‘We need to be more dominant’

‘We need to be more dominant’

During his one and a half years as head coach, he’s won two national championships with Ajax. This season, Frank de Boer (42) faces the challenge of winning a third championship in a row. A tough, but wonderful challenge. At the beginning of a new season, De Boer talks about his expectations.

The metamorphosis that the Amsterdam ArenA underwent during the summer stop invites us to take a look at Ajax’s honour list. The red coloured band between the first and second ring and in a nook of the stadium indicates the trophy case throughout the years. Frank de Boer has contributed to no less than sixteen of these prizes. Fourteen times as a player, and twice as a coach. At the ‘national championship’ section, the titles are beautifully displayed in rows of three. The most recent title, won in 2012, stands alone, to the right of the row that gave Ajax its third star the previous year. And, if it’s up to Frank de Boer, next spring ‘2013’ will be under there, too.

During the Open Day, on the podium you said that you’re going for the triple with Ajax. How important is it to win the championship again this year?

“Standing still is the same as going backwards. It’s that simple. It’s nice to win the championship twice, but there’s a lot more to win. It’s in my nature to never be satisfied. That’s why it would be nice, for example, to win the championship a few rounds before the end. Because that would mean that we had a good season. In 2010 we won the championship on the very last day in that unforgettable match against FC Twente. Last season, we won the championship one round before the end. It would be nice if we could move that up a bit each year.”

During the pre-season, several young guys got their first taste of the real hard work. Among others, Viktor Fischer, Mitchell Dijks and Stefano Denswil were impressive. Are they ready for the definitive step to the first team?

“We need to be careful with the young guys. It’s important that we bring them in slowly, because they are prone to having a dip during this phase. That’s inherent to the rapid development they’re going through. For them, it’s mostly a question of gaining experience. They need to experience faster action so that they can play at the highest level. That takes time. Viktor Fischer is still an A-junior, but he adapted very fast during the first pre-season weeks. That’s the mark of a good player. He makes progress fast.”

PSV seems to be your biggest competitor for the title. What’s the key to the championship? How can Ajax stand out from the others?

“We need to perfect our playing style even more. And I really mean: we need to be more dominant. We can do much better. The way we played during the last fourteen games of last season is what we should have been doing much earlier. During the first half of the season, we were dominant at times, but it’s clear that we weren’t threatening enough in front of the goal. That was the big difference with the last fourteen matches, in which we were more dominant, we created opportunities, and we won. That’s what won the championship for us. That’s what I want to see this season immediately, in the first matches.”