Following on from “A Tale of Two Strikers” todays update concludes my third season of ‘The Ajax way’.

The blog will provide an overview of our performances in all competitions, along with movements in the transfer market, before closing with a change of approach for the fourth season.

Firstly, I am pleased to be able to report back to you that tactical tweaks which were documented back in the 2024/25 season review continued to produce an improved defensive stability. The expected goals against figure of 0.82, and goals conceded per game of 0.79 were the lowest figures posted to-date. This paired with a goals per game figure of 3.12 (again our highest) from a non-penalty expected goals, showed that our attacking momentum was carried forward through until the close of the season.

Ivan Toney had a fantastic campaign, scoring 38 goals in all competitions, whilst boasting attacking percentile ranks above to top 95th percentile for EVERY output which you would consider of importance for you main goal-scoring threat.

Ivan still finished eight goals shy of being crowned the top scorer in the Eredivisie, this is more down to my rotational policy, which is reflected in the above minutes per game percentile rank. When looking at average minutes per goal, the data tells a different story, with the top three players all coming from AFC Ajax. Brian Brobbey leads the way with 85.85 mins, followed by Maurits Kjærgaard with 95.75, and then Ivan Toney on 101.39.


Silverware was finally lifted in the save, we won the KNVB Beker after beating Vitesse in the final. This victory enabled AFC Ajax to lift the trophy for the 21st time in the clubs history, more importantly it provided the fans with the feeling of familiarity, given the last trophy was secured by the club back in 2022.


The below image was a screenshot which I sent one evening in December to fellow VFT blogger Dan Gear, I couldn’t believe what FM was doing to me, despite hitting all the right numbers in terms of both our attacking and defensive outputs, Feyenoord had somehow managed to put together a run of 26 games without defeat, and haven’t conceded in their last eight games!

The season concluded in a chaotic way, it was not the case of third time lucky, well at least not for us. The below result against PSV, where we threw away a two goal lead at the death was THE result which put us in this mess. Funnily enough, the final scorer was Tobias Gulliksen, the player that had such a torrid game against us in the reverse fixture, maybe I shouldn’t have singled him out in my previous post. Once again, funny how these little side narratives keep occurring!

We did find ourselves with one last opportunity to retain first place, Feyenoord could only muster a 1-1 draw with FC Emmen in their third from last game. Unfortunately AZ held us to a 0-0 draw, and with both sides winning their remaining two fixtures the title again remains in Rotterdam with Feyenoord.

Looking at the below outputs and our rankings, you can really start to see how this failure to lift the Eredivisie, really is an absolute sucker punch.

  • most goals 106 and expected goals 87.70
  • fewest shots against 208 – 2nd place Feyenoord 234
  • highest possession 63% – 2nd place PSV 62%
  • most chances created 210- 2nd place FC Utrecht 210
  • most shots for 598 – 2nd place Feyenoord 479
  • 2nd highest conversion rate 17% – 1st place FC Utrecht 18%
  • 2nd highest clean sheets 18 – 1st place Feyenoord 19

The biggest frustration of this season was the fact that when considering the expected points table, we should have done enough to win the Eredivisie, drawing down 11 more expected points than Feyenoord. I insist that you take a long hard look at the little green number next to their 65.5 expected points tally, Feyenoord picked up 21 more points than they were expected to! Have you ever seen a club in FM draw down a higher value, we were robbed.

The failure to win the league this season, more importantly the manner of the failure really hit home hard. I was having serious doubts if I should continue with the save, a new year, a fresh approach. However, you will be pleased to know the next save can wait, I want to have another stab at the Eredivisie, can we finally overthrow our rivals.

Maurits Kjærgaard somehow pipped Ivan Toney to the Fan’s Player of the Season award, the Dane had a higher average rating (7.47 plays 7.38) but he played 1,000 minutes less. The 22-year-old deserved the other two awards, he racked up 27 goal contributions (16 goals, and 11 assists) across the season, I will cover the Dane a little more later on in this post.

The usual headline player data, showing you our most impressive performers.


One step further in the UEFA Champions League, to reach the final of Europe’s elite competition in only our third season in charge has to be considered an achievement in itself. However, on the day there was a clear gulf in talent on display with Luis Enrique’s PSG showing an abundance of attacking talent on the field, spearheaded by Kylian Mbappé.

*click to view full list of results

Surprisingly, I am finding Europe easier than the Eredivisie! Madness to be able to sit here and write this, our only defeats came in the Semi-Final, and of course the Final. Ivan Toney managed to close the tournament as the top goal scorer (16), we heavily relied on his ability to hit the back of the net. Especially against Arsenal in the Round of 16 (7 shots, 5 goals), and Manchester City in the Quarter Final (3 shots, 2 goals).


As if things couldn’t get any worse, those pesky Saudi sharks came back to Amsterdam, offering our players ludicrous packages to swap The Netherlands for the Arabian Peninsula. Just a reminder, I have been trying my hardest to keep all players at the club on a wage of less than £100k per week, and to this point have been successful with Brian Brobbey our highest earner on £96k per week.

Ivan Toney – a complete transfer fee of £78m saw us more than double the £31.5m paid for the Englishman over 18 months ago. The whopping £625k per week, paired with his £125k appearance fee highlights money is a motivator.

Georges Mikautadze – the Georgian joined Al-Ittihad Club Jeddah for £25m, he has been a great servant to the club over the past three years, averaging 15 goals, and 7 assists per season. Again, the lure of cash is clear to see, with Georges picking up £475k per week, and £93k per appearance.

