FC Ajax

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Daneel Bouden

Ajax is Mokum but is Mokum also Ajax? In other words, how important is Ajax to the average citizen of this city? Do they really care about who the coach is, whether the team wins or not and how many trophies they won?

Like we said before if Ajax wins, the team is worshipped; if they lose, not so much. We’re “all” proud of our team when they win, but when they don’t, we grief alone. Amsterdam is a multicultural city, it has about 178 different nationalities among its citizens, and they all brought their own culture with them. Ajax has Jewish roots, and when this is proclaimed by its Dutch fans, this does not always go down well with the city’s Muslim population. Solidarity between the cultures is encouraged by the many different backgrounds the players share. However, not all citizens support Ajax; many have come from outside the city to study or looking for work. Others just for the thrill of living in a big city. Therefore, unfortunately, there are also many (secret) supporters of PSV Eindhoven (Philips Sports Club) among us. So we are not entirely without enemies.

Ajax is not just a club; it raises its own talent; every young boy in Amsterdam, and indeed the Netherlands, plays football dreams of being selected to play for Ajax. By the name of Hyun Jun Suk, a young boy from Korea knocked on Ajax’s gates last year, asking if he could play here. At first, he was treated with a healthy dose of scepticism and humoured quite a bit. But as he insisted that he really wanted to play for Ajax, they decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and let him show off his skills. Well, guess what, the boy can play and is now an intern and regularly plays for young Ajax. Other teams train and raise future players as well, but few do as well as Ajax.

You’ll never become a champion if you keep selling off your best players to the competition. The Germans don’t, the Spaniards don’t, and the Italians don’t either; of course, there are exceptions. The British sell a good player to get a better foreign one. That’s why they never win anything; the players hardly know each other. The Scandinavians sell off everyone, and so do the Dutch. It’s a miracle we came in second at the World cup as most players play either in Germany, England, Spain or Italy. The Dutch national team has on its side that so many players have either played for Ajax or were trained by Ajax. We are also a small country; The Dutch competition is much smaller and easier than the premier league.

So we must find a balance between:

  1. smart buying versus having an oversize training school
  2. old and young players read: experience versus enthusiasm, speed, ambition and talent
  3. a good trainer who ‘commits’ himself versus an old hand in the field
  4. the best players versus de best team players
  5. and finally, spending your cash as efficiently as possible.

Is an ex-top player automatically a good coach?
We thought that for a while after Johan Cruijff started coaching and became an immediate success. However, after the appointment of Marco of Basten and his subsequent departure, we know better. Also, Ruud Gullit did not do what we expected of him. Many of Germany’s star players also tried their hand at coaching, wanting to become as famous and successful as they were players, and many did not make it.
Most great coaches played football when they were young, but most were average players, not football’s greatest stars.
Coaches who had to fight and study to get their coaching licences instead of just handed them because of their past skills as players seem to perform best in the end.
That’s why Martin Jol is a better coach than Marco of Basten. The fact that money plays a far greater role in their lives than the prizes they can win originates in the fact that they can often dictate their own salaries.

The Bosman arrest was disastrous for the smaller football countries as it’s almost impossible for them to pay out the players’ excessive salaries.
Cutbacks will, sooner or later, become a must, also for 99,9% of all football players.
Coaches became also addicted to the high salary mentality, the lovers of the game made a place for money grabbers.

Ajax AmsterdamBack to Ajax
The people of Amsterdam expect a lot from their team, but percentage-wise the largest numbers of its supporters do not come from this city. Ajax is Holland’s favourite team. You’ll notice the same thing across our borders, everybody in England, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy knows Ajax; ask them about any other Dutch team, and most won’t know any. The names of Cruijff and Basten are, of course, also attached to the club.
Oddly, Ajax will not give Cruijff the respect he deserves; he’s more seen as a nuisance because he speaks his mind and tells the club what they don’t want to hear. Ajax is ruled by suits these days, businessmen who know little about football and run the club as a business. Their main interest seems to be to get the company profitable instead of seeing that Ajax stays on the right track in producing tomorrow’s top players and starts to win prizes and titles again.

