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They can’t, or can they?

April 26, 2011

With two more games to go, Ajax is in a very good position to win the championship. They are one point behind leader FC Twente with an away fixture versus SC Heerenveen, which isn’t always easy, followed by a home fixture versus the current leader FC Twente. Ajax has to win the game in Heerenveen and then it’s all to play for against FC Twente at home.

Considering what has happened this season at Ajax, they should not be in this position. Any other football club would not be as lucky as Ajax. Just take a look at what happened to them:

  1. At the beginning of the season, the players who had a long World Cup (Stekelenburg, van der Wiel, de Zeeuw, Suarez) never had a proper time off as the Champions League qualifying round started soon after the World Cup final. Those four players never had time to rest and it showed. De Zeeuw was hopelessly out of shape, mostly as a result of the kick in the face he received in the WC semifinal against Uruguay. Van der Wiel and Suarez were tired and it was showing.
  2. Martin Jol bought in some has-beens who did not add value to the team. Teemu Taino, Mido and Andre Ooijer were unnecessary.
  3. After Ajax lost dramatically against Real Madrid in the Champions League, Johan Cruijff outed harsh criticism via Dutch newspaper de Telegraaf. This led to
  4. Martin Jol resigning/fired (depending on who/what you believe) at the end of 2010 and installing inexperienced Frank de Boer as coach; and
  5. Unrest at the board of directors level, resulting in the board of directors and the managing director resigning.
  6. Selling Luis Suarez – who scored and created most goals for Ajax – to Liverpool in the winter, together with Urby Emanuelson to AC Milan. In return, Ajax did not get any players they wanted.
  7. Mounir El Hamdaoui then started acting up with Frank de Boer. He is still far from happy.
  8. Maarten Stekelenburg, arguably one of the best goalkeeper in the world right now, broke his thumb. With Kenneth Vermeer not back to full fitness after his achilles tendon injury, it was pizza-man Jeroen Verhoeven in goal for a couple of games.

However, some other factors seem to off-set all the bad things that happened, pushing Ajax into a championship contender:

  1. PSV selling Ibrahim Afellay to Barcelona. He was by far their best player and without him PSV have issues.
  2. PSV beating Feyenoord 10-0. This resulted in Feyenoord being extra motivated in the return. Feyenoord won 3-1, PSV lost valuable points in the championship and there was a bizarre circumstance where Ajax fans were cheering for a Feyenoord goal! Last year Feyenoord pretty much handed FC Twente the championship by rolling over easily, so that Ajax did not win the championship.
  3. FC Twente is trying too hard to play beautiful football. Last year under Steve McClaren it was clinical at times, now under Michel Preud’Homme they are trying to play more attacking football, which sometimes resulted in points lost.
  4. Luis Suarez sold. Without him Ajax has to fight for goals and can’t depend on one player, making it harder for opposing teams.
  5. Urby Emanuelson sold. Without him Ajax is able to play a proper left back and a proper left winger instead of accommodating for Emanuelson.
  6. Frank de Boer as head coach, he brought back Christian Eriksen to the starting XI and put Vurnon Anita where he belongs as a defensive midfielder.
  7. Internal politics motivated the team on the pitch as it distracts from all the mud slinging in the director’s box.
  8. Mickey Sulejmani finally finding his mojo after his €16M transfer from Heerenveen in 2008.
  9. Ajax is able to get a win even though they played badly.

The championship is now a very close race between FC Twente, Ajax and PSV. And it’s now all in Ajax’ hands to win their 30th championship. Don’t let it slip this time…

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 1, 2011 20:36

    Ajax will win the Eredivisie

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