Jakov Medić – the Croatian defender joined Georges at Al-Ittihad Club Jeddah in a deal worth £18.75m. The defender secured himself a £425k per week contract, and again picked up a nice £83k appearance fee.

Again, we were hit hard on transfer deadline day with Maurits Kjærgaard moving back to the security of Red Bull. RB Leipzig offered a deal worth £45.5m to bring the Dane back to the franchise, in doing so they offered him £100k per week and a £20.5k appearance fee.

Other players to leave the club did so without breaking the £100k marker.

  • Carlos Borges is on £49k per week and has a £12,250 appearance fee.
  • Naci Ünüvar is on £76k per week and has a £15,250 appearance fee.
  • Ahmetcan Kaplan is on £57k per week and has a £11,500 appearance fee.
  • Azzedine Ounahi is on £57k per week and has a £11,500 appearance fee.
  • Silvano Vos is on £16.25k per week and has a £4,100 appearance fee.


When you are sitting on this much money, it would be rude of me not to delve into the transfer market, especially when the Board favours us to spend the original transfer budget, year in year out, within the actionable objectives.

Considering the outgoing players above, there was a clear need to invest in the core, a central defender and midfielder were high on the priority list, along with a winger. You could also argue that a striker needed to be added to the ranks, after the departure of Toney. However, if anything the last two blogs have proven is that Brian Brobbey can without a doubt carry our goal scoring burden. Skye Vink, after being on loan for the past two seasons, working his way up the world’s football pyramid, is ready to prove that he is worthy of wearing the Ajax jersey.

Starting from the back.

Lucas Perri – both goalkeepers finished last season with a poorer save ratio than average. Therefore I again felt the need to dip into the market to sign an initial second choice goalkeeper to play behind Nikola Čavlina.

Víctor Guzmán – the departure of Medic and Kaplan, along with my decision to loan Butera out this season left us short at the back. Victor’s signature was not only welcomed, it was needed to ensure we have cover for Nagalo. I also signed Noël Atom from January, if you are playing as a second tier side, or a top tier side, fighting for mid table, I would highly recommend approaching Brighton for the youngster.

Piero Hincapié – to sign a player of Hincapié’s quality as he approaches his prime, shows that we are starting to turn the corner in terms of the pulling power of the club. The Ecuadorian has had two solid seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, helping them to achieve 3rd and 5th place finishes in the Bundesliga.

Mads Bidstrup – Mads is another player which has been acquired due to my personal admiration for him as a player. The Dane has an exceptional engine, and will fit into the role of a carrilero, like a duck to water. I am excited to have him play for Ajax, especially after agreeing to join as a squad player after his year playing in Mexico for Club de Fútbol América.

Heorhii Sudakov – the Ukrainian is simply world class, Sudakov will help share the creative burden from our midfield, alleviating the 31-year-old Branco van den Boomen from this burden.

I know you shouldn’t pay too much attention to the star ratings. However, in my opinion they do serve as a good indicator to quickly compare talent within your squad. Ajax now have five four star current ability players in the first-team (Hato, Muzambo, Hincapié, Sudakov, and Olise), I doubt many sides in the Eredivisie can boast such a wealth of talent. Knowing Football Manager bases its outcomes on chance, the odds are likely to be on our side this year, thanks to these individuals.

Once you pop, you can’t stop!

Whilst on paper it may look like we have got caught up in a buying frenzy, the truth is that we have brought in players which are closely aligned to our DNA, with three individuals holding a DNA value associated with a key player.

More importantly, none of these signings broke the self-imposed £100k per week barrier, smart business.


Cometh the hour, cometh the man! The definition of a marquee signing is as follows…a marquee player is an athlete who is considered exceptionally popular, skilled, or otherwise outstanding, and exempt from the salary cap.

I think you all know where I am going with this one! Olise joined us from Crystal Palace for £90 million, he is our marquee signing, smashing the wage structure at the club, earning himself £190k per week.

I will be hoping that Michael, as an elite winger, can light up the Eredivisie and provide that missing spark to get over the line and secure our first title, ending the five year drought at the club. The last time Ajax faced such a baron spell was between 2013/14 and 2018/19, with the only sign of promise being that after this period Ajax went onto secure a three-peat under Erik ten Hag.

Given that I am set for now tactically, I thought I would drop another link of this iteration of ‘The Iron Tulip’ for you to download.

I have also had quite a few requests of late in relation to the DNA, Player Pathways, along with other spreadsheet related questions. Here is a view only copy of The Ajax way master spreadsheet which includes all of my behind the scenes workings, I really hope you find this of value.


Guess who is already doing bits in 2026/27.


  • 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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5 thoughts on “FM24: The Ajax Way – 2025/26 Season Review

  1. Amazing work as usual! I have read every single post in this thread and it blows me away every single time! The details in the post is out of this world! Will keep reading for the future post!

    On a sidenote: do you have a formula, google sheet or something on how to get DNA scores for players?

  2. Amazing stuff once again! Loving every single post in this thread and the details is out of this world! Will keep reading the future post.

    On a sidenote: It is possible to share the formula or google sheet to the players DNA score?

    1. It’s literally posted in the last paragraph;

      I have also had quite a few requests of late in relation to the DNA, Player Pathways, along with other spreadsheet related questions. Here is a view only copy of The Ajax way master spreadsheet which includes all of my behind the scenes workings, I really hope you find this of value.

      Click the master spreadsheet text

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