Same old song in the ArenA

Same old song in the ArenA

Next to the familiar Ajax Marsch another tune can be heard in the Amsterdam ArenA these days: matches that are played there, can be categorised as 'same old song'. Against Heerenveen, Ajax presented themselves again as a team full of good intentions, that smother in a lack of faith and scoring ability. And so coach Danny Blind said in his recap of the scoreless match: ,,I'm repeating myself, but football also consits of repetitions. They just come in a different shape now and then.''

With a team-in-top form, football seems to come naturally. Players intuitively know from each other where they are or where they are going to. That is a feeling that grows, and what you cannot create. On the training pitch, you can endlessly repeat pattern, corner kicks and attack formations, there is no guarantee that it will all come out on match day. It is a problem that Ajax wrestle with at the moment, like a broken record.

Blind's team does everything to break the spell, but get ahead of itself at times. Too often, the hard work comes at the expense of accuracy, in both the touches and the shots on goal. The latter is the most eye-catching lately. Ajax haven't scored in three league matches, unacceptable for Ajax standards. The two points lost this Friday bring the total to fifteen, after ten rounds in the Dutch league. ,,I realise that this deficit is Ajax-unworthy'', Blind said after the match. ,,The only hold we have, is our play. In phases you see, that we're on the right way.''

Mainly in the early stages of the match, Ajax played with perspective on Friday. With good combination football, the home side searched a way to Heerenveen's goal. With some good chances as the result. Yannis Anastasiou fired just wide, Pienaar missed after a combination between Anastasiou and Boukhari and two shots by Babel missed control.

Besides missing chances, there is another recurring theme: injuries. Hardly a match goed by without an Ajax player being hurt. This time, Blind had to use up all his substitutions to replace injured players. Halfway through the first half, Hatem Trabelsi had to be taken off with a hamstring injury, Steven Pienaar went off with the same injury after an hour and Hedwiges Maduro suffered an ankle injury and was replaced by Thomas Vermaelen. Whether the three can play against FC Thun on Wednesday is uncertain.

With John Heitinga, Thomas Vermaelen and Mauro Rosales as substitutes in a team that had to play without the suspended Wesley Sneijder, Ajax played a more difficult second half. There were still chances, but Boukhari, Nigel de Jong and Anastasiou missed. In added time, a goal by De Jong was disallowed when Anastasiou was given offside when passing him the ball.

Blind's press conference was fitting in the light of the past weeks, in which everything was already said and done. ,,It is a repetition of moves'', said Ajax's coach. ,,We can put the finger on the same wounds, but it is clear to everybody where it goes wrong. I will continue to instill two things: we have to do our best and look for footballing solutions. The guys' spirit is never lacking and that's the least you can expect.''