De Boer: ‘We don’t need to be dramatic’

De Boer: ‘We don’t need to be dramatic’

Frank de Boer refuses to be backed into a corner after a scoreless tie against Heracles Almelo.  During Friday’s press conference, the Ajax coach received several questions about the struggling offense in that match, but he insists that this was incidental.  “We don’t need to be dramatic about this.  We’ve scored many goals in other home games.   I don’t hear anyone commenting on the fact that PSV is scoring so few goals.”

De Boer commented some more on the Heracles duel.  The coach did not agree with the stipulation that his team had been powerless on offense.  “What does creating many or few opportunities mean”, wondered De Boer aloud.  “Many teams would be happy if they got six chances to score.  Maybe they weren’t the greatest opportunities, but they were 75 per cent opportunities.  Often, two of those will go in.  It’s clear that we can, and need to, do better.  We need to do more against defensively oriented teams like them.”

Make the difference

According to De Boer, the lesson to take from this game is that Ajax needs to seek depth more quickly.  “We need players who can make the difference.  We were missing that against Heracles.  Younes is that kind of player, but he had an off-day.  In that case, you need to decide to play opportunistically.  We did that in the final fifteen minutes and we were immediately more threatening.  The important thing is that the players learn to recognize that faster.  We’re working hard on that.”

On Sunday, Ajax will play on the artificial turf of Roda JC at 12:30.  There are some things that Ajax has now mastered.  “In my first few years, we had a hard time with that, but that’s in the past now.  Look up the statistics”, said De Boer, referring to Sunday lunchtime matches.  “We’re also doing fine on artificial turf.  Last season, we only lost the last competition match at Dordrecht.  But that was a match with no stakes.”

De Boer is counting on a tough afternoon.  “Roda JC has several new guys who undoubtedly want to prove themselves.  In interviews, these players all say that they’re really happy to play for Roda.  It all starts with passion, and you can go really far with that.  We need to be aware of that.  It’s not going to be a walkover.”

Pain

It’s still unclear whether Davy Klaassen will be able to play in the Parkstad Limburg Stadion.  Recovery from his knee injury isn’t going according to plan.  “It will definitely take longer than expected.  You can also be one hundred per cent with pain, but that’s definitely not the case with Davy.  In my career, I played a total of maybe two years without pain.”

During the weekly press conference, De Boer was asked if Ajax will acquire reinforcements in the final days of the transfer market.  The coach repeated his point of view: someone needs to leave so that someone new can join.  According to De Boer, it’s not simple.

“We all want to win the championship.  But we’re not going to spend ten or fifteen million euros on a player.  And believe me, a fifteen million euro player isn’t going to come to the Netherlands.  So your options are to loan out.  Traoré (Chelsea) would be a good option.  But he can’t leave because they don’t want him to play in the Eredivisie.  And he’s not even playing at Chelsea.  So you then get to a bunch of ‘hope players’.  These are players who have talent, but aren’t necessarily the ones who will help you win a championship.”

Serero and Van Rhijn

Heerenveen coach Foppe de Haan has said that he would love to have Thulani Serero, but the South African’s future is somewhat dependent on Klaassen’s recovery.  De Boer: “If Davy regains one hundred per cent fitness and we have a guarantee that he can play the last three or four months, then we have enough midfielders.  But if that’s not the case, then we need Thulani.”

In any case, Ricardo van Rhijn can’t leave.  “We’re not spoiled for right backs.  Ricardo, together with Joël Veltman, is the best alternative.  It’s maybe a shame for him, as he may already be elsewhere mentally, but it’s just not possible.  He also still has another two years on his contract.”

De Boer also talks about his vision for the race for the title.  He’s expecting the race to be between Ajax and PSV.  “But that’s what we were all expecting beforehand.  Maybe people had put Feyenoord in there, too, but it will be a bit more difficult for them.  There is a reason they won the championship, and nothing much has changed.  They’re a serious contender.”