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[FM16] Ajax Amsterdam - Building a dynasty of youth

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February 2035


 

03.02.2035 - AFC Ajax - ADO Den Haag 3:0 (ED) - 16. Edward Schans, 37.  Tarik de Wit, 62. Johan van Dalen

We have only two days to prepare for this game, but because we rotated well in January, we looked much more fresh than ADO players before this game. Leslie Lichaba is also back from international team and adds to our defensive options. ADO Den Haag are currently 5th in Eredivisie, but we defeated them confidently in the away game and I expect us to do well in Amsterdam Arena. It would be nice to see our loan players Mithat Arabaci and Raimond Burg in action for our opponent.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, Siereveld, Schans, Koeman (31. Lichaba), Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo (62. Sener Arslan), Janssen, Valdman, van Dalen, de Wit (54. Knol)

The game started slowly, but we took the lead in 16’. Edward Schans scored from a corner and it was a great strike for any player, let alone central defender.  Tarik de Wit had a great chance in 25’, but his shot from close range hit the post. We had to make a substitution in 31’ when Fred Koeman came off with injury, but despite that we went to half time with 2:0 lead. Tarik de Wit doubled our tally in 37’ - he played well around two defenders and finished calmly. Johan van Dalen also got close to a goal when his shot hit the post in 44’ and Leslie Lichaba wasted his clear cut chance in injury time. It was a very confident performance from us in the first half.

We continued to get good chances after half time break. Stef Veldman wasted his opportunity in 51’ and Tarik de Wit sent his shot wide three minutes later, but when Johan van Dalen sent his header past ADO goalkeeper, the game was decided. We wasted way too many good chances in this game, but otherwise it was a confident win and impressive performance from us.

  • our shooting was 27/11
  • we created 5 clear cut chances
  • Fred Koeman will be out for 2 weeks with damaged neck


 

07.02.2035 - AFC Ajax - Vitesse Arnhem 4:2 (Dutch Cup Quarter Final) - 19. Tarik de Wit, 56. Omar van der Aar, 68. Stan Knol, 87. Sjoerd de Jong - 74. Marvin van der Zwan, 84. Ilunga Gödeken

Our February continued with a cup game. Vitesse Arnhem is difficult opponent for any team and it wasn’t too much of a surprise if my assistant manager advised us to practice defensive positioning before this game. We had some players missing - Fred Koeman was injured and Tom Drost caught flu right before this game.

Squad: Gluhalic, Herder, Siereveld, Schans (66. Hendriks), Lichaba, de Groot, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen (65. Sener Arslan), de Jong, van der Aar, de Wit (65. Knol)

It was a fairly even game for the first 20 minutes, but then Tarik de Wit opened scoring with a good shot - Nabil Herder delivered assist from our right wing. After that chances started to come our way - Sjoerd de Jong missed his clear cut chance after corner and Simon Janssen’s shot was difficult to save for Vitesse goalkeeper. Vitesse didn’t create anything dangerous until 27’ when Anthony Smith tested Ismet Gluhalic. Our Bosnian goalkeeper was ready and parried his shot with a brilliant save. The first half finished with our narrow lead - although we put Vitesse under pressure after our opening goal we couldn’t capitalize and so Vitesse have all hopes alive before the second half.

