For me personally, I would not have been enthusiastic about Ajax if I had not been to Holland. I would not have been a big fan of the team if I hadn't been to the Amsterdam ArenA. Though I wasn't at the ArenA when they won Twente in the final match of the last season and became the Eredivisie champions for the first time in several years, I was fascinated by the passionate and a bit crazy atmosphere that surrounded Amsterdam on that day.
So after I returned to Japan I started to search Ajax on the internet and on Japanese football magazines. For example, some days ago I read a Japanese football magazine "World Soccer Digest". On its February issue (http://www.nsks.com/wsd/7835/) they set the "ranking" of European football clubs that football journalists around the world voted on. The ranking is not just based on the current situations of the clubs, but it's also based on their past performances. So, naturally, Ajax can occupy a relatively high position in the ranking (around 15th among 30).
What I would like to say is that attention on Ajax by Japanese people is largely based on the times that have already passed, when Johan Cruijff and others totally changed the trend of football with their "total football" strategy, or when the current head coach Frank De Boer was playing on the pitch with other wonderful players. And I assume that this phenomenon is not particular to Japanese football fans.
So I got interested in the way that Japanese media deal with Ajax at present. Basically, there is relatively low attention on the players, except for those who are targeted by bigger European clubs, such as Vertonghen, Eriksen and Van der Wiel. Attention is given to the following two points.
- Their 4-3-3 formation, which most Dutch teams currently use by influence of Ajax.
- Their youth academy, called "De Toekomst" (The Future), which is considered to be one of the best youth academies in the world.
On these points, I found information in Japanese on the internet and found some interesting articles. I'm going to summarize the information and write editorials about this (hopefully by the end of February), so check them out.