.2024 - Ajax - Sparta Rotterdam 1:0 (ED) - 25. Dejan Meleg

International break was much needed, but it wasn’t a holiday for most of the team. Young players play so much games for U-19 and U-21 teams and they almost inevitably return tired. Tarik Gennissen needed rest again, Francesco Antonucci also skipped this game and young midfielder Simon Janssen was injured in training and will be out for 2-3 weeks (strained stomach muscle).

Dejan Meleg scored our only goal in this game after a good cross by Tom Drost, but it was another boring performance - we were good in defense, but didn’t create enough chances in attack. Pieter Stekelenburg got a great opportunity to score our second goal in injury time, but he blasted his shot wide, so usual 1-0 for us.

  • I’m pleased with 62% possession
  • our shooting was only 18/5
  • Tom Drost was outstanding in this game

 

26.11.2024 - Ajax - Sparta Prague 3:0 (Champions League Group F) - 39. Francesco Antonucci, 48. Dirk van Grinsven, 77. Tarik Gennissen

Decisive game in our European campaign - a win here would mean our qualification from group stage. Tarik Gennissen and Francesco Antonucci were back in starting line-up, but Tom Drost was suspended and Ricardo van Rhijn started.

It was quiet first 30 minutes, but then Antonucci opened scoring and 2nd half looked much better for us - Dirk van Grinsven extended our lead with a quick goal and in 62-65’ we applied some good pressure to Sparta, unfortunately we couldn’t use all those chances. Noa Lang sent his long shot against crossbar in 64’, but it took some more time until Tarik Gennissen made it 3-0 after a corner.

A great result and it secured our progression from group stage for the first time in those 10 years I’ve been at Ajax

  • we had 22 corners in this game and looked dangerous from them, scoring a goal too
  • Ricardo van Rhijn, Francesco Antonucci and Noa Lang were outstanding

 

30.11.2024 - FC Groningen - Ajax 1:2 (ED) - 49. Luciano Slagveer - 73. Pieter Stekelenburg, 75. Justin Kluivert

FC Groningen surprised everyone with their 3rd place in last season and they’re predicted to be 7th in this year, so I expected a tough game.

We had a couple of half-chances in the first half, but nothing too dangerous and after half-time break FC Groningen looked more alert. Marvin Koops had to make a good save to parry Sheraldo Becker’s shot and then Luciano Slagveer found the net - he dribbled into box, past Tom Drost and sneakily poked it into near corner. Marvin Koops can be a little disappointed too, he’s played over 9 games without conceding a goal and finally it happened.

I changed tactics - brought defensive line back to normal and asked my team to pass into space, but Pieter Stekelenburg’s substitution made impact that we needed. He scored a lucky goal in 73’ (his tackle in the box sent the ball into goal) and two minutes later his pass to our right wing initiated the move that resulted in our second goal. It was a good comeback and at least partly a manager’s win.

 

 

Our excellent form continued into November - we’re still going undefeated in Eredivisie and our European campaign has been a success. Hopefully we can continue like that at least until Christmas.

Player of the month: Noa Lang - he’s been consistently good, but his excellent performances against Fenerbahce and Sparta Prague contributed a lot to our success in Champions League.

 

 

Eredivisie

F3VYVUI.png

 

We’re slowly pulling away from the rest of the pack with Feyenoord trying to catch us. PSV is still in relegation zone and in terms of  title challenge they’re out of the game.

 

 

Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 12, Dirk van Grinsven 8, Emil Brown 5, Nketsi Matal 5

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 18, Dejan Meleg 6, Francesco Antonucci 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

December 2024

 

04.12.2024 - Sporting - Ajax 0:1 (Champions League Group F) - 1. Sergio Alleyne

We’ve secured our place in knockout stages, but this game was important for a couple of reasons. Firstly it’s always better to finish 1st than 2nd in the group and secondly I hoped to continue our undefeated streak. It was more important to Sporting though - a loss here would mean they drop 3rd if Fenerbahce beats Sparta Prague.

Pieter Stekelenburg and Justin Kluivert started in this game - Stekelenburg for rotation purposes and Kluivert because Dejan Meleg has been really poor lately.

We scored a quick flyer in the first minute - Kluivert sent free kick into the box and Sergio Alleyne was first to get there and tucked it in. We looked motivated after that quick goal while Sporting team grew more and more nervous as the game progressed. Our opponents had a couple of good attacks in the end of the half, but overall it was well under our control.

Second half started with a chance for Emil Brown, but his shot went wide. Sporting started to attack more and increase pressure and they got their best chance in 69’ - long ball found gap between our defenders, but Camilo Villa sent his shot just wide. In 75’ Matheus Pereira shot hit the post from narrow angle. We had a lot of defensive work to do in 2nd half, but we did excellent job to intercept and clear everything that came to our box and so we held onto that narrow lead until the end.

  • our shooting was just 11/2 and we didn’t attack much in the final 30 minutes or so

 

07.12.2024 - FC Utrecht - Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 85. Nathan Leyder

FC Utrecht had 3 key attacking players either injured or really tired after returning from injury. We too had to shuffle our line-up: Ricardo van Rhijn started in right defense (rotation), Mike van der Hoorn replaced tired Tarik Gennissen, Francesco Antonucci was back in line-up and Dejan Meleg also returned (Justin Kluivert failed to impress against Sporting).

We got our best chance of the match in 11’, but Dirk van Grinsven’s shot was easily held by FC Utrecht goalkeeper. We continued to attack, but Emil Brown and Dirk van Grinsven couldn’t convert their half-chances and then FC Utrecht woke up. They had a good counter in 23’ and Marvin Koops made a good save to keep our clean sheet, another great chance for Giorgio Dahmen was also saved by Koops in 28’. It was 0-0 at the end of the first half, but we had been wasteful in attack and careless in defense, so I wasn’t happy.

At half-time I tried to tweak tactics. Pieter Stekelenburg replaced Noa Lang (who had suffered twisted ankle in the game) and I changed Dragisa Gudelj tactical orders a bit.

We still didn’t look too dangerous in attack, Girogio Dahmen got another chance to score in 58’, but again Marvin Koops produced a great save. Finally we were able to found the net in 85’. We had a number of corners in this game and one of them produced a chance for Nathan Leyder who scored his 3rd goal of the season and clinched the win for us.

  • Noa Lang will be out for 3 weeks (twisted ankle)
  • Sieme Plat gashed his head and he’ll be out for 5-6 days, hopefully returning for the next game

 

 

Mid-season break is approaching and some managers have reached the edge of sacking. Vitesse board lost patience with John Stegeman - the club is 16th in the table and that’s far off from expected top-half finish.

Manchester United and Dortmund Borussia approached me to offer job interviews. They need a fresh approach to challenge for the title in England and Germany respectively. I declined, of course, but it’s nice to know I’m attracting their attention.

 

 

14.12.2024 - Ajax - Vitesse Arnhem 1:0 (ED) - 90.+2 Emil Brown

We had a whole week to prepare for this match while Vitesse played another game just 3 days ago, so their squad looks really tired, especially defenders, and I hope to exploit that. They’re also without manager after Stegeman’s sacking and that could be either good or bad for them - let’s find out. Either way their form is terrible and their last win in Eredivisie was back in August, so we’re clear favourites for this game.

Pieter Stekelenburg started for injured Noa Lang and Justin Kluivert replaced disappointing Dejan Meleg. I chose normal defensive line to allow Vitesse more space (and hence creating more space behind their defenders).

Long story short, it was a poor 90 minutes of football - we had possession, but couldn’t create good chances and just in injury time a little bit of magic happened - substitute Nketsi Matal made a run on the right, sent a cross into box and Emil Brown headed it in from close range. First good chance, first goal and true sucker punch for Vitesse.

  • our shooting was 16/5, not impressed by that
  • we had 33 dribbles which is a good number

 

With that game it’s been 17 games played in Eredivisie. We’re still undefeated, have conceded only 2 goals and collected 45 points. That’s the best start we’ve had in the league in my reign.

 

17.12.2024 - Kozakken Boys - Ajax 0:4 (Dutch Cup 4th round) - 24., 27. and 69. Sieme Plat, 39. Dejan Meleg

Draw has been easy for us in 4th round and that was another easy game against amateur team. Rotation players stepped in and easily did what was necessary. Sieme Plat scored a great hat-trick and topped it with wonderful long shot in 69’ - low strike that whistled into the net from 30 yards.

But despite convincing win we could have scored more and our shooting accuracy wasn’t the best, so we do have room for improvement.

 

 

Before Christmas Vitesse announced that Khalid Bouhlarouz has been appointed as manager for Vitas. A poor choice, if you ask me.

Thulani Serero loan ended in the end of the year and he returned to Jong Ajax, but his abilities have declined too much to consider him first team player any more.

 

Player of the month: Ricardo van Rhijn - team captain played a key role in those two league wins.

 

 

Eredivisie

DSK7HGl.png

 

 

Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 13, Dirk van Grinsven 8, Emil Brown 6

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 11, Dejan Meleg 7, Francesco Antonucci 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

January 2025

 

Tarik Gennissen attracted the most of interest from big teams before January transfer window. After exchange of words about possible move to Olympique Marseille my relationship with him took a nosedive and after Juventus offered £12,5m + clauses (possibly £17,75m) I accepted that bid. Good money for a player valued only £4m, but he truly is a wonderful talent and our best young defender, so it will be difficult to replace him.

We’re now back to Mike van der Hoorn and Sergio Alleyne partnership in central defense, with Nathan Leyder able to offer cover for that position. I also promoted 18 years old Edward Schans from Jong Ajax - certainly a talented lad, but he needs two more years to seriously contest for first team position.

So, I’m not too happy about that move, but what can I do when reputation of Eredivisie is as low as it is.

Emil Brown was invited to Cup of African Nations and he’ll probably miss January league games. Sieme Plat is fit and ready and god his confidence up against Kozakken Boys. He had a chance to prove his skills in August when Brown was in Olympic games, and he’ll get another chance here against Helmond Sport and Willem II.

 

26.01.2025 - Helmond Sport - Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 58. Sieme Plat

Noa Lang had a small injury in January. He’s fit for this game, but Pieter Stekelenburg starts in midfield. Justin Kluivert impressed in January friendlies and he’ll start on our left wing, but otherwise it’s our regular team.

It was a very drab game and only two moments worthy of mentioning. First was Sieme Plat’s goal from IFK - we didn’t have good chances and scoring from set piece was extremely important in this game. Plat had another chance late in the game, but his shot was saved brilliantly in 90’. So, poor game, but another clean sheet and another 1:0 win.

  • our shooting was only 20/4
  • Dirk van Grinsven was outstanding in this game
  • with this win we’ve been unbeaten in 30 games in a row

 

29.01.2025 - Ajax - Willem II Tilburg 6:0 (ED) - 4. and 42. Dirk van Grinsven, 6. Frank van den Hoek, 13. Justin Kluivert, 36. Pieter Stekelenburg, 45. Nathan Leyder

Tom Drost and Sergio Alleyne were suspended in this game. Our yellow cards start to catch up and several other defensive players are on the verge of suspension too. So I moved Nathan Leyder in central defense and Frank van den Hoek started as DMC.

I believe Willem II came with too attacking setup and after encouraging start we ripped them apart with our attacking football. Three quick goals made it 3:0 and then Pieter Stekelenburg smashed 30 yarder into top corner - one of the most beautiful goals of the season. We had plenty of chances and we scored plenty of goals and it was all Ajax - the first good win of the league season with a lot of goals.

  • our shooting was 25/12
  • we scored two goals from corners - it’s nice to see set pieces paying off
  • good performances all around (how else with 6:0 scoreline)

 

We continued our great season into January - two clean sheets and two wins. Now we have to prepare for very difficult schedule in February and Champions League knockout stages as well.

 

Player of the month: Dirk van Grinsven - two goals and two assists in those two games. Key player of those wins.

 

Eredivisie

bYFIg03.png

 

 

Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 13, Dirk van Grinsven 10, Emil Brown 6

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 13, Dejan Meleg 7, Francesco Antonucci 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

February 2025

 

01.02.2025 - NAC Breda - Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 55. Sieme Plat

Tom Drost and Sergio Alleyne returned to line-up, but Francesco Antonucci was suspended for this game. Pieter Stekelenburg and Noa Lang started in midfield instead. Emil Brown was back in Holland, but Sieme Plat started for this game.

NAC Breda have had a good season so far and in their home stadium they’re difficult opponents.

NAC Breda got the first chance of the game, but Marvin Koops made a brilliant save in 6’. It was a boring game in most parts and we couldn’t create much in attack, but our only chance came from corner in 55’ - NAC Breda goalkeeper Yanick van Osch dropped the ball and Plat was first to react to that. A lucky goal for us, but that was good enough to win this game.

  • we made 22 individual errors and allowed 20 dribbles to NAC Breda players - unusually high numbers for us

 

05.02.2025 - Ajax - FC Groningen 2:0 (Dutch Cup Quarter Final) - 51. and 56. Emil Brown

FC Groningen looked a lot more tired than us, because again we rotated our squad for cup game - Bob Leeflang, Frank van den Hoek, Dejan Meleg and Emil Brown started against FC Groningen.

The game was under our control from the beginning and despite the fact that we missed some chances in the first half (Dirk van Grinsven again missing his ccc), we made amends after half-time break. Emil Brown turned around defenders very skillfully and fired it into top corner in 51’ and right after kick-off FC Groningen’s Virgill Limon made a two footed tackle on Francesco Antonucci - pure frustration and deserved red card to him. After that it was easy and second goal in few minutes time secured our win and place in cup semi final.

 

09.02.2025 - Ajax - FC Eindhoven 2:1 (ED) - 33. Francesco Antonucci, 40. Emil Brown - 36. pen. Karim Loukili

Suspension rotation goes on - Mike van der Hoorn was suspended for this league game, so again we started with Alleyne-Leyder central defense partnership. One more change was made and Pieter Stekelenburg started in midfield to offer more creativity with ball as we expected to have more possession in home game.

Things started out nicely - Dirk van Grinsven had the first chance in 4’, he tried to chip FC Eindhoven goalkeeper, but the shot went way over and wide. Antonucci opened scoring with a nice header in 33’ (good cross by Ricardo van Rhijn). Our position was shaken a few minutes later - Stekelenburg made a clumsy foul in our box and FC Eindhoven scored from penalty (our 3rd conceded goal in league games in this season). We recovered quickly though and Emil Brown put us back in front before half-time.

We dominated 2nd half and had more chances to score, but finishing let us down and we definitely should have been more decisive in front of goal. Nathan Leyder moved well in set piece situations and got a good chance, but his shot was blocked though. Pieter Stekelenburg had an opportunity in 69’, but that shot was saved.

Scoreline wasn’t exactly what I expected and I’m not entirely satisfied with our performance, but our winning streak continues and that’s good enough.

  • our shooting was 22/11 which is solid enough against mid-table side

 

18.02.2025 - SLB - Ajax 4:2 (Champions League 1st knockout round 1st leg) - 2. Santos, 8. Aschraf Flemming, 20. Matheus Pereira, 38. Facundo Delgado - 1. and 56. Dejan Meleg

Champions League first knockout round saw us going against SLB. Tough teams (all Portugal top clubs are incredibly strong in 2025) and it was nice to meet Aschraf Flemming again who now played for SLB.

We went to this game with our more experienced line-up, but I didn’t change our tactics. Quick flyer by Dejan Meleg put a smile to my face, but Santos quickly answered for SLB and then Flemming made it 2:1. We were in all sorts of trouble defensively - perhaps for the first time in this season. SLB movement in attack and individual skills of attacking players was just too much. And when we got our defense more-less in order we were punished by third and fourth goal from set pieces.

Although first half was a nightmare we picked ourselves up after the break. Good cross by Dirk van Grinsven allowed Meleg to score another goal and so we finished first leg away game with 2:4 loss. I’m not happy with our defense at all, but those two away goals at least leave us some hope for the second game. It still is a really tough challenge in Amsterdam Arena to turn this around.

 

22.02.2025 - Ajax - SC Cambuur 1:1 (ED) - 67. Mike van der Hoorn - 90.+1 Rene Lems

It was a sombre mood after SLB loss and it wasn’t easy to motivate the team for this league game.

I sent Frank van den Hoek out with first team - he has trained well, Nathan Leyder deserves some rest and van den Hoek asked for more first team football.

