In Schroder’s Thoughts, AjaxDaily writer Lukas Schroder reviews the last week from the perspective of a somewhat cynical Ajax-fan. New pieces will come out every Wednesday.
What a week it has been. Emphatic victories against Willem II and PEC Zwolle showed us something I forgot even existed: attacking football. The season is two months underway and Peter Bosz finally found a starting eleven that is capable of performing the way he wants to. Sure, both opponents weren’t the strongest of sides, but change seems to be underway. Let’s make sure we keep it that way.
I don’t like Nemanja Gudelj. His attitude just makes me plain angry to be honest. I mean, the guy walks around like he’s an Abercrombie and Fitch-model, has his dad’s face tattooed on his upper thigh and genuinely thinks he is some sort of amazing high-pressing box-to-box-midfielder. Well, he missed those two amazing games, being replaced by Lasse Schone both times. Both times Schone offered so much more than Gudelj ever has since signing for Ajax.
People who are in favor of the Serbian midfielder, mostly point out his aggression off the ball. Frank de Boer called it ‘playing as if you have poison’ (which is a very literally and very terrible translation from Dutch). Ever since I first heard that argument, I already had the sense it wasn’t really that good of an argument. And so I started focussing on the pressing made by Gudelj. And something occurred to me: he really doesn’t do that much off the ball at all.
Sure, every now and again he goes after his opponent, but if you focus on it, that only happens once he has lost the ball himself. So the only covering he basically does in a match, is so that he makes up his own mistakes. As a result he creates the illusion of being a hard-working defensive midfielder, while actually he’s just a not so accurate passing midfielder with some stamina to cover his own mistakes up. But frankly, that doesn’t have to be an issue.
Hakim Ziyech loses the ball a lot as well, so shaming Gudelj for losing the ball every now and again really doesn’t hold up. The problem is, he isn’t really a risk-taker. He is the definition of what the Dutch call ‘being a mailman of a footballer’. Gudelj is afraid of taking any risky passes on, and thus delivers every ball to the next destination. The length of his passes hardly ever go over ten yards. With Gudelj missing from the starting eleven, a lot more risk came into the game. And that’s exactly what we want.
<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>In football, there’s a lot of discussion about ‘the new realism’, which presents us with the theory that attacking football doesn’t pay off as much as it used to. Clinical, high-pressing counter-football such as PSV and Feyenoord are currently playing is the future of world football, we are being told. And I’m sure that if Gudelj played for PSV, he would be praised for this every single game. But at Ajax, something more is expected from you. Something Gudelj isn’t able to offer. Please, Peter, choose attacking football: choose anyone other than Nemanja Gudelj.</span>