Cruyff calls on Ajax to implement plan of action

Cruyff calls on Ajax to implement plan of action

Published Apr. 14, 2011 3:06 p.m. ET

Ajax should thank Johan Cruyff for a plan of action he designed to turn around the Dutch club's recent fortunes by implementing it immediately, the Netherlands great said on Thursday.

The four-time European champion's board of directors quit on March 30 amid a bitter disagreement over Cruyff's proposal to instal a nucleus of respected former Ajax stars to oversee the first team and the club's youth academy.

Cruyff insisted he would not take any official role on at Ajax, a former European powerhouse that hasn't won the European Cup since 1995 and is without a league title since 2004.

He said it was ''absurd'' that the club would not draw on the experience and knowledge of its former players and coaches.


''When they (former players) decide on youth development you've got to close your eyes, say thank you very much, and just do it,'' Cruyff told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Cruyff's blueprint involves himself, Frank Rijkaard and Marco Van Basten as well as former Netherlands international Dennis Bergkamp. Key to Cruyff's vision is installing Wim Jonk, Bergkamp and current coach Frank de Boer to oversee the first team and the club's legendary youth academy, based at a training facility called ''The Future.''

''It's 100 percent football people who are talking about football,'' Cruyff said. ''(And when) world famous players talk about football, what should be the attitude of the people who are deciding who do not know nothing about football? The questions should be quite easy.''

Cruyff said reports linking Turkey coach Guus Hiddink to the coaching job were untrue.

The Ajax academy has been a production line of talent but it has been seen as in decline since Ajax won the Champions League in 1995 with a team built around academy stars like Kluivert, Edgar Davids and Clarence Seedorf and Frank Rijkaard.

Cruyff rejected any notion he was responsible for tearing the club in two with his proposals.

''That's not the idea. The idea is with Ajax not winning the league for seven years and the youth development is quite poor and if they want to come back into leading positions again they've got to change things,'' Cruyff said. ''That's not just my position but of all the players involved in this plan.''

Where Ajax's academy was once seen as the blueprint for rearing talent, the mantle has now been taken over by Barcelona - the other football love of Cruyff's life and widely regarded as the best team in the world at the moment. Cruyff swapped Ajax for Barcelona in 1973 after leading Ajax to three successive European Cups and helped Barcelona win its first Spanish league title since 1960 that season. He also managed Barcelona to a European title in 1992, the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1989 and four Spanish league titles.

Barcelona has flourished by embracing Cruyff's brand of total football, winning eight trophies over the past two seasons including the 2009 Champions League, two straight Spanish leagues and a Club World Cup.

Barcelona is currently vying for its second treble of league, Copa del Rey and Champions League triumphs in three seasons under coach Pep Guardiola, who was a key player for Cruyff's ''Dream Team'' of the early 1990s.

''Of course I appreciate it that people think like that,'' Cruyff said of the comparisons. ''It's more or less the same attitude and way of thinking as Ajax played in the 1970s and the Dutch nationality played which is based on controlling the ball and attacking. (Barcelona) are proving that playing well you can achieve the world.''