The first 60 minutes of the game were really drab from both teams but then SC Cambuur started to buckle under pressure - Francesco Antonucci’s shot was saved in 66’ and Mike van der Hoorn scored from corner just a minute later (his first goal of the season). Sieme Plat hit the post in 69’ and Dirk van Grinsven had a clear cut chance that was saved by Cambuur goalkeeper.

But after all that, in a game where our opponents created almost nothing, they managed to get one good cross into our box in injury time minutes and that was where equalizer came from. Complete lack of concentration late in the game and very disappointing to draw like that.

 

26.02.2025 - Ajax - MVV Maastricht 2:2 (ED) - 57. Emil Brown, 79. Noa Lang - 18. Teun van Zweeden, 84. Jan Jansen

MVV have established themselves as a solid top 5 team in Eredivisie and they’re challenging for third place in this season. Although most of their players are overpaid they have some quality in their squad and Jan Jansen is currently top goalscorer in the league.

Nathan Leyder was back in the squad for this game - he replaced Mike van der Hoorn in central defense and Noa Lang started in midfield instead of Pieter Stekelenburg.

First half of this game passed without serious chances, but ex-Ajax player Teun van Zweeden scored a long shot in 18’ that surprised everyone on the pitch - fired hard and low right next to post and there wasn’t much that Marvin Koops could have done to save it. We didn’t play poor football in first half, but couldn’t find clear cut chances and our shots went just a little bit wide.

Second half was better though - Emil Brown equalized from IFK and Noa Lang put us in front (good work on our right wing by Dirk van Grinsven led to that goal). Nevertheless, again we couldn’t hold to our lead - Jan Jansen’s header from corner went in after a fumble by Marvin Koops and once again we conceded a late equalizer.

It wasn’t a bad performance and MVV didn’t get any real chances, but somehow managed to score two goals. It was the first game of the season where goalkeeping could have been better and concentration in defense let us down.

 

 

February started well for us, but it seems that SLB defeat unsettled our rhythm and we’ve found it difficult to get our composure and confidence back.

 

Player of the month: Emil Brown - it was difficult to choose one player, but Emil Brown has emerged as a good striker in February and scored some goals for us.

 

 

Eredivisie

2Z0B13U.png

 

PSV is heading towards relegation play-offs. Wow.

 

 

Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 15, Emil Brown 10, Dirk van Grinsven 10

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 17, Dejan Meleg 10, Francesco Antonucci 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

March 2025

 

01.03.2025 - ADO Den Haag - Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 34. Emil Brown

ADO Den Haag players looked fairly tired before this game, but it didn’t look like that on the pitch. I made two changes in line-up: Ricardo van Rhijn started in right defense (I hoped that his crosses could make a difference) and Justin Kluivert on left wing (Dejan Meleg was still exhausted from last game).

First half was mostly under our control and after a couple of half chances that were saved by ADO goalkeeper we opened scoring in 34’ - Dirk van Grinsven sent a half-shot-half-cross towards goal, keeper dropped it in front of him and Emil Brown was first to get to the rebound.

ADO got their first opportunity to score in 39’ - Nathan Leyder’s missed interception went unpunished as Marvin Koops made a great save to deny Kenji Gorre. Narrow lead at half-time was a good start, but ADO players looked motivated and certainly didn’t want to give up.

We lost a lot of headers in this game in our own box and that was putting us in trouble repeatedly. Mirko Aquilani’s header inside six yard box clipped crossbar in 47’ and then Kenji Gorre had another clear cut chance in 56’, but his shot ended in side-netting. Our defense was shaking, but our opponents couldn’t take advantage of those chances and so we held onto that narrow lead until the end. Wasn’t the best performance, but I’m satisfied with three points.


 

07.03.2025 - Ajax - AZ Alkmaar 3:1 (ED) - 9. Tom Drost, 32. Max Huiberts (og), 38. Emil Brown - 74. Florian Aye

Troubling news from physio room before this game - Marvin Koops did hurt his chest muscle in training and he’ll miss next two games. Ricardo van Rhijn was suspended due to yellow cards and Dejan Meleg was back on left wing.

Tom Drost opened scoring in 9’ and it was his first goal of the season. Situation started from throw in that was flicked on expertly by Emil Brown and ball found its way to far post where Drost was anticipating it. Max Huibert’s own goal helped us on our way and when Emil Brown made it 3-0, the fate of the game was decided. In the end of first half Dejan Meleg had a chance to take a free kick from 17 meters. It was one of the best free kicks I’ve seen from him, curled behind the wall, but AZ goalkeeper made a brilliant save to parry it.

Second half was much less exciting. Our substitutions of attacking players probably contributed to it and instead AZ scored a consolation goal - good cross from our left wing surprised central defenders and Florian Aye found himself 1-1 against Bob Leeflang.

Solid win in the end - we played a great first half, poor second half and I’m not happy about conceded goal, but in table standings it doesn’t matter.

  • Tom Drost scored his first league goal for Ajax
  • Emil Brown had a great game
  • Justin Kluivert made his 200th league appearance for Ajax

 

12.03.2025 - Ajax - SLB 0:0 (Champions League 1st knockout round 2nd leg)

We needed 2:0 win from this second leg game, but it was a tall order and our situation was made more difficult by Dragisa Gudelj suspension. 18 years old Michel de Boer had to take left-back position and he’s clearly not ready for Champions League football. But we had nothing to lose and were prepared to give our best.

de Boer almost made a costly mistake in 13’ and gifted SLB a clear cut chance, but Marvin Koops made a brilliant save and kept our hopes alive. Unfortunately, a clean sheet was not good enough and we needed to score as well, and that was more difficult. SLB defended calmly and kept things under their control. It was really difficult to get good chances although overall things looked positive for us. Time ran out for us and in the end of the game Emil Brown got our first great chance to score, but his shot was saved in 86’ and so the game ended with goalless draw.

SLB achieved their target with this game, we didn’t. But we avoided defeat and that’s good too.

 

15.03.2025 - FC Twente Enschede - Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 8. and 9. Dirk van Grinsven

Champions League games are really tough for legs and with only three days between games, rotation players got their chance to impress against FC Twente - Sieme Plat, Pieter Stekelenburg and Justin Kluivert started in this game.

We had a great first ten minutes and that was enough to secure victory over FC Twente. First Justin Kluivert’s shot was saved in 3’ and then Dirk van Grinsven scored two relatively easy goals to give us two-goal lead. FC Twente got their defense in order after that, but damage was done. The best attack by our opponents came in 76’, but Gavin Vlijter’s shot hit the post.

Good win for us and I got to see some of the players perform whole 90 minutes, which was nice.

  • our shooting was 24/8 - should be better
  • we made 22 individual errors, which is too many by our standards
  • 18 years old central defender Edward Schans made his league debut in this game

 

19.03.2025 - Feyenoord Rotterdam - Ajax 1:4 (ED) - 87. Juninho Bacuna - 10. Dirk van Grinsven, 35. Francesco Antonucci, 41. Noa Lang, 44. Dejan Meleg

This Klassikier Derby was even more important than usual. Feyenoord have picked up some form and win against us would have kept their title hopes alive, but it ended 4:1 as our first encounter in Autumn and now we’ve pretty much secured the title.

Marvin Koops was back from injury break and on the pitch and I sent out our best XI.

Dirk van Grinsven scored a fairly quick goal and after Emil Brown wasted his chance in 27’, Francesco Antonucci made it 2:0 after good counter and then Feyenoord collapsed defensively - two more goals in the end of the season put us in front 4:0 at half-time and game was over. We scored four goals in the first half, but our defensive work was extremely good - positioning was spot-on, interceptions and tackles well timed. Excellent fourty-five minutes.

Second half was quiet and after Nketsi Matal was forced off with injury late in the game, Feyenoord managed to score consolation goal. Nevertheless, a great victory and fans were delighted.

  • our shooting was 13/10 - very clinical
  • Dejan Meleg was outstanding for us in this game
  • Nketsi Matal suffered sprained ankle and will be out for 4-5 weeks, he’ll probably return for last two games in May

 

22.03.2025 - Ajax - PEC Zwolle 0:0 (ED)

PEC Zwolle look destined for relegation and I anticipated easy win, but we had to settle with goalless draw.

Few players were tired shortly after Feyenoord game and Michel de Boer started in left defense, Pieter Stekelenburg in midfield, but I was sure they’re good enough against club at the bottom of the table.

Both teams hit the frameworks in the first ten minutes, but we gained control of the game after that. We got one good scoring opportunity in the end of both halves - that should have been enough, but Justin Kluivert and Dirk van Grinsven wasted their chances and I’m not happy with that.

  • our shooting was just 19/4 - big change from Feyenoord game
  • we made 21 fouls and that too disrupted the rhythm of the game and didn’t do us any favours

 

March has been good month - we’ve continued our streak in Eredivisie and showed against SLB that we’re no pushovers in Champions League knockout stages, too. We’ve started to score some goals and that’s nice, hopefully we can continue this attacking form a little further.

 

Player of the month: Dirk van Grinsven



 

Eredivisie

rJ32ltC.png

 

NAC Breda is trying to secure 3rd place in the table, but PSV is still struggling and stuck to 17th position in the table. Change of managers hasn’t helped them much. Interesting to see how that plays out in the end of the season.


 

Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 16, Dirk van Grinsven 13, Emil Brown 12

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 19, Dejan Meleg 12, Francesco Antonucci 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

Youth Intake Update

 

Before March I put on paper what we needed from youth update and what not, in terms of talent and positions. We needed a decent goalkeeper, a left-back, a strong and tall central defender and wingers. I try to anticipate what players might be leave in Summer and we have no cover for the likes of Dragisa Gudelj and Dirk van Grinsven. Our wingers department is extremely thin - some players with 2-2,5* potential, but with one or two significant flaw and in left wing we don’t have anybody behind Justin Kluivert who is 25 years of age already.

What we don’t need is another right-back, central midfielder and striker. We have plenty of those and some tough choices are ahead - I probably have to let Darren Kallah and Lamin Abdelhadi leave this Summer because we have no space for them in the squad. Our midfield is young and we have two good talents on loan plus three more coming from U-19 ranks.

 

But it’s fair to say that this youth intake missed my targets. We got another two talented midfielders and one good goalkeeper and nothing else much. I can try to tutor and work with those wingers (and history has shown that 2* youth candidate can turn into first team player), but it’s a tall order for those guys.


 

hUDc3TW.png


 

Gerard Karelse

092xmIn.png

Best talent of the bunch. Can play in DMC and in MC as box-to-box midfielder. Good passing, good natural fitness and no significant flaws in his game. Balanced nature means he can be tutored by Nathan Leyder, for example.

 

Eugene Talea

2MBMPqZ.png

Good passing, but his best attribute is professional nature. Again, no significant weaknesses in his game

 

Ismet Gluhalic

FVH9QZI.png

Determined goalkeeper. His command of area and one-on-one attributes could be better, but he’s exactly what I needed in this position and let’s see how he develops in the future.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sysiphus   
Posted (edited)

Karelse looks great! Keep up the good work.

Edited by Sysiphus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

April 2025

 

01.04.2025 - Ajax - Go Ahead Eagles 0:2 (Dutch Cup Semi Final) - 12. and 41. Asier Nunez

Playin in semi-final against Go Ahead Eagles should have been easy game for us, but we succumbed to 0:2 defeat and played probably our worst game of the season.

International players (Dragisa Gudelj, Nathan Leyder and Francesco Antonucci) couldn’t return back to club for this game, but I didn’t consider it important, because we should have beaten Jupiler League side with or without them.

We concede first goal from corner - Noa Lang lost his header and Asier Nunez headed it in from near post. Mike van der Hoorn had a great chance to equalize from IFK in 32’, but his shot hit the post and then the central defender made poor job in marking and allowed Nunez to score another goal from set piece in our end of the pitch. It was a very poor first half - we conceded two set piece goals and weren’t good enough with the ball ourselves.

Motivation was there to turn things around in 2nd half and chances started to come. Justin Kluivert sent the first shot on target in 48’, but it was dealt easily by Go Ahead goalkeeper. Emil Brown’s shot in 59’ forced a brilliant save from keeper. Despite having most of possession and attacking time we weren’t able to score. Dejan Meleg got the best opportunity in 89’, but his shot too was saved and so this impotent display left us with embarrassing 0:2 defeat. Very unexpected result and I was unhappy with team, but I have to admit that maybe the fact that we missed some leaders on the pitch contributed to second half display. We should have been calmer and more organized and some younger players lose their calm in these kind of situations too easily. Anyway, our cup journey is over with that defeat and that’s below par result according to Ajax standards.


 

04.04.2025 - Ajax - PSV Eindhoven 4:0 (ED) - 4. Dirk van Grinsven, 24. Ricardo van Rhijn, 68. Dejan Meleg, 88. Noa Lang

We needed a good result to bounce back from this defeat and Topper Derby was a good chance to make it. Of course, PSV is struggling a lot in this season and it is more of a survival fight to them, not usual title six-pointer.

We were really motivated and took things quickly under our control. In 4’ Dirk van Grinsven opened scoring - ball bounced awkwardly in front of him in PSV’s box and Ricardo van Rhijn added a good header to double our tally. PSV defense was in disarray and we had plenty of opportunities to score, but not all were successful - Emil Brown wasted his shot in 33’ after good counter and another chance of his wa saved in 43’. PSV got one good chance in the first half - long ball behind defenders surprised Mike van der Hoorn, but the shot went wide, luckily.

We continued to play good football in 2nd half and with plenty of chances came goals. Dejan Meleg scored after good cross by Tom Drost and late in the game Noa Lang added his goal from 18 meters out - really nice shot to surprise goalkeeper.

It was a great result and equally good display. Our attacking movement was perhaps the best of the season and only poor finishing kept us from scoring five or six goals. PSV probably made some tactical errors that contributed to this and that emphasizes in how much trouble they are.

  • our shooting was 22/12 - that’s good stats
  • Dragisa Gudelj, Noa Lang and Dirk van Grinsven were outstanding in this game


 

09.04.2025 - sc Heerenveen - Ajax 2:1 (ED) - 8. pen. Branco van den Boomen, 45.+1 Jairo - 19. Dirk van Grinsven

We needed one more point from this game to secure Eredivisie title. sc Heerenveen, at this point, find themselves in the middle of league table, cash-strapped and tired from previous matches, so anticipated a victory in away game, but as it turned out, it wasn’t so easy.

Mike van der Hoorn was suspended for this game, so Nathan Leyder started in central defense and Frank van den Hoek in DMC position.

Controversial penalty decision in 8’ gave sc Heerenveen a lead. Frank van den Hoek was the guilty party, but in replay it clearly showed that it was a dive by Mimoun Mahi rather than anything else, so it really felt harsh. Dirk van Grinsven equalized with a good shot in 19’ and it looked like we got things under our control. Noa Lang’s ambitious shot from distance cracked against post in 44’, but in the end of the half we allowed sc Heerenveen to score a dressing room goal - Tom Drost misjudged his header and Jairo had a great chance in injury time and he didn’t make a mistake. I wasn’t happy about our first half display - yes, we can’t do much about poor referee decisions, but this late set piece goal was unacceptable and we should be better than that.

Unfortunately we weren’t. sc Heerenveen got another great chance in 55’, this time saved by Marvin Koops, and we didn’t offer much in attack until late in the game - good counter in 85’ gave Justin Kluivert a clear cut chance, but that was saved well by Heerenveen goalkeeper. We then started to pressure hard, shots went in and on target, but we couldn’t score and it looked like we left all of this too late, so Heerenveen held onto that win and we received the first league defeat of the season. Yes, we can blame this penalty decision (and I clearly said what I thought about it in post-match press conference) but it’s true that we played below par. We still secured our league title though, as Feyenoord too lost their game.

  • our shooting was just 15/5
  • we made 22 fouls - too many, although wet weather contributed to that
  • we made a lot of individual errors (25) with Sergio Alleyne and Noa Lang making 5 each
  • we also allowed 24 dribbles
  • Emil Brown suffered bruised head in this game and has to sit out our next match


 

12.04.2025 - Sparta Rotterdam - Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 86. Pieter Stekelenburg, 88. Sieme Plat

We were itching to come back from this defeat with a win and I made some changes in line-up. Ricardo van Rhijn and Michel de Boer started as full-backs and Sieme Plat took striker position with Emil Brown sidelined. Plat hasn’t been in good form in those games that he has played from substitutions and his last goal was scored way back, so I feared that our attack could be hampered by it.

