There was quite some interest during the first press conference of the new season. With new acquisitions Theo Janssen and Derk Boerrigter, coach Frank de Boer looked ahead to the new football season. De Boer expects that champion Ajax, Twente and PSV will be the main contenders for the title.
It was a symbolic transition from the old season to the new one. While journalists leafed through the Sports Report distributed by sponsor BDO Accountants & Advisors, De Boer got ready for his first press conference of the 2011-2012 season. Not unexpectedly, last season was discussed. Of course, the direct qualification for the UEFA Champions League, and the advantages of going into this season as champions was brought up. “It’s great that we don’t have to play any qualifying rounds. Normally, those critical matches can wreak havoc with your whole preparation. On one hand, you need to allow the players to rest, but on the other hand, you need to be ready very early. Fortunately, we don’t have to deal with that this season. It’s ideal to have a normal preparation period for the new season.”
As usual at the start of the new season, several names were discussed. Of course, De Boer had praise for new acquisitions Theo Janssen and Derk Boerrigter. Ajax’s other new recruit, Mats Rits (17), made a good impression on Ajax’s coach this morning. “He won’t be eighteen until next month, but he showed this morning that he’s very mature for his age.” A player who won’t be returning to Ajax’s first team is Mounir El Hamdaoui. The top scorer from last season doesn’t fit into the picture at Ajax anymore, according to De Boer. “If another club offers the right amount and Mounir wants to go, he can. I wish him the best.” Demy de Zeeuw’s name also came up. The midfielder has drawn serious interest from Spartak Moscow. De Boer: “If Spartak offers us the amount that we’re asking for De Zeeuw, he can go.”
The players that De Boer had hoped were either coming (AZ forward Kolbeinn Sigthórsson) or staying were also discussed with the media. De Boer: “There is no concrete interest at the moment for Jan Vertonghen, Gregory van der Wiel and Maarten Stekelenburg. It would be a shame of course if an offer would could at the last minute, right before the transfer deadline. I hope that all three would stay and that they realize that we’re doing great things with Ajax.”
De Boer discussed the few changes which have taken place on the coaching staff. Jaap Stam will be at the Toekomst every Thursday to give individual coaching to the A selection, Jong Ajax, or the youth players. Dennis Bergkamp takes over Danny Blind’s role as De Boer’s second assistant. The 79 time international has been Ajax A1’s assistant coach for the past half year, and he made his debut on Tuesday morning on the first team’s staff. Blind was therefore absent from the training field. “We had actually considered this division of responsibilities last December, and it’s happened now. Bergkamp will be my second assistant. He’ll bring knowledge to the young players especially in the selection. Blind will become a technical manager. He’s carried out several of these tasks already during the past six months as assistant.” Bergkamp will not be on the bench for every match. He will not assist the away Champions League matches or the training camp in Germany.
After both De Boer and Theo Janssen were in agreement that the main title contenders would be Ajax, FC Twente and PSV, another closing question followed. Who has a better free kick, Theo Janssen, or Frank de Boer? Janssen, smiling broadly, answered: “Right now, I do. Definitely.” Quickly followed by: “Let’s just say that the coach and I each have our own kick.” The last word from specialist De Boer was a definite goal. “I’ll show Theo how to take* a free kick next week.”