As a footballer Marco van Basten was nimble-footed despite his large gangly frame. As the new manager of Amsterdam football club Ajax, Van Basten seems to have chosen for an iron-fist approach.
Rather than deftly side-stepping a tackle, he is smashing his way through the obstacles in his path.
It emerged today that Ajax’s technical director Martin van Geel has resigned under pressure from Van Basten. Van Basten wants total control of the football operation.
Earlier Van Basten blocked the return of Johan Cruijff as an adviser to the club. That took some guts, because Cruijff is a soccer legend in the Netherlands and Ajax fans believed he could work miracles at the club.
Van Basten is not due to take up his position at Ajax until July – he’s currently the national team coach and will be at the European Championships this summer.
But his power base at Ajax is already established and is a copy of the situation in the mid-1990s, the club’s last successful period.
In any case there is clear demarcation of responsibility, something that has been missing at the club in the past few years and led to conflicts of interest and poor decision-making and mediocre football.
Steely-faced Van Basten has his eye on the ball and if he’s got anything to do with it, the ball is going to fly into the goal. And if it doesn’t, there’s only one man to blame.
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