Frank de Boer was clear at the press conference. Ajax can’t afford any mistakes in the next three matches. “It’s our duty to get nine points.” In the next eight days, Ajax will play at home twice, first against Go Ahead Eagles on Saturday and then against FC Dordrecht next week, and will also meet Urk midweek in a cup match.
At the weekly press conference, the Champions League match at Barcelona was the topic of conversation for a long time. Ajax lost 3-1, but it was mostly the way that the team played that led to De Boer’s dissatisfaction. “The players and I were disappointed. Of course we knew that we’d need to be amazing, they have three or four players on their team who are among the top ten in the world. But we didn’t bring enough to the table in terms of football. Everyone had a sour taste in their mouth afterwards. We need to wash that away against Go Ahead.”
De Boer touched on a few highlights from the match, such as Lukas Andersen’s drive. “I had hoped that the more experienced guys would take over and would radiate: give me the ball. But that didn’t happen. Lukas wanted to make his plays and went for it. The fact that they weren’t all successful is another story, but he had the drive. In that respect, I thought he was livelier than the rest.”
Jairo Riedwald’s strong turn as a substitute in ‘6’ also came up. De Boer was full of praise for the youngster. "Jairo has many qualities. He can weave and turn very well, he’s fast and physical. In that respect, he resembles Frank Rijkaard a bit. In terms of weaving and turning he’s even better, but not with headers.”
Riedewald is one of the contenders for the defending midfielder’s spot, one of De Boer’s weaknesses right now. “It’s a complicated position. You need to be able to do everything.” Niki Zimling played against Barcelona. De Boer spoke with the Dane for a long time on the training field on Friday, but there was nothing sinister behind that. “That was about applying pressure, which is something we expect from him tactically.”
Ajax hasn’t been coming out of the starting blocks very well in the past few matches. Against Go Ahead, De Boer wants to see fighting Ajax players from the first minute. “Tomorrow, we need to deal the first blow and not wait to get slapped before we wake up. I want to grab Go Ahead by the throat.”
De Boer is on his guard about Go Ahead, the Eredivisie’s number thirteen. “We’re certainly not going to underestimate them. They’ve posted reasonable results in their last two games. Go Ahead is a fighting team with a good football vision. Foeke Booy instilled that. We need to ensure that we bring the same fighting spirit. It’s only then that the difference in quality will come through.”