In 2019, Ajax were poised to make the Champions League final and were widely seen as one of Europe’s premier clubs. Fast-forward three years, and they now languish 14th place in Eredivisie amid scandal and mismanagement – something few other teams can match them on.
The stunning run in 2019 showcased Ajax as underdog champions in the hearts of many. The team, led by talents like Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, played mesmerizing football and stunned giants like Real Madrid and Juventus.
But the downfall began with a shocking scandal involving their football director, Marc Overmars. His inappropriate conduct towards female colleagues led to his departure in 2022, and Ajax lost its transfer wizard.
Overmars had transformed Ajax into a European powerhouse, but without him, the club struggled. The departure of coach Erik ten Hag to Manchester United further destabilized the team.
Ajax’s transfer decisions lacked direction, and their disastrous 2022-2023 season culminated in a shocking 6-1 defeat to Napoli in the Champions League. Criticism mounted as the club’s leadership seemed in disarray.
Enter Sven Mislintat, tasked with rebuilding the team. But his decisions, including signing relatively unknown players and controversies surrounding player representation, sparked further turmoil. The club’s worst start to a season in decades ignited fan protests and violence.
As Feyenoord outpaced Ajax both nationally and in Europe, the once-mighty club now faces an uphill battle. The future is uncertain, with divided fans and a tarnished reputation.
In the end, Ajax’s dramatic fall from grace can be traced back to that one moment when Marc Overmars’s actions shattered the club’s unity and stability, leaving them in chaos.