Dennis Bergkamp, Dutch and Ajax idol and legend, has been speaking to Santos Magazine recently expressing that he has never lost his love for the beautiful game. However, he admits he isn’t completely happy with the state of Dutch football at the moment and feels that Ajax among other clubs are in decline rather than moving forward.
Known as a perfectionist and labelled the Non-flying Dutchman due to his fear of flying, the current Ajax assistant manager was always looking for insights and techniques to improve his game. Starting out as an attacker and later finding his comfort in midfield, Bergkamp was one of the most fluent, direct and quick-thinking players to ever grace the game, and also the only Dutch player ever be introduced into the English Hall of Fame in 2007.
Bergkamp is a strong believer in the philosophy of ‘attack, attack, attack’ and is critical of the Ajax outfit under De Boer. “They played too far away from their target – the opposition’s goal.” He feels the former Ajax manager seemed set on having more possession than their opponents, rather than outscoring.
“Too often it was football in reverse rather than making progress. The players were rarely in the overdrive that has characterized great Ajax teams throughout the years.” Dennis excelled in acceleration football, as he likes to call it. “Dare to play football, dare to take risks, do not wait for the ball to do the work.”
On too many occasions, Ajax lacked the belief to score a goal and chose the safety-first approach. Bergkamp has expressed these views not only in regards to Ajax but says it is the same throughout Dutch football as a whole and something needs to change. The negativity from teams and pointless possession bothers him, as does the desperate search for clues to try and replicate foreign team’s successes.
“Barcelona do this and Bayern do that, so let’s do so and so. That really annoys me,” Bergkamp grumbles, “Copying behaviour annoys me. Copying leads to failure, because a copy is never as good as the original.”
“I want us to be original, I want us, Ajax and Dutch football to be original. That’s been part of our culture for centuries. It goes back to the middle-ages. Our masters in painting were original, they didn’t copy. If we wish to be dominant in football, we need to start being unique again.”
“In our style of football, we must dare to be bold again. We must dare, if necessary, to play one versus one all over the field. It’ll make you harder and better. Do not be scared, go through it, think and do offensively. We must go back to our basics, in the spirit of Johan Cruyff, our greatest adventurer. Cruyff was the best thing to happen in Dutch football, and he never copied anyone.