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Mounir El Hamdaoui & Ajax: A Match Made in Hell

August 22, 2011

When Marko Pantelic refused a new contract from Ajax during the summer of 2010, Ajax was desperately in need of a striker. The other striker, Dario Cvitanich, is not good enough and there weren’t any good strikers playing in the youth. Martin Jol then used his network to approach Mounir El Hamdaoui, back then playing for AZ where he was club top scorer and voted 2009 Dutch Footballer of the Year. A year later and El Hamdaoui is now banned from the first team, having openly clashed with the new coach Frank de Boer. He is now playing with the reserves while waiting for a new club to come and get him.

Mounir El Hamdaoui was born and raised in Rotterdam and grew up playing football on the streets alongside Robin van Persie, Said Boutahar and Nourdin Boukhari. He made his professional debut for Excelsior, managed to get a transfer to Tottenham Hotspur (where Martin Jol was coaching at the time) but failed to make an impact, was loaned out to Derby County then came back to Holland to play for Willem II and AZ. Along the way the Morrocan international showed that he is technically gifted and a very good striker if given the space to roam and make actions.

Signs of disharmony were already apparent before he signed for Ajax. His brother owns a shop in Rotterdam and for fear of retaliation from Feyenoord’s supporters he wanted Ajax to buy the shop so that he and his broher don’t bear any risks. This became a whole subject of debate and finally an agreement was made (can’t remember the exact details concerning his shop). He played well in the first couple of matches, scoring some beautiful goals but later on word came out that he couldn’t see eye to eye with Luis Suarez, club captain and superstar.

Apparently during El Hamdaoui’s first day, he came in the dressing room and asked where his seat and locker was. Suarez pointed at the toilet. El Hamdaoui didn’t see the humor in it and so began a fragile relationship between the two. I would back Suarez on this one as anyone who fails to see the funny side in that clearly has issues. One has to wonder what El Hamdaoui would do if he were to share a dressing room with Richard Witschge, the undisputed king of practical jokes at Ajax.

On the field it became apparent that El Hamdaoui didn’t really fit in the system. He tends to drop deep and ask for the ball, which means that Siem de Jong didn’t have space to make his runs and there was no target man for Suarez and Emanuelson to aim for. El Hamdaoui is good at playing facing the goal, whereas an Ajax striker should play with his back to the goal. The results were disappointing and Jol resigned in December.

Ajax appointed Frank de Boer as head coach and in his first game in charge, the Champions League game against AC Milan, he left El Hamdaoui on the bench. El Hamdaoui found out not from de Boer directly but from other sources and this angered him. Later on Frank de Boer admitted that he should have told El Hamdaoui directly that he was not in the starting XI. After this game, El Hamdaoui became ill and missed trainings. Whether he was really ill or not is still a dispute, however the timing just doesn’t seem right. Ever since the relationship between coach and player became very strained (to say the least). El Hamdaoui also said to Frank de Boer that he will become difficult if he is used as a substitute. He was still used in the second half of the season, although Siem de Jong effectively became the main striker. At the end of the season it was clear, Ajax didn’t want El Hamdaoui anymore. Even during the championship celebrations, fans were booing when his name was announced.

For this season, Ajax have signed Kolbeinn Sigthorsson from AZ as main striker. They are still after another striker, having loaned out Geoffrey Castillion to RKC Waalwijk. Siem de Jong can also play as striker, although he is better at midfield. For Mounir El Hamdaoui, he needs to move to another club should he want to play regularly. Currently he has said that he is content playing in the reserves and training under Gerry Vink. Several clubs have shown interest (PSV, Fulham, Saint-Etienne, Paris St Germain) but none have so far come out with a concrete offer. After he resigned, Martin Jol apparently promised him that he will take him when he finds a new club. For the moment though he is doing a Bogarde.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    August 29, 2011 05:34

    Thanks for the article. I just recently started being an Amsterdam fan and I was wondering what the heck had happened to Mounir. Thought he was suffering a serious injury but now I know whats really going on. Sucks cause he’s such a dynamite striker, and with the loss of Suarez and Emanuelson one would think he would’ve tried harder to earn his spot on the first team. What a tragedy :/

  2. Julian Brown permalink
    September 2, 2011 14:11

    excellent article. you are a great writer with terrific football insight.

  3. gregorio vanklaan az fan permalink
    September 7, 2011 13:58

    that is unfair to mounir , u know untill the end of the first half hwe was still the goleador of ajax , so why wouldi make him upset , he scores i win , i please him , moun and suarez werent in conflict , cuz as u mentioned the bathroom story was in the beginning “he didnt know where his coset is ” but we v seen a very homogenic game between those two before luis left , they scored very beautiful goals by , by-passes , and they hugged each other after that , what does that mean , and if that story happened , i dont think theres any humour in that “joke” its an insult
    i think the problem started when de boer came in , he did mention he didnt like mounirs game in az when frank was a foot analyst at some arabian chanel , he is racist , why the hell would he refuse mounir and put him on the bench forhis first game in , against milan , while he scored in the away game, and was titular during that period , what backs my story up , is how he is now dealing with the aissati deal , the other moroccan , the same way he did with el hamdaoui ,
    if you remember el hamdaoui was a barcelona target befor optin for morocco , so afterwards he was a bad player ?? weard
    he is the best in holland and when he ll leave ajax , he will shine baby , cuz he is the best

  4. Youness permalink
    September 29, 2011 22:11

    Mr writer , you wrote what u wanted .
    Elhamdaoui is the best player in ajax and ajax is losing without him . it is stupid to let ur best player that scored in the bench while ur striker is shitty .
    I think the coach is an asshole and ajax is suffering cuz of his strategy .

  5. Simo permalink
    November 2, 2011 07:07

    Mounir deserves better than Ajax, It’s as simple as that.

  6. Nnaemeka permalink
    January 1, 2012 21:19

    I deeply pray chelse gets him

  7. Anonymous permalink
    July 21, 2012 13:28

    Mounir El hamdaoui scored some sick ass goals for AZ and for Ajax De boaer was upset that Mounir wanted to play for morocco and he couldnt do much about it but to Bench him… anyways we will shift focus to Fiorentina for now and you will see what goals he scores … cheers to ITALIA!!!

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