Ajax coach rubbishes Jose Mourinho claims about Man United fatigue - 'My squad is smaller and younger'
Ahead of next Wednesday’s Europa League final, Ajax coach Peter Bosz has poured cold water on Jose Mourinho’s claim that his Manchester United squad will be suffering from fatigue.
Mourinho complained this week about the fixture calendar, which sees them face Crystal Palace in the Premier League just 72 hours before the Stockholm showpiece, which will be their 61st game of the season.
But Bosz pointed out that Ajax have had to contend with almost as many fixtures despite possessing a much smaller, younger squad. “We’re actually going to play our 56th game next Wednesday,” he said at the Amsterdam Arena. “If you look at our age, the players we have, we’re a really young team, so it's also a lot of games.”
Bosz also drew attention to the differing sizes of the two clubs, with United’s greater depth allowing Mourinho to rotate his squad. “Today we trained with 24 players,” Bosz said. “That's the whole squad I had. Nobody was injured. So instead of looking at Manchester United, I look at my team. And the most important thing is that we are fit and fresh.”
It was, perhaps, the Ajax coach’s first attempt to apply some pressure on his rivals, who are relying on a Europa League win to secure qualification for next season’s Champions League.
“Both teams are big clubs in Europe with a big history,” Bosz said. “And it's true that they have more experience and more money. They have a bigger budget, that's for sure. It's possible that they feel more pressure because of the bigger budget. But I also believe we have fantastic players.”
The gulf between the two is certainly sizeable. United have spent more on transfers in the last three years than Ajax have in their history. Ajax’s record signing - Miralem Sulejmani at £13 million - is around a third of what United could end up paying to agent Mino Raiola for securing the transfer of Paul Pogba last summer. But despite that, Bosz said Ajax would play their way: fluid, attacking football, in accordance with the club’s hallowed traditions.
“My way is the Ajax way,” Bosz said. “I need creative players who are not afraid to play football. I have a clear vision of how I want my teams to play. I believe it's the Ajax way of playing, because I'm inspired by the 1970s when Johan Cruyff and Rinus Michels were in Ajax, playing with the same vision that I have.
“Of course it's about winning, but the whole season we have tried to win in an attractive way. Sometimes people say that's naive. but we showed this season we can win in our way. With attacking football. It's possible. Bayern Munich and Barcelona show that's possible. That's what we will try to do in the final.”
Ajax have not won a European trophy since Louis van Gaal’s magnificent side won the European Cup in 1995. “For a long time, people in Holland said it's not possible for a Dutch team to reach a final, because the financial difference between the big clubs in Europe and the Dutch clubs is so big now,” Bosz said. “But we managed it.”