Blogs & Opinion


Ajax: Dutch club produce conveyor belt of players, says Andy Walker

Andy Walker - Andy Walker Posted 7th November 2013 view comments

Before Celtic's clash with Ajax in the Amsterdam Arena, all the hopes and aspirations of the Scottish champions support was to emulate last season's magnificent achievement in qualifying for the knockout phase of Europe's premier club competition.

But, in the cold light of day after a hugely disappointing 1-0 defeat, the reality is that Celtic will now do well to qualify for the Europa League and have further European competition early next year.

Frank de Boer's charges play with panache, says Andy

Frank de Boer's charges play with panache, says Andy

A home win over AC Milan is Celtic's only real chance now of keeping their European hopes alive as Neil Lennon's men finish the group away to Barcelona where the chances of getting any points in the Nou Camp are minimal.

It has to go down as one of the poorest performances from a Celtic side in the Champions League, all the more baffling given what was at stake.

It has to go down as one of the poorest performances from a Celtic side in the Champions League, all the more baffling given what was at stake.

Andy Walker
Quotes of the week

For all the criticism Ajax received for being too young and inexperienced to seriously compete at this level, you have to admire the way they play.

I've yet to see any Ajax player uncomfortable on the ball in any area of the pitch no matter how much pressure he's under. They simply do not panic or get flustered.

Astonishing

Frank de Boer has faith in all his players to receive it under pressure and still retain possession.

The amount of times goalkeeper Jasper Cillissen is in possession is astonishing but even though Celtic players tried to pressure high up the pitch, he continually looked to play out of defence and build from the back through the middle and eventually to the front.

When it comes off, it's a joy to watch.

In contrast, every time the ball was played back to Fraser Forster he would kick it as high and as long as possible and from there it becomes 50-50 as to who stays in control.

Unlike previous post-match assessments, Neil Lennon's summation of this one was spot on. His big players didn't come close to showing their best. Kris Commons looked unfit and lacked any sort of sharpness, while captain Georgios Samaras didn't look in the mood.

The only goal of the game was a thing of beauty. Controlled possession followed by a series of quick passes at the business end of the pitch proved that Ajax can seriously compete at this level.

Boast

With an average age of just over 22, this is a team that can improve enormously.

Not for the first time, the system and youth academy Ajax has in place is to be admired. A philosophy of playing 4-3-3 with every age group and constantly producing world-class players is the model for most clubs to follow.

Ajax will never be the richest club in world football but few can boast of consistently producing talent like Johan Cruyff, Marco Van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Denis Bergkamp, Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Marc Overmars and Wesley Sneijder.

It's a remarkable conveyor belt of talent and after looking at last night's squad, guys like Viktor Fischer, Daley Blind, Stefano Denswil and Thulani Serero will surely go on to bigger and better things.

And once they do, others will take their place.

Alongside Barcelona, it's a system that is the envy of clubs all across Europe.

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Glenn Hoddle

Pep 'trying too hard'

Glenn Hoddle says Pep Guardiola is trying too hard to evolve and has made Bayern Munich worse....

Latest News RSS feeds

Liverpool set to strengthen

Ian Ayre is confident Liverpool will be able to attract their top targets in what promises to be a busy summer.

Guardiola defends tactics

Pep Guardiola defended Bayern Munich's possession football in the wake of their Champions League defeat at Real Madrid.

Moyes 'lost players' support'

Sky sources understand that David Moyes lost the support of his senior players before his sacking on Tuesday.

Lloris: The only way is up

Hugo Lloris admits it will be difficult for Spurs to be any worse next season following a torrid league campaign.

Sturridge return 'massive'

Daniel Sturridge can give Liverpool a huge lift by returning from injury to face Chelsea, according to Jordan Henderson.

Features

Andy Walker: Rangers fans deserve more than just promotion

Andy Walker: Rangers fans deserve more than just promotion

Sky's live showing of Saturday's home game with Stranraer should be a carnival atmosphere for every Rangers supporter as they celebrate seeing Ally McCoist and his players raise the SPFL League 1 trophy.

Sky Sports Scout, in association with Wyscout, reports on Italian keeper Simone Scuffet

Sky Sports Scout, in association with Wyscout, reports on Italian keeper Simone Scuffet

Sky Sports Scout is our exciting feature where we scour the globe, in partnership with Wyscout, looking out for the best talent and bring you a report on what we find.

El Nino's return

El Nino's return

Some see Fernando Torres as a figure of fun but he saved face in front of his own, writes Adam Bate.