We started the second half much better. Clyde Sastrodimedjo instantly sent a dangerous shot on target and Vitesse goalkeeper had to make a brilliant save to deny it. Tarik de Wit had a great chance in 48’ - that shot was also saved. We had our shots on target and it looked like our second goal is just a matter of time. It came in 56’ - Omar van der Aar scored with a simple tap-in (assist again from Nabil Herder) and when substitute Stan Knol scored our third goal, the game looked to be over. We substituted and expected to see this out, but the game took the turn and Vitesse got back into it. At first their winger Marvin van der Zwan found the net with a really good shot from the edge of the area - I think that Ismet Gluhalic was a little bit surprised by that shot, because he allowed it in from his near post. Omar van der Aar had a great chance to score in 77’, but his shot was blocked and in 84’ Ilunga Gödeken scored the second goal for Vitesse - the cross came in from our left flank, Edward Schans did well to challenge Vitesse striker, but the ball bounced through  between them and into the far post where Nabil Herder had completely forgotten Ilunga Gödeken. Easy finish for Vitesse winger and with 2:3 it looked like Vitesse can turn this around. But it wasn’t to be, because just three minutes later Stan Knol found Sjoerd de Jong with audacious backheel pass and our right winger clinched the game with our fourth goal. Leslie Lichaba received his second yellow card in 89’ and was sent off, so in the end I was a little relieved when the final whistle called. It was a very entertaining game and we looked really good with the ball, but made two costly mistakes in defense in the second half.

  • our shooting was 22/12
  • we created 6 clear cut chances
  • we had 17 corners in this game
  • we allowed Vitesse to make 22 dribbles against us
  • we will play PSV Eindhoven in the semi final


 

Helmond Sport has been in the last place in Eredivisie for a while now, but their board finally lost their patience after they got destroyed 0:6 by FC Eindhoven - team that should be their equal. Manager Robin van Persie was sacked after that game and Helmond Sport is now looking for a new manager.


 

10.02.2035 - AFC Ajax - NEC Nijmegen 4:1 (ED) - 51. and 53. Tarik de Wit, 57. Omar van der Aar, 90. Sener Arslan - 12. Mehdi Bah

Home game against NEC Nijmegen should be a little bit easier task for us. NEC is currently 13th in the table and they have serious problems with injuries - four of their defenders are out for this game and they struggle to find capable players to fill all defensive roles. We still miss Tom Drost, who has not recovered from the flu. I tried to rotate players so that first team players will get between 20-40 games in a season, no more.

Squad: Florentina, Herder, de Jonge, Hendriks, Lichaba, de Groot (70. Siereveld), Sastrodimedjo (64. Sener Arslan), Janssen, Veldman, van der Aar, de Wit (70. Knol)

We did not show our best football in the first half. Chances were rare and our defensive line looked a little bit vulnerable, but NEC took the lead with a little bit lucky goal in 12’ - they got the ball into oru box and when Mehdi Bah took a shot, it deflected from our defender and went past Zeus Florentina. It was a disappointing first half and that goal in 12’ took our breath away a little. I asked players to pick themselves up and improve in the second half and they replied well.

Tarik de Wit equalized for us in 51’ with excellent shot - he turned around in the box and just smashed it into the top corner. Just two minutes later it was again de Wit in action. His second goal gave us the lead and when Omar van der Aar headed in to make it 3:1 we were in control of the game. I sent Germain Siereveld on in 70’ and moved Kevin de Jonge to DMC and we controlled easily the rest of the game. Youngster Sener Arslan extended our lead with the goal after counter, right before the end of the game. It was a poor first half for us, but we really raised our game in the second half and decided it in 10 minutes between 50’ and 60’ mark. In the end it was a convincing win.

  • our shooting was 19/5 - not too many shots on target
  • we didn’t allow NEC to have any real scoring opportunities
  • we made 22 individual mistakes and Clyde Sastrodimedjo was responsible for 7 of those
  • Leslie Lichaba committed 8 fouls, but somehow managed to get through this game without a yellow cards
  • Sener Arslan scored his first ever career league goal for Ajax
  • Nabil Herder and Simon Janssen were outstanding for us in this game


 

16.02.2035 - AFC Ajax - PSV Eindhoven 4:1 (ED) - 6., 46. and 48. Stef Veldman, 12. Adrian Tomash (og) - 4. Chijoke Obafemi

Topper Derby is always a serious game. We have slowly gained points over Feyenoord in the table and this game against PSV is (on paper) our most difficult fixture in remaining Eredivisie season. It obviously was important in itself, but I felt that if we win this one we are really difficult to beat until the end of the season. We practiced attacking set pieces before this game. Good news from physio room say that Tom Drost is finally recovered from his illness and Fred Koeman is also back in full training.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost (74. Herder), Siereveld, Schans, Lichaba, Engin Ari, Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, Veldman (68. de Jong), van Dalen, de Wit (74. Knol)

