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Ajax fans believe their team can beat United; They're not world-beaters... but supporters are confident says Dutch football journalist.

OOTBALL seems Finsignificant at the moment, but before the Manchester terror attack I spoke to Geert Langendorff, a Dutch football journalist from Algemeen Dagblad, who wrote a book about Louis van Gaal's time at Manchester United.

What do people in Q Holland think of a United v Ajax final? A It's a big deal. A Dutch team hasn't been in the final since Feyenoord beat Borussia Dortmund in the 2002 UEFA Cup final.

We thought those days were gone, that Dutch teams would never be in a final again as they had been previously.

Now, Ajax are back in a final and playing one of the most revered teams in the world. People are really looking forward to it.

Q How good is this Ajax side? A Attacking-wise, they're interesting. Kasper Dolberg, their 19-year-old Danish striker, has been a sensation in the Dutch League. He looks very promising.

There are talented young players throughout like Matthijs de Light, a 17-year-old defender recently called up to the Dutch national team.

The Cameroonian goalkeeper, Andrew Onana, is only 21, too. They're not world beaters, they're a team for the future.

Q What about the manager? A Peter Bosz has always been known as a very adventurous and attack minded manager. He loves to play 4-3-3, but when he was at Vitesse he'd win one game 4-0 and lose the next 4-5. His sides played a high pressing game, then he moved to Israel, working under Jordi Cruyff where he started to impress.

When De Boer left Ajax after winning four league titles, the club were looking for someone with similar ideas to Johan Cruyff and the Ajax traditions.

They wanted to build up the club by using youth. Nobody expected Ajax to challenge for the league this season, but Bosz nearly won the title and he's now in the Europa League final.

Q How much of a blow was it to lose out to arch rivals Feyenoord to the title? A For Ajax fans it's normally the biggest blow there is, but Amsterdamers are known for their self-confidence and arrogance.

They see it as an ironic twist that as Feyenoord finally win the league after 18 years - it's likely to be overshadowed by Ajax's final in Europe. So they don't really care. Ajax will still go into a Champions League qualifier even if they lose.

Q How many Ajax fans are going to the match? A The allocation of 10,000 is the same as United. It's a similar story with Ajax fans as it is with United fans in that Stockholm is difficult to reach - and there hasn't been much time to arrange flights either. Two Ajax fans chartered a plane from Italy and have been busy selling seats. They will be very well supported.

Q United lost at Feyenoord in the first game of the Europa League this season, but put four past Feyenoord in the second leg at Old Trafford. Does that give Ajax fans something to measure their team against? A Ajax fans still believe that they have a better footballing side than Feyenoord, but they don't see the Premier League so often.

It might be a shock to them how physically fit and technically gifted most of the players are, but Ajax fans think they can win.

Q What's the perception of this United team and Jose Mourinho? A Fantastic. United are a dream club to draw - they're probably the most revered club in football.

Jose Mourinho is a figure who people love to hate; yet they really admire him. His press conferences are picked up on and every single word he says makes the news. He's top-drawer.

Q Louis van Gaal has been giving a helping hand to Ajax and Edwin van der Sar said he'll support Ajax.

A Louis van Gaal was quite disgruntled after he left United. He wasn't too pleased by the way United got rid of him, but he wasn't pleased by what happened at Ajax in the end, either.

Van Gaal was born in Amsterdam, played for the club, then managed and advised Ajax.

He's respectful of Manchester United but I think his heart will be with Ajax.
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Article Type:Interview
Date:May 24, 2017
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