I’m a big Ajax fan as you already know by now. Over the last couple of years we’ve had two amazing seasons in European football and twice it was an English team that stopped us. Manchester United beat us in the 2017 Europa League final, while Tottenham Hotspur eliminated us in the dying second of the UCL semi-finals. You can imagine that I wasn’t too happy with these teams tams in recent years. Somehow these are now the teams that are really struggling. Manchester United is currently 12th in the Premier League. So the big question is, what is happening in Manchester United crisis?
Manchester United crisis
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is Man United’s fifth manager since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013. David Moyes was the first one, Ryan Giggs was caretaker manager when Moyes got sacked. Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho also had their chance to make Man United great again. None of them succeeded and I think the club is to blame for this. Just take a look at the names and try to find similarities between these managers. I don’t think there are much similarities. Ed Woodward is the one who appoints the managers and he clearly lacks football knowledge.
Ajax as an example for Manchester United
I like to compare Man United’s situation with the situation at Ajax. I’ve seen Ajax winning the Champions League in 1995. I’ve also seen Ajax getting eliminated in qualification matches against the likes of Rosenborg, Rostov, Nice and Rapid Wien. In 2012 Ajax signed Marc Overmars as Director of Football and Edwin van der Sar as Marketing Director. In 2016 Van der Sar got promoted to CEO of the club. Ajax was financially in bad weather in 2012, so their first task was to make the club healthy again. They got helped by Frank de Boer, who was manager of the club and won 4 titles in a row.
When the club was financially stable again, Frank de Boer decided to leave and Ajax appointed Peter Bosz. This appointment got a lot of stick, since Peter Bosz is a former Feyenoord player and had no history at Ajax. In the end it proved to be the right appointment, Bosz made Ajax play like they want to play and reached the Europa League final. Peter Bosz left the club for Dortmund and Ajax appointed Marcel Keizer. A former Ajax youth academy player who managed Ajax 2nd team at the time. This was more an Ole-type of appointed. A manager with a history at the club but without experience. Marcel Keizer failed at Ajax and they sacked him to get Erik ten Hag. The similarities between all these appointments is they all have the same type of play. They’re style-of-play fits Ajax’ philosophy and that’s the most important thing. Ajax’ recent results show how important it is to stay close to your own club philosophy.
How can Man United come back at the top?
Manchester United crisis fans want Ole out. They can’t remember things being so bad at the club.
For me there is one solution to get the club back at the top. The first thing they need to do is appoint an experienced Director of Football. There is no use to sack Ole now and give the job to another manager with his own style-of-play. A DoF must come in and decide what the club philosophy is. All the youth teams need to play according to that philosophy and then it’s time to make a list of managers who fit in the club philosophy. From that moment it’s up to the director of football to create a squad that is able to play according to the club philosophy. It will cost time, but this is the one and only way to become a big force again. When the entire club plays according to one philosophy, it will be easier for the academy graduates to get into the first team. Players like Mathijs de Ligt and Donny van de Beek are prime examples. They played through Ajax entire youth academy and came into the first team at a young age. They kept doing what they did in the youth and it brought both them as the club at top level.