‘We’re in the relegation zone’ The unbelievable crowd continued to riot and Ajax fell into total trouble.
Ajax, which fell from the top spot in the Netherlands to the relegation zone, is now in charge of both management and team management. The spectators, who saw the disastrous performance, caused riots several times. It’s a total mess.
On the 22nd (Korean time) Utrecht won 4-3 over Ajax. As a result, Utrecht, which was in last place (18th place), rose to 16th place, and Ajax fell to 17th place, which is in the relegation zone. Ajax recently suffered four consecutive losses in the regular league. 1 win, 2 draws, 4 losses. Although there are two games worse than other teams, Ajax’s relegation is shocking.
From Ajax’s perspective, third place last season was also poor. Ajax, the strongest among the top three in the Netherlands (Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord), has won the first division 36 times and the UEFA Champions League (UCL, including the predecessor European Cup) 4 times. The Dutch team that most recently proved its international competitiveness was Ajax. They built pride in the league by reaching the UCL semifinals in the 2018-2019 season.
Since 2010, Ajax has won the domestic league seven times and finished second four times. Even when the season was suspended due to the novel coronavirus infection (Corona 19), they were leading until the cancellation. Then, when it fell to third place in the 2022-2023 season, then-president Edwin van der Sar resigned.
I thought 3rd place was also a poor performance, but after a few months, I fell into a deeper hole. Coach Eric Tenhag, who led the team from 2017 to 2022 and led the team’s revival, moved to Manchester United and was unable to find a successor. Coach Alfred Sröder, Tenhach’s successor, was fired due to poor performance before even playing half of the 2022-2023 season. Coach Jon Heitingha, a veteran player at the club, took care of the rest of the season and finished in 3rd place. Head coach Maurice Stein was appointed ahead of this season, but he parted ways early as the team fell into a more severe slump. This time, head coach Heath Herbis Maduro, a former club player, became acting manager. It’s a vicious cycle.
Appointing a coach who had shown competency in a team at the bottom of his country’s league was a successful formula that worked at Ten Haag’s time, but the problem was the coach’s style. Coach Stein was more inclined to follow the storms of lower-ranked teams than to follow Ajax’s traditional ‘total football’ style. He didn’t fit in with the best team in the league.
Problems also arose in the selection of executives. After former president Van der Sar stepped down, they tried to appoint president Alex Kroos. However, he entered into a legal battle at his former employer, AZ Alkmaar, because there was a clause prohibiting re-employment in the same industry for one year after retirement, and interim president Jan van Halst is now in charge. Currently, Ajax is under an acting system for both the president and coach.
So far, it appears that even rebuilding the squad has failed. Ajax, which is destined to see an outflow of players every year, had key players such as Urien Timber (Arsenal), Edson Alvarez, and Mohamed Quddus (West Ham United) leave this summer as well. To fill this position, a large amount of money was invested in recruiting Josip Sutalo, Borna Sosa, Benjamin Tahirovic, Chuba Akpom, and Gaston Avila. All of the transfer fee income was spent. So far, the team’s capabilities are below expectations. After the manager changes, a player with an upward trend may emerge, but the route of bringing in several players whose positions were ambiguous in the big league club does not seem to be working well so far.
굿모닝토토As the limitations of nurturing only promising players appeared, the strategy that Ajax has enjoyed in recent years has been to ‘bring back proven players from the Dutch league when they fail in the big league.’ This line appears to have expired with current captain Steven Bergwijn.
Local spectators, unable to accept reality, are rioting. On September 27, when the team fell behind significantly in a home game against rivals Feyenoord, unrest broke out in the stands and the game was abandoned and then resumed. The match against Utrecht also had to be stopped for a while due to the excited spectators throwing objects and rioting.