Van Basten quits as Ajax miss out on Champions League spot

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The Independent Football

Marco van Basten has resigned as the head coach of Ajax following the club's failure to qualify for next season's Champions League. The 44-year-old took over at the Amsterdam ArenA last summer after guiding the Netherlands to the quarter-finals of Euro 2008, but has quit after less than one year of his four-year contract.

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

Despite the disappointment of missing out on a place in Europe's premier club competition once more, Van Basten had looked set to remain in the role. "I intend to carry on," he said after the weekend's events.

And he appeared to have the backing of the club director Rik van den Boog, who said that "sacking Marco van Basten is not a point of discussion at the moment".

However, after talks between the coach and the board, Van Basten resigned, claiming he could not see how he could improve things next term. "I don't have the idea that I can do better in the new season," he said.

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. A short statement from the club read: "Marco van Basten has told managing director Rik van den Boog he has decided to resign his position as head coach of Ajax. He cites the main reason for his decision as being that the objectives have not been reached and that he did not feel able to improve things next season."

Van Basten, who had a spell overseeing Ajax reserves in the 2003/04 season, held high hopes for his former team after succeeding Adrie Koster last summer. "Everyone at Ajax wants to become a champion, certainly [technical director] Martin van Geel," he said in February.

But the Amsterdammers failed to make the impact many expected. A shock early exit from the Dutch Cup at the hands of FC Volendam in November was followed up by a Uefa Cup exit to Marseilles at the last-16 stage earlier this year, while Louis van Gaal's AZ have long since had the league title wrapped up.

*Coach Felix Magath is leaving Bundesliga leaders Wolfsburg at the end of the season to take over at Schalke. Schalke confirmed the move yesterday and said Magath will sign a four-year contract to act as both the coach and manager.