Frank de Boer tells Sky Sports viewers what to expect from the Eredivisie
By Rob Dorsett
Last Updated: 12/08/14 9:34am
Sky Sports News reporter Rob Dorsett meets Ajax boss Frank de Boer ahead of their opening Eredivisie match of the season...
Ajax is in his DNA. Frank de Boer came through the world famous De Toekomstn ('The Future') Academy - as did the likes of Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Edgar Davids, Denis Bergkamp and Rafael Van der Vaart.
De Boer had 11 years in Amsterdam as a player, before taking charge of the academy, and finally moving on to manage the club. In recent years, he's resisted reported approaches from Liverpool and Manchester City because, he says, he believes in the Ajax method.
Even when that means he loses his best players to other, richer European clubs: his captain, Siem de Jong, has joined Newcastle this summer for £6m. In turn, De Boer has signed a single player, on loan - Arkadiusz Milik from Bayer Leverkusen.
"It was time for De Jong to leave - he had 10 good years here," says De Boer, with no hint of regret. "And I'm sure he will have a big impact at Newcastle. Other players need to step up now, for Ajax, like Davy Klaassen, and I'm sure there will be more young players coming through to fill Davy's shoes when he moves on. We have to invest in our academy, and that's what we do. It's our lifeblood."
De Boer is excited by the prospect of matches from the top Dutch league being screened live on Sky Sports for the first time. And he's confident that a British audience will like what they see.
"Maybe the Eredevisie is sometimes a bit naive, most teams look to play attacking football," he says. "We have so many young players in the league - they will make schoolboy mistakes.
“The history of our Dutch league is that we are preparing young players for the top leagues in England or Spain or Germany, so they will make mistakes. But it makes for an exciting game - in Holland the fans expect entertainment, not just a 1-0 victory, so there are often lots of goals, and technically the players are strong."
Ajax were top of the table for the whole of the second half of last season, losing just three league games overall. The club has won the Eredevisie for each of the last four seasons. A fifth consecutive title would set a new Dutch record.
"There is pressure at Ajax every season, to win the league,” said De Boer. “This is no different. A draw is like a loss always. Every year we have to be champions. But it would be special for the club to be in the book for that record, win the Eredivisie for a fifth consecutive time, but we have to focus on our game."
He sees PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord and FC Twente as Ajax's nearest rivals for the title, in what he feels will be one of the most competitive and open Eredevisie leagues for years.
You can watch Ajax take on Vitesse Arnhem in an Eredivisie double-header this Sunday, live on Sky Sports 4HD from 11:20am.
Live Eredivisie Football is available weekly from August 12 on Sky Sports 5HD – Your New Home of European Football.