After 17 rounds of play, midway through the season, Ajax is proudly in first place of the Eredivisie rankings. Frank de Boer looked back on the 2-1 win against De Graafschap. “Being winter champion doesn’t mean anything”, said the Ajax coach, making it clear that he will only be happy with tangible championships.
Ajax’s play in the first half had influenced De Boer’s mood. “De Graafschap was good and played alertly”, the North Holland native complemented his opponents. “In the first half, we were not very good and not alert enough. Due in part to our poor playing in the first half, De Graafschap was able to hand out some blows.” One of these blows was the visiting team’s tying goal. After Arek Milik’s opening goal, Kristopher Vida brought the guests even with Ajax shortly before the break.
De Boer stepped in midway with a tactical change at midfield. Instead of playing purely out towards the front, the Amsterdam team continued the match with a controller at midfield in the second half. “After that, we had more control over the match”, continued De Boer. “We also won 8or 9 out of 10 duels. In the first half, we had been losing eight out of ten. I was also pleased with Vaclav Cerny’s substitution. In the end, we could have won by even more goals.”
Twenty minutes before the end, it was Riechedly Bazoer who played the role of the saviour. The razor sharp volley by the midfielder, who had had an outstanding game, was enough to secure a 2-1 win. “As long as the game is 2-1, it’s dangerous”, said De Boer, admitting that he wasn’t sure of securing the win even after Bazoer’s goal. “It just takes one ball that falls the wrong way, and you end up with egg on your face.”
De Boer wants to look ahead after this winter championship. He says firmly: “The winter championship doesn’t mean anything. We need to improve in many areas. But both the staff and definitely the selection are aware of that. We’re looking forward to the start of the second half of the season.”
When asked about his plans for the winter holiday, Ajax’s coach said that he would be ‘seeking out the sun in Curaçao.’ “With my family. But I’ll be back for New Year’s Eve”, said De Boer with a smile. Ajax resumes its second half of the season on January 4 with a training camp in Belek, Turkey. In the first week of January od the new calendar year, Ajax resumes its mission: winning the championship.