It’s not literally a power struggle but both club icons bid for total control at Ajax. Both want to bring Ajax back to the top but both have their own philosophies about how to do that. Who has the best papers? One thing is for sure: they don’t want to co-operate.

Football vision

Johan Cruyff:

4-3-3 is Cruyff’s religion. Better said: a 4-3-3 with creative, dynamic and technically gifted wingers. Wingers who stay out wide and play in the interest of the team. For the rest, every single player must have the technique, movement and vision to achieve a high circulation of the ball. When you lose the ball, the forwards become the first defenders. In other words: pressure on the ball as soon as possible to regain the ball. It’s the system that’s known as the Ajax system in the successful ‘70’s. To adapt this way of playing the game, the whole club has to form itself to this system. From the youngest youth team to the first team, everyone has to play like this and everyone should know what this system means.

Louis van Gaal:

Van Gaal is also an advocate of 4-3-3 with wingers, just like Cruyff. But Van Gaal adds a ‘no. 10’ (playmaker) and a ‘no. 4’ (a CB who’s pressing into midfield). During his time at Ajax in the 90’s, he sticked to this. Later on, he adapted his teams to the material he had. He’s not as strict as Cruyff is to his system. But when Van Gaal would have total control over Ajax, he wants to impose his attacking 4-3-3 philosophy on the entire club. Personal attention for every individual is also an important part of his vision.

Both gentlemen have the same vision when it comes to the tactics. Both visions are close to the Ajax vision. No winner here. 1-1.

The method


The best footballer Europe has ever know doesn’t fancy a function at the club himself. He’s seeing himself as an adviser. Advising to someone who’ll do the executive job. According to himself, it should be difficult. ‘I know the club through and through, there are enough capable people to whom I can say: check this and check that’. What should disappear according to Cruyff is selling talented (home-grown) players for less money. This happened to, for example, Davids, Kluivert, Van der Vaart, De Jong and Van Basten. They have to afford €25 – 30 million and when they’re gone, the next generation has to be ready. No more third-rate foreign players. Only foreign players when they’ve real quality, just like Christan Eriksen.

Van Gaal:

Unlike Cruyff, the current manager of Bayern Münich wants a real function at the club. Not just a function, no he wants to be general manager. Three weeks ago, Van Gaal said: ‘Only when I’m the boss I can run the policy I want to’. When he was the technical manager in 2003, he wrote a policy that’s never been introduced. When Van Gaal will become general manager, that policy will be followed.

Their vision of the policy which should be followed are just like their football visions quite close. Van Gaal will have more control from his wanted position, which this aimless Ajax needs. 1-2.

Support of the fans:

It’s obvious the supporters of Ajax are pro Cruyff these days. Where Van Gaal’s lobby has started two weeks ago, Cruyff’s velvet revolution is in progress since September. Different polls show the support for Cruyff is bigger than the support for Van Gaal. Supporters are chanting Cruyff’s name.

El Salvador should start to release. If so, the credit will be huge. If not, the call for Van Gaal will increase. Cruyff has the bigger support already and that will only increase when he will live up to his nickname: 2-2..

Support of the board

A few days after Martin Jol left, chairman Uri Coronel and general manager Rik van den Boog spoke with Cruyff. With seven man of Cruyff in the Members Council and the support of the fans, the board couldn’t really do anything else than speak with the founder of the Velvet Revolution.

It looks like the board is following the call of the supporters. Truth is: choosing for Cruyff means no opinions of Van Gaal. 3-2.

Support of the staff

Where Martin Jol was an admirer of the person Louis van Gaal. Frank de Boer’s vision includes a bit of Van Gaal and a bit of Cruyff. He’s also a supporter of a 4-3-3 with wingers who play out wide, a real ‘no 10’, a lot of movement and pressure on the ball. It’s actually a aggregation of Cruyff’s vision and Van Gaal’s vision.

Frank de Boer’s an admirer of both icons. It’s a shame for Van Gaal, Martin Jol is gone other wise it would’ve been a tie. It’s 4-3 now.

Both legends in football have their good an bad things in their visions but right now, Cruyff’s the better one for Ajax. He’s not applying for a function at the club. All he wants is to give advices and make sure the right people are in the right places and functions. In my opinion it’s better when there’s no one with total control, which is what Van Gaal wants if he comes back. The people who’re running Ajax nowadays are all skilful people who have the abilities to do a good job. The advice and knowledge of Johan Cruyff could help them to bring Ajax back where the club belongs.