Henderson Captain But Ajax Woe Continues

Former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson was handed the same honour on only his fourth appearance for Dutch giants Ajax, but his afternoon turned sour after he was robbed of his first victory.

The England midfield left Saudi Arabia after just six months, opting to move to Amsterdam. Ajax have had a torrid season, and Henderson’s arrival has done little to arrest that slide. They earned a credible draw against leaders PSV on his debut but were beaten by Heerenveen in his second outing.

His third appearance, in midweek against Bodo/Glimt, could have been much worse than it was. Glimt led 2-0 in Amsterdam with 90 minutes on the clock, but two late goals salvaged a draw. The second of those goals was bagged by Steven Berghuis, the club’s vice-captain, but along with captain Steven Bergwijn, he was ruled out of this weekend’s fixture against NEC Nijmegen, seventh in the Eredivisie.

That meant the captaincy for Henderson and for a while, it looked good for them. Brian Brobbey gave them a seventh-minute lead, and despite Jorrel Hato’s own goal on the hour mark, they led going into injury time after Carlos Forbs bagged ten minutes from time. Three points would have met a solitary point was the difference between them and AZ Alkmaar in fourth, but Nijmegen, with slender European hopes of their own, had other ideas.

Deep into stoppage time, Spaniard Rober González made it 2-2, and many of the home fans immediately exited the ground. It left coach John van’t Schip bemoaning the hand he’s been dealt at the club

“It’s pretty clear to me. This is a team and a squad that I have taken over and that is not balanced,” he said. “That’s what I’ve said from the beginning and it hasn’t changed.”

“If the two most important players are also missing (Steven Berghuis and Steven Bergwijn), then a Jordan Henderson can’t make everything of it either.”

That certainly doesn’t bode well for this weekend, when Ajax visits Alkmaar. Their hosts won their first game in seven at the weekend, and anything but a win for Ajax would leave them in danger of missing out on European competition for the first time since 1966.

Site Opinion

Fifth in the table might not seem terrible to onlookers, but this is the worst Ajax team in a generation. Nijmegen deserved a point, at least, creating more chances and having more shots on goal.

Henderson might have signed for a big name, but there’s anything but a big club feel around there at the moment. If AZ does get a win this weekend, then the England midfielder might wonder if he had been better playing in front of 200 people in the desert, than a hostile crowd expecting a degree of success every season.

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