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Football

Van Gaal resigns from post at Ajax


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Van Gaal quit after the home league defeat by Heerenveen

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- Former Ajax coach Louis van Gaal has resigned from his position as the club's technical trainer after just a year in the job, Ajax announced after beating Maccabi Tel Aviv 3-0 in a Champions League match.

Van Gaal, who led Ajax to the Champions League title in 1995, the UEFA Cup in 1992 and three domestic league titles, returned to Amsterdam after leaving FC Barcelona.

Ajax said the former Dutch national coach resigned on Saturday, when Ajax lost 3-1 to Heerenveen.

That home loss left them in fourth place in the Dutch league behind PSV, Feyenoord and FC Utrecht.

"My resignation is in Ajax's best interests and has nothing to do with the poor results this season," he told a news conference on Wednesday.

Ajax said the club's directors accepted his resignation on Tuesday.

Van Gaal's departure ended a period of increasing tension with coach Ronald Koeman, which had affected the team's performances.

Van Gaal, who quit as Netherlands coach in 2001, returned to the Amsterdam club to succeed Leo Beenhakker.

Koeman, in his second spell as Ajax coach, won the double in his first season back but it soon became clear that Van Gaal wanted more involvement with the players than Beenhakker.

The tension mounted when Ajax sold Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Juventus in August just before the end of the transfer window, and his planned successor, Roda JC Kerkrade's Arouna Kone, failed a medical.

Ajax began their Champions League campaign with defeats by Juventus (1-0) and Bayern Munich (4-0), putting Koeman under pressure.

The coach openly clashed with Van Gaal, saying after the thrashing in Munich that the club's expectations for his young and inexperienced squad were unrealistic.

The victory over Maccabi probably came too late to help Ajax qualify for the second round of the Champions League but it boosted their hopes of a consolation UEFA Cup place and certainly lifted squad morale.

"This was super. There was so much tension for this match and when it works out like this it feels great," midfielder Rafael van der Vaart told reporters.

"We are going through a tough period but today we stood up as a team."

Sunday's match against PSV Eindhoven also gives Ajax the perfect opportunity to cut their four-point deficit on the league leaders.


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