Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Seizoensterugblik | Edwin van der Sar: 'Ik geef het seizoen een 7,5'

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We are champions and we win the cup. That is very nice.

But I think we could have done a bit better in Europe.

So, I give this season a 7.5 out of 10. Can I give it an 8-?

The doubts about how good the 2020-'21 season really was, are palpable.

It was a special year in many ways.

Ajax won all national prizes. The cup after a difficult road to the final...

...while in the Eredivisie Ajax won their 35th title...

...with near unprecedented dominance.

But in the Champions League Ajax were third in their group...

...and reached the last eight in the Europa League. Expectations were higher.

Ajax is out of Europa, losing to a weak opponent.

And that in a year in which the stands were often empty.

The Ajax CEO now looks back on this past season.

We may sometimes have had some luck in the league...

...scoring last minute goals or just lucky goals.

But especially in the Champions League we had quite a bit of bad luck.

But bad luck or luck are your own doing, own goals and silly mistakes...

We should never have drawn away at Atalanta after being 2-0 up.

That is something to focus on next year.

What are European highlights for you, moments that you are happy about?

None really. Football is for the fans.

For the first time in a long time we played at Anfield, but without our fans.

So, we were in the stands in a stadium that usually has such great atmosphere.

You wished the players could experience that: our fans in those stands...

...having a great time in the pubs on the night before the game.

We sorely missed that atmosphere during European matches.

A positive is that the squad is raising its game.

Our own youngsters are raising their game.

Devyne Rensch made a big impression while Gravenberch is now a starter.

Jurrin Timber claimed a spot in this team and he does fantastic.

He gets better every match. That is great to see.

What is your highlight for this season?

We had a one point lead over PSV when we met and we quickly went 2-0 down.

Donyell Malen crosses to Zahavi who scores PSV's second.

Then you think: How will this end?

But the team braced itself. In January we had all those top-matches...

...hoping we would have fans in by then. We had a match every three days...

...and got results versus Feyenoord, AZ... There was talk...

...of Ajax possibly going into a downward spiral...

...but Erik and his squad played great.

And we did not stop after January because February was also great.

Klaassen scores.

It is clear who won the top-matches month: Ajax.

You continued to get those results and finally the fans were back. How was that?

Well, those seven or eight months without fans were unreal.

But against AZ we had 7500 fans in the stands.

The roar when Maarten and the goalies came in and the chants of 'champions'...

...when the squad came in or when we scored... We had just 7500 fans in...

...but it was sheer joy for everyone. Also for us. We had been in the stands...

...but we could hardly say anything, because everyone heard you.

How are the finances? Sponsors and season-ticket holders were committed.

There was talk of compensation. What do you think of what you have done?

We made a good deal. To be honest...

...we never expected the stands to remain empty the entire season.

That was a disappointment.

But we stood by our deal: People could ask their money back for every match.

But some of the season-ticket holders paid 100% of their ticket, others less...

...and we reward those gestures.

And next month we will start our new season-ticket campaign...

...and we hope everyone renews theirs.

I am glad we have you of Ajax media and socials...

...who are in a Champions League of their own. Your videos and posts... us to maintain a good relation with the fans.

Everyone is looking forward to the new season, with fans, and a new shirt.

That is really great.

The city...

...where everything... possible.

How did that idea come about?

You want to retain everyone's bond to Ajax.

Isn't it great to be part of our success, of winning the Eredivisie trophy... having part of the trophy yourself?

You could never be in the stands, but you still have part of that trophy...

...that the lads gave their all for.

This season Ajax were not always certain of winning the title.

Quincy Promes' arrest at the end of 2020...

...forgetting to register Sebastian Haller, Andr Onana's doping ban...

...and failing to re-sign Brian Brobbey...

...were all setbacks this season that are not in a club's management manual.

You have good and bad weeks, and tragic weeks.

We did have a few of the latter, a few mistakes.

But you cannot blame one department.

They all concerned players, but Ajax wasn't always to blame.

There were several failings, one after the other, that each came as a blow.

But like I said before: The only good response is winning on Sundays.

Then your Monday is a lot nicer then after a draw or a loss.

That is what we did. That's how we put our troubles out of our minds.

Of course we missed Haller in Europe...

...Quincy had some problems...

...Andr... I have to say Maarten did a fabulous job and found his second youth.

Leroy Fer faces Stekelenburg.

Stekelenburg is the victor and Ajax are still 1-0 ahead.

I played until I was 40. He's had a five year holiday... the reserves of several teams and now he's back at an incredible level.

We are proud of true Ajax players who return like Daley, Davy...

...and also Maarten, who raise the level of the team.

Ajax, for the 35th time in their history, are Dutch champions.

Ajax have now secured the double.

How happy were you about winning the double?

I am never euphoric. Sure, I can go a bit crazy at times, but...

When they cancelled last season, we became champions.

The year before we took the double. So, it is great we took it again.

But it's less fun without the fans, their bitching, their cheering...

...their applause, their songs... You miss those and that... We hope...

...this was the last season ever like this. Football is for the fans.

Fans are part of the club. You have to give them a release... cheer you on, be happy or sad.

That is Ajax: ups and as few downs as possible.

What do you expect for next season?

Well, Marc called last season a gap year.

So, if that was a gap year, we should expect more this season.

We want to be champions. Financially we need the Champions League.

Not qualifying for that would leave a massive hole in our budget.

That is a risk we run every year, but we are doing well. So, we have that ambition.

But we have the resources to absorb a setback.

We always sell a few players who made headlines last season.

But some clubs in other leagues have been hit hard financially by corona.

We had the Super League.

Some clubs, like Barcelona and Juventus, are in financial trouble.

So, will we able to keep our players?

We would love that. Then, the next step is the last 16 of the Champions League.

Erik ten Hag has extended his contract. How happy are you about that?

I am very happy about that. Many clubs wanted to sign him.

He has really developed well as a coach and as a person. He is still eager... get the best from his squad. Tactically, he and his staff are masters.

So, as a board and as Ajax we are very happy he has extended his contract.

When he signed, we saw the trinity: Overmans, Van der Sar and Ten Hag.

Can you explain your chemistry?

We are all former players and we even played each other.

But to be fair, Marc is in closest contact with Erik, concerning players and staff.

And with Sad concerning the youth academy.

I think it is most important that those two have good chemistry.

I keep my distance although I will sometimes tell Erik what I think.

He often listens to me, but if he doesn't play the player I talked about...

...then that is OK. That is one of his strengths.

He sets a course and he sticks to his plan.

I mean, the rise in our level of these past three years...

...and the breakthroughs of youth players are all testament to his skill.

You said you may not be able to sell players.

Would that have a big negative impact?

It could have. We have been eating into our assets this past year.

It could be problematic. We anticipated that Andr would possibly leave.

He is world class and could have gone to England for 25 or 30 million euros.

That will now be a lot less or even nothing.

We failed to retain Brian. We now possibly need to sign an extra striker.

What will Nico do? So, we are facing some challenges.

Not everything that glitters is gold. We are very aware of what our means are.

'What is possible and what do we want?' We are going to renovate De Toekomst.

So, there is enough that will keep us occupied in the future.

On to next year. - I am looking forward to it.

But first I need a holiday, peace and quiet.

Although I'll take my laptop and phone. It has been quite a difficult year.

But the sporting success is what counts and we had that.

A quick recharge and then... - Then it is rock 'n' roll.

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