John Heitinga’s first game at home was an important litmus test for his support from the fans. His team’s first half performance did not help.
First half nightmares
RKC Waalwijk centre back Van de Buijs found teammate Anita hovering around the half way line with an intricate pass that took out half the Ajax outfield. This was succeeded by another invasive pass to striker Seuntjens to set up a great chance for the away side not before being stopped by a desperate Edson Alvarez sliding block.
RKC forward Julen Lobete found himself one on one after a clever run in behind but was denied trying to dink the keeper.
Seuntjens finally got a goal. Ajax were worked and worked. RKC finally picked the lock when a marauding run from Lobete took Timber out of position to open up a massive gap for Seuntjens to do his thing.
RKC are up one goal and Ajax pick up from their previous first-half nightmare. Sloppy passing and a lack of responsibility in possession allowed RKC to launch dangerous counters.
Not long after, Kudos was dancing around the box causing opposition wingback Lotonda some grief. Kudos supplied a deflected header for Klaassen only to be saved by the keeper.
The frustration was apparent as Ajax failed to at least level the score by half time. Klaassen was given a yellow for showing dissent as he believed a throw in decision was given wrongly.
The Johan Cruyff Arena was a bit flat. So was Ajax. They can’t seem to dominate opposition for large parts of a game. A constant pattern in their last few games but can you forgive them considering it’s only their fourth game under a new manager?
An aspect that clearly wasn’t working for John Heitinga was trying Conceicao at left wing. A key measure of his reign will be how he reacts to things that don’t work. Perseverance on failure was one of Alfred Schreuder’s biggest issues.
The switch up
Credit should be given. Heitinga pulled one right out of the bag. He subbed off Conceicao and Klaassen for Brian Brobbey and Calvin Bassey with immediate success.
Brobbey capitalised on a fantastic run from Klaassen which ended with a shot on target, burying the rebound. If only assists were given to the players who shoot in such instances in the first place, that was just a touch of Klaassen.
In the 66th minute, Kudus hit the post and the ball bounced back into play. Kudus produced a beautiful flick in the box to make space, showing us more from his bag of tricks this season.
16 G/A in 25 games for Ajax this season, 13 goals & 3 assists.
Our starboy. pic.twitter.com/LPSeXlIG2i
— 𝐀𝐅𝐂 𝐀𝐉𝐀𝐗 💎 (@TheEuropeanLad) February 10, 2023
The second goal came from a set piece with Bassey propping the ball up inside a packed six yard box to set up a nice juicy volley. Timber knocked the ball past the keeper to give Ajax the lead.
Berghuis puts the ball on a plate for Kudus to deliver a clean finish in the 81st minute giving Ajax the game. A tale of two halves is an understatement.
FT: Ajax 3-1 RKC
It wasn’t spectacular. But Heitinga proves once again that he has good in-game management with his changes during half-time. Next up: Union Berlin!
⚽️ Kudus#Ajax | #AJArkc pic.twitter.com/A5YMk4Ua2Z
— All About Ajax (@AllAboutAjax) February 12, 2023
Questions still need to be answered as to why Ajax took this long to get into the game. But it turned out to be a walk in the park at the John Cruyff Arena. That is four wins in four. The first at home.
Can Ajax sustain this momentum in the Europa league? Find out on the next episode of Heitinga’s latest hits.
Timber: "It's never calm at Ajax, there is always something happening here. Now we are back to winning so this results into a happy mood." pic.twitter.com/zsZAowFEUR
— 𝐀𝐅𝐂 𝐀𝐉𝐀𝐗 💎 (@TheEuropeanLad) February 12, 2023