De Boer expects eager Vitesse

De Boer expects eager Vitesse

The day after posting an easy win against RKC Waalwijk (0-2), Frank de Boer was already looking ahead to the next match towards the 33rd national title. On Sunday, Ajax travels to Arnhem for a match against Vitesse. In anticipation of possible celebrations, the trainer said: “I want to win the championship as soon as possible.”

But what happens in the upcoming 31st round of play isn’t (yet) entirely dependent on Ajax. “We need to ensure that we win three points in Arnhem; what happens with the rest is secondary. It’s hard enough to just win against Vitesse, we’ve seen that in previous years. I think that they’ll want to show that they’re a team who is playing good football. They are definitely doing that, and in a match like this against Ajax, they’ll always be able to give something extra. I am expecting to see an eager Vitesse. This season, they have many players who, individually, can decide a match.”

If Ajax wins, De Boer’s fourth title in a row is as good as a done deal. If he achieves this, he’ll surpass great trainers like Rinus Michels and Louis van Gaal. “But I’m much further, haha. No, seriously, when Louis got his third straight title with Ajax, he was much further than I am. He had been a coach for much longer. I still use many things that I learned as a player under him.”

Against RKC, De Boer left several players off the basis, something that isn’t very common in the Netherlands. “But it is if you play as many games as we do. You’ve recovered on the third day following a match, for some players it’s on the second day. So I had to make choices, and I’m happy that I have a selection that can handle that. It’s also a motivation for the guys from twelve to twenty, although that hierarchy isn’t really in place.”

It’s unclear whether Niklas Moisander will play on Sunday. “It’s about fifty-fifty, maybe a bit more”, said De Boer. “Niklas feels good, but he hasn’t been tested. On Friday he’ll train with the Ajax Reserves and we can see how he’s doing. Niklas has been having a very good season and we’re pleased with him. But we also would understand that if he wanted to go to another club, this summer would the right time, considering that his contract is still effective for another year.”

The coach also answered questions about the future of other players. For example, Christian Poulsen’s. “We’re thinking very hard about that right now. We’re certainly not underestimating Chris’ importance. But we’re also looking at whether he’s taking up a young player’s spot. We need to look at what’s more important. That’s a hard question. Chris is, more than anything else, a fantastic person that you really want in the selection. But if you keep him, he’s sitting on the bench for the matches, and a young player is up in the stands. For example, a young guy like Riechedly Bazoer. Is that what you want? Poulsen is in great shape and he also wants to play all of the games in the season.”

On his fellow countryman Nicolai Boilesen, who has been plagues by injuries this season: “He could be the first left back, but there needs to be a good stand-in. We could use Daley, but if you don’t want to move over, another alternative could be Mitchell Dijks, who has played every match this season with Heerenveen.”