PSV had the better start in this game. They got the cross in from our left flank and Chijoke Obafemi was there behind our defensive line to finish with a powerful header that was unstoppable for Ismet Gluhalic. I was momentarily watching for offside flag, but the replay showed that Obafemi timed his run very well indeed and Tom Drosts’ poor positioning a little bit behind the rest of the defensive line covered his offside. Too bad, but it took only two minutes and we equalized in the very next attack. Stef Veldman had a half-chance and he used it well, sending his shot into the goal. In 12’ we had a free kick and Edward Schans managed to get his header on target. It was held by PSV goalkeeper, but replays clearly showed that it actually crossed the line and so we were robbed of that goal. However, it didn’t matter much, because soon after we saw the most curious own goal I’ve seen in my Football Manager career. We pressured PSV defensive line in the middle of the park and their central defender Adrian Tomash was forced to backpass. His pass from 40 yards caught their goalkeeper completely by surprise and went past him into the net. Probably the most unexpected goal we could score, but I don’t mind! Now we had the upper hand in the game and we felt a lot more confident and relaxed at half time.

When I could be pleased with our first half, we came out after the break with all guns blazing - Stef Veldman scored a quickfire double in the first three minutes and completed his hat-trick. PSV looked in a real mess in that point and although they recovered as the game progressed, they never looked like a threat after that. Johan van Dalen was a little bit unlucky to send his header against the crossbar in 70’, but that didn’t matter. In the end it was a great result and performance from the whole team and I was really happy with that.

  • Stef Veldman and Tarik de Wit had a great game for us
  • Stef Veldman scored his 10th goal of the season in this game


 

22.02.2035 - Olympiakos - AFC Ajax 1:2 (Europa League 1st knockout round 1st leg) - 4. Ismet Gluhalic (og) - 19. Johan van Dalen, 57. Stan Knol

The draw has been good for us and Olympiakos should be more less equal opponent to us in Europa League 1st knockout round. At least we’re marked as favourites in both games. We continued to practice attacking set pieces for our match training and I hoped to capitalize on set piece situations to score at least one away goal.

Germain Siereveld was suspended for this game and Kevin de Jonge took his place in defensive line.

Squad: Gluhalic, Drost, de Jonge, Schans, Lichaba (65. Koeman), Engin Ari (67. de Groot), Sastrodimedjo, Janssen, Veldman, van Dalen, de Wit (42. Knol)

We had the first chance of the game - Tarik de Wit had a great look from close range, but his shot was saved and in 4’ we conceded an own goal. Olympiakos clearly looked to use their wings and cross balls into the box - one of such crosses came in from our right wing, Ismet Gluhalic couldn’t react to it properly and it somehow went into our goal from deflection of him. That was a poor mistake from our goalkeeper and not the best start for us. Olympiakos looked complacent after gaining the lead in this game and in 19’ Johan van Dalen managed to equalize - he found some space in the box and used his chance very well. We had away goal, but worse news were about to come. Tarik de Wit was forced off with a knee injury and for the rest of the game my thoughts were more on his condition than on the game itself. Stan Knol came on in his place. First half finished 1:1 - it was a fairly even game, but certainly not our best football so far. We could have created more chances and dealt better with Olympiakos’ wingers. 

It continued to be an even battle in the second half. Olympiakos’ striker Edilson headed just over and Stan Knol wasted his clear cut chance in 53’, but our young striker scored what proved to be a winner in 57’ - it was a corner situation that was initially cleared by Olympiakos defenders, but van Dalen crossed it back into the box and Stan Knol was in front of the goal, completely alone and unmarked. Good goal and a lot of confidence for the youngster. Simon Janssen should have extended our lead in 62’, but his chance went wide and Johan van Dalen found the framework once again in injury time (he’s been very unfortunate in that department this season). It was a tough battle in midfield and both teams collected a bunch of yellow cards - fortunately nobody was sent off. The final whistle marked our 2:1 win - a narrow win, but it means two away goals for us and we have the upper hand in this tie now.

