As they had done many years before, Ajax went to De Lutte, a small village in the East of Holland, for a training camp. This year, they team worked very hard on their conditioning and the side played four matches against amateur clubs.
Every day the squad ran a few kilometres in the woods before breakfast. And around mid-morning, Ajax started a hard training session, which usually lasted more than two hours.
Ajax were still without Hatem Trabelsi, Angelos Charisteas, Hedwiges Maduro, Ryan Babel, Urby Emanuelson and Kenneth Vermeer, who were all given extra time off because they played on longer in the summer break with their national teams.
The three new signings, Markus Rosenberg, Olaf Lindenbergh and Edgar Manucharyan took part in all the activities Danny Blind and his staff had put on the schedule. Manucharyan had a difficult time keeping up, but the young Armenian pulled through. When he left on Thursday to join his national team to take part in the European Championship Under 19, he was given a warm send-off by his new teammates.
After a day of working on stamina and strength, it wasn't always easy for the Ajax players to find their rythm in the friendly matches against some of the top amateur sides in the country. Ajax narrowly escaped an embarrassing draw against WHC in Wezep when Nourdin Boukhari made it 4-3 in the final minute on Monday. The other goal scorers were Yannis Anastasiou, Rasmus Lindgren and Tom de Mul.
On Tuesday, Ajax kept Quick'20 in Oldenzaal from scoring. The team from Amsterdam again scored four times. Boukhari, Nicolae Mitea, Nigel de Jong and Zdenek Grygera all found the net.
The team had no match scheduled for Wednesday. Thursday saw Ajax facing HHC in Hardenberg. For the first time Ajax went into the dressing room at halftime facing a deficit: 1-0. In the second half, the professionals restored the order. Markus Rosenberg made his first goal for Ajax and through goals by Tomás Galásek, Daniël de Ridder, De Jong and Mitea, Ajax won 5-1.
Blind gave his players Friday afternoon and evening off. ,,We have worked really hard this week'', said the coach. Ajax left De Lutte on Saturday morning and travelled to Rjinsburg.
This time, there had been no early-morning training sessions and runs through the woods. And Rijnsburgse Boys refused to play an ultra-defensive style. The result was the first real football demonstration of the season: 0-12. Rosenberg scored three goals, Julien Escudé, who has been named captain by Blind, converted two penalty kicks, De Ridder scored twice as did De Jong, and Lindgren, Boukhari and Anastasiou all chipped in one goal apiece. Mauro Rosales made his first minutes after his ankle operation.
The second training camp starts Wednesday, when Ajax travel to Germany. The team will play test matches against Fortuna Sittard and Arminia Bielenfeld.