Frank de Boer (42) is already a two time title-winner, in one and a half season at Ajax. With a parsimonious policy Ajax is making another step. “It’s all about offering the youth a perspective.”
His tweet Thursday night was a sudden flash. After the bizarre Champions League draw, that coupled Ajax with the champions of Spain (Real Madrid), England (Manchester City) and Germany (Borussia Dortmund), Frank de Boer typed: “When is the final?”
“I wanted to write something”, he said a day later. Any other person would get cynical from the toughest thinkable group. De Boer, tanned, slightly grey, smiles his generous smile in the canteen of training ground De Toekomst. “We can’t change it, right?”
He thinks of last season, when the flames of Johan Cruyff’s revolution went through the roof. “There was a boardcrisis. Do I have to panic then? No, I have to do my thing.”
You’re basically done with the Cruyff revolution.
“Yes. The scouting keeps on improving. The medical staff are good. Marc is doing well.”
Marc Overmars is the football director, with whom De Boer played together at Ajax in the big days, mid-90’s. Overmars is a former player, businessman and, as it seems, penny-pinching. De Boer: “No, he’s not that parsimonious. He wants to spend money, but he has an eye for bargains, for players with return on investment.
“He’s two years younger than me. We’ve always had a great understanding. I was a little bit of an good, older brother to him. I could call him names all day, he didn’t mind. He never piped down. He’s just a bit more business-minded. That’s in his family. My family wasn’t business-minded at all. My dad was a plasterer.”
How did you end up with Danny Hoesen, a Fortuna Sittard player last year?
“Marc gave me a DVD. He had already caught my eye earlier during the Jupiler League highlights. I thought he was an Englishman. Danny Hoesen sounds English. Loaned from Fulham. I knew exactly about who it was, but I didn’t know he went to Fulham as a young Dutchman. He caught my eye. His style of play, the good technique, walking upright, easily scoring goals, quick. My thought with that DVD were: these images are of course highlights, but still.
“I also saw the highlights of Tobias Sana and thought: hey, he radiates quality. A ball he played last week to Serero, he also played back in Sweden. He’s a right winger, but on the midfield he also gives such a through pass. He’s one of those “tropical” surprises. That’s more fun than getting somebody for six million whom can only fail.”
You wanted Theo Janssen. He’s gone after one season. Do you feel guilty about that?
“I had hoped it would’ve turned out better. His last six months were good, he’s had his share in the title. But with Eriksen, Siem de Jong, Serero and Schöne for the same positions, I couldn’t guarantee him he’d played every game. And he has made the choice, not me. Theo didn’t want to fight for it. If he was a key players, it would’ve been easy. But he wasn’t. If somebody isn’t going to try for hundred percent in training exercises, and on his age he should be an example, I can’t accept that. That’s it’s over and out.”
Is Ajax an example for clubs again? Last season there were fights in court and one could expect a knife in the back. Now Ajax is parsimonious and there is little to nitpick.
“Example for clubs? AZ is doing very good since their suffered reverse with their main sponsor. Feyenoord is doing well, maybe out of necessity. Educating has a lot of positives. It may be the best way.”
Do you never want a big bag of money on your desk to go shopping with?
“We don’t have that. We might have thought we were wearing a Champions League-coat, but we’re wearing a Europa League-coat. If you pay to much money, it’s going to be hellish job earning those sums back.”
Are you never jealous of colleagues like Mancini or Mourinho?
“No. The fun thing about managing is the team makes jumps, that an individual takes steps and turns into a mature senior players from a shy young boy. Mitchell Dijks for example, from Jong Ajax, has the luck he gets to train along. He’s making steps. He looks imposing, but he can use that stature way better. With an arrived player you don’t have to do anything. Yeah, keep him in line. He’s often an extension piece of the manager.”
Are you a different person after two titles?
“No, but that’s my strength. Or well, strength. I still have my spot on the camping site in Garderen, I still do the things I always did. What has changes is: I got a little out of sight with the big audience. Glasgow Rangers, Galatasaray, Qatar, after that youth trainer at Ajax: the youngest youth didn’t know me any more. Since I’m a manager, I’m a common commodity again. Now those boys are in front of my door again. Before that time, their mothers would often ask their children: why do you now know him?”
The club was lit on fire for a year and a half and you acted like you didn’t care at all.
“Tranquillity is the best for all of us. Jan Olde Riekerink (former head of youth, red.) once told me about the stewardess. If she panics, everybody knows: this is going wrong. Then people think their time has come. Everybody watches her. If she is at peace during turbulence, they think: thank God, nothing is wrong.”
Did you have a hard time then?
“No. I’ve thought a lot about all those injuries. The training intensity has been changed, but you don’t have to panic about that either.”
Translated from Dutch into English. Original source: Volkskrant, 02/09/2012