Martin Jol signed his Ajax contract shortly after midday. The 53 year-old, who was born in Scheveningen, is looking forward with every confidence to 22 June, the first official working day for him and his squad. ,,The aim is development. Once that is going well, the results will follow automatically.’’
Conference room Voorland, at the heart of the Amsterdam ArenA, is buzzing. Martin Jol signs his new coaching contract flanked by the whole Ajax Board and in the presence of dozens of ‘spectators’ - including brother Cock Jol. The first trophy that the coach is presented with is an attractive bouquet for Mrs Jol. “My first impression of the club?’’ Jol repeats the question a mere three hours after he arrived at the ArenA. “Of course I still have to get to know most of the people here but, as was the case at my previous clubs in the Netherlands, England and Germany, I have already met a lot of very nice people. This afternoon and in the days ahead I am also going to meet the Ajax players at the Toekomst (the Ajax youth training complex).’’
Jol has left Hamburger SV and is starting out on a new adventure at Amsterdamsche Football Club Ajax (the club’s full name). It is an exciting challenge. As a player and a coach he always had a good feeling about Ajax. “Long ago Ajax was almost unbeatable at the Meer stadium. That was something you knew beforehand,” the 3-time international remembers from his playing days at FC Den Haag and FC Twente.
However, Jol has had his successes against Ajax. In any event, the memory of a sensational 1-2 victory with ‘his’ RKC in the ArenA puts a smile on Jol’s face. The good feeling associated with Ajax has, in any case, remained and Jol summarises his Ajax feeling using a few concise words. “You just have to see the shirt, the fans and the stadium. It doesn’t really get any better than this.”
What is Jol’s main goal as Ajax head coach? “The development of the players is the priority. Once that is going well, the results will follow automatically. As far as that is concerned I am looking forward to working with the players. It doesn’t matter how old they are, as long as they are good.” As coach at HSV, Jol had the opportunity to study the Ajax players from close by. The UEFA Cup match was a memorable one. HSV suffered one of the season’s rare defeats thanks to a goal by Leonardo (0-1). “Ajax were very impressive during that match,” Jol stresses. “One reason for this was that the team played in a tactically astute manner from the back. Thomas Vermaelen played at left back. Eyong Enoh and Luis Suarez also looked good. I am looking forward to working with all the players.”
Jol has a clear football vision and philosophy in which concepts such as enthusiasm and passion are key. “Between 70 and 80 percent of football is hard work. The other 20 to 30 percent is pleasure. Relaxation is also important. The main thing is to work with enthusiasm and passion.”
Shortly after the contract was signed, Ajax CEO Rik van den Boog spoke of the prevailing feeling of satisfaction about the latest acquisition. "Martin is one of the best coaches in Europe with a huge amount of experience. He is someone who can get you the best results. We are all very happy with Martin, a coach with a vision and a great football brain.”
Who exactly is going to be included in the Ajax 1 coaching staff next season is still unclear. Besides Martin Jol, Danny Blind is also going to be assigned a key role. Blind is going to assist Martin Jol with the implementation of the total football policy, both on and off the pitch. As Van den Boog explains, “Jol is the big boss as far as football is concerned. Danny is there for the continuity and, for example, for the youth academy. Martin and Danny will have a say in how the other coaching positions are to be filled.”