New coach or not, Heitinga likes to think along: ‘Boy of the club’

New coach or not, Heitinga likes to think along: ‘Boy of the club’

NOS Football

For John Heitinga, who started his job as Alfred Schreuder’s (temporary) successor with an impressive winning streak, the season at Ajax is threatening to go out like a dead letter. His selection was dealt a huge blow by a double defeat against PSV, in the league and in the cup final.

Ajax, after the draw at home against AZ, no longer seems to have any prospects of the second place, which entitles them to the preliminary rounds of the Champions League. A battle with AZ for the third spot remains, starting with a game against already relegated FC Groningen.

Heitinga must patch up his players quickly. Otherwise a doomsday scenario looms for the Amsterdammers: fourth place and Conference League soccer.

“You will have to recharge yourself again even now,” Heitinga told the press conference on Friday. “After all, the stakes are high. Not only for the club, but also for the players individually. After all, they also want to make steps, so then it’s about which stage you play on next year.”


Not only on which European stage Ajax will play next year is uncertain. The question of which coach will be in front of the group then is also still unanswered.

Heitinga himself has no idea yet either. Still, he is thinking along with the new technical director Sven Mislintat (who officially takes up his post next week) about the composition of the player group.

That he may be involved in something he will soon have nothing to do with doesn’t bother Heitinga. “Besides being a trainer, I’m just a guy at the club. If anyone knows the players who are there and coming up from Jong Ajax, it’s me. This is my club, so please share that knowledge.”

New coach or not, Heitinga likes to think along: ‘Boy from the club’

Ajax has had problems in every line this season, but especially in midfield, the Amsterdammers have looked fragile in recent weeks. It was – partly due to circumstances – shifting places.

“It is a puzzle and this midfield does make you doubt sometimes,” Heitinga said about it. “Now I look at it per game.”

Real Madrid’s midfield is his ideal image. The Madrilenians have several players with enormous soccer ability. “But in addition to that, you have to look at the characters in a selection. You always have to have some real winners on the field.”

Merry from Brobbey

For the last three duels, Heitinga drafted Brian Brobbey into the starting lineup. The striker was present and industrious, but missed big chances at crucial moments.

Heitinga was nonetheless satisfied. “He showed a lot of sharpness in the last few duels. In addition, he was dangerous with his depth. The goals unfortunately did not materialize, but it made me happy.”

Kayleigh Williams