Hakim Ziyech, foreground, during the Champions League semi-final second leg between Ajax and Tottenham Hotspur at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, May 8, 2019. MARTIN MEISSNER / AP
Fifteen points in twelve contested matches, eighth place in the Eredivisie standings, the first division championship of Dutch football, 24 points behind, already, PSV Eindhoven and 17 behind Feyenoord Rotterdam, its two eternal rivals… The The balance sheet is very gloomy for Ajax Amsterdam.
The 5-0 inflicted this weekend on Vitesse Arnhem has certainly allowed the club to turn its head around. But hardly enough to reassure his fiery supporters, still torn between anger and incomprehension, at the time of the trip to Marseille, Thursday November 30 (9 p.m.), for the fifth day of the group stages of the Europa League. It must be said that Vitesse is a very modest opponent: 18th and last in the Eredivisie, a position that Ajax occupied at the end of October, after a scathing defeat against PSV (5-2). .
What happened to the richest, most famous and most successful club in the Netherlands? He who, not so long ago, seemed very close to reconnecting with his glorious past? In 2017, he played for the Europa League title (2-0 defeat against Manchester United). Two years later, he narrowly missed the final of the big European Cup, the Champions League, beaten in the semi-finals by Tottenham, after having ousted two big clients: Real Madrid, in the eighth, and Juventus of Turin, in quarters.
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Amsterdam believed it had finally found in Kasper Dolberg, Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech, the grandchildren of the golden generation. The one which, at the beginning of the 1970s, had won three titles in a row in the Champion Clubs’ Cup – the ancestor of the Champions League – under the leadership of Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens and Johnny Rep. By winning, in 1995, a fourth crown in the most prestigious of European competitions, the club had risen to the top of the Old Continent.
That year, Ajax had Marc Overmars in their ranks, considered one of the best wingers in the world. After a stint as a player at Arsenal, then at FC Barcelona, the Dutchman will be appointed, in 2012, sporting director of the Amsterdam team. He has become one of the actors in the crisis which is undermining it.
The coaches’ waltz
In February 2022, Overmars was, in fact, to leave Ajax, where he supervised the first team, the youth team, and the women’s team. The press revealed that he had harassed, using very intimate photos, numerous women employed by the club, who were going to denounce “the culture of sexism” who reigned there. The former international with 86 caps was then hired in Belgium by Royal Antwerp FC, after having repaid a bonus of 1.25 million to Ajax.
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