Trainer John Heitinga is confident that he can still successfully close the season with Ajax. “I see us getting better,” he said after the elimination by 1. FC Union Berlin (3-1) in the Europa League. “It is over internationally, but we are still promising in the Eredivisie and KNVB Cup.”
Heitinga went down for the first time in his seventh match as head coach of Ajax. “I have seen a lot of good things,” said the coach, who does not yet know whether he will also be in the group next season. “We also fought for each other. I certainly see an upward trend in our game. On Sunday we will play Vitesse again in the Eredivisie and on Thursday there will be a quarter-final in the KNVB Cup against De Graafschap. Then we have to go there again. to stand.”
After the failed adventure in the Champions League, Ajax was also unable to rank among the best sixteen teams in the Europa League. The reigning champion of the Netherlands said goodbye to Antony, Lisandro Martínez, Sébastien Haller, Noussair Mazraoui, Ryan Gravenberch, Nicolás Tagliafico, André Onana and Perr Schuurs last summer for more than 200 million euros. As a result, the club was able to announce last week that it had made a profit of no less than 76 million euros over the first half of the season.
From a sporting point of view, however, the European season has failed. And in the Eredivisie, the gap with Feyenoord is not only 3 points. The leader from Rotterdam also has a much simpler program in the coming months. “We have been spoiled in Europe in recent years,” said Heitinga. “Now we are a team under construction.”
Ajax has performed better with Heitinga in recent weeks than under the dismissed trainer Alfred Schreuder. The former international has made Mohammed Kudus important and also lets Dusan Tadic play stronger. Steven Bergwijn also looks more and more like the attacker for whom Ajax paid 31 million euros last summer.
Many Ajax players also showed themselves to be bad losers in the final phase of the lost match against Union Berlin. Edson Álvarez received two yellow cards in stoppage time and Kudus, Tadic and Steven Berghuis were also penalized after the 92nd minute. Bergwijn even wanted to fight with his opponents after the final whistle.
“This season is not going as it should,” said Heitinga. “That leads to frustrations, also because we may have earned more in this match. But we are not bad losers. We finally congratulated our opponents and wished them luck for the next round. We can certainly lose big.”
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