Hallo! That’s Dutch for Hello, apparently. I am one with Dutch culture, but before I make a fool of myself with some horrific stereotypes, I’m just going to take my clogs off. I promise that’s the last one. Anyway, here we are in Amsterdam and I’m managing the world famous Ajax Amsterdam. The squad is packed full of talent and I’m determined to take this club back to the very top. I want the lot. Every trophy going. Probably not all in season one, Rome wasn’t built in a day and though Amsterdam is smaller, I can guarantee the Dutch didn’t build it in a day. Here’s the squad I’ve inherited which is rather splendid
There are so many great names in there, but I do have one or two concerns. Firstly, we have one right back, which is canny brave but he’s injured, so I’ll have to address that. Secondly, Blind is the only centre half who I can really rely on. Oliseh and Splinter are both very young, and Splitner has to worry about the Ninja Turtles so relying on him seems unfair. The squad is tailor made for 3-1-3-3 which is a formation I like to employ when I have a team that is much stronger than everything else around, but as regular readers of this blog will know, I much prefer to play 5-3-2 with wingbacks. The problem there is that I need more centre halves, to go with a new full back. Versatility is the key.
With that in mind, I head out and buy Kieron Dyer. Back in these days Dyer is a full back right or left, who can also play midfield. Whilst Ajax fans probably don’t know of Ipswich Town, it’s nice to have another Brit around and I’m sure he’ll do well. Another issue is that we’re not blessed with central midfielders. Gorre can do it, Witschge is needed in the defensive midfielder role and Juan is inexperienced. CM legend Marc Emmers is an easy fix. This is how I see us lining up in the 3-1-3-3
Personnel could of course rotate, with Litmanen probably capable of playing in the Laudrup or R. De Boer role’s. I do sort of want an out and out striker, rather than a forward, but it would need to be someone outstanding to make me spend the kind of money required. Alfonso, of Betis, is a versatile forward and would fit the bill perfectly but Barcelona bid £15m and I’m out. Dwight Yorke is an option but I think I can do better. We’ll see.
I need a centre half though to bolster the ranks and Sol Campbell seems the ideal choice. However, Gianluca Vialli also thinks that. Well Sol, it’s up to you.
Disgraceful. Oh well, on to plan B
Don’t judge me!!! He’s a more than decent option, who can play up front or centre half. Versatility man, I keep saying it. It does mean that in the 3 or 4 difficult away games we face I should be able to switch into the back 3 with ease, and it’ll also come in useful during our UEFA Cup campaign, where even the bravest of managers wouldn’t play 3-1-3-3 away to say Inter Milan or Liverpool.
It’s mid-September before we play our first game, the Dutch Cup starts in August for teams not in Europe so most of the league have had 6 games before I’ve even seen a dugout. Speaking of the Dutch Cup, this is an awful draw.
It’s many months away though so I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
So, my first game in charge and with Blind recovering from an injury, Dublin starts in the heart of the defence
What if Dion can’t handle it? Don’t be silly.
Perhaps the lack of match practice shone through in the last 10 minutes we allowed Joonas Kolkka to score after Van der Sar saved a pen, but that was very comfortable and hopefully a sign of things to come.
The problem with having so many good players is that the vultures are soon sniffing
One day he will play for Barcelona, but not on my watch. NO.
The wins keep on coming for us though and after just 5 games, PSV come to town. It’s an early clash between the top two and I need us to make a statement. Litmanen writes himself into my good books
They were never in it, and we were obviously excellent. An early marker laid down, and momentum can mean a lot in football. 4 wins become 8, 8 becomes 12…
Wow, probably my best start at any club ever. Granted I’m rarely a team this good but you can only beat what is put in front of you. However, up next we face Vitesse away and Rosenborg away in three tricky days. Vitesse have a goal scoring machine up front
With Ipswich legend Martijn Reuser providing the ammo, how can we possibly succeed?
The answer, is to score two early on and get your goalkeeper sent off
Phew. The streak continues. We do however lose 1-0 in Rosenborg, which is enough to see us through on aggregate but it is my first defeat and ther first game we haven’t scored in. Shame, but it’s the aggregate score that matters.
A victory over Utrecht with another Litmanen hat-trick means we are 100% in the league at the end of the update
You can’t argue with that, but we face Feyenoord away next…but that will have to wait until next time.
The UEFA Cup draw is about as good as it can be, considering who we might have had. We should reach the last 8 but then it’ll be tricky.
But the final word of this update goes to a man who doesn’t age, but he’s plundered the goals in for me. Jari, play for another 20 years mate.
Smoke and a pancake? Same time next week?