Technical director Louis van Gaal is currently in South-Africa to visit Ajax's satellite club Ajax Cape Town. The former coach of the Amsterdam club also joined Ajax's first team on their training camp in Portugal. There he spoke about his job as technical director with the club with which he was so successful as a coach.
,,I used the first two months to listen, to see and to observe everything. I have talked to many people. I started with the ones mainly responsible for the football: Ronald Koeman, Danny Blind, Ton Pronk and the managing board. Many people came to me spontaniously and many conversations lasted longer than planned. I have been welcomed with open arms'', Van Gaal says about his return to Ajax. ,,That is a good sign.''
During those first months Van Gaal has structured the meetings. ,,It depends on the people's positions how often we talk. I am not going to have a meeting just for the sake of having one. But with for instance Koeman, Blind, Pronk and the board, I talk weekly, because that is about long-term matters.
At each training during the training camp in Portugal, the technical director sat on a chair at the side line and observed the squad. ,,It is the first time I see the players at work, and in principle the last time, because Koeman is responsible for the training. He has my confidence in that. It's just that it is good to see the interaction between the players, coaching staff and medical staff. And to find out if there is an idea behind the training. I have seen that there is. However Koeman fills it in, has to do with his own identity. I was also present when the coaching staff held evaluations with the players. I really appreciate it, that they let me be there when they had those meetings. The interaction between players and coaches became more visible.
Occasionally the discussion rekindles if Ajax should still play the famous 'Ajax football'. Van Gaal: ,,Through the years Ajax have played distinguishing football. Ajax has to try to play offensively. Playing offensive football means you disorganise the opponent's game, it means you use a big part of the pitch, with wingers. The opponent is under pressure and you get more goals. I also believe that you can have a balanced squad if you have many young players in the team. I think that a coach should take the Ajax-style into account. But the result is the most important. Elimination in the Champions League is detrimental; to the development of the lads and to the financial aspect. Because the result is so important, a head coach is sometimes allowed to deviate from the Ajax-style.