Almost everyone knows, football-legend Johan Cruijff has walked away from his first love, Ajax. In this post we’ll briefly discuss the background, then we’ll show a summarised and translated version of Johan’s farewell column, before going into the reactions of the Dutch media. Last but not least we’ll give you the reaction from the supporters.
Overview of roles at Ajax:
Frank de Boer – Manager Ajax
Dennis Bergkamp – Assistant Manager Ajax
Wim Jonk – Youth Trainer Ajax
Edwin van der Sar – Marketing Director Ajax
Marc Overmars – Director of Football Ajax
In 2010 Cruijff was extremely critical of the first team’s performance under manager Martin Jol, in 2011 he made some changes which meant the end of supervisory board president Ten Have’s role at the club. Branded the “Velvet Revolution” by the Dutch media, Cruijff gave the power to former footballers; Frank de Boer, Dennis Bergkamp, Wim Jonk, Edwin van der Sar, and eventually, Marc Overmars.
Cruijff is very passionate about changing the club’s youth set-ups, and trusted Wim Jonk, and Ruben Jongkind, to take care of it. At the academy, De Toekomst (The Future), there was a drastic change in training methods, with most of the attention going to personal development. Even though the flood of performance coaches helping at the academy wasn’t what Cruijff had in mind, according to a former board member.
The “velvet revolution” ran into serious issues earlier this year when Jonk refused to talk to the other four members of the technical hart at Ajax, despite efforts from individuals such as Van der Sar. Jonk was agitated with the expensive additions to the team, which are blocking the way for the development of their own youngsters. Last week was the beginning of the end, the club’s management fired Wim Jonk. Jonk, however, is refusing to leave.
According to Cruijff, Jonk’s firing was equal to placing a bomb under his revolution. In his column last Thursday, Cruijff already informed everyone that he was to continue his role at Ajax merely as an adviser because Jonk is fighting his resignation. Cruijff said: “It can’t be that the whistle-blower gets killed off, while the rest continues down this road under my umbrella. Be upfront and just tell me, we are not interested in your plans.”
To add to all this, the Ling-report was leaked shortly thereafter (13 Nov). Tscheu La Ling was hired last summer to analyse the club’s issues. Cruijff put a lot of faith in Ling, whose report was a real wake-up call. The report slams the buying policy at the club, the (lack of) communication at the club, the delegation of responsibilities and the limited influence of trainers, when it comes to the club’s policy and the first team’s policy.
In the shareholders meeting, also last Friday (13 Nov), the supporters of the club, who own 73% of the club, weren’t exactly lining up to save Jonk’s job either. The meeting went smoothly, was over and done quickly and it would appear that the shareholders are getting sick and tired of having to discuss the same repetitive issues every time. Note, this does not mean they wanted Cruijff to leave, but more on that later.
Lots of drama, and we’re not even at his announcement from last Monday (16 Nov) yet.