First half wasn’t really good from both sides. We had only one half chance and Sparta got their best scoring opportunity in 27’ after good counter, but Marvin Koops made even better save to keep our clean sheet.

After some words at half time we started to show more desire - Sieme Plat sent a good header towards goal in 49, but that was saved easily. Justin Kluivert showed some good legwork in 73’, creating space for himself, but failed to finish and Dirk van Grinsven chipped just wide after receiving through ball by Plat. Sparta felt that they can snatch a win from this and started to attack more around 75’ mark, opening their defense up and in the end that was punished. Substitute Simon Janssen fed a wonderful through ball to Pieter Stekelenburg and young midfielder scored from 1-1 situation, two minutes later Sieme Plat added another goal from counter (great to see him score again) and so we secured the win, although late in the game.

  • our shooting was only 22/6, but 10 of those shots came from distance, so it’s problem of attacking movement than shooting accuracy
  • we made 22 individual mistakes, from which 6 went to Ricardo van Rhijn’s name

 

18.04.2025 - Ajax - FC Groningen 3:2 (ED) - 5. and 72. Dejan Meleg, 59. Sergio Alleyne - 6. Paterne Tshimpi, 19. Rccardo Mereu

After securing the title I rotated squad to distribute playing time evenly and see how things work out on the pitch. FC Groningen are a strong team, currently 4th in the table and with good attacking potential.

At first, things worked out well for us - Noa Lang found Dejan Meleg on the run and Serbian winger scored our first goal in 5’, but FC Groningen equalized just a minute later and after Dragisa Gudelj missed his interception in our left wing Riccardo Mereu added another goal in 19’. Our defense looked terrible in the first half and it was summed up by Sergio Alleyne - his poor backpass in 34’ was intercepted by Mereu and only good save by Marvin Koops kept FC Groningen scoring their third goal. We had to change approach in half-time and try to find our way back into this one.

And after some harsh words at half-time things started to look better. Emil Brown had a chance to equalize in 47’, but his shot was saved. But we had more of possession and goal was in the air and finally Sergio Alleyne equalized with a good header from IFK. Dirk van Grinsven had been really poor in this game and I took him out, sending Dejan Meleg to right wing and substitute Justin Kluivert to left, and that combination brought us the winning goal. Kluivert’s cross found Meleg at the far post. He needed three tries to score - first shot hit the post, second was blocked by goalkeeper, but third finally went into goal. It was a great comeback and our good second half performance deserved this win.

  • Dejan Meleg was outstanding in this game, having part in all three goals


 

April was a rollercoaster month for us. Some good performances such as 4:0 win over PSV or good comeback against FC Groningen were brought down by poor displays against sc Heerenveen and of course disastrous defeat from Go Ahead Eagles. Securing the league title four match days before the end of the season is always good, but I feel that we should have been played better in some games.

Go Ahead Eagles went on to win Dutch Cup after beating NAC Breda in the final with penalty shoot-out, so they repeated their cup win from 2019/2020 season, but this time being in Jupiler League which makes this achievement even more remarkable.

End of the season is approaching and so transfer rumours and contract negotiations intensify. I was linked to Liverpool and West Ham jobs, but declined to comment on those rumours. AC Milan manager has been visiting our last two game to check on Nathan Leyder and there’s increasing interest in Dragisa Gudelj (unfortunately his £7m minimum release fee clause means that deal is quite likely in this Summer).

Some players and coaching staff announced their retirement from football. Our own Steve Wigley set retirement date to July and I’m starting to search for a new coach. Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho also calls it time to step down and let younger managers continue.

Some of the football legends also will hang up their boots, most notably Lionel Messi and Toni Kroos.

 

Player of the month: Dejan Meleg - it was a difficult choice, as there have been a lot of inconsistent performances, but Meleg has returned to goalscoring form and he can get to 20 goals mark if he finds another goal in May.

 

Eredivisie

YfY6YMK.png

 

NAC Breda have overtaken Feyenoord and they battle for the 2nd place. PSV is still struggling to get out of relegation zone and PEC Zwolle, unfortunately, are relegated.

 

Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 19, Dirk van Grinsven 15, Emil Brown 12

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 21, Dejan Meleg 13, Francesco Antonucci 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

May 2025

 

04.05.2025 - Vitesse Arnhem - Ajax 0:0 (ED)

Probably the most boring game of the season. Nothing really happened on the pitch and neither of teams played with all their motivation. Two good shots by Francesco Antonucci and Pieter Stekelenburg caused small problems to Vitesse goalkeeper, but we failed to create really good chances and Vitesse didn’t even try that much. It started to rain in 2nd half and it added to lacklustre mood. Nothing much for the fans, but clean sheet and another game without losing is okay.


 

11.05.2025 - Ajax - FC Utrecht 1:0 (ED) - 45. Sieme Plat

Francesco Antonucci is suspended for this game, Tom Drost and Dragisa Gudelj are being rested to avoid them collecting another yellow card.

There’s more in stake in this game because of rivalry between teams and I’d like to end our season in high spirits in front of home fans.

FC Utrecht got an early chance in 5’, when Queensy Menig skillfully turned over Mike van der Hoorn, but Marvin Koops made a good save to keep a clean sheet. We then controlled that game better and were attacking more, but without goal until the end of the first half. FC Utrecht made our job a lot easier in 43’ - Girgio Dahmen received straight red card for two-footed tackle on Edward Schans and two minutes later Sieme Plat scored what proved to be a winner. Dejan Meleg had another good chance in 2nd half, but his shot went wide in 55’ and then we just controlled things calmly to the end.


 

Two low pressure games in May, ending reasonably well and we kept clean sheets in both of them.

Player of the month: Michel de Boer - young left-back played in both games and did his work very well, playing good defense and contributing to attacks.


 

Eredivisie

hIQ2Hv7.png


 

PSV stuck to relegation play-offs, but of course managed to come out of those unscratched. Helmond Sport also retained their spot in Eredivisie and cup winners Go Ahead Eagles secured Jupiler League win and will be in top tier next season.


 

Ajax goals: Dejan Meleg 19, Dirk van Grinsven 15, Emil Brown 12

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 21, Dejan Meleg 13, Francesco Antonucci 7

 

Champions League final was played in this month and it was internal issue between British clubs. In his final game with Chelsea, Jose Mourinho led them to 1:0 win over Manchester United.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

Season Summary 2024/2025

 

Despite that cup semi final loss I feel we played a great season. For the first time we were able to reach Champions League knockout stages and we only lost one league game in this campaign. It was a good season and we did almost maximum that we could with that team.

What was distinctive in this campaign is our almost perfect defensive record. We conceded only 12 goals in Eredivise 34 games, keeping 19 clean sheets. We didn’t make many defensive errors and even if we did, Marvin Koops managed to save us 8 times.

One the other hand, we didn’t score too many goals either. Mainly because we didn’t create enough good chances - in Eredivisie we got 68 clear cut chances in this season. That is very low number compared to last season (86) and to make it worse, our finishing let us down too - we converted only just below 40% of those chances while a year ago this rate was 45%. Best examples are Justin Kluivert (scored 2 out of 9 ccc-s) and Dirk van Grinsven (6 out of 17). We have used to rely on our overlapping full-backs and good crosses, but it didn’t work well. Tom Drost and Ricardo van Rhijn had 8 assists to their name in last season, they had only 2 in this year. And we got only two penalty calls in whole season (one in Eredivisie and one in Champions League).

It was a very good season in fitness terms. We avoided major injuries and whole squad stayed fit throughout the campaign, which contributed to this success, I believe.


 

Fans Player of the Season:

  1. Ricardo van Rhijn
  2. Francesco Antonucci
  3. Dirk van Grinsven

 

Goal of the Season: Pieter Stekelemburg against Willem II in 29/1/2025

Young Player of the Season: Dirk van Grinsven


 

Eredivisie Awards

 

Golden Boot:

  1. Faris Coolen - Feyenoord Rotterdam
  2. Pim de Reuver - AZ Alkmaar
  3. Ralf Stam - NAC Breda

 

Top Goalscorer:

  1. Ralf Stam - NAC Breda - 21
  2. Jan Jansen - MVV Maastricht - 20
  3. Jordy de Boer - Feyenoord Rotterdam - 19

 

Goalkeeper of the Year:

  1. Marvin Koops - Ajax
  2. Yanick van Osch - NAC Breda
  3. Peter Leeuwenburgh - Vitesse Arnhem

 

Young Player of the Year:

  1. Ralf Stam - NAC Breda
  2. Cengizhan Caliskan - FC Eindhoven (on loan from Ajax)
  3. Paterne Tshimpi - FC Groningen

 

Manager’s Manager of the Year:

  1. John van den Brom - NAC Breda
  2. Me
  3. Alex Pastoor - MVV Maastricht

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

Pre-Season

 

Summer international youth championships were held and Holland U-21 managed to win European title in this Summer. Marvin Koops, Rick Koning, Frank van den Hoek and Pieter Stekelenburg were in this squad from Ajax.

But inside of the club there were a lot of issues to deal with in this season and lot of work to do in May, June and July.


 

Staff

First of all Jong Ajax manager Steve Wigley retired and I had to find a replacement for him. Our Italian coach Christian Stellini took over this job.

Then I allowed goalkeeping coach Carlo L’Ami leave at the end of his contract. His wage demands didn’t meet up with his work performances (only 4* in training evaluation sheet) and it was time to new approach. I signed Spaniard Toni Jimenez as our new goalkeeping coach and Italian Giorgio Frezzolini joined U-19 coaching team to help with their goalkeeping practices.

In scouting department Omar Milanetto decided to join FC Bayern. Well, scouting has never been top priority for me, so I’ll just post an advert and see who comes around for Ajax job.

We had a nice meeting with Ajax board and they proposed to raise staff wage limits which I accepted gratefully. It should make contract negotiations easier.

I started to roam around football world to find coaches to Jong Ajax and U-19 team - lads in their thirties, perhaps just retired players, with excellent mental approach and good working with youth attributes. So I signed Nick Hofs from Vitesse as our new Jong Ajax coach and brought back Ajax legend Finidi George from Spanish side Racing as our new scout.


Contracts

First job at hand - Dirk van Grinsven. One of the few players that I agree to pay over £30,000 p/w and I had promised to start contract negotiations in the end of the season, but his agent initially sat down with huge demand of £57,000 p/w and it took some time until we agreed with £38,000 + bonuses until 2029.

I then negotiated new deals with Pieter Stekelenburg, Sergio Alleyne, Simon Janssen and Frank van den Hoek - all part of the team in the future, although van den Hoek was tempted a lot by Montpellier for few weeks.

That means our first team stays put until 2027 with modest weekly wage cap around £340,000.

 

Transfers

Players who left after their contract ended:

  • Johan Drommel (GK) - 19 year old goalkeeper is not talented enough to keep him around, after Ismet Gluhalic bumped up to youth ranks in this Spring
  • Lamin Abdelhadi (ST) - he is a good player, but some flaws (can’t handle pressure in big matches and isn’t suited to single striker formations) say that it’s best if he moves on. He signed for Konyaspor.
  • Darren Kallah (ST) - had a good season with our affiliate club US Cretell-Lusitanos, but he’s so inconsistent and we have so much better talent coming in age ranks between 17-21 that there’s no place for him too
  • Ludovic Roy (AML) - 20 years old winger had a mediocre season with Excelsior in Jupiler League and hasn’t progress enough to earn new contract.

 

One more player has only one year left of his contract and that was Emil Brown. But when Dynamo Kyiv came with a bid, I decided to let him move on for initial £2,5m + clauses (up to £4,1m). Main reason being his inconsistent performances in this season. He’s 23 years of age and if he wants to stay he needs to be solid first team player, but Andre Pröpper returned from loan and has made a huge step forward in France last season, plus we have enormous amount of young strikers coming up who all want a chance, so I feel we have better options than him.

We made a solid profit though - Brown joined from Ajax CT in 2020 for £525k.

 

Loans out:

  • Mounir El Amrani to Go Ahead Eagles (ED)
  • Simplice Wembangomo to FC Oss (JL)
  • Sieme Plat to ADO Den Haag (ED)
  • Tarik de Wit to FC Eindhoven (ED)
  • Rick Koning to FC Twente (ED)
  • Peter Mulder to FC Eindhoven (ED)
  • Simon Janssen to Rio Ave (Portugal)
  • Peter van der Wal to FC Twente (ED)


 

26.07.2025 - Ajax - Go Ahead Eagles 1:0 (Dutch Super Cup) - 38. Andre Pröpper

It was easy to motivate the team for this Super Cup match. Dutch Cup semi final defeat was fresh in our minds and we wanted to show what we’re capable of. Two teams also met in pre-season Mauritz Schmits testimonial and we won that game 2:0 and this one here was no different.

We controlled things from start to finish and only question was - what sort of chances can we create and is our finishing good enough. Francesco Antonucci got the first good chance in 18’, but his shot was saved. Good combination from right wing gave Andre Pröpper a good chance in 38’ and this one he converted easily. Go Ahead Eagles couldn’t create anything in 2nd half either and so we took narrow, but convincing 1:0 win and won our third Super Cup in a row.

  • our shooting was 22/14
  • attacking midfielder Cengizhan Caliskan made his debut for Ajax in this game

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

August 2025

 

08.08.2025 - Go Ahead Eagles - Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 66. Andre Pröpper, 78. Dirk van Grinsven

It was the third time we met with Go Ahead in the last month. Firstly in pre-season friendly, then Super Cup and now the first game of the new Eredivisie season. And, as the first two games, we won against newly-promoted Eagles. To give some credit to Go Ahead - they were predicted to hang onto their place in this season and finish 15th, but the first away game against us was a tough challenge to them.

I had our regular first team in mind, but those first games in August are always a chance for some players to prove themselves and fight for their place in the squad.

Our first half in this game didn’t went so well - we didn’t get enough chances and only started to threaten in the end of the half. Dejan Meleg got first to loose ball in the box, but his shot in 37’ went wide and his free kick a few minutes later went just over bar.

Things needed to improve in the second half and I spent half-time explaining what exactly were we doing wrong. But it almost turned to worse in 49’ - Dirk van Grinsven gave a poor pass that was easily intercepted and following attack gave Go Ahead their best chance in this game. Only great save by Marvin Koops saved us and Asier Nunez held his head in hands because it was a wonderful chance. And then our attack started to work better - substitute Justin Kluivert got a clear cut chance in 60’, but his shot was saved brilliantly by Konstantinos Lamprou. Both teams were looking for winning goal and game started to open up and then our quality finally turned to goals - Andre Pröpper’s first shot in 66’ was saved, but he was first to get a rebound chance and put it into the net. Dirk van Grinsven extended our lead in 78’ and he scored another goal in 81’ that was chalked off due to offside call (unjustly in my opinion - it should have been counted). Two goal lead was good enough and we got a good start to our season. It is so important to win the first game and we did what was expected.

  • our shooting was 23/10 and that’s a good stats
  • Sergio Alleyne played his 100th league game for Ajax

 

13.08.2025 - Ajax - SC Cambuur 2:0 (ED) - 32. Pieter Stekelenburg, 36. Dejan Meleg

First home game in Amsterdam Arena was against SC Cambuur - mid-table team that was predicted 12th by media and pundits. SC Cambuur made some significant moves in transfer window - they lost their left winger Rene Lems and goalkeeper Sven Keller and brought in winger Curly Alberto from FC Eindhoven, making £1m profit in the process. But the season will show if this will impact their results one way or another.

Because it was home game I chose fluid shape and put some more attacking players in certain positions. Ricardo van Rhijn started in right defense and Pieter Stekelenburg in midfield instead of Noa Lang.

We started to attack from beginning, but didn’t have too much luck - Dejan Meleg saw his header hit the post in 8’ and Dirk van Grinsven’s shot found framework in 24’, but then our luck turned. In corner combination the ball reached to Pieter Stekelenburg who shot it from 20 meters out and it went in from strong deflection. A little bit of luck there, but we deserved that goal. Dejan Meleg extended our lead from tight angle (SC Cambuur goalkeeper didn’t make the best save in this situation) and we went to half-time with two goal lead.

