Pre-season is always seen as time for players to get their fitness up to scratch and this year was no different. With the World Cup having come and gone, where surprise finalists Switzerland narrowly beat pre-tournament favourites Germany 1-0
, it was now time to get the players in and instruct them on how I want them to play. The great benefit I had coming into the club so early in the summer was being able to get all the transfer business done early, having also added Francis Coquelin
into the squad after Christian Poulsen’s departure on a free transfer.
As we know, tactics are only so much of the battle in getting a team to play well. Trying to bring back Total Football is another story completely. Not only do the players have to understand the overall tactic, they must learn their own specific roles in the team and what that translate to on the pitch. This is why the iPads are so important. With only three pre-season friendlies before the JC Schaal
match, it was imperative that the players got some good game time under their belt as well as increasing their familiarity with the tactics.
These three games also allowed me to get a clearer idea of who would be in my preferred starting line-up. I decided to hand the captain’s armband to Daley Blind
. He was and is by far one of our strongest players, and he has the support of the dressing room. All in all, not the worst set of results. We had some very encouraging build up play against P$G but simply couldn’t finish our chances. But against one of Europe’s top top clubs, a 2-0 loss pre-season isn’t the worst thing in the world. After the Como game, I knew in my mind which 11 players were the first choice for me. Youngsters Fischer and Lucas Andersen have work to do
to force their way into this team.
Preferred Starting XI
At 28, he stands to be a top keeper for us and in Europe. I hope to see big things from him and hopefully he can get more international caps under his belt!
Another youngster in the Ajax and Netherlands squad, Rhijn has put in excellent performances
for club and country. He will be a key member in this 3-5-2 formation with wing backs.
Veltman has been an Ajax boy from the academy and will be given his chance to progress and shine. I see great potential
in him and I believe he can go on to be as good as Nemanja Vidic was, if not better.
A new signing, Nick could find himself to be the backbone of this defence, and stop Stefano Denswil from winning his place back once he recovers from injury.
Moisander has a lot to prove
, being one of the elder players in the squad at 28. If he doesn’t perform he will quickly find himself being displaced by Denswil or Mohamad.
Blind has a growing reputation
in football and may find himself on the hunt for a bigger club if Ajax can’t win titles. I believe we have the potential to do just that however and look forward to watching him play this season.
Lasse was unfortunate not to play all of last season but his ability on the ball is excellent. Even though he doesn’t look the greatest technically, he’s got talent
and can pull off assists and goals when we least expect it.
With Poulsen leaving on a free transfer, and being unable to change his mind, I needed reinforcements in the defensive midfield area. Coquelin, though young, has bags of ability
and isn’t afraid to put himself about. He could become a pivotal player in this squad.
Though he looks more like a striker, Klaassen could be the perfect Trequartista
. Viktor Fischer and Lucas Andersen both are vying for his position.
In my opinion, a very underrated striker
and we were lucky to secure him on loan for the whole season. He could be an important player for us and I look forward to seeing him bag some great goals.
A player with excellent movement and finishing ability, I expect him to finish with over 20 goals
And there we have it. What I believe is our strongest starting XI
. I know over time this will change but I feel excited heading into the new season. We could have our first piece of silverware by this time next week!