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May 16, 2011

Cruyff: Title success can be new start

Johan Cruyff believes Ajax can re-establish themselves as the dominant force of Dutch football after ending their seven-year wait for an Eredivisie title.

The capital club claimed a dramatic final-day 3-1 win over FC Twente to leapfrog their rivals and snatch a 30th domestic crown in front of their home fans at the Amsterdam ArenA.

''It's a great start,'' Cruyff told De Telegraaf. ''There was a great atmosphere in the stadium to inspire the victory and all of this positivity can help open a new chapter for this proud club.''

Cruyff also hailed the impact of manager Frank de Boer, who was drafted in following Martin Jol's departure in December. De Boer, who celebrated his 41st birthday in fine style, has since overcome the departure of star striker Luis Suarez as well as last month's upheaval when the entire board resigned following a dispute with Cruyff over how the club should be run.

''Everyone knows that only a few months ago we made hard decisions on how Ajax should go forward. Frank De Boer has come in and made positive strides,'' said Cruyff, who was brought back to the club in an advisory role in February.

''Often when someone new is added you start seeing things differently and you can move forward. Since his arrival in December, Frank has handled these first steps very well. This championship should be the beginning of a long period of success for Ajax.''

Cruyff faces a busy summer as he looks to fill the void of the departed board as well as pinning down some of Ajax's key players to new deals. Holland international Gregory van der Wiel has been linked with a number of big European clubs while teenage Danish winger Christian Eriksen is also reportedly a target.

''Next week I will discuss this in depth, but not yet,'' Cruyff said. ''In recent weeks everyone knows we have kept quiet to focus on the end of the season. We did not want to let other matters trip us up. Now that we have won the title we can think about the work that needs to be done - but only after the party.

''First everyone should enjoy the release. Ajax are finally champions again, Ajax are back in the Champions League.''

De Boer is confident the lure of Champions League football will ensure his star names remain.

''Most players will certainly continue,'' he told AD. ''A few players may have wanted to go but they should be more reluctant with the opportunity to play Champions League. I hope they stay here and not, for example, go to a club like Schalke.''

De Boer also believes the club is on secure ground after nine of his starting XI against Twente had progressed through the club's famed academy.

''My first reaction after winning the title was that it was won with an Ajax philosophy,'' De Boer added. ''It is a team full of young boys, almost all from our own youth academy, who dare to play.

''They have had to go through a number of ups and downs this season - but they have learned from each experience. Sunday was the ultimate example of that.''

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