Ajax are enduring their worst season in years

As we all know, season 2023/24 has been one to forget for Ajax. It has been something of a nightmare campaign, as the club has gone through numerous head coaches, suffered humiliating defeats and experienced fan unrest.

Overall, the season has been a mess for the Dutch giants, who are so accustomed to being amongst the leading lights in the Eredivisie and even, at times in their history, the European game. That has not been the case in the current campaign.

Ajax’s heading for their worst points tally in decades

dutch eredivisie after 31 games 23-24

As the Eredivisie nears its end, Ajax has a meagre 49 points. With only three games left. The team’s maximum potential points tally for the season is 58 if they win all their remaining matches.

Considering the Dutch giants have won just two of their last seven games in the Eredivisie, it seems unlikely that they will record three out of three victories at the end of the season.

The last time Ajax finished with their current points tally was in the 1992/93 season when they finished in third place in the standings. However, their lowest points tally since then was in 2019/20, when they reached 56 points but still managed to claim the Eredivisie title.

Their next lowest points tally came in 1998/99 when they picked up just 57 points. However, on current form, the Dutch capital team could fail even to match the tally of just 54, garnered in season 1993/94. However, that season, they were crowned Dutch champions

No case for the defence, and less potent in attack

Ajax’s major concern this season is their woeful defensive record. Despite having one of the most highly-rated young defenders in the European game in Jorrel Hato, the team’s defence has been a significant cause for concern.

With three games remaining, Ajax has conceded 58 goals, the worst defensive record of the Eredivisie’s top nine clubs. Only six teams in the Dutch top flight have conceded more goals than the team from the Dutch capital.

The team has conceded at least two goals in 19 of their 31 matches in the Dutch top-flight this season. That poor defensive includes suffering 4-0 and 6-0 defeats against arch-rivals Feyenoord. The losses were among the low points of a highly disappointing league campaign. They also suffered a 5-2 defeat at new champions PSV Eindhoven.

To put Ajax’s defensive record into perspective, the team from Amsterdam has not conceded as many goals in an Eredivisie campaign since season 1961/62, when ironically enough, they finished in fifth place in the table, the position the team currently occupies.

Their defence has been poor in season 2023/24, and the team’s attack has not been as potent as in recent campaigns. You have to go back to season 1996/97 for an Ajax team that has scored fewer goals than in the current campaign, with their goal count currently at 65.

Top scorer striker Brian Brobbey has found the net 17 times in the Eredivisie. The youngster will likely be among the few Ajax players to come out of the campaign with much credit.

However, his form has attracted the attention of clubs elsewhere in Europe, which could make the Dutch giants even more impotent in front of goal in season 2024/25.

A managerial merry-go-round

Erik Ten Hag

Ajax’s 2023/24 campaign has not been helped by the fact that the team has had four different head coaches, including Hedwiges Maduro, who oversaw just two games on an interim basis.

The team started the campaign with Johnny Heitinga in charge, who Maurice Steijn replaced after a woeful start to their Eredivisie campaign. Unfortunately, things didn’t get much better under Steijn.

Current head coach John van ‘t Schip was appointed interim boss until the end of the season. The team’s form briefly picked up after his appointment, and there was talk that he may be given the job beyond the end of season 2023/24.

However, although the team’s recent performances and results have not been as bad as at the start of the season, they have not been performing well enough for Van ‘t Schip to be appointed on a long-term basis.

Ironically, reports from the English press suggest that the Amsterdammers may well turn to former boss Erik ten Hag this summer. The club have been linked with several high-profile bosses, including former Chelsea chief Graham Potter.

However, with Ten Hag’s future reportedly up in the air at Manchester United after an underwhelming season, the three-time Eredivisie winner could be ready to return to the Dutch capital.

Since Ten Hag departed in the summer of 2022, Ajax have employed five different head coaches, who have all struggled to keep up the high standards that Ten Hag set in Amsterdam.

Bringing their former head coach back could be the boost that capital needs this summer to recover next season.

A disappointing season whatever happens in the last three games

Whatever happens in the remaining three Eredivisie games, this season has been disastrous for one of European football’s most historic clubs. This summer, there are likely to be significant changes in personnel, such as a new head coach and new players.

Hopefully, the summer changes will bring the team what it needs to push on in season 2024/25, as season 2023/24 has been one for everybody connected with Ajax to learn from for future campaigns.

Can Ajax return to challenging for the Eredivisie title in season 2024/25?