Another season complete, a much needed update on the Ajax way series, as I look to bring the written content up to speed with actual game play , after writing my last piece The Ajax Way – Masterclass in Total Football. (which took a little while than longer to finish)

If you can remember from my 2023/24 season review, the Board required us to challenge for the Eredivisie title and be competitive in the UEFA Champions League.

In today’s season review, I will look to provide you with a whistle stop tour of our 2024/25 campaign, before focusing on a data driven approach to tactical tweaks. I will then look to provide a summary of our recruitment, before closing the blog with our requirements from the executive team for 2025/26.


*click on the table to view past positions for ‘The Big Three’.

We finished the season in second place, as once again Arne Slot’s Feyenoord were simply too strong, they have now won the Eredivisie three times in a row, which is one of my aims of the Ajax way save!

Second place secures us direct entry to the UEFA Champions League. Playing in the elite competition of continental football is absolutely necessary for Ajax as a football club, the access to the much needed additional revenue stream. For context the UEFA Champions League Prize Money for 2024/25 equalled £87m, whilst our performance in the UEFA Europa League in 2023/24 provided an additional £11m.

Steven Bergwijn was nominated the ‘Fan’s Player of the Season’, picking up the most POTM awards (Five) and amassing 21 goal contributions (seven goals, and 14 assists). Brian Brobbey secured the ‘Young Player of the Season’ award for the second year running, the striker was deadly in front of goal, scoring 26 goals across the season and racked up an expected goals figure of 0.63 per90.

Funnily enough, both players are the clubs highest earners, with Bergwijn on £77k per week, and Brobbey £69k. Maybe money is the main motivator here!

There were two new entrants to the ‘Best XI’, January signing Ivan Toney entered as the Advanced Forward. Toney has shown his ability to perform at the highest level, I am hopeful the Englishman pushes Brobbey onto the next level as these two players battle it out for the leading role.

Gabriel Moscardo already looks like a shrewd signing, his 77% headers won ratio is 7% above any other midfielder, showing his defensive efficiency. Moscardo is also making the most interceptions in midfield, again 0.43 per 90 above Sivert Mannsverk. This is reflected in his possession won per 90 stat of 10.61, 2.63 over any other midfielder.


Our performance in the UEFA Champions League drew parallels to the 2018-19 side, managed by Erik ten Hag. His side, after beating Juventus in the quarter-final, were seconds away from reaching the final by beating Tottenham Hotspur, until Lucas Moura scored a last minute goal, sending Ajax crashing out.

As with any change, the new Swiss model has opinions split, as the competition moves away from what has become the traditional group stage model. For your information, I am pro this format, my view is that the variety will help to improve the diversity of competition, providing teams, and fans alike the opportunity to experience a broader range of away days, along with managers/players experiencing different competitors/styles of play.

Maybe, it will also provide teams outside of England with more exposure, which just might stop UK pundits from holding the opinion that the Premier League is the ONLY league which is of value.

There were some notable performances for us in the competition, securing away victories in Naples, Dortmund, San Sebastian, and Newcastle. Whilst our home form saw us secure victories against Arsenal, Inter, and Manchester City.


This game was unique, in the 57th minute, one minute after bringing on Brian Brobbey (our final sub), we were forced to withdraw Naci Ünüvar because he picked up an injury. Despite being forced to play the remaining 33 minutes with only 10 players, we managed to score two goals, and were moments away from securing the club a night in Munich to play Arsenal.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be as Mohamed Salah’s extremely late goal was enough to take the tie into extra-time. We were able to use the extra substitute to bring the team up to full-strength. However, Liverpool at this point had the wind in their sails, scoring two unanswered goals to progress.

Despite Mohamed Salah scoring four goals in this game it was Erling Haaland who finished as the competitions top scorer, the Norwegian scored 21 goals in the competition. You might be pleased to know that Arsenal retained the trophy, joining Real Madrid in the elite category of sides who have managed to achieve back-to-back UEFA Champions League titles.


A truly embarrassing performance from Ajax, as 10 man FC Groningen score more goals than they had shots on target!

Steven Bergwijn summed up the performance well in his post-match interview.

With the requirement of winning a domestic cup on the Boards wish-list for next season, we will need to ensure that we perform on three fronts across 2025/26. Failure to do so could have an impact on the decision to extend my contract with the club, with my current deal expiring at the end of season three.

