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.

As a player facing AC Milan holds fond memories, being part of the Ajax side that defeated them in the 1995 Champions League final. And what a debut as coach – recording a historic 2-0 victory at the San Siro, two spectacular goals from Demy de Zeeuw and Toby Alderweireld sealed the win the first time Ajax had won there in their history (their 2-0 group win in 1994 was played at the Stadio Nereo Rocco).

At the end of the game De Boer couldn’t hold back a smirk possibly not knowing he created new history for Ajax.

After the game De Boer jokingly commented “Football is quite simple” adding “The players followed the instructions I gave them” echoes of Cruyff’s “Simple football is the most beautiful. But playing simple football is the hardest thing” the legendary no14 describing Total Football in his own words.

“Ajax had to show the courage to take the game to Milan and that’s what we did,” De Boer said. “The team was positive and we showed our true ability. We really demonstrated the courage to try things. We showed the philosophy of Ajax, building from the back. It’s a positive thing, we were a real team,”

“The players followed the instructions and moved the ball from the back to the front, which was what I wanted to see. We held on to the ball well and I should congratulate the players for this, but they are an intelligent group.”

Before taking charge of the match Frank de Boer outlined his goals, speaking to Ajax TV he said: “I am tense as it is an important period for Ajax.

“Up to Christmas, we need to make sure we stay in Europe over the winter and we have the next round of the KNVB Beker (against AZ Alkmaar on 23 December). And obviously we can’t allow the gap in the Eredivisie to get any larger.”

Ajax are currently 5 points behind leaders PSV and the victory at the San Siro confirmed Ajax will be playing European football come spring time in the Europa League, however this still left De Boer unsatisfied.

“It is a shame that we are in the Europa League,” De Boer added in his post-match press conference.

“We were better than Auxerre and drew with Milan at home, but it is a lesson to our players that in the Champions League we have to concentrate in every game.”

In a playing career that spanned 17 years – de Boer made over 300 appearances for Ajax also playing for FC Barcelona, Galatasaray, Glasgow Rangers and finishing in Qatar with Al-Rayyan. He made over 100 appearances for Oranje and is only surpassed by Edwin van der Sar as Oranje’s most capped.

As a player he was famed for his exemplary distribution of the ball, whether it was long or short (see Bergkamp’s goal v Argentina, WC 1998), versatility: able to play across the defensive backline (starting out as a left-back and gradually making centre-back his own) and most famously his brilliant free-kicks.

His work with Jong Ajax hadn’t gone unnoticed, Mr. Ajax Sjaak Swart himself praising his work and complimenting his sticktoitiveness to the Ajax model and style of play.

“When it comes to playing football, movement on the field and attacking, I am close to Johan Cruyff’s philosophy,” De Boer said.

“I like the 4-3-3 formation; I know you need the right players for that, but if you want to find them, then you will.”

His appointment could mean more playing time for the likes of Christian Eriksen who he has coached with Jong Ajax, De Boer: “For his age he is a fantastic player. If he can keep on developing, he can become one of the best No10s in Ajax’s history.”

Eriksen repaid this belief by turning out a professional performance against Milan, he alongside Siem de Jong were the standout performers – Suárez playing his last game in 2010, Sulejmani, De Zeeuw and Enoh also impressed.

It might be this that got his named mentioned as a long term successor to Martin Jol couple of weeks ago from the Cruyff group (group of ex-Ajax players) who have been vocal in their criticism of the state of the club, in particular the de facto leader Johan Cruyff.

De Boer has also pledged to bring back the enjoyment and prestige of playing for the club.

“From where I’m standing the players at Ajax don’t look as if they are enjoying the game. They look whipped,” he added.

“That can’t happen to a top club. When I see NEC play one touch football without any opposition whatsoever from Ajax I think to myself: this can’t be happening. The players are to blame but we’ll have to find a solution together.”

Whether de Boer will be in it for the long term is yet to be seen, with the likes of Frank Rijkaard being touted if de Boer will only be a caretaker manager.

However De Boer has made no secret of wanting the job long term: “This is not how I thought it would happen but I am where I want to be. It’s a bit of a shortcut.

“I would like to stick around of course but that is for the club to say. I’m ready. A lot will depend on the next three weeks.

“I don’t want to change too much to begin with, but I have my own ideas and I want to leave my mark on the team in the future.”

One thing is for sure he joins an exclusive list of ex-players such as Michels, Cruyff, Blind and Van Basten who have turned out to coach the club they hold dear. And we wish continued success whether it be for the short term or the long term.

By jouracule

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