Soapbox: Ajax clean up, but new boys show polish

After an encouraging unbeaten run against opponents of mixed quality in Portugal, Ireland and England, SAFC came a cropper against Ajax, missed chances preventing us at least sharing the honours with a decent Dutch side. New faces figure strongly asPete Sixsmith identifies the silver lining…

Home friendlies at the Stadium of Light are a bit of a luxury.

Reidy hated them, preferring to have beer thrown all over him in Belgium and I don’t think Mick was all that keen.

Since Roy’s arrival we have managed to attract Juventus and now Ajax and both outings have been interesting and informative.

Results are not always important in games like these – the performance is what counts. Yesterday, the four new signings all showed that they are an improvement on what we already have. All four of them have a good touch, three of them have real pace and they all look like players who are comfortable in the top flight rather than players who are busting a gut just to stay there.

Ajax played like we would expect them to – neat triangles, accurate short passes and a reluctance to give the ball away cheaply. Last year we had few players like this; my recurring criticism was that we gave the ball away with momotonous regularity and then had to work hard to get it back.

None of the four fell into that category. Passes were made to where players should be, although some of the longer serving lads have not learned how to read them.

Ireland gives them a good opportunity to bed in against moderate opposition. There may well be others joining, depending on the news of Kenwyne’s exploratory op and whether Keane really wants to face Liverpool with Nosworthy and Collins as his central defenders.

A decent game with the FA Cup winning side looking pleased to be there and Bobby Kerr in particular dwelling on good times rather than his impending bankruptcy.

Postings from Ireland as Pete Horan and I revisit the Emerald Isle from Wednesday. Belfast, Athlone, Bray and Dublin on the agenda.

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