This requirement will also have an impact on youth development, given the KNVB has historically provided me with the opportunity to showcase some of the upcoming talent from within the club.


Comparing the two visuals above (general performance) provide us with headline differences between season one (3rd place) and season two.

You will note that both our non penalty expected goals (-15%) and goals per game (-10%) have decreased. whilst our goals conceded per game has increased by 15%. Given we are looking to continue to play using the same tactic, I am going to associate our attacking decline in AI’s ability to nullify our attacks, as we are having one shot less per game and our xG per shot has decreased from 0.15 to 0.14.

The attacking outputs are of less of a concern given we still closed the season having created the highest expected goals figure. I want to turn my attention in this post to our defensive performance, one which sees us finish the season with only the fifth lowest expected goals against output in the Eredivisie.

Despite our performance in the defensive efficiency visual ending up in the correct quadrant (facing fewer shots per game and conceding less than expected), you can see from the above that if we want to really put pressure on Feyenoord, we need to improve.

An alarming 19 of the 51 assists conceded in the last 49 matches have come from inside the penalty area, it is time for a tactical tweak, enter the Half Back.

I am hoping that the integration of the Half Back will improve our defensive stability, as stated in the role description above, the role will look to provide protection against the counter attack, with the player dropping into the back three when one of the Wide Centre-Backs push on.

The Half Back in my opinion also offers more than the Deep Lying Playmaker from a playmaking perspective. This is due to their positioning, offering improved options when in possession in the defensive third.

The role has been given the ‘Take More Risks’ player instruction to mirror that of the DLP, this is to ensure that we still have one of our midfield trio contributing to the creative element of the game.

Due to the role only being available with a Defend duty, we need to change the duty of one of our attacking duty roles in the team, this is to ensure we keep our team fluidity as ‘Fluid’.

Given the fact that our Advanced Forward and Shadow Striker are the individuals that carry the main goal-scoring burden within the side, we must dial down the Winger.

However, you will see from the above that I have again mirrored his player instructions, adding ‘Get Further Forward’, and ‘Cross From Byline’. This is to attempt to try and make the role have an increased impact in the final third.

I have also made the decision to remove the team instruction to ‘Trap Outside’ when out of possession. This instruction asks the team to set a pressing trap designed to funnel the ball into wide areas. I initially set this TI with the thought process that pressuring the opponent away from central areas will provide the defensive unit to get set, and ideally be in position to compete for the ball when delivered via a cross. However, after deliberating I feel that due to the narrow structure, we don’t actually have anyone out wide to deal with them. This TI causes central players to be dragged wider than their original positioning, which could be what is leading to our central vulnerabilities.


The first port of call when looking to improve defensively has to start at the back with the Goalkeeper. Looking at the above visual which compares save percentage and saves per 90, the outputs of Jay Gorter are worrying.

Jay is facing fewer shots than average, this statistic is expected, given our dominance of the ball. However, when looking at his save percentage, you want him to be saving the majority of shots faced.

The leading goalkeeper in the Eredivisie is Feyenoord’s Justin Bijlow who boasts a save percentage of 85%, a figure which is 14% higher than that of Gorter.

Jay is capable of producing such a figure, his save percentage in season one was 85%. However this season his performances on the pitch have slipped, he is saving less than his expected save ratio (82%).

Looking at Jay’s attributes, there is no reason as to why his performance has taken a dip. Jay has excellent concentration (16), therefore he should be able to keep focused during the long spell without any action. His positioning (14), decisions (14), and composure (13) are all well above the league average.

The only attribute which could have an impact on his ability to keep the ball out of the net is that he is eccentric (15).

I opted to spend £2.9m on Kacper Tobiasz from Legia in Poland, the 22-year-old had performed well between the sticks in the Ekstraklasa with a save percentage of 80%, guiding his side to the title.

Tobiasz kept 12 clean sheets across the campaign and racked up an expected goals prevented figure of 13.05. For context Jay Gorter prevented 1.08 expected goals, whilst Gorter will remain my number 1, I will look for Tobiasz to play a role and hopefully have two keepers vying for the one spot.

Kacper wasn’t the only player to join the club, there were plenty of other additions, but first let me cover the players who left the club.


