Johan Cruyff has rejected Marco van Basten’s criticism of his stewardship of Ajax and branded his fellow former Netherlands international as “a little bit extreme”.
Van Basten set up the public clash between the two heroes of Dutch football, using his column with Voetbal International to question the current direction of Ajax.
Cruyff oversaw the appointment of a group of former players to directors’ positions at Ajax in 2011 and fell out with Van Basten – now assistant manager of the national team – during this process.
Ajax were beaten to the Eredivisie crown last season by rivals PSV, ending a run of four consecutive league titles, while they have struggled at European level over recent years.
Speaking to NOS, Cruyff said: “Van Basten is very competitive. Sometimes that is good, like at Euro 88 and when he played at Milan. But sometimes it’s a little bit extreme.
“I don’t understand where this is coming from. We chose for a new path and when that happens, people make mistakes. I must have made mistakes as well.
“And I also don’t understand that Van Basten, who is competitive, is coming with this criticism while the Dutch national team and clubs are not performing. Who should do something about that? I think it’s the trainers who need to change that.
“I also don’t think it’s very smart to criticise a club when you’re assistant manager at the national team.”
Van Basten’s criticism of Cruyff and Ajax ranged from the treatment of coaches to the operation of its much-feted youth academy.
He also suggested that Cryuff splitting his time between his home in Barcelona and Amsterdam was proving problematic.
“He made it happen that coaches got fired, chairmen stepped down and the board of directors fell apart,” Van Basten said. “Everything went as he planned, but what is the result in the end?
“He has the power at Ajax, but he never shows up and it seems he’s [working] more [from] distance every day.
“When we disagreed about the way that Ajax should be led, it came to a clash. He was unreasonable and very harsh. His tone surprised me. He said ‘just wait, you’ll understand it someday’. Now I’ve waited a couple of years, but I still don’t see it.
“Ajax puts a lot of money in their academy, but the only thing they do is educate defenders. All the attacking players in the current squad are from other clubs.”
Cruyff was dismissive of Van Basten’s complaints over the youth set-up.
“That is something I don’t agree with,” he added. “When you look at which players came through the ranks the last couple of years, you can’t say that the academy is not working well.”