Ajax Pre Season 2017-2018
Well a lot as happened since we rounded last season off, has you may have already read my last post you will know that I have also taken on the managers job with the Dutch National Team more on that later. So whats happened in Amsterdam during the close season. First of all I sat down and looked at what we did well over the last 2 seasons and how we can improve by looking at what we have not done well. Head Of Youth Development Mr Peters has brought some promising youngsters in to the club after I appointed him last season these youngsters are now a part of our training system that hopefully will mould them in to players who one day will represent the club in our first team. I have decided that a large number of players who have been part of our system for the last two years will be sent out on loan to further develop by playing competitive football. I have identified who will go out on loan and who will continue their development at the club. I have also identified players who as a club don’t think will make the grade. Looking at what we have done over the last two seasons we have cemented our selves domestically as the top team in Holland without doubt, we have swept up the silverware at home winning 6 trophies in 2 seasons at home. Now Europe is another proposition we struggled in season one in the group stage and finished bottom of our group but last season saw us reach the quarter final stage before being knocked out in the 2nd leg in Paris to PSG who overturned our slender first leg advantage. Looking back at that game in Paris we played the match with a very tired and injury hit side with the fringe players not being able to pull us through. That may seem harsh on the side but it is something I feel I need to manage better going forward with how I plan to rotate the side this coming season in a way that will hopefully keep us competitive on all fronts. I have decided to add depth to our squad by bringing in a couple of players who I think will strengthen a very talented squad. So let’s look at our business in the transfer window. The board made available a transfer budget of around £30m plus we brought in a big profit in selling a few players. I spent most of the summer fending off the big club vultures looking to take away our prised possessions.
The first player we purchased was 19 year old Midfielder Kristoffer Ajer for £6m from Celtic, Ajer has been loaned back to Celtic for the rest of the season to get game time and will join up with us for next season. Ajer the Norwegian midfielder has qualities to break in to our Midfield over the next few seasons. I definitely had the next few seasons in mind with this transfer, I keep fending off the big clubs for our talented Midfield players and wanted to make sure we are prepared for when the time comes that we have to let players go. Next in to the club was Mahmmoud Dahoud from Borussia Monchengladbach for £15m I see him playing a big part in rotation of our midfield this season. I then went out and purchased Brazilian Forward Gabriel Jesus the 20 year old had just broken in to the Palmeiras side, I have had him scouted for the last 6 months and decided to make our move this summer, he will bolster or attacking options alongside Milik and the injured Zivkovic. Head of Youth Development Bernhard Peters has also brought youngster Tamer Orenc in to the club from Trabzonspor. With the outgoing transfers it equates to us has having a net transfer spend of -£4.7m meaning we have only used money received for the players who have departed.
So with a host of clubs lining up our players we sold Rodrigo Caio to PSG after he made it clear he wanted to move, we sold him for £22m rising to £26m with add ons giving us a healthy profit, I didn’t want to lose him but he asked for the move so we cashed in. Geronimo Rulli was the next big money move, we picked him up on a free transfer at the end of last season. Rulli had a good season with us and had a lot of interest in him. Pep Guardiola’s Liverpool came knocking and again he wanted the move so we didn’t step in his way and sold him for a £15m profit. Mike Van Der Hoorn has joined Besiktas, he wanted more games and to get that he needed to move on, he played his part for us over the last 2 years so I agreed to let him speak with the Turkish club. Amin Younes has moved to Montpellier again he was not in our plans so he will look to get a starter place in France.
Pre Season Friendlies
We used our games to try and develop a good rotation strategy and it worked very well, we cruised through our games and had a terrific game against a strong Barcelona team eventually drawing 2-2 after a pulsating end to end game against Unai Emery’s 4-4-1-1 formation. Most of the squad got good game time to set us up for the season ahead.
The board have expressed that they want us to retain the Eredivisie title and reach the Champions League knockout stage. They don’t see the Dutch Cup as important however I want us to retain the cup for a third season, If we are in it I want us to win it and will look to retain it.
Dutch Super Cup Final 2017
Another clash against our big rival’s from Eindoven PSV, we couldn’t have wished for a better start with Milik netting a brace inside the first 17 minutes of the game which knocked PSV off their game plan and encouraged us to go for the jugular but PSV weathered the storm and held out until half time. Going in 2-0 up at half time I told the side to keep going and guard against complacency. PSV started to play after the restart and was rewarded when wonderkid Luis Henrique (who we had been tracking) breached our defence and put PSV back in the game. Daley Sinkgraven restored our 2 goal lead just 3 minutes after PSV’s goal. We then looked comfortable until Guardado scored a 2nd for PSV in time added on. We triumphed again against our rivals giving us our 6th trophy in my 2 years in charge.
Eredivisie 2017-2018 (August 2017)
Willem II Away Won 4-1
We got the season underway on the road with a 4-1 victory at Willem II , our hosts took a 24th minute lead against the run of play before Lucas Andersen and Davy Klaassen sent us in at the break with a 2-1 lead. The second half was much like the first period with us dominating the game. We were rewarded late on in the game with Zivkovic and substitute Van Rhijn adding 2 late goals that got our season off to a resounding 4-1 win.
AZ Home Won 6-0
I picked a rotated team for our opening home game of the campaign against AZ and we got off to a flyer with 5 first half goals courtesy of Veltman,Lozano x 2, Milik and Lincoln. This was a night to remember at The Amsterdam Arena. We took our foot off the gas in the second half scoring just once more via Lozano his hat-trick which capped a super night for the Mexican inside forward . Two wins out of two and 10 goals from our 2 opening games and a very pleased manager.
FC Twente Away Won 3-0
A trip to FC Twente and a reunion with one of our former coach’s Jaap Stam (now manager of today’s host) and another first half performance that took the game away from FC Twente . We went in at half time with a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Klaassen, Fisher and El Gazzi . Over 30’000 fans witnessed us get all 3 points in a game that saw Daley Sinkgraven run the show from start to finish with a sublime performance
NAC Breda Away Won 1-0
We put in a hardworking performance to beat NAC Breda by 1-0 courtesy of a Lucas Andersen second half close range finish. The side did not get out of 2nd gear on the night and needed a harsh talking to at half time, I told them to go out after the break and show me something different. 3 points in the bag, but a below par performance .
FC Groningen Home Won 5-0
A better performance from the boys and a fantastic Hat-trick from Milik who is looking sharp again this season. Lincoln and El Gazzi grabbed a goal each in a game that was marred by an injury to Richairo Zivkovic. Maximum points in the opening month of the season gives us a 4 point lead at the top from PSV.
Ajax 2017-2018 First Team Squad
17 first team members of our 25 man squad have been with me since day 1 two years ago and have formed the backbone of our team building concept .
Champions League Draw
We have been drawn with Bayern Munich, Valencia,and Lech Poznan. We were seeded in pot 3 of the draw and will need to be on our game to navigate through the group….
Netherlands National Team
I have picked my first squad for the upcoming games the first a tough tie against group leaders France. Already the squad has been hit by injuries to Strootman and Van Dijk before I named it then a further three drop outs since the squad was named. I am looking forward to the upcoming games and the challenge of trying to qualify from a difficult situation.
Squad To Play France World Cup Qualifier Group 1
Thanks For Reading
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