Building The Ajax 3-3-3-1 ‘The Cruyff Philosophy’ #FM16


What am I trying to achieve? Both Ajax and Barcelona have in common a Philosophy that is structured in development of youth to produce player’s of exceptional technique and functional skills via their respective academies for the first team. Both clubs also have the following in common Michels, Neeskens, Rijkaard,Koeman,de Boer and Cruyff  the man at the centre of all that is common between both club’s,  Total Voetbal via The Total Voetballer. Cruyff was Rinus Michels focal point at Ajax,Barcelona and the Netherlands. Cruyff himself influenced so many people as a player, manager and even director. It’s no coincidence that he has influenced Pep Guardiola both as a player and manager. I could write forever about both Ajax and Barcelona and all that they have in common, but I won’t. So getting back to the opening question What am I trying to achieve? 

I have taken over at Ajax with the idea of carrying on with the philosophy that Cruyff beleaved in as manager at Ajax and Barcelona which was not too much different from that of Rinus Michels. I am looking to our academy  (De Toekomist) to develop players for our first team with the required attributes to play in our system. The system will stay the same, the players will be moulded in to the system. I want us to play an  entertaining and successful brand of football. Cruyff played a 3-4-3 formation. 

Cruyff refused to follow the herd and insisted upon his own philosophy – the one he had helped define under Michels, albeit this time with his own modern tweaks. With a penchant for the risky, we quickly learnt to understand the Cruyff way, the 3-4-3 formation and his disgust for cautious football. It all started with the goalkeeper who the Dutch Maestro believed ought to know how to play football. Ahead of him would stand three mobile centre-backs, in essence one traditional centre-back and two wingbacks to guard their goal. Ahead of them they would play a defensive midfielder who would secure the defence and cover space whilst beside him on either side were midfielders who could both aid defensively as well as contribute in the construction of attacking opportunities. In the heart of things would operate the attacking midfielder, capable of interchanging roles with the number 9 ahead of him whilst the two wingers would offer width.

Back to our tactic, The framework of the tactic is a 3-3-3-1  based around a strong central nucleus. I use a Sweeper Keeper and in front of him I have 3 Central Defenders on defend duties, I want a solid 3 who can do their job, I use 2 Wing backs on attack duties or support these give our system the width and stretch the opponents defence in the final 3rd, whilst watching our games the Wing Backs have been a very useful outlet in our build up play and more often than not at least one of them has had acres of space to run on too. Boilesen on the left side as created loads of chances from the final 3rd. Then we come to the Midfield area were we have a Regista making things tick on the ball and closing down aggressively without the ball, in front of him we have a Central Midfield 3 all on attack, in the centre I have a Advanced Playmaker who gives us a diamond shape flanked by 2 Central Midfielders (The Cruyff Diamond) I then use a False 9 up top. In Cruyff’s system he would only use a Striker if they were world class. Interesting enough though this morning @Rovazzz as sent me a screenshot of his formation using 2 Regista’s which as got me thinking….@Rovazzz is a disciple of Marcelo Bielsa like myself and very successful in his FM career you should give his blog a follow because I am thinking he is a revolutionary manager. 

Ajax 3-3-3-1 v1

The Ajax 3-3-3-1 for me creates beautiful football I sometimes even use wingers in the central midfield positions, central wingers who roam in and out wide. Watching games in full as given me more knowledge about the system and the few people who have tested it for me with different sides have all said they enjoyed the football and were very successful. I have the B team and Youth team playing the same way, I have started watching games from them and making tweaks with them I think this is a good way to test the system. 

I will be posting our end of season report this weekend, before I go a big thank you to FM Samo for plugging this blog on this week’s Deep Lying Podcast……cheers


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