Feb 02, 2023 at 2:31 PMUpdate: 2 minutes ago
John Heitinga will complete the season as coach of Ajax, the national champion announced on Thursday. The former defender thus definitively takes over the duties of Alfred Schreuder, who was fired on January 26. Dwight Lodeweges will act as one of his assistants.
One day after Schreuder’s departure, Heitinga was already put forward by the board of the national champion. With the former international at the helm, Ajax dealt with Excelsior (1-4) on Sunday.
With that, the team from Amsterdam ended a series of seven Eredivisie matches without a win, equaling a negative club record.
The 39-year-old Heitinga has stood for the Jong Ajax player group since mid-2021, which he led to seventh place in the Kitchen Champion Division last season. Last autumn, the former defender extended his contract with Ajax until mid-2025.
Over the past few days, general manager Edwin van der Sar has had several conversations with Gerry Hamstra and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who have been responsible for technical policy since Marc Overmars left a year ago, about Schreuder’s succession. Heitinga also joined them a number of times.
“We are convinced that this is the right solution. John follows a careful and gradual path, so that he has developed very well as a trainer in recent years,” says Van der Sar. “We have great confidence in John’s qualities and the vision he expressed.”
The Ajax players celebrate a goal during last weekend’s duel with Excelsior. Photo: Pro Shots
Lodeweges was previously an assistant to Koeman at the Orange
Lodeweges (65) has an extensive CV. The Canadian-born was previously head coach of FC Groningen, SC Cambuur and sc Heerenveen, among others, and interim trainer of PSV. In recent years, he has mainly acted as an assistant, such as Ronald Koeman at the Orange between 2018 and 2020.
Lodeweges was recently appointed as a member of the supervisory board of sc Heerenveen, but he is stepping down from that position due to his employment at Ajax. “His knowledge and years of experience ensure that he is complementary to John and the rest of the staff,” says Van der Sar.
With the departure of Schreuder, service assistant Matthias Kaltenbach also had to give way to Ajax. Michael Reiziger and Richard Witschge will stay on as members of the technical staff and, together with Heitinga and Lodeweges, will have to bring about a change for the team from Amsterdam.
Ajax is having a disappointing season
After nineteen rounds, Ajax occupies the very disappointing fourth place in the Eredivisie, five points behind list leader Feyenoord. On Sunday, the inhabitants of the capital will visit low-flyer SC Cambuur.
Only the champion qualifies directly for the very lucrative Champions League this season. The number two has to enter the preliminary rounds of the billion dollar ball.
In the intermediate round of the Europa League, Ajax will duel with 1. FC Union Berlin on February 16 and 23, which is sensationally second in the Bundesliga. In the tournament for the KNVB Cup, Heitinga’s team will visit FC Twente on Thursday.