De Boer wants to get good feeling back

De Boer wants to get good feeling back

Despite a difficult start to the second half of the season, Frank de Boer has complete confidence in his team. “The last two matches have not been great for our self-confidence”, said the coach at Friday’s press conference leading up to Vitesse – Ajax on Sunday. “But we were stable before the winter break and won a good number of points. That hasn’t just disappeared.”

“We need to find that good feeling again, quickly”, continued De Boer. The Ajax coach thinks he has the right medicine. “We’re trying to get it back by talking it out, training hard and doing our best. It’s a question of faith. We need to exude that we’re a good team.”

Ajax started 2015 with two home games. A 2-0 win against FC Groningen was followed by a scoreless tie against Feyenoord. The play wasn’t convincing in either game. “Ajax is required to play well and to be dominant”, said De Boer. “If that’s not the case, we will be criticized, and rightly so, by the supporter and the press. They expect more from Ajax and, as the staff, so do we.”

The deficit against PSV has increased to six points. In the hunt for the fifth straight national championship, Ajax can no longer afford any mistakes, as De Boer is well aware. “The championship isn’t out of reach. The disadvantage is that we really can’t afford any more mistakes. On the other side: if we beat PSV, the difference will be down to three points. And that’s not so bad.”

Let it be crystal clear: only a victory will do for Ajax on Sunday in the Gelredome. “If we want to win the championship, we need to return from Arnhem with three points”, said De Boer unequivocally.

That will not be easy. Vitesse, who is performing well under its level and is currently in twelfth place, remains a team to be reckoned with. In December, Vitesse was impressive by defeating Ajax 4-0 in the KNVB Cup match at the ArenA. “We have a lot of respect for Vitesse and we’ve had a tough time with them in the past”, said De Boer. “They play the same game as we do: they try to dominate and create opportunities with good position play.”

And thus the assignment will be preventing Vitesse from getting into their game and putting pressure on them. “As a team, we want to win in the opponent’s penalty kick area.” In football terms, that’s called the third phase. “Then you still have seven men behind the ball. If you lose the ball in the first phase, then it’s fatal and can cost you your life in the second phase. We need to avoid that.”

De Boer was asked if Ajax is considering playing in the transfer market. The transfer deadline closes on Monday night. De Boer doesn’t think so. “If we can get someone who we think will add value, then we won’t pass it up. But we’re not going to make any panicked purchases.”

De Boer would rather look to his own youth players. “You need to first look at who you have in your selection. If you get reinforcements, you need to consider whose way you’ll be blocking. Do you choose one of your own talents, and give him the playing time? Or do you bring in an experienced player, who perhaps would step on a youth player’s foot? It’s a fine balance. I prefer to go for our own talent, accepting that he may make mistakes. With the emphasis on may.”