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Copa MX
By ESPN Staff

Van Basten steps down as Ajax Amsterdam coach

Marco van Basten resigned as Ajax Amsterdam coach on Wednesday after deciding he was not good enough for a job he took on less than 12 months ago.

"I asked myself, am I good enough for Ajax? Do I have influence on my players? Am I capable of improving the team?" the 44-year-old former Netherlands striker told reporters.

"And when I answered no to every question it was clear that my qualities are not good enough for the demands of Ajax."

Van Basten's decision came after a 4-0 defeat at Sparta Rotterdam on Sunday cost Ajax any chance of playing in the Champions League next season.

"It was a tough decision which had a lot to do with the results of the last matches but also the whole season," Van Basten said at a news conference. Assistant coach John van 't Schip will take over from his former team mate until the end of the season.

Despite investing about 35 million euros ($46.60 million) in their squad, Ajax will finish the season third in the Dutch league behind champions AZ Alkmaar and Twente Enschede.

"Our main goal at the start was (winning) the championship and later on we made the adjustment to second place and when you miss both goals you can say you failed," added Van Basten.

Ajax also suffered an early exit from this season's Dutch Cup, while Olympique Marseille beat the four times European Cup winners in the last 16 of the UEFA Cup.

Van Basten's period as manager was his third spell at the Amsterdam club where he began his playing career in 1981 and remained until 1987 when he joined AC Milan.

He scored 151 goals in 172 games for Ajax, winning the Dutch title several times as well as the league and cup double in 1983 and the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1987.

After a trophy-laden career, including two European Cups with AC Milan and a European Championship, Van Basten retired from playing in 1995 at 28 after a series of ankle operations.

He eventually returned as an assistant coach to Van 't Schip at Ajax reserves before taking over as national team coach in 2004.

During his four years in charge, the Dutch were eliminated by Portugal in the first knockout round at the 2006 World Cup, while Russia beat them in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008.

Van Basten's candid comments on Wednesday suggest he may be about to take another spell out from the game but Guus Hiddink, another former Dutch national team coach, backed him to return.

"This doesn't have to be the end of his coaching career," Hiddink told NOS-TV. "He should take time to consider his future. He also has the experience of four years as national coach."


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