Marc Overmars, director of football at Ajax, knows only too well how vital a component a second string is to a club. The reserve side helps players develop and, at the same time, gives the first team coach options when his side is struck by injuries or has to contend with players performing under their capability.
That’s why the former Arsenal attacker is delighted with the appointment of Mitchell van der Gaag, who was formerly with NAC Breda, as the new reserve boss of the Sons of The Gods. Can his guidance of the reserves somehow help Erik ten Hag’s side retain their title and once more conclude the upcoming season with the Eredivisie championship? Well, the odds are with them and you can have a punt if you fancy Ajax to lift the silverware.
And on Van der Gaag taking over the role from Michael Reiziger, Overmars told the official Ajax website:
“It’s so great to have clarity so quickly. In Mitchell, we’ve found a coach who can give good leadership to our reserves team. In the past three years, he’s been a coach in the Eredivisie. In addition to that, he has coaching experience in the First Division and in a competition abroad.
“In our reserves team, the flow of players from the oldest academy teams into the Ajax Reserves is very important. And from there, the stream of players into the A selection needs to happen. Mitchell will play an important role in that process, which is what we expect from Ajax Reserves coaches. In him, we’ve found the right person for that.”
As you would imagine, Van de Gaag is thrilled to take up the position and he says Ajax’s exploits last season have served to strengthen their reputation throughout world football. He said:
“Naturally, I’m very happy with my appointment. It’s a fantastic challenge to work with the best talent in the country. Ajax is a top club, and its achievements in the last year have only reinforced this.
“It has gotten everyone’s attention. I’m very much looking forward to getting started, to build a bridge to the first team together with the players, and of course, achieve great things in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie. It’s a fantastic challenge to work with the best talent in the country.”
His experience is obviously key to his appointment and when you consider that he has played throughout the world — at PSV, NEC, Sparta, Motherwell FC, FC Utrecht, Marítimo Funchal and Al Nassr — it is easy to see just how he has accrued his credentials.
And as well as NAC, he has also coached in Portugal at Maritímo Funchal and Belenenses, in Cyprus at Ermis Aradippou as well as stints at both FC Eindhoven and Excelsior in Holland.
Overmars thinks the new recruit will be an attribute – most Ajax fans would agree.