Friday, 7 February 2014

From Man Utd target to Ajax bench-warmer - the plight of Denmark wonderkid Viktor Fischer

From Man Utd target to Ajax bench-warmer - the plight of Denmark wonderkid Viktor Fischer
The promising attacker caught the attention of some of Europe's finest last season, but has been struggling to find his best form this term

By Stefan Coerts

When Ajax secured the services of Danish youngster Viktor Fischer from Midtjylland in the summer of 2010, the Amsterdam giants immediately realised that they had pulled off quite a coup.

The attacker had previously been on trial at clubs such as Inter, Chelsea and Manchester City, but was swayed by both the Amsterdammers’ reputation for developing youth and the presence of compatriots Christian Eriksen and Nicolai Boilesen. 

Fischer didn’t waste any time in making an impact at his new club and he particularly impressed with a string of fine performances in the 2011-12 NextGen Series. The attacker scored a double in the 3-0 win over Barcelona, before netting a hat-trick in a 6-0 semi-final victory against Liverpool, only to see his side eventually lose the final to Inter after penalties. 

Irrespective of that disappointment, there was little doubt that a bright future awaited Fischer and it seemed only a matter of time before he would make the step up to Ajax’s first team.  

That day would come right at the beginning of the 2012-13 campaign as the young Dane featured from the start in the Johan Cruyff Shield match versus PSV. Fischer would briefly return to Jong Ajax after that game as head coach Frank de Boer did not want to put too much pressure on the attacker, but the 19-year-old was not to be held back and was quickly restored to the first team.  

2012-13 23 10 5
2013-14 21 3 4
He would go on to put in man-of-the-match performances in the games against fellow Eredivisie giants PSV and Feyenoord, resulting in interest from clubs such as Bayern Munich and Manchester United by the end of his breakthrough season.

The 2013-14 campaign was meant to be the season where he would confirm his status as one of the brightest youngsters in the game, but Fischer has so far failed to replicate any of last term’s brilliance. 

The winger has scored just three goals in 21 Eredivisie appearances and has generally been one of Ajax’s weakest performers. Fischer’s crisis of form has even prompted De Boer to omit him from the starting XI on a number of occasions.

Doubts are slowly starting to arise as to whether the attacker really is as big a talent as he was made out to be. Fischer caused his opponents all kinds of trouble with his trickery, direct running and eye for a goal in 2012-13, but this dynamism is nowhere to be seen now. The Denmark international is notably low on confidence and continues to infuriate team-mates with his selfishness in the final third as his desperation to shrug off his poor form rises to the surface. 

In Fischer's favour, however, is his positive attitude both on and off the pitch. He has acknowledged his downturn in form and has vowed to do his utmost to improve and get back to last year’s level. Not a single negative word has been muttered about the Dane's work-rate and attitude on the training pitch.

"I know that I can be a great player, but there are always times when things simply aren't happening. It annoys me and I can get very angry with myself about it. You will all see an even better Fischer once I get out of of this difficult period, though," the Dane stated earlier this season.

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Another factor that should prove to be helpful in Fischer’s quest to return to his brilliant best is the relatively relaxed atmosphere at Ajax. They are on well on track to retain their Eredivisie title, while they are still in the running to win the KNVB Beker and Europa League, too.  

The winger’s individual struggles will therefore be less of a talking point than in any other environment, especially with Ajax’s policy of maintaining faith in young players. Had Fischer made the move to one of Europe’s elite clubs last summer, his situation would have been significantly different, as teams such as Manchester United and Bayern Munich are unlikely to have shown the same patience.

The former Midtjylland starlet can therefore consider himself lucky that neither of the interested teams ever tabled a formal offer last summer. A move to a bigger league will undoubtedly remain tempting and the ultimate goal, but Fischer clearly still has plenty to learn in the Eredivisie for now. ---------------

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