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Ajax go bottom of Eredivisie: What's going wrong for the Dutch giants?

After dropping to the bottom of the Eredivisie table over the weekend, Ajax find themselves in a desperate situation and in need of quick answers.

Ajax won a record-extending 36th Dutch top-flight title in 2021/22 and even though manager Erik ten Hag left for Manchester United that summer, few could have envisaged where the club have slipped to since then.

The following campaign ended with de Godenzonen finishing third in the standings and failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 13 seasons.

Alfred Schreuder was in charge from 1st July 2022 to 26th January 2023, before John Heitinga was placed in interim charge until being handed the reins permanently from 2nd February until the end of the season.

While a third-place finish is not bad by any stretch of the imagination, the standards Ajax have set themselves over the years made the 2022/23 campaign a disappointing one.

Maurice Steijn was named as the new head coach on a three-year deal this summer after he guided Sparta Rotterdam to sixth in the table last term - the team's best result in 27 years.

However, it did not gone to plan for the 49-year-old Dutchman, with the ex-Sparta Rotterdam boss relieved of his duties on 23rd October after overseeing just two wins from eleven matches in charge. 

The Amsterdam giants opted to place former player Hedwiges Maduro in caretaker charge as they search for a permanent replacement for Steijn, with Ajax losing their next two matches against Brighton and PSV to find themselves bottom of both their Europa League group and Eredivisie table.

With only one win from eright league matches and a massive 25-point gap to leaders PSV Eindhoven, just where has it all gone wrong for the most successful team in Dutch football history?

Ajax challenge comes too soon for Steijn

The buck always stops with the manager and the decision to appoint Steijn, who is yet to win a trophy during his managerial career, proved to be a poor one from the Ajax board.

Steijn did an impressive job to guide Sparta Rotterdam to sixth last season, there is no denying that, but the matter of the fact is that he was never expected to get the club that high up the table.

A move to Ajax was a huge step up for the Dutch tactician and he was forced to deal with greater expectation levels at a club that demands success.

He was unable to get the team firing and de Godenzonen already appear out of the title race, with 25 points the gap to table-toppers PSV.

Ajax are currently priced at 500/1 to win the Eredivisie, with PSV 4/9, Feyenoord 11/4 and AZ 7/1 in the betting.

Spine of the team ripped out

While Steijn has taken the brunt of the criticism, the club's transfer business over the summer has to be looked at and the fact they failed to successfully replace three key players.

Centre-back Jurrien Timber, midfielder Edson Alvarez and forward Mohammed Kudus were all sold, with the three departures ripping the spine out of the team.

Ajax have only managed to score 13 league goals this season, and the exit of Kudus has had a big impact on the overall output of the side.

The Ghana international notched 11 times in the 2022/23 Eredivisie and he also bagged a hat-trick in his final game for the club in a Europa League qualifier before sealing his switch to West Ham.

New attacking signings Chuba Akpom and Georges Mikautadze are yet to open their accounts since joining in the summer, and there are doubts whether the duo have the quality to thrive at this level.

Ajax brought in no less than 12 players in the last window, but there is a feeling they have gone for quantity over quality given how they have performed so far.

Victories needed quickly

As the club continue to search for their next permanent manager, Ajax are in dire need of a quick fix on the pitch with the Dutch giants now suffering the ignominy of dropping to bottom of the Eredivisie table.

Their next fixture at home to 16th-placed FC Volendam - who are just two points above Ajax - looks very winnable on paper, and failure to pick up three points could see the Johan Cruyff Arena become toxic as the club's passionate fanbase continue to suffer.

A victory could see Ajax elevate themselves out of the relegation zone, with the Amsterdam side set for another home fixture against mid-table Heerenveen in a double-header that could potentially see them finally turn around the dismal run of form they are currently enduring.

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