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By ESPN Staff

De Boer backs under-fire Cruyff

Ajax coach Frank de Boer has rallied behind a beleaguered Johan Cruyff ahead of this weekend's trip to NEC Nijmegen.

Cruyff has this week come under fire for allegedly directing a racist remark towards fellow supervisory board member Edgar Davids.

The former Holland playmaker, who has denied any wrongdoing, is also at the centre of a split in the supervisory board over the appointment of Louis van Gaal as general director.

On top of that, members of the Ajax board - a separate committee to the supervisory board - confirmed last weekend they had relinquished their posts immediately after announcing in March they would be stepping down when successors could be found.

Although Cruyff appears to be at the centre of the storm, De Boer is hoping the 64-year-old retains a role at the ArenA.

He said in remarks reported by Voetbal International: "I use the Ajax philosophy of powerful playmaking, quick pressure, dominant football etc. That's the philosophy of Johan Cruyff. Johan and I have talked about it and we are on the same wavelength on many things. Just as we would both like to give youth a chance.

"Club icons - at any club - need to be preserved.''

The off-field turmoil appears to have affected the Amsterdammers on it. Although a goalless draw at Lyon in the Champions League on Tuesday night put them on the brink of qualification for the knockout stages, their form in the Eredivisie has been poor of late with just one win in their last eight league outings.

Sunday's trip to De Goffert could provide some respite, though, with the hosts one place above the relegation play-off places following last weekend's home defeat to Roda JC.

Leaders AZ Alkmaar open the weekend programme on Friday night at home to FC Utrecht. AZ remain three points clear despite having last weekend's trip to Excelsior abandoned at half-time due to heavy fog.

Second-placed PSV Eindhoven host FC Groningen on Saturday in what will be an emotional game for PSV striker Tim Matavz. Matavz spent four years with Groningen before moving to the Philips Stadion in August. The Slovenian is looking forward to seeing former team-mate Dusan Tadic in particular.

"I miss him,'' Matavz told the Eindhoven Dagblad newspaper. "Off the field we remain friends. I remain a supporter of FC Groningen but of course not on Saturday. That's how it works in football.''

The other key fixture on Saturday is a relegation tussle between VVV-Venlo and De Graafschap. The clubs currently occupy the relegation play-off places and they are already in danger of being cut adrift.

Also on Saturday, Roda host Heracles Almelo and Heerenveen go to NAC Breda. Although all eyes on Sunday will be on Ajax, third-placed FC Twente face an important game when they take on Vitesse Arnhem. They are likely to be without goalkeeper Sander Boschker, however. Boschker has ruptured a muscle in his right calf and is facing a spell on the sidelines.

Elsewhere, rock-bottom Excelsior meet ADO Den Haag and fifth-placed Feyenoord go to RKC Waalwijk.

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