John Heitinga has been appointed head coach of Ajax until the end of the season.
The former Everton defender started his coaching career with the Amsterdam club in 2017, working with their under-19 team. In 2021, he accepted the opportunity to coach the Jong Ajax side, the club’s reserves.
Having joined the Blues in 2009 for £6.2 million, the Dutch international racked up 115 appearances during his five years on Merseyside and was named the Club’s Player of the Season for the 2011/12 season. A year after joining the Toffee’s, Heitinga played a crucial role in helping his country reach the World Cup Final in South Africa.
The 39-year-old was given the Ajax role after Alfred Schreuder was sacked having found his team seven points adrift of first place Feyenoord. Schreuder had only started his tenure at the start of the season.
In regards to ins and outs, Ajax’s net spend this season is +€103.12 million which was too much of a challenge for the previous manager to work with.
The Netherlands’ most successful club lost some of their most important players including Antony, Lisandro Martinez, Sebastian Haller, Ryan Gravenberch, Nicolas Tagliafico, Daley Blind, Andre Onana and Noussair Mazraaoui to name a few.
In addition, the club also had to say goodbye to the current Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag who was a great success during his time in Amsterdam. It is clear that this season there has been far too much change.
In an interview with the club, the new head coach revealed he was excited to start: “I think I have the Ajax DNA, which hopefully I can translate to the group. I used to be a ball boy. I’m proud.
“This is a milestone I can be proud of. We have made it this far and now it is up to me and the rest of the staff to make sure that we can look back at a great season.”
Ajax and @JohnHeitinga have agreed on remaining head coach of Ajax 1 for the rest of the season.
Let’s do this, John! ❌❌❌
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) February 2, 2023
Already, we find ourselves four years on from Ajax’s famous Champions League campaign. A last second Lucas Moura goal snatched away their chance of facing Liverpool in the final. But in 2023, Heitinga is in charge of lifting a dressing room which has been zapped of confidence.
During his playing career, Heitinga spent eight years at Ajax across two separate spells. There is no doubt that he will be familiar with his surroundings, it is whether he can bring a more positive approach back to a club that prides itself on both attractive and aggressive football.