'Many similarities between NEC and PSV'

'Many similarities between NEC and PSV'

Ajax will meet first NEC, and then PSV, in the next ten days.  Frank de Boer feels that it’s to Ajax’s advantage that they are crossing daggers with the Nijmegen team first, before going on to playing the top Eredivisie match against PSV.  “There are many similarities between NEC and PSV.  Ernest Faber, the coach, has worked as an assistant at PSV before, and you can see similarities between their systems.  That can be to our advantage as we head towards the PSV match.”

De Boer made it clear that the Ajacieds’ full focus is on NEC.  “Many people are already thinking about PSV, but we are not.  This match against NEC is more important by far”, says De Boer.  “If we squander points against NEC, then the match against PSV loses some of its importance.  We need to get three points, and then we can fully concentrate on PSV.”

Sparing no one

Four Ajacieds - Mitchell Dijks, Riechedly Bazoer, Davy Klaassen and Nemanja Gudelj – are on alert.  They will get suspended if they get one more yellow card.  “But I’m not going to spare those guys”, said De Boer.  The coach refused to reveal his line-up.  De Boer also remained vague about whether or not Anwar El Ghazi, fresh off his suspension, will return to the squad.  “El Ghazi needs to prove himself every time, just like everyone else.”

Ajax has shown its better side in the last couple of games.  Against AZ (4-1) and Willem II (0-4), they played very well at times.  According to De Boer, this is because they can focus their training more.  Ajax no longer has any European commitments and has been eliminated from the KNVB Cup.  “Before, we were constantly building up and recovering. Now, we can really just build from week to week.  We can really communicate what we want to see with the players.  That combination of things means that things are working better.”

According to De Boer, possession has improved.  The coach was asked if the team has also improved in terms of applying pressure, but the coach feels that this is beside the point.  “The intention has always been the same.  Looking back at the matches, you can see that we are always applying pressure.  The point is what we do when we are in possession.  That’s gotten much better.  Before, we would often lose the ball two seconds after gaining possession.  Of course this also has something to do with how fresh the team is, whether or not you are just able to get your foot in there.  I think the group looks very fresh.”

Stability

De Boer was also asked about Joël Veltman’s development.  The defender received compliments from his coach.  “I think he brings stability, not only as a central defender, but as a right back too.  I’m very happy with him, including his positive approach with the other guys.  His performance is outstanding.”

De Boer was also impressed with recently promoted NEC, who is now in seventh place.  “They’re willing to work as a team for each other and they’re doing well.  They’re scoring a bit less than other teams.  Their balance is 29-29, but I think they would like it to be different.  They’re a stiff opponent who likes to play from the transition.  We need to make sure we break through that.”

De Boer’s future

De Boer once again spoke about the reasons why he has parked his decision about his future with Ajax.  “The race for the title is the most important thing right now.  I don’t want any other issues to disrupt this.  You can see what can happen if you look at my colleague at NEC, Ernst Faber.  I haven’t made any decisions, so I have nothing to report.”