We concentrated to retaining possession in 2nd half and didn’t take too many risks, so 2nd half was rather boring to watch.

It was a solid win by two goals, but our performance was average. We didn’t create any real chances and didn’t have a real spark in our game.

  • Cengizhan Caliskan made his league debut for Ajax in this game

 

16.08.2025 - sc Heerenveen - Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 62. Jerome Onguene (og)

Just 3 days after our last game, away match against sc Heerenveen awaited us. sc Heerenveen has been there or thereabout at the top of the table in previous seasons and in their home they are very difficult opponents. They’ve signed ex-Ajax player Rene Timmer for free in this Summer (and it might as well be the best signing of this transfer window) and were predicted to finish 4th by media. Our hopes were on the fact that sc Heerenveen looked really tired from their last match while we looked more rested.

sc Heerenveen’s Rene Timmer got the best chance of the first half in 15’, but Marvin Koops made his second great save of the season to keep our sheet clean. Dirk van Grinsven got a half-chance in 24’, but this shot was saved and in 37’ sc Heerenveen got another good shot towards our goal that demanded good reflex save by Koops to parry it. It was mostly tight midfield battle for most part of the first half and those rare chances gave more hope to sc Heerenveen.

In 2nd half we started to look for goal and Francesco Antonucci had our best chance in 51’ - he was first to get to loose ball in sc Heerenveen box, but his shot skewed wide of goal. Then we had a lot of luck to finally find the net - Dirk van Grinsven’s cross took a deflection from Jerome Onguene and surprised sc Heerenveen goalkeeper. Perhaps we didn’t deserve that goal, but we took it with open arms and then concentrated on retaining possession and killing this game off - successfully. So, a very important win for us, although lucky win.

  • we won possession (61%) and it helped us control things, but our shooting was only 7/1 and I’m not happy with that

 

24.08.2025 - Ajax - FC Eindhoven 4:0 (ED) - 6. and 19. Dejan Meleg, 28. Pieter Stekelenburg, 61. Dirk van Grinsven

Home game against FC Eindhoven was one of our easiest in August. FC Eindhoven is predicted to become 16th by media - they lost Curly Alberto and their best striker Laurens Antoine in this Summer and although they’ve loaned Peter Mulder and Tarik de Wit from us they are probably weaker team than they were in last season. We proved that by defeating them 4:0.

We looked dangerous from beginning - Andre Pröpper got a good chance in 2’ that was saved brilliantly, then Francesco Antonucci wasted his clear cut chance, but the goal was in the air and it came in 6’ - Andre Pröpper gave a wonderful cross with his heel and it took FC Eindhoven defense by surprise. Dejan Meleg received it, completely alone in front of goal. Meleg extended our lead with a good header in 19’ and Pieter Stekelenburg added another goal with a very good header from corner. In those games the weaker team almost always gets at least one clear cut chance and FC Eindhoven got theirs in 38’ - good combination gave us their best opportunity, but the shot went over and so that one chance to turn the game back to them was gone.

After 3-0 lead at half-time, we secured our lead in the second half and in 61’ Dirk van Grinsven finished scoring for us with a good shot from inside of FC Eindhoven box.

I’m very pleased with that win and happy with our performance. Good attacking football from start to finish.

  • our shooting was 22/12 which was good enough
  • Francesco Antonucci, Pieter Stekelenburg, Dirk van Grinsven and Dejan Meleg were outstanding for us
  • Dirk van Grinsven made his 200th appearance for Ajax in this game

 

30.08.2025 - Feyenoord Rotterdam - Ajax 1:2 (ED) - 1. Papito Bicintini - 50. Andre Pröpper, 76. pen. Francesco Antonucci

August ends with Klassikier Derby against Feyenoord, this time at De Kuip. Feyenoord have lost their best striker Jordy de Boer in Summer - he left for free to Fenerbahce. But they have signed some good players and got Rico van Leeuwen on loan from AC Milan to replace him.

Feyenoord team looks strong and they have good depth, only full-backs are perhaps sub-par, compared to rest of the field. They had a chance to reach to Champions League group stage, but lost against AC Milan 2:7 on aggregate and their squad looks still a bit tired after their second leg match, so that works to our favour.

I chose flexible team shape and sent Tom Drost and Noa Lang out in the squad. I expected less possession and we needed players who can work hard without ball.

We didn’t have the best start to this game. Only 50 seconds were played when we conceded our first goal - deep cross came from our right wing, Sergio Alleyne missed his header and Papito Bicintini used his chance well to score a flyer for Feyenoord. Awful start, but we recovered from that and started to create opportunities on the other end. Dragisa Gudelj got a chance from IFK, but his shot was saved. Francesco Antonucci saw his shot being parried in 23’ and then Noa Lang got an easy chance to equalize, but he missed the target from narrow angle. Feyenoord held under that pressure and they waited patiently for their second chance and that came in 39’ - Tom Drost missed his header in IFK situation and Faris Coolen was open in our box with the ball, but Marvin Koops saved us that time.

At half time we knew we have to improve our game. We looked good with ball and created chances, but our finishing wasn’t clinical and we didn’t use those opportunities. At the same time our defense was in trouble for the first time in this season - Sergio Alleyne was very error-prone in the first half, Tom Drost had a poor half and Mike van der Hoorn looked too slow against Feyenoord attacking players, especially with our higher defensive line.

But we improved our game in second half and things started to turn around - Andre Pröpper equalized with a simple tap-in after excellent cross by Tom Drost, and then referee came to help us out with a penalty call. We had a counter attack and Pieter Stekelenburg made a good choice to dribble inside the box with the ball and was tripped clumsily by Pieter Simons. It was a harsh call and fortunate to us. Francesco Antonucci converted the penalty and Feyenoord were frustrated. We had another great chance late in the game, but Pröpper sent his shot wide when he should have scored.

It was a vital win for us and a great comeback against our arch rivals and I’m really happy with improvements we made in 2nd half.

  • our shooting was 20/8 - not exceptional accuracy, but to get 20 shots against Feyenoord at De Kuips shows we were playing positive and attacking football entire time
  • we made 21 individual errors with Sergio Alleyne being responsible for 5 of those - it might be that our central defense is not good enough for Champions League, as I suspected

 

August has been a great start to our season. We’ve won all five league games, conceding only one goal and we’re leading Eredivisie table.

Champions League groups were drawn and it was a tough draw for us - we’re against Manchester City, Bayern and FC Kobenhavn in Group B and honestly, I can’t see us making it through this group. Bayer and City are way too difficult opponents. Third place and Europa League knockout stages should be our realistic aim this time.

Dutch Cup 2nd round sees us against FC Volendam in September. Also not the easiest draw, but we should be able to defeat them without much fuss.


 

Eredivisie

IioKpa9.png

 

PSV have started their season well, FC Twente looks good compared to their previous seasons, but Feyenoord are still searching for their first win and losing points early in the season - that might hurt their chances of competing for the title this year.

 

Ajax goals: Andre Pröpper 3, Dejan Meleg 3

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 4, Francesco Antonucci 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

Transfer Update Summer 2025

 

It has been a fairly quiet Summer in Eredivisie transfer market. There weren’t too many player movements and fees were smaller than usual. Ajax players didn’t even attract too much interest from big teams. There was some speculation about Dragisa Gudelj and Nathan Leyder, but eventually they both stayed put.

Eredivisie transfer fees have declined in recent seasons. It’s difficult to find player movements worth more than £3m and even £2m fees are rare. There are four rich teams in the league - Ajax and Feyenoord rely on their youth systems and while MVV is throwing money aimlessly, NAC Breda looks more clever and they just poach talented youngsters from other Eredivisie clubs for moderate fees between £1-2m.

 

Biggest transfer fees in Summer 2025:

  • Lassana Faye from Feyenoord to MVV Maastricht for £4,3m
  • Rody Adelaar from AZ Alkmaar to Feyenoord for £2,8m
  • Emil Brown from Ajax to Dynamo Kyiv for £2,5m
  • Michel Berden from NAC Breda to MVV Maastricht for £2,3m

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

Ajax Squad Update 2026


 

Goalkeepers

 

Marvin Koops

n2Fa1iL.png

Our best goalkeeper and he had a great last season, but I hope that he’ll improve his attributes in this season too. Very undervalued, as most young and talented goalkeepers in Eredivisie.

 

Bob Leeflang

mqhsOkQ.png

Our backup keeper gets all cup games in this season, but it might be wise to cash him if any interested party approaches. He’s 24 years old, so not likely to make any big leaps in attributes.


 

Defenders

 

Tom Drost

cwO8mPn.png

Professional right-back, excellent tutor and I hope to keep him around for few more years, at least.

 

Ricardo van Rhijn

02UXtBY.png

Team captain turned 34 years old in June and now his age starts to show - he’s not that quick as he used to be and I have to keep it in mind when selecting team. Champions League football is left to Tom Drost, but van Rhijn can support our attacks in Eredivisie for a couple of more seasons.

 

Mike van der Hoorn

gF0R9fL.png

Mike van der Hoorn is an experienced soldier in defense, but he has shown that he might not be the best option in long term any more. He’s 32 years old and his current contract that extends until 2027 might be his last one in Ajax. He’s good in the air, but rather slow and he’s not a good tutor either. If I’d have more talented defenders coming from U-19, he’d be pushed out earlier, but Tarik Gennissen’s departure in January improved his position within squad.

 

Sergio Alleyne

2pbCY5b.png

Probably our best central defender for the next couple of seasons

 

Edward Schans

tHjg21j.png

It will be interesting to see if Schans can start to push Mike van der Hoorn out of first team in this season. He’s very quick and suits better to our high defensive line and van der Hoorn’s performances haven’t been too convincing in August.

 

Dragisa Gudelj

G0Yr7eQ.png

Our best left-back, Serbian international.

 

Michel de Boer

niIgrL4.png

Michel de Boer had a breakthrough in Spring when he got some good games for Ajax and put in some good performances too. He’s only 19 years old, but looks consistent and has no obvious weaknesses. And as Gudelj is one of the players that tire quickly it’s good to have a backup option for left-back position.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

Midfielders

 

Nathan Leyder

u9xoqjX.png

There was a lot of speculation about Leyder’s future in June. Zenit showed their interest in July, but no bid came in and he remained Ajax player.

 

Frank van den Hoek

CRs3e3M.png

Frank probably deserves more chances in first team than he gets at the moment. Unfortunate that he’s a bit behind Leyder, but I try to give him more games once when Champions League campaign will start.

 

Noa Lang

HnF0UWR.png

Hard-working box-to-box midfielder.

 

Pieter Stekelenburg

gTykwsW.png

In last season Stekelenburg looked a bit nervous in some games and it looked like he’s not yet ready to carry full load, but he’s started better in this August, scoring already two goals in August and playing well against smaller teams and in home games. So this is how playing time is shared - Noa Lang will be in squad in Champions League and in more difficult games against stronger teams, but Stekelenburg gets his chances against smaller teams when we’re expected to control midfield.

 

Francesco Antonucci

QuJZo2M.png

Midfield creative engine.

 

Cengizhan Caliskan

mCAYVfP.png

Cengizhan Caliskan is one of those players that got the chance to show his skills in Ajax in this season. He spent a couple of years on loan in FC Eindhoven and performed exceptionally well, so in this Summer I let him stay around and sent Simon Janssen to loan. He’ll be substituting Antonucci as advanced playmaker and is tutored by Antonucci.


 

Wingers

 

Dirk van Grinsven

YXneMZg.png

Our best attacking player extended his contract in this Summer and committed to the club.

 

Nketsi Matal

T0hZBGM.png

Backup winger, but I still like him - he’s model professional and works hard for his place in the team.

 

Dejan Meleg

XQoEf0Q.png

At one point about two seasons ago it looked like Dejan Meleg is starting to lose his place in the first eleven to Justin Kluivert, but he picked himself up and since last season he’s been in excellent form. Experienced winger, who can score and create chances, take set pieces and has international experience - important part of the team.

 

Justin Kluivert

3hVof6T.png

Justin needs to improve if he wants to emerge from rotation player role and be my first choice on left wing. He can cross from left, he can take corners, he’s quick enough and can dribble, but his performances have not been convincing enough and he hasn’t been able to fully use those minutes that he gets.


 

Strikers

 

Andre Pröpper

NOo2Ihz.png

Pröpper had a great season in Ligue 1 club Evian and now he’s back in Ajax to be our first choice striker. He’s complete forward and can fill this role better than Emil Brown - he’s good with and without ball and can spot the pass and create chances to others. His goals in August show that we can expect 10+ goals from him in this season. One worry is that he has a minimum release fee clause of £10m in his contract, so it might be that he’ll be poached in January transfer window.

 

Stanislas Gonzalez

VBwqBRF.png

After I chose to sell Emil Brown and send Sieme Plat to loan, Stanislas Gonzalez was left to fill the role of backup striker. He’s not expected to contribute too much in this season, but he can probably come in from substitution in games that are under our control in 2nd half. He’s not complete forward or even not really false nine, so one aim is to see him play and figure out how he can contribute in single striker formation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

Youth Players Update

Players in Jong Ajax and out on loan.


 

Simplice Wembangomo

ArImn4j.png

18 years old right-back has a critical season on loan at Jupiler League side FC Oss. His contract is about to end in 2026 and if he can impress in Jupiler League I’ll offer him a new one. Simplice is not the most talented of full-backs, but he has some qualities - his exceptional pace the most prominent one.


 

Peter Mulder

utLwYnk.png

Very versatile right-back and most likely option to take over a place in first team if Ricardo van Rhijn retires.

 

Rick Koning

brygrsX.png

Third right-back on loan. He too needs a good season to earn a new contract, but he suffered broken leg in FC Twente and will be out until February. Good player in Eredivisie level and it’s a difficult choice to make about his future. He’s one of those players who won Euro U-21 Championships in June and I’d like to stick to him.

 

Peter van der Wal

y4cBsld.png

van der Wal went to FC Twente on loan and instantly made midfield playmaker role to his in Grolsch Veste. He has put in some great performances in August and improved a lot during that short time. Very exciting player and I hope he can improve even more in the future.

 

Simon Janssen

rphGCqC.png

After spending most of the last season in Ajax bench, Simon Janssen now has a chance to improve his skills in Portuguese Rio Ave side. Janssen has a lot to prove, as he’s competing with Caliskan for Ajax first team place.

 

Sieme Plat

Bj99z9l.png

He has a lot to prove after unsuccessful season in Ajax. After Andre Pröpper returned, he was sent on loan to ADO Den Haag and I expect him to show his skills and consistency there.

 

Mounir El Amrani

tuLWe0D.png

Very talented young striker that went on loan to newly-promoted Go Ahead Eagles. Wie choice - he’s been first team player there in August and receives plenty first team football.

 

Tarik de Wit

40qA7VU.png

Another talented striker we have in our books - he plays for FC Eindhoven in this season. Very good in the air.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

September 2025

 

International break went well, although Dirk van Grinsven was dropped from Holland national team. But Dragisa Gudelj and Francesco Antonucci were invited to international games and bunch of younger players too. Before September games we’re all fit and prepared - most difficult match will probably be against NAC Breda and we’ll start our continental campaign against FC Kobenhavn in away fixture.

 

12.09.2025 - Ajax - FC Twente Enschede 5:0 (ED) - 2., 17., 71. and 77. Andre Pröpper, 32. Dirk van Grinsven

FC Twente have started their season fairly well and our loanee Peter van der Wal has shown great form in FC Twente midfield despite his young age. FC Twente is one of the teams that have recently started to build their new stadium (to be ready in 2027) and they have financed it a huge £90m loan, so there’s not much left in the bank for transfers. But sometimes less is more and after they got rid of some deadwood and promoted a couple of youngsters, added some talented younger players on loan, their squad doesn’t look so bad and top-half finish is quite realistic goal.

We started with attacking football in mind - flexible shape, Ricardo van Rhijn on the right defense and Pieter Stekelenburg in midfield. FC Twente have explosively quick striker in Ratko Nijs and so I selected Edwards Schans over Mike van der Hoorn - van der Hoorn also being the first casualty after first five league games are played - he has made one good game in August, but overall his performances have not been good enough and if Schans can leave better impression he might even start against FC Kobenhavn. Juventus boss Antonio Conte was also in the stands watching for his performance.

