Banishing a legend: This winter’s most surprising football scandal

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The sudden split between Ajax and Daley Blind is definitely the most unexpected conflict of this football winter.

The Dutch giant did not just break up with one of its leaders, but publicly had a fight with him, and a number of unpleasant details from the team’s kitchen came to the surface.

And this is happening in a period in which a severe crisis is shaking Ajax, the coach’s chair is shaking and the season is headed for failure.

What happened to Blind to get his contract terminated and him off to Bayern Munich on a free transfer?

The 32-year-old veteran had become a real symbol of the club in recent years and had spent his entire career at Ajax, apart from a three-and-a-half-year stint at Manchester United, after which he returned to Amsterdam.

Daley is the son of Ajax and Netherlands legend Danny Blind, but long ago stepped out of his father’s shadow to become a legend in his own right with over 300 appearances and 11 major trophies won with his hometown club – including 7 Eredivisie titles.

It was as if he was destined to end his career at the Johan Cruyff Arena, but at the end of December last year, his relationship with the club completely fell apart.

At first, Blind was criticized for leaving as a free agent and Ajax would not receive a transfer fee for him. However, things turned out to be more complicated and the defender told his version.

“That’s not how I imagined the end of my stay at Ajax. I really thought for a long time that I would end my career here. At some point I said to myself that even if I left early, it would be next summer when my contract was up – and when maybe we’ll have won another title and I’ll say a proper goodbye by walking out the front door.”

“But it got to a stage where they didn’t want to see me at the club I’ve been at since I was 7! The management said they didn’t want to see me in training. And finally we broke the contract. The last few weeks have been a rollercoaster of horrors,” says Blind.

The root cause of everything is the player’s conflict with Ajax head coach Alfred Schröder, which flared up at the end of October in the match against RKK Wallwijk.

“We weren’t playing well and at the break Schröder told us that our press wasn’t working and something had to change. ‘What do you think we should do?’ he asked the forwards. He was speaking in English because that is the official language of communication in team. I stood up and said loudly to the entire dressing room: ‘Coach, be clear and make a decision about what we have to do on the field,'” Blind continued.

“He answered me “Shut up! Shut your mouth and sit down!”. Then the defender really kept quiet, but then he discovered that the coach was now totally ignoring him, not talking to him in training and not letting him in the matches.

The Daily Blind does not fail to point out that under previous coach Eric ten Haag, such disputes in the dressing room were normal, and ten Haag listened to advice and never told anyone to shut up.

Under Schröder, however, personal conflict turned Blind into a firm back-up and he found himself fourth-choice at left-back, despite being promised a starting spot before the season.

Ajax’s sporting director at the moment is well-known former striker Claas-Jan Huntelaar, who announced that it was Blind’s decision to part ways with the club in this way, simply because he had fallen out of the starting line-up.

However, the player claims otherwise.

“He shouldn’t speak for me. He made me look bad in the eyes of the fans. I was hoping Huntelaar or one of the other bosses, Jerry Hamstra or Edwin van der Sar, would try to resolve the situation with the coach.”

“To say, ‘Let’s sit at a table, discuss it and solve the issue.’ But there was no such experience at all”.

“The opposite happened – they told me very quickly that I wanted to leave myself. I got the impression that this suits them,” says Blind.

Photo: Getty Images

With or without Daley Blind, things are not going well at Ajax. In fact, they are going terribly and after the departure of Erik ten Hag, the team is unrecognizable.

The manager left Ajax in the summer to take over at Manchester United after leading the club to a first Champions League final since 1996 and winning three league titles.

The giants from Amsterdam also suffered because of the departure of players such as Antoni, Lisandro Martinez, Ryan Gravenberch, Sebastian Aller, Nusair Mazraoui, Andre Onana and Nicolas Tagliafico. In practice, a new team is being built, and the replacements for these players do not show that they are capable of reaching their level.

So far, the season has been a nightmare and after being relegated from the Champions League groups, Ajax has also collapsed in the championship, where it is only fifth in the standings, 7 points behind the leader Feyenoord.

The team is winless in 7 games in a row and in fact has not won since October. In the Eredivisie, they failed to beat any of the opponents in the top 4 – PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord, Twente and AZ Alkmaar, and against the teams in the top ten they achieved only three successes in 9 matches.

Yesterday, however, it reached only 1:1 against the tail-ender Volendam, which is in the relegation zone. With such a performance, the “sons of God” will not be able to qualify for the Champions League next season at all.

Rumors are growing that there is a mutiny brewing in the dressing room against the manager and Daley Blind is far from the only one who dislikes Alfred Schröder.

According to De Telegraaf, players have been urged to raise their hand if they believe Schröder and his team are the cause of the negative results. Most of them did.

For now, Schröder remains in charge, but if the results do not change in the next games, he will most likely lose his job.

And while Blind is fighting for trophies with Bayern, Ajax will have to look for another coach and players to get out of the hole.

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