Johan Cruijff
Cruijff Lnk has recently gone on the offensive; he stayed away from being actively involved with the game for his family’s sake but has decided that enough is enough. He grew up with Ajax, lived across the street from the old stadium, won numerous prizes with Ajax, learned to play football at the club’s youth academy and joined the team at the tender age of 10. He has proposed a few changes, and he wants players like Bergkamp And Wim Jonk the do the scouting and oversee the training of young talent. His proposals were recently rejected by the club’s directors, and he then decided to call Ajax most senior members and see if that will change the director’s hearts. If that doesn’t work, he said, I’ll call a general meeting of all Ajax members, the body with clout, the body that has the power to sack the board of directors. And guess what happened? The above two paragraphs are now history, and Cruijff and his men are one year later firmly in charge at every level of the club.

Nobody says a thing when Ajax loses (that is except for me). I get pissed off; one reason they haven’t been The Netherlands top team in years (except for this particular year, that is, 2012) is because of so many players’ mentality. They don’t seem to want to fight when things don’t go well. They whine when they have to play early at 12:30 and have to get up at six, they blame things on the referee instead of rising and winning the match anyway when one of their teammates has been unjustly sending off. To many of them are still spoiled little boys who need to grow up.
Another problem I think the club faces is that so many players only dream of “one thing,” no longer playing for Ajax but at a club like Bayern Munchen, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Ac or Inter Milan. They aren’t really interested in winning prizes or championships with Ajax; they want to play in the big leagues and earn the big bucks.

AC Milan recently contracted a player called Emanuelson. He played for Ajax until last season when his contract was up. Milan decided to hire him; the question I wonder is why? Emanuelson is a reasonably good forward, an average midfielder and a lousy defender. At Ajax, he played on all three of these positions. As a defender, he made numerous mistakes; as a midfielder, he grossed in bad passing that, in many cases, resulted in counters that produced goals for the opposing team. This player cost Ajax prizes and championships. He also scored for Ajax and has a good shot in his legs; he’s pretty good with the ball on his feet, he’s not a bad player, but he makes too many mistakes. Last night he played in the second half of the national team against Hungary, they scored three goals during that second half, and the third one was our subjects fault as once again he didn’t manage to stop his opponent, he was too late.

So why does Milan contract such a player? Milan hasn’t defeated Ajax for a while. Despite all the encounters they had with Ajax during the last few years, they lost. So Emanuelson may be able to give them some insight into how to fight this team. Another reason may be that by buying him, they screw with the heads of all the other players in Ajax who also want to follow Emmanuelson’s path. Maybe that’s a bit far fetched, but I wasn’t particularly pleased when I heard it was Milan to which Emanuelson had moved. Sheffield United would, where Ajax is concerned, have been a better choice. During the summer, Ajax sold one of its defenders to Paris Saint-German, a leading french club. I don’t think now that he has played a single match for his new team five months later.

Ajax has to comfort itself with the thought that it plays attractive football and usually beats its Rotterdam rival Feyenoord. The chances that Ajax will win the championship again next year are slim as there is little balance in the team and no real will to fight and win every match. Defenders make too many mistakes, and bad passing is rife among midfielders. The team makes enough goals that have never been the problem; they’ve been the leading goal scoring team in the last two years. The problem is they let the opponents score too many.

The people of Amsterdam want to see their team win prices again, to see Ajax being once more a club to be reckoned with in Europe. It doesn’t always have to be with attractive football either; if you can’t win that way, don’t play that way. Winning is more important than playing. Holland almost won the world cup in Spain, there was only one team better, and they didn’t play fantasy football; they simply made it impossible for the other team to score and waited for the opportunities to come. That’s how Spain won, and Holland became the runner up.
Playing fantastic football is overrated; you don’t win that way.

Well, guess what, the blokes did it again; Ajax became the Netherlands champions once more despite my scepticism. It’s their thirties title which means the players get another star on their shirts, one for every 10 titles. Now, what they need, as Cruijff put it in his weekly newspaper column, an extended period of playing excellent football instead of great one week and lousy the next.

Ajax got onto a bad start this season as always but has finally hit a winning streak, the last five or six games were all won, and since the competition has grossed in errors during the same period, Ajax is now (while still in fourth place) only one point behind the leader.

Stay on the ball, boys!