We had a great start to this game - good cross by Dirk van Grinsven found Pröpper in the box and his good header landed in FC Twente goal. That gave us confidence and made things easier. Pröpper extended our lead in 17’ (again cross from right, this time by Ricardo van Rhijn). Then Dirk van Grinsven got a couple of chances - firstly he dribbled into the box in 28’, took two defenders out of the game, but his shot was saved well by FC Twente goalkeeper. Four minutes later he was first to react to loose ball and put us 3-0 ahead in first half. We looked like we really enjoyed first half - FC Twente defenders struggled against our good crossing and especially their left defense was in trouble against van Grinsven. Defensively Marvin Koops didn’t have much to do in the first half.

FC Twente tried to improve after half-time break and they got the best chance in 48’ - short passing game gave opportunity to Dylan Koops, but Marvin Koops made a brilliant save to deny his close range shot. Andre Pröpper continued goalscoring for us, completing his hat-trick in 71’ and adding another goal in 77’.

It was excellent result, outstanding goalscoring and finishing and one of the games that you enjoy watching as a manager.

  • we made 37 dribbles in this game that helped us carve open FC Twente defense
  • Andre Pröpper and Dirk van Grinsven were outstanding with Pröpper scoring our first hat-trick of the season


 

16.09.2025 - FC Kobenhavn - Ajax 0:2 (Champions League Group B) - 3. Dirk van Grinsven, 38. Cengizhan Caliskan

Our first continental game is away fixture against FC Kobenhavn. They are a lot stronger team than their 4th seed suggests and quite capable to cause us some trouble. Surprisingly Francesco Antonucci is suspended for this game (poor management on my behalf - I completely forgot to check if any suspensions from previous season carry on to this one) and so Cengizhan Caliskan had to start as a midfield playmaker next to Noa Lang. Edward Schans earned himself a start in this game after very good performance in FC Twente match and Tom Drost returned to right defense.

We started the game very well - good run and cross by Dejan Meleg found Dirk van Grinsven at the far post and it was 1:0 already in 3rd minute. FC Kobenhavn was dangerous from set pieces and we prepared for that before this match, however, Marcus Mikkelsen’s header from corner hit our crossbar in 25’ - a close call. Just a minute later Meleg had a great chance to extend our lead, but his shot was saved. Young Cengizhan Caliskan filled the boots of Francesco Antonucci and did it exceptionally well, scoring in 38’ with a good shot (again, assist by Meleg) and we were 2:0 ahead at half-time. It was a very good first half and I was really pleased with the team.

FC Kobenhavn tried to make a change in 2nd half and they got their best chance in 52’ - Israel Coll found himself wide open in our box, but Marvin Koops made a brilliant save to deny him. The rest of the half belonged to us, but we failed to add goals despite having good chances to Dejan Meleg and Dirk van Grinsven - van Grinsven hit the post in 62’ and in 65’ he took three shots in a row from close range, all of those were saved well by the goalkeeper. Nevertheless, solid 2:0 win from away game to start our campaign and I’m very happy with that.

  • our shooting was 21/10, which is very good for away game in Champions League
  • we made 52 key passes and 30 dribbles - very good attacking display
  • Cengizhan Caliskan was outstanding in midfield, scoring his first goal for Ajax in the process and Francesco Antonucci’s absence wasn’t a problem at all
  • both Dejan Meleg and Dirk van Grinsven missed two clear cut chances - that’s our area of improvement for next games


 

20.09.2025 - Ajax - NAC Breda 3:0 (ED) - 7. and 18. Andre Pröpper, 8. Dejan Meleg

Back to Eredivisie and we have to keep our concentration high to avoid continental hangover effect. NAC Breda are underperforming at the moment, sitting in 16th place, but they’re predicted to finish 9th and really look like a top half team. Of course, they’ve lost some good players in this Summer, such as Naldo Emanuelson and Michel Berden who both left to MVV Maastricht, but their squad looks well organised and fully fit, so I didn’t expect it to be that easy as it actually was.

We took control of the game early on - Dejan Meleg’s awkward shot was parried by NAC Breda goalkeeper, but Pröpper was first to react and scored from rebound. Just a minute later an excellent deep cross by van Grinsven found Meleg at the far post and it was 2-0 with just 8 minutes played. We were firmly in control after that and Pröpper’s second goal finished the job for us. Dirk van Grinsven had a clear cut chance in 28’, but his shot from tight angle scraped the outside of goal post and went wide. NAC Breda didn’t put up a fight at all and we calmly cruised until the end of the game to take another Eredivisie win.

  • we made 32 dribbles and looked very comfortable with ball on our feet
  • it’s been a feature for us lately to score early goals and much of our goalscoring action takes place in the first 20 minutes of games
  • Pieter Stekelenburg was outstanding in this match, giving 11 key passes and running things from midfield


 

25.09.2025 - FC Volendam - Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 42. Andre Pröpper, 83. Frank van den Hoek

Cup games are the chance for rotation players to impress and this season was no different in that regard. However, we received two bad news from medical staff - Cengizhan Caliskan suffered hernia in this week and he’ll be out for 4-5 weeks. Too bad, as he was rested against NAC Breda, but would have definitely played in this cup game. Noa Lang suffered food poisoning and has to skip this game and perhaps league match against Helmond Sport, too. So our midfield for these matches is Francesco Antonucci and Pieter Stekelenburg and I promoted 17 years old Mario de Groot from U-19 team to add backup from bench.

Because we fielded weakened team and so our level of football wasn’t what we’ve used to in this season, it was one of those games where we controlled midfield comfortably, but attacking movement and finishing wasn’t perfect and it looked like decision making in some attacking moves wasn’t exactly right, understanding and teamwork also needed improvement. But we got our best chance from counter in the end of the first half - Nketsi Matal released Pröpper with excellent long ball and our best striker calmly scored his 10th goal of the season. Frank van den Hoek added our second goal from corner in 2nd half. As a result, 2:0 is completely okay, we only needed few more goals.

  • Frank van den Hoek and Justin Kluivert were outstanding in this win
  • 17 years old midfielder Mario de Groot made his debut for Ajax in 2nd half
  • our 3rd round opponent is Jupiler League side NEC Nijmegen


 

28.09.2025 - Helmond Sport - Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 37. Andre Pröpper, 88. Stanislas Gonzalez

It’s very tight schedule until international break and with Champions League game against Manchester City coming just in three days, it means that some sort of rotation will be wise against Helmond Sport. Helmond are predicted to finish last in this season, but they’ve been playing fairly well and find themselves 13th at the moment. They’ve finished 17th three seasons in a row, but always survived through relegation play-offs. However, their three goalkeepers are injured and it should make our work easier in this game.

Frank van den Hoek and Justin Kluivert earned themselves a start in this match with their performance against FC Volendam. Noa Lang needs another day to recover from food poisoning and he’ll be out too.

We didn’t play well in the first half. Dirk van Grinsven had a good shot in 2’ that was saved, but after that it was mostly drab football, full of yellow cards from our side and lack of chances. But we found the target in 37’ - van Grinsven released Andre Pröpper with excellent through ball and Pröpper only needs one half-chance to score, so that was enough.

We concentrated to holding our lead in 2nd half and the best chances came from Francesco Antonucci - he hit the post in 63’ and saw his shot being saved in 76’. Helmond Sport started to take more risks and search for equalizer in the last five minutes and that gave us more openings. Justin Kluivert’s shot was saved awkwardly and young striker Stanislas Gonzalez was first to get to rebound and his goal put this game beyond doubt. It wasn’t the best performance in my eyes, but win is win and I can’t complain too much about 2:0 scoreline.

  • our shooting was 9/6 - good accuracy, but just 9 shots against Helmond Sport is too low
  • Stanislas Gonzalez scored his first ever league goal for Ajax
  • Francesco Antonucci suffered facial injury in this game and Dirk van Grinsven picked up bruised shin - both are out for Manchester City game and that puts us in a very difficult situation


 

September as a whole was a perfect month for us - all wins, no goals conceded and plenty of goals scored. Can’t fault anything so far.

 

Player of the month: Andre Pröpper - with 8 goals scored in September, he’s been extremely reliable in front of goal.

 

Eredivisie

YRpFC62.png

 

We’ve put some space between us and the following pack, but PSV, FC Utrecht and AZ Alkmaar are chasing together and MVV have ambitions too. Feyenoord finally got their first win, but title challenge is probably over for them.

 

Ajax goals: Andre Pröpper 11, Dejan Meleg 4, Dirk van Grinsven 4

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 8, Dejan Meleg 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

October 2025

 

01.10.2025 - Ajax - Manchester City 1:0 (Champions League Group B) - 90.+1 Noa Lang

Honestly, I didn’t expect to get anything against Manchester City and Bayern in this group and now, with Francesco Antonucci and Dirk van Grinsven out in this home game I expected even less. Noa Lang recovered from food poisoning and returned to line-up. Pieter Stekelenburg took over advanced playmaker role in midfield and Nketsi Matal started on our right wing - if nothing else he has the pace to cause at least some problems to City defense.

Manchester City have topped English Premier League with Chelsea in recent years and they’ve got a great team, including Neymar who came from Barcelona this Summer and our Dodi Hamzah who has now become probably the best striker in the game.

Both teams started carefully and after first five or ten minutes I thought - perhaps it ain’t so bad. We got our first great chance in 10’, but Dejan Meleg wasted his shot and it was held easily by City goalkeeper. Andre Pröpper saw his close range shot being saved in 32’ - another sitter for us. Manchester City looked dangerous enough in set pieces and one of their headers hit the post in 45’. Close call for us. Despite that, I was fairly pleased with our first half performance - we played good football and created chances in attack, our finishing just needs a bit of improvement. You don’t get too many chances against teams like Manchester City and you have to use those if you get them.

City looked more lively in the second half - Dodi Hamzah played himself past Sergio Alleyne and Dejan Meleg, but Marvin Koops made a good save. In 57’ we got a corner, won the header and both Dragisa Gudelj and Sergio Alleyne had a great chances to score, but defenders couldn’t finish. How on earth do you miss from such a close range. Both teams wanted the winning goal and in my mind I was already satisfied with goalless draw, but we finally reached our target in injury time. Justin Kluivert delivered long free kick to post. Nketsi Matal flicked it forward and City defender Cristinel Caciurnac made a move that nobody understood - his poor header landed in far post area where Noa Lang was completely alone and it was the winning goal right there in injury time. No less than we deserved after such a good game and so many wasted chances. Very very good win and I’m really happy about those three points from this game.

  • we had 5 clear cut chances in this game, but scored only one goal from those - finishing needs to improve in Champions League level

 

05.10.2025 - Ajax - MVV Maastricht 4:0 (ED) - 7. and 80. pen. Dejan Meleg, 40. Nketsi Matal, 74. Stanislas Gonzalez

MVV Maasricht is acting like a rich kid in a candy store at the moment, buying some £14m worth of players every Summer and ridiculously overpaying their salaries. They’ve predicted to finish 2nd in this season, but are currently 6th in the table (although, not far off from 2nd place). Because of all this money they’ve got, MVV have gathered pretty strong side and they can’t be underestimated.

We however are still having selection problems. Francesco Antonucci and Dirk van Grinsven are back in training, but both are unfit and I’d prefer not to use them if I don’t have to. They’ll start on the bench. Edward Schans starts in defense and Ricardo van Rhijn is offering his crosses from right. Noa Lang and Pieter Stekelenburg make up our midfield for this game.

We started well and Nketsi Matal got our first half-chance in 2’ - his shot was blocked, but five minutes later Dejan Meleg received a great deep cross from van Rhijn and made it 1-0 with a powerful shot. It reminded me of the Super Cup game from last July when we defeated MVV 5-0 and they looked so vulnerable to our overlapping and deep crosses. It’s a different team now, but same defensive issues and our tactics work perfectly.

We continued to press high and Pieter Stekelenburg was rewarded with glorious chance in 12’ for his efforts. He applied good pressure to ball, got it from last defender, but missed his shot completely - what a waste. MVV looked the most dangerous from set pieces and they won some headers inside our box. Nothing too dangerous, but 1-0 lead seemed like a narrow one, until in 40’ we scored one of the best goals of the season so far - Nathan Leyder spreaded game to left, Dragisa Gudelj got his head to it to prevent throw in, Dejan Meleg headed it forward towards the box, where Noa Lang won his header to direct the ball to far post where Nketsi Matal was anticipating it and finished it into empty goal. Three headers in a row to make up a goal - superb combination. MVV hadn’t given up yet - they got probably their best chance in 44’, but Jan Jansen’s strong shot hit the post and we were a bit lucky not to concede there.

I was happy with 2-0 lead at half-time and instructed team to retain possession. We got a great counter in 50’, Andre Pröpper laid it to Pieter Stekelenburg on a silver plate, but midfielder wasted his second clear cut chance in this game. Our situation improved a lot after MVV defender received a straight red card after hacking down Nketsi Matal and from this point on it was easy enough. Substitute Stanislas Gonzalez extended our lead further and after Matal was fouled in the box, Dejan Meleg made it 4-0 from penalty spot.

In conclusion, a great result and good performance with that. It’s a great way to go to international break.

  • Nketsi Matal, Dejan Meleg and Noa Lang were outstanding in this game


 

19.10.2025 - Willem II Tilburg - Ajax 1:3 (ED) - 61. Rodney Lopes Cabral - 10. and 27. Dirk van Grinsven, 34. Andre Pröpper

International break has passed and we return to Eredivisie football in a game against Willem II. Our opponents are predicted to finish 17th in this season, but are currently holding the 13th position and look fairly good in their attempt to survive. It was difficult to pick squad for this game - it should be fairly easy, but it’s away game and we have very tough Bayern match coming in three days. I opted for van Rhijn in right defense, Alleyne and Schans in centre-back and Frank van den Hoek in DMC because I promised him more first team football. Francesco Antonucci and Dirk van Grinsven were fit and both started.

We played a very good first half - Dirk van Grinsven gave us 1-0 lead with excellent shot from inside of area and he doubled his tally in 27’ after good pass by Antonucci. In 34’ Dejan Meleg saw his header hit the post, but Pröpper got his foot in and flicked it into the empty net.

It was very good first half and I chose to rest Antonucci for second half. Dirk van Grinsven dribbled into the box in 48’, played past two defenders, but his shot went into side-netting. We were perhaps too careless in defense and allowed Willem II to score a consolation goal in 61’. Their attack started from Frank van den Hoek’s missed interception, Marvin Koops made a great save to deny their first shot, but Lopes Cabral was first to get to rebound and made it 1-3 for final score.

It was a good result, but I wasn’t happy with second half performance. Frank van den Hoek should play better if he wants to prove that he deserves more first team football.

  • we made 30 dribbles in this game - we’ve shown that we’re really good with the ball in this season
  • Willem II committed 32 fouls and that fouling often disrupted the flow of the game
  • Dirk van Grinsven was outstanding in this game


 

22.10.2025 - Bayern - Ajax 0:2 (Champions League Group B) - 40. Dirk van Grinsven, 68. Justin Kluivert

Very difficult game and away match too, so I don’t have too much hopes to get anything from this game and keeping things respectable in the back is our main target. Tom Drost, Noa Lang and Nathan Leyder return to line-up, they are well-rested and hopefully can give their best against Bayern. Bayern in 2025 looks much different, but Robert Lewandowski, David Alaba and Julian Draxler are still there. I chose flexible shape and asked my fullbacks not to overlap as they usually do.

The game started slowly, but Bayern had more possession and soon some half-chances started to come from them - Marvin Koops had to make a couple of good saves in the first half and in 34’ Malcom header went against our goal post. But we didn’t give Bayern any clear cut chances and good goalkeeping by Koops kept it 0-0 until we finally got our best chance in 40’ - good combination between Leyder, Antonucci and Meleg found Dirk van Grinsven in the box and right winger’s finish was excellent. It was a great time to score just before half-time and Bayern looked nervous after they realized they’re behind.

At half-time there was some things to note - we’ve done well enough defensively, but 15 individual mistakes in first half is too many and we should improve on that department.

We did a lot better job defensively in 2nd half - partly because Bayern really looked nervous and although they were pushing for equalizer they didn’t get any good chances, but partly because our defensive line did wonderful job to tackle, intercept and win all headers that came to our way. In 68’ Justin Kluivert extended our lead from IFK and in 71’ Marvin Koops was tested by Robert Lewandowski, but we held our lead fairly comfortably for the last 20 minutes of the match. 2:0 away win is a wonderful result for us and puts us in a very good position after three games have been played.

