From reaching the Europa League finals to rebooting with their third manager of 2017, the year has been a roller coaster ride for Dutch giants, Ajax

2017 has been a very hectic, roller coaster year for Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam. From reaching the Europa League final to losing one of its biggest stars, Abdelhak Nouri, to a tragic accident in a pre-season game. It’s an example of how highs and lows can follow each other very quickly in this game.

Another low has been reached for Ajax as they fired manager Marcel Keizer and his technical staff that included Dennis Bergkamp just before Christmas. Elimination from the Dutch Cup was the final straw. After taking over from Peter Bosz this summer, Keizer always had a tough task to fulfill. Under Bosz, Ajax had just reached their first European final in twenty years and showcased some of its best football in recent times.

On top of that, Ajax lost some of its key players in the summer transfer window, resulting in an incomplete squad for Keizer to compete in the European football qualifiers. Consequently, the Dutch record champions failed to qualify for both the Champions League and Europa League.

It immediately put Keizer under pressure and now, a few months later, the 48-year-old coach has lost his job due to disappointing results.

Ajax have not wasted time in appointing a new manager and have signed Erik ten Hag from FC Utrecht on a two-and-a-half-year deal. Ten Hag has done well at Utrecht during his two-year stay there and is seen as the most promising manager in the country.

Ten Hag has previously worked at PSV (assistant manager) and Bayern Munich (manager of the second team). In Germany, he absorbed the work of Pep Guardiola – perhaps the best manager in world football at the moment.

Like Guardiola, Ten Hag is tactically very strong, wants his teams to play dynamically and is versatile when it comes to systems. One thing Ten Hag needs, however, is time to implement his beliefs. It’s something you don’t get at Ajax, though. Just ask Marcel Keizer. Ten Hag needs immediate results to buy some time.

The gap to league leaders PSV is five points at the moment and with the fixtures against Feyenoord and Utrecht coming up after the winter break, Ten Hag can either present himself as the new boss on the block or invite pressure regarding his job position.


Next to the pressure on Ten Hag, there is also some significant pressure on the Ajax board who hired Keizer. Another blunder and they will face uncertainty as well.

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