What Is Going On At Ajax?

Carter Lawson · Profile
What Is Going On At Ajax?

We dive into the chaos that has caused the legendary Dutch club’s sudden demise and inevitable return during the 2023-24 season.

Ajax has been one of the most successful and influential Dutch clubs since they were founded in 1900. However, the club has recently had a sharp decline in success resulting in chaos between the fans and the club.

Ajax finished the 2022-23 season with several disappointing results including a third-place finish in the Dutch Eredivisie, meaning they failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 13 years. They also lost on penalties in the KNVB Cup final against PSV.

After the season, their head coach, Erik Ten Hag, left for Manchester United. And their director of football left after a sexual harassment scandal. With recruitment taking a hit, many top players being sold, and a new coach to break in, the vaunted academy couldn’t keep up.

The real trouble began with the start of the 2023-24 Eredivisie campaign when Ajax had the worst start to a season in their history, securing only 5 points through 7 games. This culminated on September 24, 2023, when Ajax hosted their fierce rivals and reigning Eredivisie champions Feyenoord. At this point Ajax had played 4 games and had only picked up 2 points so they needed a win desperately to get them back on track.

The match only made it until about 10 minutes into the second half when it was abandoned due to Ajax supporters tossing flares and fireworks onto the field in response to their team going down 3-0. Following the suspension of the match, the unrest continued outside the Johan Cruyff Arena when fans rioted and vandalized several parts of the stadium. The club announced the following day that they had fired their Director of Football, Sven Mislintat. The game was finished 3 days later behind closed doors, with Feyenoord cruising to a 4-0 victory.

Ajax vs Feyenoord at the Johan Cruyff Arena was abandoned due to flares and fireworks being thrown on the field by Ajax supporters.

This was an all-time low in the club’s history as they sat in the relegation zone of the Eredivisie for the first time ever, and their Europa League campaign was struggling to get off the ground in the group stage. Less than a month later on October 23, with the club currently in their worst string of results in 54 years — including going winless in eight games — manager Maurice Steijn left the club by mutual consent after only 5 months in the position.

Ajax hosted the club’s Annual General Meeting on November 17, 2023, where they fielded questions surrounding their irresponsible handling of the past two transfer windows, resulting in the club overspending for several players and leading to some of the problems that plagued the start of Ajax’s 2023-24 campaign.

Since their unfortunate run of results to start the 2023-24 season, Ajax have recovered and pushed themselves from 18th to 5th in the Eredivisie.

Since the personnel changes made in October 2023, Ajax has brought in several former legends including Louis van Gaal as an advisor to the club and Danny Blind as a supervisory board member. Ajax also appointed former player John Van’t Schip as the club’s new manager on October 30, 2023.

The team rallied around Van ‘t Schip and since he has taken over, Ajax has only lost 2 league games in 18 played and have pulled themselves out of last place in the Eredivisie to their current position of 5th, just outside of a European qualifying spot — and fourth place is only a spot in the Europa League qualifiers.

At this writing, Ajax are more than 20 points behind their “big three” rivals PSV and Feyenoord, so the problems at Ajax are not entirely solved.

 

Written By Carter Lawson
Carter Lawson, Content and Social Media Director · Profile

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