  • we didn’t allow Bayern any clear cut chances and that’s a wonderful defensive performance
  • our shooting was 3/3 - three shots, all on target and two goals - very clinical finishing


 

25.10.2025 - Ajax - Vitesse Arnhem 0:0 (ED)

Just three days after Bayern game, we’re back in Eredivisie and home game against Vitesse who have been decent mid-table side in recent years and predicted to finish 10th by media. It’s always difficult to choose line-up in situations like this. Cengizhan Caliskan has recovered from his injury and he’s back in training, that is very good news.

We had things under our control from the beginning, but we couldn’t score - Andre Pröpper saw his shot being saved in 9’ and just a minute later Francesco Antonucci hit the post. In 32’ Dirk van Grinsven sent a header towards Vitesse goal. It was held by goalkeeper, but it looked like it might have crossed the goal line and in replays it clearly showed that it should have been counted. It wasn’t bad first half, but we needed more composure in front of goal and had to improve our finishing.

I switched to fluid shape after half-time, but we couldn’t improve our attacks and our attacking three looked nervous on the pitch and lacked composure. We got some good shots towards goal and kept Vitesse goalkeeper under pressure, but it was more down to good shooting than creating quality chances, so we always looked like we missed one gear up front to really put Vitesse under pressure. That’s why in the end we had to settle with goalless draw. That draw ended our winning streak in Eredivisie, but actually I don’t mind too much, because our league position is very strong and after Bayern win some relapse looked inevitable.


 

28.10.2025 - Ajax - NEC Nijmegen 1:1p (Dutch Cup 3rd round) - 3. Andre Pröpper - 76. pen. Jerry van Ewijk

Tight schedule means that we went against Jupiler League side NEC with rotation players. Cengizhan Caliskan was in line-up for this game and only Andre Pröpper from first team was in starting eleven.

We started well and Pröpper’s good shot made it 1-0 already in third minute. Some half-chances followed, but the first half ended with the same scoreline. We had things under our control, but our attacking game didn’t click, our movement was out of sync and we strayed to offside positions too often. However, it’s something that is expected when players don’t play together every week.

Second half looked good too - Nketsi Matal had a good shot on goal in 55’, but then Frank van den Hoek made a very poor decision and fouled NEC player inside our box. Jerry van Ewijk converted the penalty and equalized with just 14 minutes to go. We didn’t improve our game, but almost made it worse - Bob Leeflang had to make a really good save to avoid second goal in 90’ and in the start of extra time we gave away another clear cut chance, but this time van Ewijk hit the side netting. Rest of the extra time was more careful from both sides and one good shot from Stanislas Gonzalez in 106’ was all that is noteworthy of that period.

So we went to penalty shoot-out lottery. First five penalties ended 4-4 (Cengizhan Caliskan missed from our side) and then Edward Schans had a chance to win it for us, but his shot was saved by NEC goalkeeper and then our 9th penalty take Pieter Stekelenburg was the one who couldn’t convert his spot kick and so NEC had won this cup game.

We really have no excuses for this sort of poor result, but I’m not sure I have any regrets about line-up either. With difficult games coming up, cup games are the chance for youngsters to prove themselves and most of them just didn’t justify their ambitions about first team place. Ricardo van Rhijn and Cengizhan Caliskan were the only ones who did well, all the rest were mediocre at best. Frank van den Hoek who complained about first team football and was promised more chances looks too error-prone defensively - his mistake cost us one goal against Willem II and now his foul caused the penalty. That’s not good enough.

  • our shooting was 22/12, but we didn’t get enough good chances
  • we had 18 corners, but weren’t able to convert them to goals


 

Despite that cup loss our October wasn’t too bad and that evaluation is mostly based on our success in Champions League. Wins over Manchester City and Bayern are huge and to get them in one month means that we’re doing something right. Our league position is also very strong and it should take some pressure off from players.

 

Player of the month: Noa Lang - very difficult choice because I’ve rotated my squad so much, but Noa has been very consistent with his performances, he was outstanding in our win over MVV Maastricht and his late winner against Manchester City might prove to be a very valuable goal.


 

Eredivisie

UT63Fs9.png

 

We’ve put some distance behind us and are 10 points clear in the table. Bottom three of the league are Sparta, Go Ahead Eagles and ADO Den Haag. ADO board were first to lose patience and they sacked Henk Fräser in the end of October when poor league start was topped with cup loss to Jupiler League side Heracles Almelo.


 

Ajax goals: Andre Pröpper 13, Dirk van Grinsven 7, Dejan Meleg 6

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 8, Dejan Meleg 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

November 2025

 

01.11.2025 - PSV Eindhoven - Ajax 1:3 (ED) - 4. Piet Koppelaar - 41. Andre Pröpper, 46. and 64. Dirk van Grinsven

PSV is back! After several seasons they’ve finished out of top three and falling to 16th position last season they finally look like contenders for top places once again. They’ve got some good talent in squad and yes, some positions need improvement, but they’ve done fairly well so far in Eredivisie and in away game they’re definitely a tough team to face.

I selected most of my first team squad and chose flexible team shape.

We got a quick chance in 2’ - good counter ended with Dirk van Grinsven alone in PSV box with all the time and space, but his shot was easily saved by PSV goalkeeper. Two minutes later Mike van der Hoorn couldn’t stop Piet Koppelaar going past him and PSV striker made it 1-0 with a lovely chip. That’s a real blow - you just can’t waste one chance like that and then let your opponent score. We didn’t waste time and Andre Pröpper got a great chance in 6’, but his shot was rushed and easily saved by keeper. Just a minute later Dejan Meleg forced PSV goalkeeper to make another brilliant save. We were in fire in the first ten minutes, but scoreline was still 0-1 and it remained like that until the end of the first half. Andre Pröpper managed to equalize in 41’. In a game where we wasted so many good opportunities, we finally scored from rather opportunistic shot, but considering our chances it was no less than we deserved.

I demanded improvements in my half-time talk and looks like it found the audience - Dirk van Grinsven scored a quick goal from tap-in right from our first attack in 2nd half and extended our lead in 64’ from rebound, after goalkeeper had difficulties to parry Cengizhan Caliskan long shot. We did better job defensively in 2nd half and kept PSV quiet until they got their first clear cut chance in 85’ - this time from corner, but Yasin Aarab’s shot was held by Marvin Koops.

In the end it was a good result in away game against PSV. Dirk van Grinsven changed the game for us - his goals in second half put us in control and he looked very motivated after half-time. But some problems were still evident defensively and our finishing should improve a lot against better teams.

  • our shooting was 25/14 - impressive stats
  • Dirk van Grinsven was outstanding in this game

 

04.11.2025 - Ajax - Bayern 1:0 (Champions League Group B) - 7. Dirk van Grinsven

We’ve put ourselves in very strong position in our group by winning all three games so far and a good result from here would secure our qualification to knockout stages. But it’s still a very tough match and Bayern are certainly looking for revenge for defeat in Allianz Arena.

I chose flexible shape for this match, chalked down overlapping orders and made one change in line-up - Mike van der Hoorn’s sub-par performance against PSV means that he’ll start from bench against Bayern, and Edward Schans is in first team.

We scored a flyer in 7’ - Dejan Meleg found van Grinsven in far post with a lovely cross and it was easy goal for in-form right winger. Early goal meant that Bayern had to attack more and that opened space for counters. Interestingly, Bayern couldn’t put us under real pressure in this game. Yes, they had some chances and two shots by Kevin Volland demanded good saves by Marvin Koops in the first half, but we looked comfortable in defense and with ball as well.

Our second half was even better - counters worked like a treat and chances started to come our way, but finishing let us down completely. Dejan Meleg wasted his 1-1 opportunity in 48’. Dragisa Gudelj shot from open position was saved in 55’ (you can forgive him, he’s a full-back) and Dirk van Grinsven sent his shots on target and kept Bayern goalkeeper Filipovic busy. We got a penalty in 72’, after Justin Kluivert was pushed in the box, but Francesco Antonucci couldn’t convert it and Filipovic made a penalty save to top his fantastic performance that night. So, it ended 1-0 for us, and although I’m not happy with our finishing in 2nd half, I’m delighted with result - we’ve in Champions League knockout stages for 2nd season in a row and we secured this place so early in this year!

  • Bayern goalkeeper Denis Filipovic collected man of the match award with 9.2 rating - he really was superb and it could have been lot worse for Bayern if it wasn’t his good saves that night


08.11.2025 - Ajax - Sparta Rotterdam 6:0 (ED) - 8., 23. and 44. Andre Pröpper, 26. and 28. Dirk van Grinsven, 62. Justin Kluivert

After continental game it should be a little bit easier home game in Eredivisie. Sparta are predicted to finish 13th and in Amsterdam Arena I was brave enough to rotate our squad - Michel de Boer, Frank van den Hoek and Cengizhan Caliskan were selected.

It was one of those games where everything falls into place and results in a big win. There are always one or two of those in a season and it was the first one this year. We were very comfortable with the ball, Andre Pröpper was clinical in front of goal and we were first to react to rebounds whenever the ball was loose in the box. After first half we had secured our win and in second half we were just cruising. Great to see rotation players to raise up to challenge.

  • our shooting was 25/13
  • Andre Pröpper, Dirk van Grinsven and Michel de Boer were outstanding in this game
  • Ricardo van Rhijn made his 350th league appearance for Ajax

 

PSV manager Joao Tralhao leaves the club for new job at Cesena and so our rivals are searching for the new manager. After a while they hired Sander Duits from Go Ahead Eagles (poor choice, if you ask me).


21.11.2025 - AZ Alkmaar - Ajax 0:2 (ED) - 29. Andre Pröpper, 39. Dirk van Grinsven

AZ Alkmaar have had a good season so far, despite being placed 11th in pre-season predictions. They are struggling with injuries though, and most of their strikers are sidelined with different knocks.

It was international break in the past ten days and we had some casualties too - Francesco Antonucci and Cengizhan Caliskan returned tired and were rested in this match. Nketsi Matal managed to strain his stomach muscle and will be out for 2-3 weeks.

Despite playing away from home, we put AZ under good pressure in the first 15 minutes and took control of the game. Andre Pröpper opened scoring in 29’ from IFK and Dirk van Grinsven extended our lead ten minutes later (Pröpper provided an excellent through ball for him). We didn’t have too many chances in the first half, but we used them well and went to half-time with 2-0 lead, so I was happy with our performance.

After half-time break AZ Alkmaar started to attack more and got some shots on goal too. They opened up their defense in the process, but we couldn’t use that in counter attacks. Second half offered a good battle in midfield and AZ looked better on the pitch, however, no goals were scored and we had another clean sheet in this game.

  • we had 64% possession in this match
  • we lost way too many duels in the game - tackles and headers went to AZ in too many occasions
  • Tom Drost put in outstanding performance
  • it was my 500th game in football management

 

26.11.2025 - Ajax - FC Kobenhavn - 5:0 (Champions League Group B) - 15. Frank van den Hoek, 21. and 32. Andre Pröpper, 60. Justin Kluivert, 72. Mike van der Hoorn

Dragisa Gudelj was injured in training before this match and he’ll be out for 6-7 weeks (essentially until January), so Michel de Boer gets his big chance as our left-back in the following weeks. Tom Drost was rested because of yellow cards, Edward Schans also started from the bench because he didn’t look too sharp. I started with Frank van den Hoek and Cengizhan Caliskan in midfield.

FC Kobenhavn didn’t have much to play for in this stage and it clearly showed. We were in full control of the game and took the lead in 15’ - Frank van den Hoek sent a good shot next to the post from the edge of area. Good run from right wing by van Grinsven created a chance for Andre Pröpper in 21’ and after Dejan Meleg wasted a couple of chances, Pröpper made it 3-0 after just over 30 minutes were played. It was his 20th goal in this season and he reached to that number before the end of November!

We continued to play well in second half - substitute Justin Kluivert found the net in 60’ and central defender Mike van der Hoorn scored from corner - a rare goal from him.

  • It was another excellent performance and great result for us. With that win we’ve secured the first place in our group.
  • our shooting was 23/13
  • Mike van der Hoorn, Ricardo van Rhijn, Frank van den Hoek and Dirk van Grinsven were outstanding in this game

 

ADO Den Haag finally decided that Piet Velthuizen will become their new manager and he will have the task to turn their poor season around in the coming months.

 

29.11.2025 - Ajax - FC Utrecht 3:0 (ED) - 53. Andre Pröpper, 55. Sean Klaiber (og), 82. Justin Kluivert

FC Utrecht have been very good this season. They’re predicted to finish 6th, but they’re fighting for top three places in December and look strong enough to surprise anyone. Tom Drost, Edwards Schans, Nathan Leyder and Francesco Antonucci returned to line-up for us, so it was pretty much our first team in this game.

First half was careful from both sides. We got our best chance in 25’, when Sergio Alleyne found himself in 1-1 situation after free-kick, but central defender couldn’t finish. Dejan Meleg saw his shot hit the post two minutes later, but that was it about good chances. We looked slightly better in midfield, but weren’t convincing enough and couldn’t create good chances.

It took some individual brilliance to break through and Andre Pröpper offered that in 2nd half - his brilliant chip found the net from 17 meters out and then FC Utrecht’s defense started to grumble - Justin Kluivert’s shot took a fortunate deflection from Sean Klaiber and we were 2-0 ahead just two minutes later. Kluivert scored our third goal with a simple tap-in later in the game. We got a comfortable three-goal win after good second half performance and extended our unbeaten run to 27 games.

  • Dirk van Grinsven was outstanding in this game

 

November has been outstanding month for us. We were 0:1 behind against PSV and fought back from that and we haven’t conceded a single goal in this month after that. Most impressive is our form in Champions League - second win over Bayern and we’re still to concede our first goal in the group stage. All the players are contributing well, goals are coming and defense holds strong. Feels wonderful to be a manager if everything works out like that.

 

Player of the month: Dirk van Grinsven - he’s scored 6 goals in November and put in 4 outstanding performances (ratings over 9.0). Can’t ask for more. Media is talking about him and pundits are demanding for his inclusion to Holland national team, however he’s not being picked in November.


 

Eredivisie

DSkaF4L.png


The league looks easy after a start like that. We’re playing without pressure, but playing well nonetheless.

 

Ajax goals: Andre Pröpper 21, Dirk van Grinsven 13, Dejan Meleg 6

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 12, Dejan Meleg 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

December 2025

 

03.12.2025 - FC Groningen - Ajax 0:1 (ED) - 26. Andre Pröpper

FC Groningen are strong contenders who are predicted to finish 5th in the league. Away game against them wasn’t an easy challenge and first 25 minutes were careful from them. Deadlock was broken by Noa Lang’s superb assist that found Andre Pröpper in front of goal and our goalscoring machine made it 1:0. Sheraldo Becker had a chance to equalize two minutes later, but his shot went wide.

Same careful football continued into 2nd half. We had more of possession, but not so many good chances. On the other end, FC Groningen got a great counter in 66’, Becker received the ball in our box, but Marvin Koops came out as the winner of this 1-1 situation. In the end we held onto that narrow lead, but it was one of those games where performance was just average, but good enough for a win. We had no clear chances in this game and our defense gave FC Groningen at least some opportunities and perhaps too much open space in certain situations, so they probably feel that they deserved a draw.


After this matchday MVV Maastricht got enough of Alex Pastoor. Top half place in the table is not good enough after so much money has been invested to their team and they’re expected to challenge for the title.

PSV at the same time made a decision and hired Sander Duits as a manager from Go Ahead Eagles.


 

06.12.2025 - Ajax - ADO Den Haag 3:0 (ED) - 3. Cengizhan Caliskan, 30. Dirk van Grinsven, 68. Stanislas Gonzalez

Between away games against FC Groningen and Manchester City, this game should be a little bit easier challenge. ADO Den Haag are predicted to finish 10th in the league, but they currently lie in relegation zone, have some injury problems in some positions and look tired overall. I sent rotation players in for this game. Nketsi Matal is back from his injury, but he started from the bench.

We were more alert from the start and Caliskan scored opening goal already in 3rd minute. He was the first to react to loose ball in ADO box. The rest of the game was our control, despite some good chances that we missed. Dirk van Grinsven doubled our lead from IFK.

