Ajax season 2023/24 review

The 2023/24 Eredivisie season is now over, and it may go down in the history of Ajax as one of the worst campaigns in living memory for the Amsterdammers.

Way off the pace at the top of the table

dutch eredivisie end of season 23-24

The club from the capital of the Netherlands finished in fifth place in the table and only made the Europa League qualifiers for next season.

For Ajax, the 2023/24 season marked a significant departure from their usual high standards. It was their lowest league finish in 24 years, and the campaign also saw them amass their joint-lowest point total in 30 years.

Unsurprisingly, given their relatively low finish, Ajax’s defensive performance was a cause for concern. The team conceded a staggering 61 goals, the highest since the 1958/59 season.

At the other end of the pitch, Ajax experienced their lowest-scoring campaign in four seasons.  See all Ajax live scores.

Changing head coaches didn’t change much

john van 't Schip
http://www.postproduktie.nl, CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

The instability of having multiple head coaches during the 2023/24 campaign did not help Ajax’s chances of success.

Maurice Steijn became the first-team head coach on July 1, 2023, after Johnny Heitinga left the role.

However, the former Den Haag boss left the club on October 23rd. At the time of his exit, the team were in 17th place in the Eredivisie table, having made their worst start since season 1964/65, when teams picked up just two points for a win.

To illustrate just how bad Ajax’s start was, they won just two of their 11 games under Steijn.

Hedwiges Maduro came in as an interim boss. The club’s former assistant head coach oversaw a 2-0 defeat against Brighton in the Europa League before a 5-2 Eredivisie defeat at eventual champions PSV Eindhoven.

The third head coach of the season arrived just a day after the PSV defeat in the form of ex-winger John van ‘t Schip, who was appointed until the end of the season.

The results improved under van ‘t Schip. A fifth-place finish from where the team was when he took over was a decent result.

However, it was not enough for the club to extend his stay beyond the current season, and he will leave the club at the end of his contract on 30th June 2024.

Were there any bright spots amongst the gloom?

The main bright spots from the season mostly came from the younger players in the squad.

Young forward Brian Brobbey continued his development, scoring 18 goals and producing eight assists. The season was his most productive for the club, and it is no surprise that his performances have attracted interest from elsewhere.

Elsewhere, highly-rated young defender Jorrel Hato made 33 appearances in the first team, despite his tender years, and didn’t look out of place.

Despite the team’s poor defensive displays, Hato was one of the few defensive players at Ajax who could take anything positive from the 2023/24 season.

Another youngster who made strides in his professional career in the campaign was Icelandic midfielder Kristian Hlynsson.

The 20-year-old scored seven goals in 25 appearances for the Amsterdam giants in a highly respectable breakthrough campaign.

New arrivals still have to convince

josip satulo with ball for ajax
Carlo Bruil Fotografie, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The club’s summer transfer looked relatively shrewd with the likes of Croatian pair Borne Sosa and Josip Sutalo arriving, as well as Sivert Mannsverk, Benjamin Tahirovic, Gaston Avila and Georges Mikautadze.

It would be hard to say that any of the summer arrivals set the world alight. Sutalo was arguably the pick of the bunch regarding consistency in his performance.

However, it must be said that most of the club’s summer arrivals were young players who may need time to settle and develop into quality players in the future.

They could all turn out to be top players next season or even the season after, having had experience of living in Amsterdam and playing for Ajax for a longer period.

Ajax have been excellent at developing or unearthing young players and turning them into stars. Hopefully, some of last summer’s arrivals can become the latest in a long line of stars to shine bright for the Dutch giants.

Head coach appointment is the key to improvement and stability

Erik Ten Hag

No doubt Ajax will have learnt a lot from the 2023/24 campaign, and next season, surely things have to improve for the club from the Dutch capital.

A critical factor in that improvement is the arrival of a new permanent head coach this summer. As you would expect, the club has a list of this summer’s managerial targets.

The list reportedly includes their former boss Erik ten Hag, whose future at Manchester United is in massive doubt after the Red Devils produced a disappointing eighth-place finish in the Premier League.