First off lets cover the players who left the club after season one (loan deals), these individuals have secured a permanent deal at their respective clubs, raising us some more income. Borna Sosa (£10m) committed his future to Al-Qadsiah Football Club of Saudi Arabia. Gerónimo Rulli (£7.25m) returns to France with Lyon, he will likely see out his career in Ligue 1, given he is now 33-years-old. Chuba Akpom followed him to France, the forward scored seven league goals in 33 appearances for The Blood and Gold, which let’s face it isn’t enough, especially given our reliance on our striker to carry the goalscoring burden for the side. Finally, Christian Rasmussen joined Freiburg for £3.9m.

Given the above deals were pre-planned, there was still quite a bit of activity in the market with regards to outgoings, we managed to raise another £72m through the sale of players. These deals are broken down below into two sections, those which impact my plans, and those that do not.


Gastón Ávila – when the third best team in Germany (Bayer Leverkusen) comes knocking, it is hard to say no to a player who is keen on the deal. The Argentinian made 50 appearances for AFC Ajax and proved himself to be an effective wide centre-back. The deal for £15m will see all monies locked into the clubs balance, as Ethan Butera will use the transfer as his opportunity to provide back-up to Jorrel Hato in the DCL spot.

Kian Fitz-Jim – after two successful loan spells (Excelsior and sc Heerenveen), it was time for the 22-year-old to make an impact at AFC Ajax. Fitz-Jim would act as our seventh midfielder, operating as cover in case of injury or rotation. Sporting CP‘s offer of £9.5m was too much to turn down, especially considering the fact that Kian has only two first-team appearances to his name. With the deal for Gabriël Misehouy locked in place (more later) to continue his progression, this transfer will mean that we will rely on the durability of Kristian Nökkvi Hlynsson who can operate anywhere in the central and AM strata.

Devyne Rensch – a product of De Toekomst, Devyne has opted to join Kjetil Knutsen’s Atalanta in a deal worth £11.5m. Given the above transfer of Gastón Ávila this window has disrupted our defensive unit and left us in a bit of a conundrum. Faced with the decision of promoting Olivier Aertssen into the first-team behind Jakov Medić or look externally, I opted for the latter due as the 21-year-old has yet to be tested outside of the Jong ajax team, despite being listed on the loan market.


Amourricho van Axel Dongen and David Kalokoh – the Red Bull machine dipped into the Amsterdam supply chain of wingers, not once, but twice. A position which fortunately we are rich in talent, Naci Ünüvar, Carlos Borges, and Stanis Idumbo Muzambo all providing enough depth as wingers.

Jaydon Banel – Brighton enter with a £16.5m bid for Jaydon, who spent last season on loan at NAC Breda. Again, as per the above, Jaydon, a right-footed winger, has far too much competition for his position in the first-team. The fee which was presented from Brighton easily met the players valuation, I would have been looking to loan Banel out for the upcoming season, I would have been silly to reject the offer from the seagulls.

Francisco Conceição – Francisco only played a bit part role whilst on loan at FC Porto (12 appearances) in season one, and RB Salzburg (13 appearances) in season two. Again, the offer of £8.5m for a player initially signed for £4.3 is a great return on investment, the war chest builds.


Skye Vink – continues his progression after successful loan at sc Heerenveen (12 appearances, five goals, one assist, and two players of the match). He has secured a move to Mallorca in La Liga, where he will compete with Cyle Larin for minutes, behind Vedat Muriqi. The opportunity to develop in one of ‘The Big Five’ leagues could prove to be a key in Vink’s ability to lead the line at AFC Ajax.

Gabriël Misehouy – the 20-year-old could well be making his final loan move before returning to Amsterdam for first-team involvement. The midfielder joins Championship side Middlesbrough to continue his development, the league is a Tier 2 league and will provide him with a similar experienced opponent to the Eredivisie. He spent last season with Fortuna Sittard, making 12 league appearances, providing five assists.

Jhojan Torres – the 22-year-old Colombian continues his progression in the Jupiler Pro League in Belgium, moving from Eupen to Royal Antwerp FC. This move see’s the midfielder climb up the ladder, Eupen were relegated last season, Jhojan now finds himself with the club predicted to finish in fourth place, a different type of challenge.

