Van der Vaart is very annoyed after a moment at Ajax

Rafael van der Vaart couldn’t believe his eyes on Saturday evening when Steven Berghuis in the final phase of the competition match between Ajax and NEC (5-0) left a free kick to Zakaria Labyadi. The moment came in the 82nd minute, when Dusan Tadic was already to the side and Berghuis seemed the right man to take the free kick from about 25 meters. However, Labyad took the free kick and shot the ball into the wall. Van der Vaart had Sunday evening with Studio Football difficulty holding back. “I am very annoyed by this.”

Van der Vaart believes that Ajax should also adapt to Berghuis and not just the other way around. “He is a great player. A really great player. I am happy that he is playing for Ajax, despite all the problems. But he just gets skipped. Shouldn’t he just take this free kick? Labyad is no Robin van Persie.” Companion Theo Janssen noted that Labyad did have a nice free kick and pointed out that he gave another table companion, Pierre van Hooijdonk, right of way at Vitesse if a free kick had to be taken. “Because he just had a fantastic free kick. You just knew: the ball just goes to goal. There was a chance that it would go in. If I took a free kick ten times, he went on target seven times. And once or twice in it.”

“It also makes sense for a specialist to take a free kick.” Van der Vaart added with wide eyes: “We are talking about Labyad. Who never plays. And Berghuis was bought for a lot of money.” Janssen emphasized that Berghuis has ‘a good kick’, ‘but not a good free kick’. Van Hooijdonk agreed: “It is not a specialist.” Van der Vaart was dumbfounded and turned to Janssen. “I think it’s weird that you say that. You say he doesn’t have a great free kick.” Janssen repeated that a good kick and a good free kick ‘make a world of difference’. “I had a fantastic kick, but my free kick? No, it wasn’t fantastic.”

Van der Vaart kept looking at Janssen for a few seconds, while the penny didn’t seem to drop. “You don’t track. You had a fantastic kick”, the former midfielder continued to repeat. Janssen: “Of course I sometimes shot a free kick because I had a good kick, but I didn’t have a free kick like Pierre.” Van Hooijdonk asked Van der Vaart how often Berghuis had scored from a free kick at Feyenoord. “I have no idea. Feyenoord didn’t come close to sixteen very often,” he said, somewhat jokingly. “But we are not going to say that Berghuis has a bad kick?” All tablemates continued to insist on the difference between a good kick and a free kick, but Van der Vaart’s disbelief grew bigger and bigger.

Presenter Sjoerd van Ramshorst tried to broach another topic ‘after six minutes’, but Van der Vaart did not agree. “Listen. Does Tadic have a good free kick? New? So why doesn’t Berghuis take him? It’s very weird. Someone comes from Feyenoord and he is not allowed to take the free kicks. If I Erik ten Hag would be, I would think: Well let’s see.” Van Hooijdonk pointed out that as a trainer you also have to be clear about this. Van der Vaart: “And that’s why you let Labyad take a free kick because he once took a free kick at FC Utrecht? Stop it.”

A few minutes later, Van der Vaart turned to Janssen again. “Do you think Hakim Ziyech has a good free kick? New? But he did take them and then Labyad was on the field too. It has about the same stairs as Berghuis. Agree or not? Janssen: “Agreed, but Ziyech could often shoot him in the far corner.” Van der Vaart reacted with a laugh: “And not Berghuis?” Janssen: “Yes, Berghuis can do that too. But he’s not very good at shooting over the wall from that distance. That is really something special. Not many people can do that. A good free kick with the right speed over the wall.”

Van der Vaart did not give up. “At Vitesse, with your qualities, a Labyad comes to you and says: ‘Theo, I’ll take the free kick’.” Janssen acknowledged that he would not accept that. “He doesn’t touch the ball, I get what you mean.” Van der Vaart turned to Van Hooijdonk: “You didn’t think Van Persie had a good free kick. Otherwise you would have let them take him.” Van Hooijdonk reacted quasi-seriously: “His free kicks weren’t as good as mine.” The discussion was eventually cut short by showing fragments of the Eredivisie weekend.

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