Best of 2023 – Rebuilding is tough, near impossible: Ajax in crisis

Ajax’s struggles are continuing in the Eredivisie following their third-place finish last season. The task of getting Ajax back on track and maintaining high standards was always going to be a challenge.

The residual effects of last season, where they fell far behind Feyenoord and saw two managers leaving the club, continues to permeate into the current season. The expectation that bringing in Maurice Steijn wouldn’t turn things around overnight was a reality. In addition, the stop-start transfer market, highlighted by the departure of Kudus to West Ham, has left Ajax with the greenest team in the Eredivisie. This has posed challenges in terms of blending the new recruits into the team.

This was evident in their recent match against Twente. Just like last season, Ajax lost 3-1, although the performance this time seemed worse. Ajax started poorly in Enschede, finding themselves 2 goals down within the first 11 minutes. Goalkeeper Gorter was under pressure early and Ajax’s defence was unable to respond, allowing Rots and Steijn (the manager’s son) to score.

One of the biggest concerns apart from the poor start was the team’s lack of engagement throughout the game. This was evident even when Brobbey managed to reduce the deficit after a well-crafted move by defenders Hato and Borna Sosa. The brief moment of brilliance did not dissolve the overall confusion and sluggishness in their performance. Even when substitutions provided a touch of order, one of the substitutes, Van del Boomen, was caught out leading to Unuvar’s decisive third goal.

Ajax now find themselves trailing the league leader by seven points and questions are being raised. The team lacks a leader capable of taking command, despite Bergwijn’s earnest efforts. Many of the players seem insecure, impacting their performance on the pitch.

New signings, Sutalo and number 10 Akpom, have made few positive impressions, leading to doubts about the club’s recruitment strategy over the summer. At a club like Ajax, which is accustomed to being at the top, the weight of expectation is heavy, and these are testing times for everyone associated with the club.

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