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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 7, 2009

Van Basten: I lacked qualities to manage Ajax

Marco van Basten has admitted he walked away from Ajax because he felt incapable of achieving the goals the club demand.

The 44-year-old quit as the Amsterdammers' head coach less than a year into his four-year contract, following the club's failure to qualify for next season's Champions League.

"I came to the conclusion that my qualities are not enough to do better with this squad next season," he said. "I am not able to fulfil the demands that Ajax have for a coach."

Sunday's 4-0 reverse at Sparta Rotterdam, coupled with FC Twente's 3-0 win over newly-crowned Eredivisie champions AZ Alkmaar, consigned third-placed Ajax to a place in the Europa League next term.

Van Basten took over the Ajax reins last summer following a four-year stint as Holland coach, and hopes were high he would bring back the glory days to his former club.

But a shock early exit from the KNVB Beker at the hands of FC Volendam last November was followed up by UEFA Cup elimination to Marseille at the last-16 stage earlier this year, while Louis van Gaal's AZ have long since had the league title wrapped up.

In between, the former AC Milan striker has had to deal with protests from groups of fans, but he bears no ill-feeling towards the disgruntled supporters.

"I never felt threatened ," he said. "I had to talk with a group of fans a couple of times. That's a pity, but understandable. But they always had a good attitude and I must say that the fans of Ajax certainly deserve a compliment."

Van Basten's reign started in brisk fashion as he immediately trimmed down the vast Ajax squad upon his arrival - cutting eight first-team players from his group.

He was reluctantly forced to let star striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar leave for Real Madrid in the winter, but claims nevertheless to have enjoyed his year in Amsterdam.

"I have had a very pleasant year at Ajax, when I look at the co-operation. The club deserves no stain in this matter," he said.

"The only thing that did not go as planned was the results of the Ajax first team. And I was responsible for that team."

Van Basten's assistant John van 't Schip will take charge for the final game of the season, at home to Steve McClaren's Twente, on Sunday.

When asked why he did not see out the season, Van Basten replied: "For us the competition was over last Sunday after the defeat against Sparta.

"When you go down that heavily, then targets one and two are gone."

Upon last February's announcement he would take over as Ajax coach after the European Championships, Van Basten declared his desire to win the championship.

The fact he failed not only on that mission but even to take second was what convinced him to go.

"When we can't reach both goals, I feel I have failed."

Ajax director Rik van den Boog, who publicly expressed his support for his coach after missing out on a Champion League berth, could do nothing but accept Van Basten's decision.

"It's good that you can look, as a person and as a coach, at yourself in the way Marco did," he said.

"Marco decided for himself that he, even if he gives everything he has in him, sees no possibility of doing better next season. That is a decision we must respect."

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