Testing times for table-toppers Ajax ahead of Eredivisie clash

It’s been a tough week for Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag. But life at the Amsterdam giants is about to get a whole lot tougher for the side that sits top of the table. The Sons of Gods go in to tomorrow night’s Eredivisie clash at Heerenveen on the back of a testing few days which saw them lose to title rivals AZ Alkmaar 2-0…and it got worse. They followed that up with a 2-0 defeat in the KNVB Cup at Utrecht. It was, disastrously, the third loss in the last four matches after they went out to Getafe in the Europa League.

And now they have the coronavirus to deal with. Ten Hag has been forced to tell assistant coach Christian Poulsen (along with two other staff members) to stay away from the club because of fears they might have the virus.

Poulsen and the two others have been asked stay at home for a week after coming in contact with ex-Danish ace Thomas Kahlenberg, who has the virus. An Ajax spokesman told reporters it was precautionary, adding: “They have no symptoms and if it stays that way they will return to work next week.”

But the news will undoubtably disrupt preparations for the game ahead and in turn could affect Ajax’s title hopes — and odds on tasting glory. Many still think the Amsterdam Arena outfit are too strong not to claim the crown and punters are still betting on them retaining the league title — as well as continuing to bet on the Euro 2020 competition as the anticipation for the event heats up.

Questions have since been asked of Ten Hag’s future but these doubts about his ability to steer Ajax back on course are premature, argues the club’s vice-skipper Daley Blind, who added:

“This is not because of the manager. The relationship between him and us is still very good indeed.”

As for the manager, he is confident that he has the nous to be able to turn things around. He said:

“We’ll have to work together to turn this whole thing around. It’s a real shame that it has gone because of our own silly mistakes. It’s not going brilliantly, it is fair to say, but I do see improvement.”

Meanwhile, Ten Hag has come out and defended Hakim Ziyech’s attitude since his summer switch to Chelsea was rubber-stamped. Ziyech has agreed terms with the Blues and some critics have suggested that the winger has been off his game since the deal was announced. But Ten Hag said:

“I see no other attitude with him at all but at the same time it is also true that it has not made it easier for him.”