  • our shooting was 20/8
  • we collected 7 yellow cards - clearly too many
  • Johan van Dalen was outstanding for us in this game
  • Tarik de Wit will be out for at least 2 months with torn knee ligaments - it’s almost a season-ending injury, because at best he’ll be back in the end of April

 

de Wit injury is a serious problem, because we have between 10-15 games left in this season and only one capable striker in the squad for that period of time - 18 years old Stan Knol, who needs to carry a huge load in the coming weeks. He’s been doing great so far and has scored 6 goals in this season, but to play 90 minutes in Europa League level or in the away game against PSV in the cup semi final is another matter. We will miss Engin Ceylan a lot in this Spring and Feyenoord now clearly feel that they too might have a chance if our attack will start to fall short.


 

27.02.2035 - Telstar - AFC Ajax 2:5 (ED) - 43. Luuk Hoek, 77. Robert Ochieng - 2. Sjoerd de Jong, 7. and 66. Stan Knol, 28. Clyde Sastrodimedjo, 51. Germain Siereveld

Between two European games this one should be easy fixture. Telstar is a small team and currently just 17th in the table, so I used this chance to play youngsters and rotation players and give them some playing time.

Squad: Florentina, Herder, Siereveld, Hendriks, Koeman (66. Lichaba), de Groot, Sastrodimedjo (46. Engin Ari), Janssen (46. Sener Arslan), de Jong, van der Aar, Knol

We started with high tempo and scored our first goals quickly - Sjoerd de Jong found the net early in the first half and just 5 minutes later Stan Knol doubled our lead with a soft shot that somehow found its way past Telstar goalkeeper. Clyde Sastrodimedjo added another goal in 28’ and at this point we looked really strong and confident, but in the end of the first half Luuk Hoek managed to score from corner. It wasn’t the best set piece defending from us in that situation and we allowed Telstar to get something positive in the end of the first half. But we had a good lead and we’ve looked good, so nothing wrong at half time and I made bold substitutions in midfield.

Second half started equally well for us. Sjoerd de Jong missed his clear cut chance in 50’, but in the following corner we found another goal. Germain Siereveld won a header, but it was initially cleared off the line by defense. However, Siereveld got another chance and his second header found the net. In 66’ young striker Stan Knol scored his second goal of the game and although Telstar scored their second goal in 77’ (Robert Ochieng won aerial duel against Leslie Lichaba), we secured a comfortable 5:2 win in away game. We looked really impressive in attack, but I was a little bit disappointed with two conceded goals. Considering that we fielded a weakened team, it wasn’t too bad, though.

  • our shooting was 30/15
  • we didn’t allow Telstar to create any real chances (even though they managed to score two goals)
  • Stan Knol was outstanding for us in this game
  • Simon Janssen made his 300th appearance for Ajax


 

We’ve been really impressive in February - straight wins from all games and we’ve had a good goalscoring form in the past weeks. Tarik de Wit’s injury means a different test for us in March and April, but at this point I’m fairly positive about our chances. It’s interesting to see how the board and fans react to our form - confidence in my performance as a manager is high overall, but fans are not too impressed with our winning streak (meaning that those wins were anticipated in February) and the board thinks that we could give even more chances to youngsters (although we have two 18-years old players in Sener Arslan and Stan Knol playing regularly for the first team).


 

Eredivisie

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Feyenoord have struggled to win games and we’ve now opened 11 point gap before the last 9 games. I hope that should be enough for us to secure the title. Helmond Sport look doomed and AZ Alkmaar have also failed to escape relegation zone. In the end I expect that FC Eindhoven will drop there and AZ will push their way out of danger.

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