Rico Speksnijder – building on from a successful season with Jong Ajax (32 appearances, four goals, 12 assist, and 3 players of the match awards), the 20-year-old has renewed his contract with AFC Ajax prior to moving to Belgium with Royal Standard de Liège. The Jupiler Pro League has seen many talented players leave for the Eredivisie over the years. Hopefully, Rico can continue to develop before I explore what is next for the player.


The window was now a quiet one with regards to players moving to Amsterdam with close to £60m being spent. These individuals all below the age of 23 have a strong alignment with the Ajax way DNA, stemming from 163-185 points.

Julien Duranville – Julien was signed from Borussia Dortmund for a significant fee (£24m), especially given the fact that the 19-year-old only made six Bundesliga appearances in 2024/25, all from the bench. The Belgian has a very similar profile to that of Carlos Borges and with Steven Berghuis (33) likely to be playing his final season at the club, I felt the need to bring in a player with an abundance of potential (five stars, the only other player at the club with this much is Jorrel Hato) to provide competition for the right wing spot.

Maurits Kjærgaard – The Dane is a perfect Shadow Striker, and at 6’4″ will provide some much needed height to our attacking line. Given the fact that RB Salzburg had raided us for two of our players, the deal for the 22-year-old only cost us £4.5m, not bad considering on arrival his estimated value jumped between £38m-£46m.

Adamo Nagalo – the defender was a target for me earlier in the Ajax way save. However, he opted to join Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen. It could be argued that the transition from the Superliga to Bundesliga was too much, given Nagalo only made seven starts. Alonso’s decision to enter the market for more central defenders Chrislain Matsima, and Gastón Ávila led me to believe Adamo would be surplus to requirements. The defender from Burkina Faso will play second string to JM, looking at how the players compare, it is safe to say that we could well have another much needed aggressive defender on our hands.


The below visual shows the squad depth, starting players, back-up options, followed by youth prospects. I am really happy with how the squad is building and am excited for what the future holds for this current crop of players.


The actionable objectives still remain the same, with the board looking for us to continue to grow the club’s reputation, along with spending the original transfer budget and signing young players to develop for the future. I feel this objective will be met with the acquisition of the below two individuals.

Kauã Elias – at 19 years of age, the Brazilian joins Ajax from Fluminense. Elias is a similar type of player to Ivan Toney, and the media have touted him as the next Washington. With a significant return on investment potentially on the cards for the £5.5m spent, one to watch.

Junior Kroupi – as per the above, Junior was signed with the view to spending his first season with Jong Ajax. The 19-year-old was wasting away in Lorient 2nd team and was picked up for £4m, immediately his value roe to £34m-£46m. The Frenchman will be played as a shadow striker, despite being a more natural playmaker, I am hoping he could well turn out to be our Dennis Bergkamp.

With regards to the five year plan, the Ajax way save could well be at risk of being derailed. You will note the board requires us to win a domestic cup next season, this paired with my contract due to expire could well see us not be retained in post given my inability to win any silverware in the first two seasons.

I hope you have enjoyed this edition of the Ajax way, I will look to resume blog updates on a bi-seasonal basis going forward. The festive season, paired with my enjoyment for playing this save has 100% impacted my ability to cover this season in as much detail as I would have liked to.


  • SteinkelssonFM

    SteinkelssonFM is a distinguished tactician in the Football Manager community, celebrated for bridging the virtual and real football worlds through meticulous analysis. His knack for recreating iconic real-world tactics in-game, like Mário Zagallo’s 1970 Seleção strategy, offers a nostalgic yet innovative gameplay experience. An active blogger on Medium and WordPress, SteinkelssonFM shares his football philosophies and FM adventures, enriching the community with guides on youth development and tactical masterclasses. His contributions extend to the official Football Manager website, affirming his position as a reliable mentor for aspiring virtual football managers. Through his content, SteinkelssonFM continues to blend historical football charm with modern-day FM gameplay.

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2 thoughts on “FM24: The Ajax Way – 2024/25 Season Review

  1. Again nicely described how you got through your season. European certainly a nice season. And of course we miss the silverware. I also like which transfers you do and explains why. (at least not the standard purchases)!

  2. I try and deviate away from the more popular players as and where I can, or else you run the risk of playing different versions of FM with a similar experience, if you catch my drift!

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