(PA) Friday 11 February 2011
Johan Cruyff has returned to Ajax on an advisory basis after agreeing to become a member of one of three “sounding board groups”.
A meeting last night between general manager Rik van den Boog, Ajax’s board of directors and Cruyff confirmed the former Netherlands playmaker’s willingness to advise on technical issues.
The other two sounding boards will focus on financial and association matters. Ajax also announced further talks would be held to determine whether Cruyff’s role would be expanded.
Cruyff won eight Eredivisie titles and three European Cups with the Amsterdam club as a player over two spells. He also coached the club to the 1987 European Cup Winners’ Cup crown.
The 63-year-old is equally revered at Barcelona, where he is credited with implementing the club’s current pass-and-move style of play.
As a player at the Nou Camp, he won the 1974 Primera Division crown and, as coach, guided them to four Spanish titles and their first European Cup
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And what is he going to do? Here, from today’s long BBC interview with Xavi, the beating heart of the Barcelona team:
When you beat Madrid, eight of the starting XI were youth-team products and all three finalists in this year’s Ballon d’Or were too – Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta and you.
Some youth academies worry about winning, we worry about education. You see a kid who lifts his head up, who plays the pass first time, pum, and you think, ‘Yep, he’ll do.’ Bring him in, coach him. Our model was imposed by [Johan] Cruyff; it’s an Ajax model.
And this is what it produced:
Next week you play Arsenal again in the Champions League last 16. Are they different? A kind of Barcelona-lite?
Arsenal are a great team. When I watch Arsenal, I see Barça. I see Cesc carry the game, Nasri, Arshavin. The difference between them and us is we have more players who think before they play, quicker. Education is the key. Players have had 10 or 12 years here. When you arrive at Barça the first thing they teach you is: think. Think, think, think. Quickly. [Xavi starts doing the actions, looking around himself.] Lift your head up, move, see, think. Look before you get the ball. If you’re getting this pass, look to see if that guy is free. Pum. First time.
“No hubo partido. Estábamos predestinados a perder. Nueve de los 11 del Ajax jugaban en la selección holandesa. Si hubiésemos jugado 100 veces contra ellos, habríamos perdido 105”, bromea Boninsegna. “Cruyff nos volvió locos. Por grandeza, me recuerda a Messi; por capacidad de crear juego, a Xavi e Iniesta. Pero era devastador. Fue un jugador único por eso: era rápido, con un sprint y una progresión tremendos. Cogía la pelota y no había manera de volver a verla. Era un líder”, añade Mauro Bellugi, defensa de aquel Inter.
Yes, that’s in spanish, but it describes what his 1972 adversaries in the European Cup final thought of him: Messi, Iniesta and Xavi all in one.. Of course we agree..
However, unfortunately there are economic reasons why Ajax will not get back to the European top. Cruyff got his world final after all, some consolation.