There’s, after all, a disappointment, an consciousness that — as Gnocchi put it — Ajax’s “success can be its downfall,” a data that the higher it’s at producing gamers, the extra sure it’s that these gamers will go away.
There’s a sense of if solely, too: if solely Gravenberch might have performed alongside de Jong, moderately than as an alternative of him; if solely Antony had stayed yet another 12 months; if solely the membership was not engaged in what’s, inherently, a Sisyphean job. “It’s at all times painful when a participant leaves,” mentioned Marjan Olfers, a professor of sport and regulation on the Free College of Amsterdam and a former member of Ajax’s supervisory board. “You can not construct a workforce for 5 years. You at all times have to begin once more.”
Often, maybe more and more, there are grumbles. “Anybody who remembers the 2000s and the 2010s is grateful for what we’ve now,” mentioned Gnocchi, referring to a interval when Ajax spent fortunes on mediocrities. “We’re very appreciative of excellent enterprise, as a result of we all know it’s attainable to purchase garbage in return. However there are followers who really feel the membership is beginning to really feel extra like a buying and selling firm than a soccer workforce.”
And, definitely, there’s loads of resignation. “We’re used to it,” Stephan mentioned. At 58, he mentioned, after a half-century of following the workforce, the fixed change is nothing new.
Menno Pot, writer of “The New Ajax,” a e book that examined the membership’s transformation in recent times, famous that — till comparatively just lately — any participant leaving the membership could be granted an emotional farewell. “We’d let off fireworks, fan teams would current gamers with presents,” he mentioned. “We found out some time in the past there was no want. The gamers have been going to go away. These are short-term relationships.”
That, greater than the rest, is what has been misplaced: the connection to Ajax’s position as a membership that “educates younger gamers, moderately than acquires them,” as Olfers put it. Ajax followers, typically, “discover it more durable to establish with particular person gamers,” she mentioned. “It’s extra in regards to the membership.”