Crisis club of the week 2023/24: Ajax

  • Ajax are 90min's Crisis Club of the Week
  • The Dutch giants are in the Eredivisie relegation zone
  • Here's why they're in crisis and how they can solve their problems

Image by Matthew Burt
Image by Matthew Burt /

Another week, another football club in crisis.

This week, instead of discussing a Premier League club however, we've decided that a European club is in such a deep crisis that we had to address their current plight.

This week's crisis club of the week is none other than Ajax.

And here's why...

What's the crisis?

Dutch EredivisieAjax Amsterdam v Feyenoord Rotterdam
Johan Cruyff Arena in disrepair after Ajax - Feyenoord / ANP/GettyImages

Ajax, the most successful football club in Dutch history, having spent just over £95m on new players during the summer window, are currently sitting in 17th place in the Eredivisie table.

Yep, Ajax are currently in the relegation zone.

And they are in the relegation zone because they have accumulated just five points from their first seven games - losing their last four games on the spin to Utrecht, AZ, arch rivals Feyenoord and Twente. Said defeat to Feyenoord was so bad in fact, that Ajax fans forced the game to be suspended after violence erupted in and around the Johan Cruyff Arena.

That run of form, and general malcontent of the fanbase, has seen manager Maurice Steijn lose his job already.

In short, it's very bad.

In long, it's very, very, very, very, very bad.

Why are they in crisis?

The wheels started to come off when Erik ten Hag left the club for Manchester United. He took Ajax to heights they hadn't come close to reaching since the mid-1990s both domestically and on the continent, and they haven't come within a million miles of reaching those heights again since he's left - failing to even qualify for the Champions League last season, and being mired in a literal relegation battle so far this season.

Coupled with Ten Hag's departure, the turnover of directors has been a huge factor in Ajax's downturn in fortunes.

Marc Overmars, who played a huge role in building the teams which succeeded under Ten Hag, was rightfully let go by the club having been found to have sent inappropriate messages to female colleague and, since then, Ajax have struggled to find an adequate replacement to deal with the club's transfer business.

Gerry Hamstra oversaw the summer 2022 and January 2023 windows in which Ajax signed Calvin Bassey for around £20m...which tells you all you need to know about his recruitment of players.

He was then replaced by Sven Mislintat who spent over £95m in the summer, let the likes of Dusan Tadic leave on a free, and almost exclusively signed young players with little to no senior football experience, before being sacked in late September.

Ajax legend Rafael van der Vaart's recent assessment of the squad perhaps sums it up best: "I feel for Maurice Steijn. He has so many sh*t players."

What can they do to rectify it?

Dutch EredivisieAjax Amsterdam v AZ Alkmaar
Relegation candidates / ANP/GettyImages

Ajax need to:

A) Hire a competent manager.

B) Hire a competent director of football.

These are two things that the club have egregiously failed to do in the last 18 months or so, but it is an absolute necessity at this point.

If they don't, Ajax may be playing *looks up what the second division in the Netherlands* is called Eerst Divisie football next season.