Coach Erik ten Hag left captain Joël Veltman off the squad for the sc Heerenveen game, making 18-year old Matthijs de Ligt captain, instead.
“We wanted more pressure on the wings”, was Ten Hag’s post-game explanation for passing over his captain. Rasmus Kristensen took over Veltman’s position at right back. “Rasmus has been here for 2 months now. His adjustment period is over and he’s really been bringing it in training.”
But that wasn’t the only reason: “Out last 2 results (tie against ADO and loss to Vitesse) aren’t worthy of Ajax”, said Ten Hag at the press conference after the game against sc Heerenveen. “I was very unhappy with the entire team’s attitude. And obviously if we’re not winning, then someone else has the chance to play. I’m very aware that substituting the captain is a very big decision. But it’s also a signal.”
Not a definitive decision
Veltman’s captain’s band wasn’t passed on to one of the team’s veterans, but to teenager Matthijs de Ligt: “We specifically wanted Matthijs to be captain. He’s becoming more and more in charge at the back, but needs to be more demanding as well. The entire teams needs to demand more of each other. They need to take responsibility, including Matthijs. He’s been making an incredible development and this goes with that. He has the aura of a captain. The fact that Joël has been benched once doesn’t say anything definitive. We need to see how he develops. I must compliment Joël on how he came in as a substitute.”
'Pleased with play, attitude, experience'
To Ten Hag’s pleasure, Ajax won by 4-1. “We were completely dominant on the field. That goal against came much too fast after our opening goal. Perhaps it was the euphoria of the goals, and the lines were too far apart. After the break, we had 4 or 5 sure chances. But that’s been our story of the past few weeks. Out productivity is much too low, and we need to fight for every match. I’m pleased with our play, attitude, the experience, and the 3 points.”
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