De Boer gives Ajax five per cent chance

De Boer gives Ajax five per cent chance

Frank de Boer gives Ajax a five per cent chance of continuing in the Europa League.  “That’s not much, but in football, you never know what can happen”, said the coach on Wednesday’s press conference.  “It’s just like at the casino.  You lose most of the time, but sometimes you win.  Hopefully luck will be on our side.”

De Boer explains how Ajax got into this situation.  “I said beforehand, and PSV proved this, that we needed to win our home games.  We should have won at least seven points, and we can’t get that anymore.  Two draws is just too little.  That’s why we’re in such a tight spot now.”

Ajax was in a tough pool with Fenerbahçe. Celtic and Molde.  De Boer explained how the group compares to the level of the Eredivisie.  “Those teams are better than our second tier teams, but they certainly aren’t better than the top.  To be clear, Fenerbahçe is about the same as PSV or Feyenoord.  Celtic would be a good second-tier team.  Molde has proven to have a good selection and organization, and they’re hard to beat.”

Molde in European flow

The Norwegian team is assured of a spot in the next round.  “They’re in a good flow right now in terms of playing in Europe.  But if you analyse the matches, they’ve also been quite lucky.  Out of four opportunities, they’ll score three goals.  Although that’s a quality, too.”


Ajax has lacked that efficiency.  “The only matches where we weren’t dominant were the ones against Fenerbahçe, at home and away.  But as also happened to us in the competition, we forgot to tie the noose around the competitors’ necks, while they made good with just one of two opportunities.  That late goal at Fenerbahçe has proven to be costly.  That simply can’t happen at this level.”

Winter break

Ajax hopes to secure a continuation in Europe after the winter break, like PSV did.  “But they had it in their own hands, and we don’t”, continues De Boer.  “We need to win, but that’s the only thing we have influence over, and we’re hoping for a bit of help from Celtic.” De Boer took advantage of the opportunity to congratulate PSV in reaching the next round of the Champions League.  “Everyone knows how important this is for Dutch football.  It’s a terrific achievement.  Especially since we know how difficult it is.”

De Boer made his debut as Ajax’s coach a bit more than five years ago, as the team defeated AC Milan in the Champions League.  The North Holland native looks back on this fondly.  “There have been great highlights, and more difficult times.  We’re won the national championship four years out of five.  But I feel that we haven’t achieved enough on the European stage.  That’s a blemish.  Losing the cup final twice also was no fun, but I would have loved to make it through the winter break at least once in the Champions League.  Despite some tough pools, we came close a couple of times.”

Understanding

Ricardo van Rhijn joined the press conference.  The right back will get a chance to show his stuff in the absence of the suspended Kenny Tete.  Van Rhijn showed understanding in this situation.  “For three years, I was always playing, and now I’m playing less.  There’s no point in hanging my head, that’s not what I’m about.  I need to be honest and realistic: there’s a reason I’m not in.  Kenny got the chance and he’s doing great.  The coach has no reason to switch.  I can’t hold it against him.  The team’s doing well, in a good flow.  I hope I can make my contribution tomorrow and play a good game.”

De Boer praised Van Rhijn’s attitude.  “I know that each person, and each coach, has feelings.  And I know that Ricardo gives one hundred per cent.  That made it even harder to tell him back then that there wasn’t a spot on the squad for him.  Obviously it’s difficult, but Kenny’s been doing great and he made the Dutch national team.  We simply need nineteen fit field players and three fit keepers.  I have the feeling that Ricardo is on his way up again.”

De Boer emphasized that the players need to earn their spot.  “I don’t have a favourite line-up.  Everyone needs to show that they deserve to be there.  I look at the best line-up, sometime taking the opponent into consideration.  But the guys themselves determine who’s going to be in.”

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