In second half we almost allowed ADO back into the game - Pieter Stekelenburg gave a very poor backpass that was intercepted, but brilliant save by Marvin Koops kept our clean sheet. Just a minute later young striker Stanislas Gonzalez scored our third goal, finishing a good move and assist by Justin Kluivert. It was a very good win and I was happy that we won 3:0 while some of the key players got a rest day.

  • that win means we’ve gone through the first 17 games in Eredivisie undefeated, with 16 wins and 1 draw
  • Cengizhan Caliskan scored his first ever league goal for Ajax


 

09.12.2025 - Manchester City - Ajax 1:2 (Champions League Group B) - 22. Amara Traore - 16. and 45.+1 Andre Pröpper

With qualification places decided in this group, this game had no real importance, but we went against Manchester City with our best team and I secretly hoped to keep our undefeated streak going for a little more. As before in Champions League games, I ticked down overlapping orders. Because Dragisa Gudelj was still injured, Michel de Boer started in left defense and he probably was our weakest link because of age, skills and inexperience.

We started well in attack and Dejan Meleg got our first wonderful chance in 4’. His shot, however, was blasted over and that was a shame. Andre Pröpper scored our first goal in 16’ - Noa Lang gave him a good pass and Pröpper had all the time and space in Manchester City box. But City was quick to equalize - Amara Traore made it 1-1 few minutes later.

Dejan Meleg wasn’t at his best in this game and he wasted another clear cut chance in 39’ (or we can just recognize the brilliant save by goalkeeper), but he was provider with through ball to our second goal that Pröpper scored just before half-time whistle. Great time to score and we deserved to lead after creating 4 clear-cut chances in the first half.

Manchester City wanted to change things and applied more pressure in the beginning of the second half. We held on, however, but started to look more desperate in the last 15 minutes. City brought in ex-Ajax striker Dodi Hamzah and he really changed the game, getting shots in and creating opportunities to himself and others. Marvin Koops had to make several good saves to keep our lead safe. It turned mayhem in the final minutes - Tom Drost received his 2nd yellow card in 90’ and Raheem Sterling curled his DFK against crossbar. Koops saved another shot by Otero and so, after tough fighting defensively, we secured our 6th win in the group stage.

  • Manchester City had 22 shots in this game, but only 5 went on target
  • we made too many individual mistakes, Nathan Leyder was responsible for 5 of them
  • Andre Pröpper was outstanding for us in this game

 

Champions League group stage offered some surprises. Real Madrid was knocked out with Bayern (in our group) and Dortmund Borussia also failing to reach knockout stages. PSG failed to qualify from death group that included Chelsea, AC Milan and Atletico).

In knockout stages we’ll go against Zenit - it was probably the best draw possible for us, despite long flight to Russia.

 

After this win and performance against Manchester City I had no other choice than to offer Andre Pröpper a new contract. After tough negotiations with his agent we settled with £30,000 p/week salary until 2029.

Some staff changes were made in December with Estonian Ragnar Klavan leaving his U-19 coach position to take helm at Jupiler League side FC Den Bosch.


 

20.12.2025 - SC Cambuur - Ajax 0:3 (ED) - 16. Tom Drost, 45. Andre Pröpper, 80. Sergio Alleyne

It was nice to have 11 days between two games before this fixture. Ricardo van Rhijn and Frank van den Hoek were suspended, Dragisa Gudelj still injured, so defensive line looked less bolstered than usual.

Tom Drost found himself alone in the box in 16’ and scored his first goal of the season with good composure. Francesco Antonucci wasted his clear cut chance in 31’, but Tom Drost was fouled right after that in SC Cambuur penalty area. Dejan Meleg couldn’t convert his penalty, though. Despite that we went to half-time with a two goal lead - Andre Pröpper found the net from tight angle and again it was Tom Drost who contributed to goal with a good tackle in SC Cambuur box. We had 2-0 lead at half-time and Tom Drost seemed to be almost everywhere. He should have had two assists to his name next to this goal.

Second half was less exciting. Pieter Stekelenburg rattled crossbar with his shot from distance and Sergio Alleyne scored our third goal from IFK. It was a good result away from home, but some of the players showed signs of complacency and our usual motivation and concentration wasn’t there.

  • our shooting was 21/10, it’s always a good sign if we get 10+ goals on target


 

Managerial movements in Eredivisie - Alex Pastoor who was sacked from MVV, took charge of Go Ahead Eagles. Maarten Stekelenburg escaped the sinking ship (Sparta Rotterdam are the last in the table) and was appointed as the new manager to MVV.


 

31.12.2025 - Ajax - Go Ahead Eagles 3:0 (ED) - 20. pen. Dejan Meleg, 30. and 68. Dirk van Grinsven

Go Ahead Eagles are fighting against relegation and there’s no love lost between me and their new manager Alex Pastoor, so media enjoyed our exchange of words before this game, but on the pitch it was still easy for us.

Frank van den Hoek picked up an injury in training (sports hernia) and was sidelined for this game.

We took control in the first half, after penalty by Dejan Meleg (poor shot to be honest, goalkeeper got his hand to it, but couldn’t save) and Dirk van Grinsven scored after good through ball by Andre Pröpper.

van Grinsven provided most of the spark in the second half as well - he created chances by beating defenders with his pace and his second goal was just a joy to watch - he did beat two defenders in the box and finished from tight angle. Good win for the end of the year and we go to January break on high spirits.

  • we made 30 dribbles in this game
  • Dirk van Grinsven and Pieter Stekelenburg were outstanding in this game




 

Excellent month for us ,with only wins to show and Manchester City game was a cherry on the cake. Eredivisie looks easy enough at the moment, players are working hard and motivation is high most of the time.

Player of the month: Andre Pröpper - 4 goals, but the most important ones came from him. Also provided assists and created chances for others.

 

Eredivisie

36rHtFP.png

 

We’re way above others in the table. Relegation battle offers more excitement and drama though. sc Heerenveen are doing very well to be 2nd at the moment.

 

Ajax goals: Andre Pröpper 25, Dirk van Grinsven 16, Dejan Meleg 7

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 13, Dejan Meleg 10, Andre Pröpper 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

 

January 2026

 

New year brought us an unexpected award. Andre Pröpper was selected as European Golden Boy - the second Ajax player to receive such honor.

 

We made two loan moves in January:

  • Marco Oomen went to FC Eindhoven for 6 months
  • Nketsi Matal was loaned to Turkish side Osmanlispor - he was after more first team football and temporary loan move looked like a good idea at this point.

 

Injury bug finally caught us in January and several players were out with different knocks. Marvin Koops suffered twisted ankle and will be sidelined for 3-4 weeks. Michel de Boer managed to get sports hernia (4-5 weeks). Worst of it was Stanislas Gonzalez - torn hamstring in friendly keeps him out for 3 months. I promoted 17 years old Jeroen Capobianco from U-19 to give Pröpper some rest in easier games, but he too suffered an injury - strained stomach muscle (2-3 weeks). With Matal gone to Turkey, it leaves our bench quite short. for the first games.

But Dragisa Gudelj and Frank van den Hoek are back in training and that should give us some options.


 

24.01.2026 - Ajax - sc Heerenveen 3:1 (ED) - 32. Noa Lang, 45. Andre Pröpper, 80. Justin Kluivert - 17. Dennis Jansen

After January friendlies it was time to resume our Eredivisie campaign. sc Heerenveen are a strong team that will go for top three places in this season and they are not to be underestimated. First 15 minutes were careful from both sides, but we looked too vulnerable to crosses into box, mainly because Edward Schans lost several headers against sc Heerenveen players. We were behind after 17’ - Tom Drost was in serious trouble against sc Heerenveen’s Matteo Cazzola - winger easily went past him on our right flank and the cross found Dennis Jansen in front of goal. It took some time, but our equalizer came from corner in 32’ - Noa Lang fired an outstanding shot into top corner and in the end of the first half Andre Pröpper showed why he’s a great striker. He received the ball in sc Heerenveen box, turned around two defenders and finished calmly - a very good striker’s move. We were 2-1 ahead at half-time and I was happy with come-back, but our defense looked too nervous in the first half and we needed more chances in attack.

Bob Leeflang made a good save in 63’ to deny Dennis Jansen and then we took initiative in the game. Justin Kluivert came in for Dejan Meleg and started to make impact. Dirk van Grinsven should have scored in 73’, when opportunity was presented to him after Kluivert’s excellent cross. Then Kluivert saw his shot saved in 77’, but finally two wingers combined successfully and Kluivert’s header found the net after good cross from our right wing. That put the result beyond doubt. Second half was much better football from us - we controlled midfield and created chances.

  • we made 21 individual mistakes and allowed 33 dribbles by sc Heerenveen players - it was the first half that was problematic for us and contributed to these numbers
  • Dirk van Grinsven was outstanding and finished the game with two assists


 

28.01.2026 - Ajax - Feyenoord Rotterdam 2:0 (ED) - 55. Dirk van Grinsven, 85. Dragisa Gudelj

De Klassikier derby finishes January for us, against Feyenoord who are in excellent form and after sc Heerenveen lost, are holding 2nd place in the table. They have been really impressive and are currently 14 games unbeaten, so I expected a tough game.

In addition to injuries, Francesco Antonucci was suspended for this game. I order our attacking players to close down and harass opponents to win the ball back quickly and obviously that results a number of yellow cards, especially in attacking midfielder players who are not the best tacklers.

First 20 minutes of the derby were quiet and careful and then we started to increase pressure on Feyenoord. Dirk van Grinsven had a several chances and the best of those came in 29’. He intercepted Feyenoord throw in and was clear on goal, but couldn’t finish his opportunity and the shot was saved. We certainly edged the first half, but poor finishing kept us from taking a lead.

Second half looked fairly similar - Feyenoord didn’t offer much attacking threat and we tried to break through. Mike van der Hoorn was in a good position after corner and he also got the ball, but his fierce shot clipped crossbar on its way over. Excellent counter gave us our first goal - Dejan Meleg run with the ball down the left flank and his cross found van Grinsven at the far post. Easy goal, easy football. Cengizhan Caliskan wasted his clear cut chance in 59’, but things looked well under our control in midfield. However, every team gets at least one good chance in a football game and Feyenoord got theirs in 68’ - Sergio Alleyne missed his interception in midfield and left the gap in our defense, but Bob Leeflang made a good save to keep our clean sheet. In 80’ van Grinsven took the ball to counter and opted for curling shot from 30 yards out, that was bent past goalkeeper, but hit the post instead of going in. Unlucky - that could have been the best goal of the season. We were after the second goal and it came in 85’ - Dragisa Gudelj was unmarked in front of goal and his header went into the net. It was a very good performance and good result and I’m sure our fans headed home happy after that game.

  • we had 62% of possession
  • our shooting was 29/10 - finishing could have been better in certain situations, but we created a lot of chances to ourselves
  • Dirk van Grinsven and Cegnizhan Caliskan were outstanding - Antonucci’s absence wasn’t felt at all on the pitch

There were only two games in January, but sc Heerenveen and Feyenoord have been the best teams of the rest of the pack in this season. Beating them convincingly gives us a lot of confidence and proves our superiority in Eredivisie.

 

Player of the month: Dirk van Grinsven - excellent in both games, contributing a goal and three assists to those wins.



Eredivisie

TKNhBpX.png

 

We are virtually 21 points clear in the table and after sc Heerenveen and Feyenoord suffered defeats, PSV have taken over the 2nd place. Battle for top three places is still going on and table behind us looks tight enough to offer some excitement.

 

Ajax goals: Andre Pröpper 26, Dirk van Grinsven 17, Dejan Meleg 7

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 16, Dejan Meleg 11, Andre Pröpper 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

February 2026

 

01.02.2026 - FC Eindhoven - Ajax 2:2 (ED) - 64. Loic Dewitte, 73. Tarik de Wit - 32. Andre Pröpper, 65. Dirk van Grinsven

It appears that we have only away games in this February and first of those is a trip to Eindhoven. FC Eindhoven are struggling near relegation zone and haven’t got a win in the last 16 games. They also have three of Ajax players on loan - Peter Mulder, Marco Oomen and Tarik de Wit.

We started with a mistake - Edward Schans missed his interception and Tarik de Wit got a shot in in 2’ and forced Bob Leeflang to make a brilliant save early on. But after that we took full control of the game. Dirk van Grinsven dribbled past two defenders in FC Eindhoven box, but his shot was saved by opponent goalkeeper. We controlled midfield and got some good shots in, but it took 32 minutes to score. Ricardo van Rhijn sent a great cross in and Andre Pröpper was open in 6 yard box. It took two attempts, but we had a goal! Just a minute later we got a good counter and Pröpper had a chance to double his tally, but another brilliant save by FC Eindhoven keeper Xavier Mous denied him. We were a lot better team in this first half and already had 9 shots on target, but our lead was narrow and we should have finished our chances better.

Second half started with pouring rain and our technical football was less efficient. FC Eindhoven were just one goal down and they found their equalizer in 64’. Dragisa Gudelj missed his tackle and allowed a run down to our left and following cross found Loic Dewitte at the far post. We reacted quickly and just a minute later van Grinsven found the net. I was not happy with our defense and rightly so, as we conceded another goal. This time it was Tarik de Wit who missed his interception in IFK situation and FC Eindhoven got an equalizer. We couldn’t find another goal in remaining time. I was really upset about our defense in this game - we haven’t been so sloppy before in this season and our attack wasn’t much better either - we had plenty of chances to finish this game in the first half, but didn’t use them and were punished after half-time.

  • our shooting was 31/11
  • player of the game was Xavier Mous, who made several brilliant saves in FC Eindhoven goal


Before transfer window shut down in the next day, we sent Mario de Groot on loan to Jupiler League side PEC Zwolle. Dortmund made a bid for Dirk van Grinsven, but weren’t prepared to pay the right price and so this deal was off.

We also signed a new U-19 coach from England. Rob Hoskins fills the place in staff that has been vacant since Ragnar Klavan’s departure earlier in this season.


 

06.02.2026 - FC Twente Enschede - Ajax 1:3 (ED) - 18. Ratko Nijs - 44. and 81. Andre Pröpper, 88. Dirk van Grinsven

FC Twente have a lot of debt because of new stadium construction and they’re pretty cash-strapped in transfer market, so their squad looks a bit uneven and not very welle balanced. But they had two Ajax players in their line-up: Rick Koning and Peter van der Wal. I made some changes in defensive line - Edward Schans and Ricardo van Rhijn were dropped, Sergio Alleyne and Tom Drost were selected. Grolsch Veste stadium greeted us with another rainy weather and it looked like a muddy battle, not a beautiful technical football.

First fifteen minutes were very open game, end to end stuff. Mike van der Hoorn blasted his shot over after IFK and then FC Twente started to get chances. Bob Leeflang made two saves in a row to deny Niklas Füllkrug, then held attempt by Guus Til in 15’, but soon we conceded the first goal. Füllkrug played so easily past Dragisa Gudelj on our left and Ratko Nijs was completely unmarked in six yard box. I was started to get really upset with our defense in those last games, can’t understand what the guys are thinking in certain situations. Goal was well deserved for FC Twente and it looked like it was coming for ten minutes already. We picked ourselves up, though - Dejan Meleg had a clear cut chance in 21’, but his shot was saved. Dirk van Grinsven saw his effort being parried and then we almost gifted FC Twente another goal. Frank van den Hoek gave ball away too easily and following attack ended with Jeroen Pattinama in good position, but this shot went well wide - we were fortunate there. Our equalizer came in the end of first half - Dirk van Grinsven made a good run from our right, his cross found Pröpper in the box and good header landed in the net. Not completely deserved, but we needed that goal just before half-time whistle.

We looked a lot better in control after half-time break and Andre Pröpper started to take over our attacks. He got some half-chances in 58’ and 60’ that didn’t find the net, but we were patient and it paid off. Pröpper scored his 2nd goal of the game - carbon copy of the first one, similar cross by van Grinsven and header that went in off the bar. Later he released Dirk van Grinsven on the counter with a good pass and van Grinsven finished with fierce shot. It was a hard fought win for us, solid second half and last ten minutes were pretty good, but defensive errors in the first half certainly raise some questions.

