Ajax Amsterdam coach Frank de
Boer completed the most difficult job of his career on Wednesday
when he led the club to a 31st Dutch title, overcoming a number
of obstacles to end a turbulent season on a high.
De Boer led Ajax to last season's title after taking over
from the sacked Martin Jol in 2010 but his chances of a repeat
success were undermined when club legend Johan Cruyff became
involved in a bitter and unsettling boardroom dispute.
The side's pre-season targets of a successful title defence
and to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League looked
doomed to fail when a run of five domestic matches without a
victory left them well off the pace in the league standings.
Ajax failed to achieve their Champions League goal and the
internal power struggle intensified in February when the other
members of the five-man board of commissioners appointed Louis
van Gaal as the new club director behind Cruyff's back.
"That was not a pleasant period as the club was divided into
two groups and several people acted strangely and were avoiding
their rivals," De Boer was quoted as saying in Dutch weekly
"For me, it felt like I had to choose between a son and a
daughter in opting to take the side of either Cruyff or Van
The dispute was resolved on Feb. 7 when an Amsterdam court
decreed that Van Gaal could not be appointed as director.
"I supported Cruyff publicly as he had asked me to and I
also agree with his technical and tactical blueprint for the
club," De Boer added.
"I was also disappointed in Louis van Gaal as he had kept
Cruyff in the dark when he was appointed."
As the dust was settling on the boardroom dispute, Ajax had
slipped to sixth position, eight points adrift of PSV Eindhoven,
Twente Enschede and AZ Alkmaar, who were all vying for top spot.
However, two days after the court decision had eased the
situation and mood at the club, Ajax embarked on a run of 13
straight wins which fired them to the top of the league.
"At that moment, we were in a very poor phase, we played bad
and had several injured players," De Boer recalled.
"I remained positive and told my squad that our goal should
be to win the seven matches before we faced PSV and to make that
clash our cup final.
"That match [2-0 win] gave me the most satisfaction, the
result was good but the way we played was close to perfection.
Our positional play was great and we pressurised our opponents
as a complete team."
For De Boer, who won his seventh title with Ajax [five as
player], the goals for next season are once again to defend
their title and survive the Champions League group stage.
His task will be made that much harder with skipper Jan
Vertonghen and right-back Gregory van der Wiel both attracting
attention from a number of Europe's bigger leagues with expected
bids for their services likely to test their loyalty.
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