Ajax Amsterdam blamed the sale of key players in the close season for their record European loss after being thumped 6-1 at home by Napoli in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Coach Alfred Schreuder and captain Dusan Tadic said losing the likes of Antony, Lisandro Martinez, Ryan Gravenberch and Sebastien Haller in the summer made the club lack cohesion and confidence.
“We have seven or eight new players. When you lose that many players, it gets a bit difficult. Then you need more matches to get a rhythm into the team." said Tadic, who was sent off and misses the return clash in Naples next week.
Ajax are in danger of missing out on next year’s knockout stages, with just three points from their opening three games and Schreuder said it was clear the personnel changes were impacting the side.
The defeat on Tuesday was not only the Dutch club’s heaviest defeat in European competition but also the third loss in four matches.
“I certainly didn't expect this. I knew that Napoli could play good football and had great courage and that we, therefore, had to show courage and guts too. We didn't. Certainly not on the ball,” added Schreuder.