  • Andre Pröpper and Dirk van Grinsven were superb against FC Twente - they really carried us, created all three goals between themselves and the rest of the team looked quite mediocre in comparison

 

13.02.2026 - NAC Breda - Ajax 0:1 (ED)  - 26. Andre Pröpper

Good news before this game is that Marvin Koops is fit again and in line-up against Breda. But Mike van der Hoorn misses out due to suspension after collecting five yellow cards. Our line-up was a bit experimental - Pieter Stekelenburg started in midfield and I decided to give Justin Kluivert a chance to start, because Meleg hasn’t been so sharp lately.

Game started slowly and neither teams had upper hand. Breda looked most dangerous in free kick situations, but we’ve been prepared for them in our pre-match training. We couldn’t create enough dangerous chances in attack, but when you’re stuck and need a goal, individual skills can make all the difference and it was the case here too - Andre Pröpper opened scoring with a wonderful bicycle kick out of nowhere. What a way to score his 30th goal of the season! Dirk van Grinsven got his opportunity ten minutes later, but his shot was saved. Not the most convincing first half, but Pröpper’s goal gave us advantage.

NAC Breda started to look for equalizer after half-time break. We defended well, but also couldn’t use counter-attacks that were given to us. It wasn’t the most exciting football game until the very end, when Breda got one good cross in from our left and Ralf Stam saw his close range shot hit the post. That was a close call for us and could have been very costly, but final whistle saved us. Another three points in the bag, even though performance wasn’t as good as expected.


 

21.02.2026 - MVV Maastricht - Ajax 1:4 (ED) - 11. Joel Campbell - 44. and 81. Dirk van Grinsven, 53. and 74. Andre Pröpper

More good news from physio room - Michel de Boer is back in training, Mike van der Hoorn also available for this game. Justin Kluivert didn’t make an impression against Breda and lands back to bench and Noa Lang starts in midfield, because MVV is much stronger side than breda and I need his work rate and defensive abilities to get midfield under control. MVV have problems in GK department, their main keeper Nick Olij is injured and they have to rely on 17 years old youngsters. However, that didn’t stop them beating Feyenoord 1:0 in their last match.

Again we were first to concede - Sergio Alleyne allowed Joel Campbell to run away from him and good shot from ex-PSV striker made it 1-0 with 11’ played. That suited MVV very well and allowed them to sit deep and defend. We had our first good chance in 28’ - good counter ended with clear cut chance, but Francesco Antonucci shot was weak and easily held by GK. We actually didn’t put this 17 years old under real pressure for the most of first half, but as it has happened before in recent games, we were able to equalize just before half-time whistle. String of short passes near MVV box finished with a very accurate shot by van Grinsven and almost out of nowhere we were back in level terms.

Second half belonged to us and Andre Pröpper started to lead our line. His first goal came after good run and cross by Dragisa Gudelj on our left and substitute Cengizhan Caliskan feeded a through ball to our third goal. Dirk van Grinsven finished scoring in 81’ and it was then evident that if shots started to hit the target, MVV goalkeeper couldn’t do much to save those. What troubles me with all those Eredivisie games in February is our inability to keep a clean sheet. We tend to concede first goal and only really show our true game in 2nd half. Final scores like 3:1 or 4:1 look respectable enough, but we shouldn’t put ourselves in so difficult positions.

  • Dirk van Grinsven and Andre Pröpper were again outstanding in this game, carrying the load in attack and both scoring twice.

 

25.02.2026 - Zenit - Ajax 2:1 (Champions League 1st knockout round 1st leg) - 4. and 67. Daniel Romero - 53. Dejan Meleg

First leg is away game, a fairly long journey to St. Petersburg and fairly cold weather to welcome us there. Tom Drost is suspended for this game because of yellow cards and our captain Ricardo van Rhijn fills right-back position. I rely to more experienced players in Champions League fixtures and also tick down overlapping orders - tactical move that served us well in group stage.

But we started poorly and in 4’ Zenit were leading 1-0 - we allowed a cross in and Dragisa Gudelj wasn’t quick enough to mark his man at the far post. Five minutes later Zenit got another chance, that hit the post and Mike van der Hoorn did well to block rebound shot in front of goal. We then picked ourselves up and started to play better. Dirk van Grinsven and Noa Lang ad attempts on goal and Andre Pröpper hit the post in 19’. We looked a lot better in attacking phase, but first half ended 0-1. Few of the players needed to improve their game after half time break - that’s not Eredivisie football here, that’s Champions League knockout stages.

And we did find an equalizer in 2nd half - Dejan Meleg squeezed it in from near post after our counter attack and suddenly Zenit players looked nervous. Initiative was all ours, but we gave it away in 67’. Sergio Alleyne conceded a free kick in dangerous area and Daniel Romero fired it in - unstoppable shot for Marvin Koops. Zenit players looked composed again. We got the best chance to equalize in 83’ - Justin Kluivert had a clear cut chance, but his shot hit the post and so we had to leave with 1-2 defeat. It wasn’t exactly what we deserved and our performance looked fairly good, but few poor decisions in defense did cost us this game. Perhaps we needed a little more luck too, with those two shots hitting post. Either way, with away goal scored, we have all the chances to turn things around in Amsterdam Arena.


 

Things have been going well enough in Eredivisie and focus is now on Champions League 2nd leg game.

 

Player of the month: Andre Pröpper - 6 goals and 3 assists from him in February, with a wonderful goal against NAC Breda.


 

Eredivisie

g67LmHG.png

 

We can clinch the title in March with another good result. sc Heerenveen are doing well in securing their 2nd place and bottom four teams fight against relegation. ADO Den Haag and Sparta Rotterdam are definitely too good teams to go down. Let’s see how it plays out.

 

Ajax goals: Andre Pröpper 32, Dirk van Grinsven 21, Dejan Meleg 8

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven19, Dejan Meleg 11, Andre Pröpper 8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

March 2026

 

01.03.2026 - Ajax - Helmond Sport 4:0 (ED) - 13. and 31. Andre Pröpper, 47. Dirk van Grinsven, 73. Dejan Meleg

Home game against Helmond Sport is probably one of the easiest fixtures in March, so I sent out rotation players and opted for more attacking team - Pieter Stekelenburg started in midfield and Justin Kluivert on left wing.

We took control early on when Andre Pröpper scored a solid header, but almost gifted Helmond an equalizer in 19’ - Frank van den Hoek was half asleep in midfield and Melvin Mol got the ball behind defenders. Luckily for us, his shot went well wide. Pröpper extended our lead after good through ball by Francesco Antonucci and game was under our control after that. Dirk van Grinsven and Dejan Meleg got to score sheet in 2nd half and Helmond Sport had no strength to stop our attacks.

  • Andre Pröpper was outstanding in this game, his goal tally in this season is now 34, which is a new Ajax record (previously held by Aschraf Flemming who scored 33 in 2021/2022 season)
  • Pieter Stekelenburg made his 100th appearance for Ajax in this game


 

07.03.2026 - Ajax - Willem II Tilburg 3:1 (ED) - 14. Dirk van Grinsven, 35. and 75. Andre Pröpper - 41. Edward Schans (og)

Dragisa Gudelj injured himself in training before this game and he’s out for two weeks with chest injury. So Michel de Boer started in left defense. Willem II doesn’t look like much of a threat by their league position, but they just defeated Feyenoord 3-2 at De Kuip with 10 men and that certainly gives them confidence. Their manager Ron Vlaar also plays adventurous 4-3-3 tactics that means dangerous counters and possibly overwhelming our four men defensive line in certain situations.

We took the lead in 14’. Pieter Stekelenburg had a shot from distance that was parried by goalkeeper, but van Grinsven was first to get to rebound. Good combination from corner gave opportunity to Pröpper who took his chance well to extend our lead, but late in the first half we allowed Willem II back into game by scoring a clumsy own goal. Cross from our left came to six yard box, Koops couldn’t catch it and it bounced into goal from Edward Schans. Willem II certainly didn’t deserve 1-2 scoreline as they had no chances in the first half, but that’s football.

We knew we had to score another goal in 2nd half to secure our lead, but it took some time. Cengizhan Caliskan saw his shot being saved brilliantly in 69’ and Pröpper finally got a goal in 75’ after good cross by Justin Kluivert. It was confident win in the end, Willem II didn’t pose any threat and with that win we’ve secured our Eredivisie title for 11th time in a row. This season it came extremely early, with 7 more games to come.

  • our shooting was 21/10
  • we made 37 dribbles in this game
  • Cengizhan Caliskan was outstanding for us, leading our attacks and giving 14 key passes - he’s been after more first team football and I promised him more starts in coming weeks and that’s the way to prove himself


 

14.03.2017 - Vitesse Arnhem - Ajax 3:2 (ED) - 32., 57. and 58. Ronni Nissen - 11. Mike van der Hoorn, 34. Justin Kluivert

Injuries have caught us again. Tom Drost suffered sports hernia and he’s out for 4-5 weeks. Pieter Stekelenburg twisted his ankle and he’ll be sidelined for 3-4 weeks. With Gudelj still out, it means we’ve lost our two best full-backs ahead of Zenit game, but there’s away fixture against Vitesse first.

There’s no pressure in this game after we secured Eredivisie title, but I’d like to finish domestic season undefeated and I have all the faith that players can deliver. I’d like to give some players rest though, so Nathan Leyder, Dirk van Grinsven and Francesco Antonucci start from bench. Dejan Meleg moves to right wing and Justin Kluivert is on our left (he’s been finally having some good games lately).

We scored the first goal - central defender Mike van der Hoorn had a chance from IFK and he took this opportunity well. But Vitesse’s main striker Ronni Nissen found an equalizer and what a goal that was - pass was played perfectly over Mike van der Hoorn and with the softest touch Nissen put it into the net from the edge of area. We needed only two minutes to reply - cross from right found Kluivert at the far post and that was 2:1. We held onto that lead until half time whistle, but only just. Vitesse were really really difficult to play against - they defended well, passed the ball well and used the speed of Nissen with clever balls behind our defensive line.

Dirk van Grinsven had a couple of shots in the beginning of 2nd half, but those were saved by Vitesse goalkeeper and then Nissen’s show continued. Poor backwards header by Edward Schans gifted him an equalizer and just a minute later another long ball behind defense broke us down.

So we lost our first league game of the season and it was at least 50% my fault. We should have prevented these long balls with deeper defensive line, instead we continued to use our higher DL. Central defenders didn’t do well either, both van der Hoorn and Schans were directly responsible for one goal. Anyway, I try not to be too downhearted by that, as there is more important Zenit ame coming up.

  • we lost possession battle to Vitesse 44/55 - Vitesse are the best passing team in the league, so that’s no wonder
  • 18 years old striker Jeroen Capobianco made his debut for Ajax in 2nd half


 

17.03.2026 - Ajax - Zenit 1:1 (Champions League 1st knockout round 2nd leg) - 74. Justin Kluivert - 35. Vladyslav Kogut

We needed a win and clean sheet against Zenit. The Russian side came to Amsterdam Arena with 4-5-1 tactics, so I chose to keep our usual overlapping orders to have some extra passing options in attack.

We had our first great chance in 14’ - Pröpper found Dejan Meleg in the box with a good ball, but Serbian winger couldn’t use his opportunity. In defense we were careless in IFK situation - Ricardo van Rhijn missed the run of his man, allowing cross in from our right and Kogut was in front of the goal to finish. Not the best first half and now we had to score at least two goals in 2nd half.

But we missed attacking options - we had only Justin Kluivert and Cengizhan Caliskan on the bench and I sent them both on the pitch in 60’. And Kluivert managed to score, but a very unlikely goal - his deep cross turned towards goal and landed in far corner. It was a total fluke, but it gave us another 16 minutes to take this game to extra time. Unfortunately, we couldn’t create any good chances in that time and despite fighting well, we lost 2-3 on aggregate. Zenit defended well in this away game and chances were rare from both sides. Our shooting accuracy was only 15/4 in this match.


 

28.03.2026 - Sparta Rotterdam - Ajax 1:4 (ED) - 13. Patrick Joosten - 9. Noa Lang, 23. Dirk van Grinsven, 41. Justin Kluivert, 62. Stanislas Gonzalez

News from physio room say that Dragisa Gudelj is back in line-up for this game and Stanislas Gonzalez have returned from his long injury break. But Andre Pröpper twisted his ankle in training before this game and he’s out for the next 4-5 weeks. To be honest, when it comes to injury to your best striker, it’s pretty much the best possible moment, with our league title secure and Champions League campaign over. Only his goal record tally will be not as impressive as it might have been. And because we have relied so much on his goals, the remaining 6 league games will be a totally different battles. Stanislas Gonzalez will take over his place for Sparta game.

Sparta are 18th in the table at the moment and fighting desperately for every point, but their defense is terrible and that was evident in this game too. Noa Lang scored the first goal with a great shot 15 meters out from goal. Not the strongest shot, but a very accurate one to top corner. Sparta was quick to equalize - Patrick Joosten out-jumped Mike van der Hoorn in IFK situation and the ball went in off the post. Another set piece goal that we conceded. After that equalizer we controlled the first half - Dirk van Grinsven gave us the lead and after great counter attack Justin Kluivert converted his chance. Kluivert also saw his header hit crossbar late in the first half. We didn’t create too many clear cut chances in the first 45 minutes, but our finishing was excellent.

Sparta had their chances in the second half too. Edward Schans missed his interception in 55’, but Vincent Scheepers sent his shot wide. And after Stanislas Gonzalez had scored our 4th goal, Sparta again carved open our defense in 82’ with attack from our left. It ended with Ezra Walian being completely alone in front of our goal, but Marvin Koops made a brilliant save to stop the shot from 5 meters out. It was a very good win by score line, but our defensive errors could have been very expensive. It’s the same kind of sloppy defense that we showed against Vitesse, only Sparta weren’t able to take advantage of it.

  • Noa Lang, Dirk van Grinsven and Ricardo van Rhijn were outstanding in this game


 

There’s the sense of endings in March. End of our undefeated streak in Eredivisie, end or our Champions League campaign and end of season is also drawing near. Zenit games were 50/50 - we were good enough to win this tie, but didn’t, so that leaves some disappointment from this month.

 

Player of the month: Dirk van Grinsven - consistently good and continuously offering goals and assists from our right wing.


 

Eredivisie

FrYaSPV.png

 

sc Heerenveen have lost some ground and battle for 2nd place is becoming more fierce in April. In the bottom of the table Sparta is trying to escape from the last place with 4 teams fighting over relegation places.

 

Ajax goals: Andre Pröpper 36, Dirk van Grinsven 24, Dejan Meleg 9

Ajax assists: Dirk van Grinsven 21, Dejan Mele 11, Andre Pröpper 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Draakon   

Youth Intake 2026

 

Before this year youth candidates arrived, I took a look to our U-19 team and analyzed what I needed the most from this year’s batch. I wanted the most a good commanding centre-back and a pair of wingers, as we have no talented wide players in youth teams (which is a surprise as itself). But we have plenty of central midfielders (to every position and role from age 17 to 21) and young strikers, so extra players there wouldn’t give us anything in the long rung.

Instead we got a great central midfielder, two solid goalkeepers and pretty good left winger. As a whole, this year’s bunch was quite average, with positive note being that most of the players possessed good character traits (professional attitude and consistency).

 

1FvswoK.png



 

Clyde Sastrodimedjo

w51bY49.png

Probably the most difficult name to pronounce in my squad. Won’t even try - he’ll be just Sastro, as long as I’m concerned. This midfielder has Surinam origins. natural right midfielder, but in my system he’s the best as central box-to-box midfielder. Fairy ambitious by nature, but no exceptional traits.



Louis van Duijvenbode

1eZ7f8L.png

Another tongue twister. Two-footed goalkeeper. He too is fairly ambitious. Good reflexes and agility, he’s good at coming out of line, but command of area should is his main weakness.


 

Andre Rijssel

XoDgeAU.png

Another youngster with Surinam roots. Has different qualities than van Duijvenbode - better command of area, but poor communication skills and handling also needs more work. His professionalism isn’t as good as we expect here in Ajax, but I hope our team mentality rubs on him.


 

Johan van Dalen

jYOBDPK.png

Here’s a winger for you - good first touch, crossing and even can take corners in the future. True wide player who hugs the line and whips crosses into box. Naturally fit and resolute by nature. Only flaws are balance, finishing and anticipation. But he’s almost a full year younger than others and has more time to develop his skills

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×