You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2010.

It’s winter break on the Dutch football pitches which means we can look back to the first half of the 2010/11 season. A first half that has everything in it.

After the second place last season, only one point behind FC Twente, the new season started for Ajax on July 27 against PAOK Saloniki. A match in the 3rd qualification round for the UEFA Champions League. The Dutchmen Maarten Stekelenburg, Demy de Zeeuw and Gregory van der Wiel and captain Luis Suarez only have had 7 days off after the World Cup before they had to join the squad. A 1-1 draw in the Amsterdam ArenA was a disappointed result for the ‘Amsterdammers’. When they lost against FC Twente 4 days later for the Johan Cruyff shield, the season hasn’t started really well for Ajax.  The return match against PAOK ended in a 3-3 draw, Ajax went through the 4th qualification round on away goals. The draw linked the red and whites to Dynamo Kiev. A tough opponent.

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Ajax and Feyenoord. Feyenoord and Ajax. The two biggest rivals in Dutch football. Since the first game in 1921, it has always been a grudge-match. Ajax won that game with 3-2 but after protests of Feyenoord, the full time score was officially set at 2-2. It’s also a game between the two biggest cities of Holland: Amsterdam and Rotterdam. In Spain it’s El Clasico, in Holland it’s De Klassieker. The main football game of the season. The main football rivalry of the Netherlands, the most important game of the year, that’s Ajax – Feyenoord. But is it still like it has been before? No, unfortunately not.

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Frank de Boer has survived his baptism of fire as Ajax’ head coach. A weakened AC Milan (players like Ibrahimovic, Zambrotta and Nesta were rester alongside four other regular players) were beaten in San Siro: 0-2.

In his pre-match press conference, the former Ajax defender, spoke of bringing the joy back. He only needed 1,5 days to realise that. The way Ajax played was nothing like they have played in the past few weeks. The players had smiles on their faces and they played with joy. They played with flair, with a positive arrogance. De Boer’s an adept of the 4-3-3 system with outside wingers. He shares his vision with Johan Cruyff and his model is Louis van Gaal, who has the same ideas. It’s the Ajax philosophy. It’s the system that made the club famous and it’s the system in which the club has had their glory. It’s like the way Ajax played in the mid-ninties. Frank de Boer was part of that team, which had many success.

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Frank de Boer’s Ajax career came full circle when the former academy youth graduate coached his first game for the senior Ajax side – even if it’s the first of a temporary basis, it marks a watershed moment in his illustrious career.

Already coaching Ajax A1, since 2008, and assistant to Bert van Marwijk alongside former Oranje teammate Philip Cocu with the Dutch national side – de Boer’s first game couldn’t have come at a more spectacular surrounding at the San Siro.

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Ajax play tonight their last Champions League game against AC Milan at the San Siro. In the past, both clubs have faced each other a few times. Let’s take you back to November 23, 1994.

A season earlier, Ajax have won the championship which allowed them to play in the Champions Leauge in the season 1994/1995. After four years of trouble, Louis van Gaal took Ajax back to the top. He came in 1991 and with young players from the own academy like, Dennis Bergkamp (who left in 1993), Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert and Edwin van der Sar, Van Gaal build a team that had a perfect balance between young, talented players and old, experienced players.

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What a rollercoaster end of a relaxed Monday. Martin Jol has resigned at Ajax. His reason: he was unsure if he could take this team further and that’s it’s inevitable that players will leave in January or next summer. In other words, the team will be broken up. He didn’t see in which way he could make this team a better team.

Frank de Boer takes over the job. Henny Spijkerman is named as his assistant whilst Danny Blind will become technical director. It’s actually exactly what Cruyff wanted and maybe he’s surprised it happened sooner than he thought. I hope the board has seen the light and will change their course to make Ajax, Ajax again.

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Another dissapointed peformance, dropping points again. Ajax – NEC ended in a 1-1 draw. In 90 minutes, the team from Nijmegen were the better team in the Amsterdam ArenA. Ajax are in a bad flow, every point we drop isn’t ‘an incident’ anymore. Real Madrid away was an incident. Excelsior away was an inident. But when you keep dropping points it’s not ‘an incident’ anymore. There’s seriously something wrong then. And when your goalkeeper is the MOTM for the umpteenth time, you know even more there’s something wrong.

I have heard the Ajax-supporters in the south of Rotterdam again! I’m not talking about the daring Ajax-fans who live near De Kuip, but the people inside. The people who demolish the chairs once a month. And I’m talking about the home-side in this case. Last week-end, they’ve won again since years (as far as I can remember), but still, they dare to be sturdy to our proud. The proud of Ajax, because we have an attacker, who loves Moroccan meat. But we can say, that we are involved of a new, big revolution! In Rotterdam, you can talk about a piece of bad luck for ADO Den Haag.

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In the footsteps of Michael Laudrup, Frank Arnesen, Jesper Grønkjaer, Søren Lerby, Dennis Rommedahl and Jesper Olsen, Christian Dannemann Eriksen is the newest Dane at Ajax.

2010 has been a year of highlights for Christian Eriksen: his debut for Ajax, his debut for Denmark, playing at the World Cup and playing in the Champions League. He said: ‘what some players experience in their whole career, is what I’ve experienced in less than a year’.

Eriksen, born on February 14, 1992, currently is the biggest talent in Ajax’ squad. Before he joined Ajax in 2008 he has been on trial at Chelsea and FC Barcelona but he chose for Ajax. He started for the U17’s but joined the U19’s at the end of his first season and started to train with the first team. He joined the first team in January 2010 and made his debut on January 17 against NAC Breda. The Dane made his debut for his country two months later. Martin Jol has compared him to the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart and described him as a good reader in the traditional no. 10 role. Jol also said: ‘In two years Christian will be a good, a very good or a top player’.

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Sometimes you know when a player is playing at the top of his game, at ease with it, totally comfortable with what he is asked to do on the football pitch – Jan Vertonghen has come on leaps and bounds cementing himself as one of the most versatile players and a definite star in the making.

Okay he is 23, but age is no matter, different players take time to mature and be comfortable with their surroundings, Vertonghen has been a mainstay in this current Ajax side for the past 4 seasons in that time he’s developed into one of the more reliable members of the squad.

What makes him so good, well for starters he isn’t restricted (pigeonholed) into one position, his versatility makes him a comfortable in defence and midfield – a trait not lost on the legendary Johan Cruijff, who on more than one occasion has dubbed him one of his favourite players currently active in the game – another example being Cruijff has been rumoured to have recommended him to Pep Guardiola.

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