Excelsior v Ajax takes place on Sunday at 1:30pm (UK time).
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Where to watch Excelsior v Ajax on TV:
- UK: N/A
- US: ESPN+
Other Excelsior v Ajax live stream options:
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18+ New UK Customers. Must bet £10 in total on accas with 4+ legs, min odds 3/1 (4.0). £20 credited as 4x £5 Free Bets, valid for 7 days on selected bets only, stakes not returned. Restrictions & T&Cs apply. BeGambleAware.org
Who should the next Ajax manager be? Dream, realistic and wildcard options
Following a seven-game winless run Ajax sacked head coach Alfred Schreuder, their 1-1 draw against lowly FC Volendam at home being the last straw. What seemed to be another procession to Eredivisie glory is anything but now as the defending champions are off the pace with participation in next season’s Champions League also in danger.
Schreuder’s dismissal opens up another managerial vacancy. Coaching the most successful Dutch club, which has made great strides in European competition since the 2016/17 season, is a dream for many. But appointing the right person is crucial as Schreuder ultimately lost the dressing room through a combination of personality and tactics.
Below are contenders to become their next head coach; a dream option, realistic choices, and wildcard selection.
Dream: Marcelo Bielsa or Marcelo Gallardo
Is there such a thing as a marriage made in heaven when it comes to football? Well, this is probably the closest: Marcelo Bielsa as Ajax’s manager. The revered coach, who has developed a cult following, has spoken of his admiration for the Dutch club and what they stand for across the last three decades. Bielsa’s vision of the beautiful game is not so different to Ajax’s ethos. As someone who demands every aspect of a football club to be intricately linked he will have no trouble in the Netherlands capital. Given the present makeup of Ajax, littered with many at the beginning of their journey, Bielsa is also perfectly suited as he’s effectively a ‘teacher’, someone best suited to a squad needing guidance.
Opting for a foreign coach is unlike Ajax given they’ve hired just one since June 1989. It was a different story pre-1973 as the likes of Ștefan Kovács, Vic Buckingham and Jack Reynolds served them well. Morten Olsen was the club’s last non-Dutch manager. If there was time to look abroad it’s now. River Plate, who not only share Ajax’s colours but are equally decorated on the international stage, recently parted with Marcelo Gallardo who many observers consider the preeminent coach outside Europe’s borders. Gallardo ticks all the boxes of a progressive modern tactician and certainly fits what the record 36-time Eredivisie champions should be seeking. His next job is expected to be at one of Europe’s super clubs. If the Amsterdammers were able to snag him it would be the mother of all coups.
Squawka Suggests: Bielsa
Realistic: John Heitinga or Peter Bosz
Possession, as they say, is nine-tenths of the law and right now former academy graduate John Heitinga has the job albeit in an interim capacity. He would also be an in-house choice as Heitinga currently serves as the club’s U21 manager. Hiring from within is nothing new when it comes to Ajax as they’ve done this routinely. The most recent example was Frank de Boer who gained promotion from coaching their youth side to winning four championships on the bounce. Heitinga would also be a safe, if not ambitious, choice. But there’s a method in appointing him mid-season as hiring someone from outside the club will understandably come with their own ideas regarding players and require a pre-season to implement their approach regarding tactics and culture.
Before Erik ten Hag came and went many felt Peter Bosz was the man to lead Ajax back into the big time. He didn’t bring league success during his only season but did end the club’s two-decade wait to play in a major European final. Jose Mourinho and Manchester United proved to be a bridge too far but his work impressed Borussia Dortmund who identified him as Thomas Tuchel’s successor. It didn’t quite work out for him there or at Bayer Leverkusen and Lyon since. Ajax played clockwork football under him and maybe looking back now it was a premature exit (but no one could blame him for taking the BVB job). There’s some unfinished business.
Squawka Suggests: Bosz
Wildcard: Louis van Gaal or Thomas Tuchel
They say never go back, Louis van Gaal is the exception to this rule. He’s managed Barcelona on two separate occasions and the Netherlands on three. The wily veteran began coaching at his boyhood club, before returning there briefly, could he finish an illustrious managerial career where it all started? He’s available following the recent World Cup finals where he guided Oranje to a quarter-final berth. Van Gaal also knows the powers that be (particularly the chief executive Edwin van der Sar) and is well-versed in the team’s culture.
If anyone knows Ajax’s in-house style it’s the man who updated it back in the early-to-mid 1990s. Football has changed since then but as Van Gaal continues to show there are very few better ‘teachers’ than him. Oranje was reactive under him during their stay in Qatar, but international tournament football is a lot different than working day-to-day with the same group of players across several months. His appointment would always be a short-term solution perhaps guiding them until this season ends.
Before joining Paris Saint-Germain the former Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel spent time in Zeist, where the Dutch FA headquarters is based, speaking to coaches. During his stay, Tuchel spoke glowingly about the Amsterdam giants, but any thought of him leading them back then was a pipe dream. Even now chances are slim with the Real Madrid and Juventus jobs potentially opening up in the next few months.
Despite his shortcomings at PSG and then Chelsea — where he did lift silverware it must be said — the German tactician fits Ajax like a glove. He’s an outsider that could modernise the club’s approach in the same vein as Erik ten Hag, but even more important, Tuchel brings ideas away from De Godenzonen’s comfort zone and this refresh is what they are missing. Tuchel cemented his name at Dortmund where he proved working with limited means was no issue. Even using the Amsterdammers as a stop-gap to get his career back on track works for all parties.
Squawka Suggests: Tuchel
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Eredivisie 2022/23 recent form:
- Excelsior: LWLWL
- Ajax: DDDDD
Scoreline prediction: Excelsior 1-0 Ajax
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