Peter Bosz couldn’t complain about getting too little attention during Thursday afternoon’s press conference. In the presence of much international press, the Ajax coach looked ahead to the Europa League final against Manchester United. More than fifty reporters had come over to hear the unique story of this very young Ajax team.
“It´s important that we´re in a final`, said Bosz, as he opened the press conference. “In the past few years, many people thought that Dutch clubs couldn’t reach the finals. The difference in budget was supposedly too big, for example. But we did it. I have the feeling that everyone in the Netherlands is proud, not just Ajax fans.”
“Surely Johan Cruijff would have been proud?” asked one reporter. “It’s true that I’ve been inspired by Cruijff and his vision of football”, answered Bosz. “In the 70s, I was already influenced by him, when Rinus Michels was his coach. The fact that Cruijff is remembered as being the founder of the Dutch school of football is important, to me.”
The Ajax coach spoke of the pressure that comes with a final. “I don’t feel any pressure, because I only see opportunities. Everyone dreams of a European final, and it’s an enormous opportunity for us. I have a fit and rested selection at my disposal. Even Daley Sinkgraven trained today with us. Nobody’s injured, and that makes for a good preparation.”
Bosz sees the differences as well as the similarities between Ajax and Manchester United: “They’re both big clubs with a rich history. They have experience, and a bigger budget. But we have a good team; we wouldn’t be in the finals otherwise. This will be our nineteenth European match of the season. I hope we can take that experience with us to Stockholm.”
The international press was curious about 17 year-old Justin Kluivert, who has six European games to his name: “He was the last youngster who joined, because Kasper Dolberg (19) and Matthijs de Ligt (17) were already in the selection. When I saw Justin (Kluivert) playing with the Ajax Reserves, I thought it was interesting.”
Bosz doesn’t think it’s relevant to compare the young player to Patrick Kluivert: “His father was a tall centre forward, and Justin comes into his own more as a winger. Even if he played with number 9, he’d still be a totally different player. He’s still young and has a lot to learn, but he has a lot of potential. Just like so many other players on our team.”
Bosz has no plans to change his attacking tactics during the final game. “On Wednesday, it’s all about winning the Europa League, but, just like every game this season, we’re going to try to win it in a compelling way. Some people think that this is naïve. But we’ve shown this season that it’s possible, just like Bayern München and FC Barcelona.”
“I don’t know how the players will react”, continued Bosz. “This is everybody’s first European final. We’re really going to prepare well in the next few days. On Monday, we’ll train in Amsterdam and on Tuesday, we’re travelling to Sweden. We’re going to ty to keep our preparations as normal as possible.” The Ajax coach concluded with a wink: “Of course, it’s not just a normal match."