After cleaning house last week, Dutch giants Ajax has chosen FC Utrecht boss Erik ten Hag as its next manager, replacing Marcel Keizer who lasted just half a league season.
Just days before Christmas, Ajax completely wiped the slate clean on the pitch, removing Keizer and his entire staff, including assistants Hennie Spijkerman and Dennis Bergkamp. The decision was made by general manager and former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, and technical director and former Arsenal winger Marc Overmars.
Ajax sits second in the Eredivisie table, five points behind PSV Eindhoven and with just one loss since September. However, outside the domestic league, they were eliminated from Champions League play in the preliminary stages by French side Nice, and then subsequently dumped out of Europa League play by Norweigan side Rosenborg all by mid-August. The last straw appeared to be a loss in the KNVB-Bekker (Dutch cup competition) to FC Twente on penalties last week the day before Keizer and his staff was dismissed.
Van der Sar said at the time of the change that he “did not have the confidence that we will reach the levels we seek in the manner in which we have been proceeding” and admitted “there is also a difference of opinion about the technical policy to be implemented.”
The 47-year-old Ten Hag was handed his first managerial job by Overmars back in 2012 when he was appointed boss of the Go Ahead Eagles, leading them to Eredivisie promotion via the Erste Divisie playoffs. He was then hired as manager of Bayern Munich II before leading FC Utrecht in 2015. Last season, the club finished fourth in the Eredivisie, and currently sit 6th midway through this season. They marched through a pair of Europa League qualifying rounds before falling to a strong Zenit St. Petersburg side before reaching the group stage.
The club announced Ten Hag has signed a two-year deal and begins his tenure on Monday. He will debut on January 21st against Feyenoord, and then will return to FC Utrecht a week later. Ajax does not meet PSV Eindhoven again until April.
As we continue our countdown to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil here at PST, each day from now until the tournament begins we will look back at a memorable moment from years gone by.
Here is number 5.
PST’s Top 20 World Cup moments – No. 5: De Boer to Bergkamp equals beauty in 1998
Perhaps you haven’t heard someone scream “Dennis Bergkamp” violently for a solid 5 seconds before screaming in elation, in which case you’ve never seen the Dutch commentary of this remarkable goal that sent the Netherlands past Argentina and into the semifinals of the 1998 World Cup.
From 10 yards inside his own half, Frank de Boer sends an absolutely marvelous ball into the 18 that Bergkamp settles with his first touch, torches a defender with the second and scores a wondergoal with his third.
RELATED: Countdown, World Cup Top 20 moments
It’s beautiful, a goal that stirs up the guts of a soccer lover but Bergkamp arguably shouldn’t have been in the game. The Arsenal star was not sent off for stomping on the leg of a Yugoslavian player in the second round, leaving him available for the game against Argentina. The Netherlands would fall to Brazil penalty kicks during the semifinals.
And since I don’t speak Dutch, here’s what the commentator’s verbage seems to say in the above video if the Dutch were heard as English:
“Dennis Berg-kamp! Dennis Berg-kamp! Dennis Berg-kamp! Dennis Berg-kamp! Dennis Berg-kamp! Oooooooooooooh! Frank de Boer snapped the ball to Dennis Bergkamp, he made the ball’s final shot and he snapped the ball in there. The Spain and all can shout no Danish are coming! Dennis Berg-kamp!”
It’s a loose interpretation, but weird how he ended it. Also, below, Legos tell the story well. Thanks to The Guardian:
Arsenal gave its latest tribute to a Gunners legend with the unveiling of a Dennis Bergkamp statue before Saturday’s 4-1 win over Sunderland, and Arsene Wenger paid Tomas Rosicky a lofty compliment after his big performance in the win.
”Rosicky took the role of Bergkamp today,” said the Arsenal manager.
The 33-year-old Czech midfielder scored a goal before halftime, making a 1-2 passing play off a Sunderland defender, and earlier provided a major part of the build-up along with Lukas Podolski before Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud combined to give Arsenal a 1-0 lead.
“Rosicky’s goal is one of the best. It’s how we want to play and, when it’s successful, you’re happy,” Wenger said after the match.
The match was one of smooth sailing for the Gunners who held 65 possession, won the corner battle 7-3 and put nine shots on target to Sunderland’s three.
It was also a strong return for Olivier Giroud, who scored a brace after a week of rumors of infidelity to both his wife and team (not that the two should be equated).
“I had no hesitation about his strength of character,” Wenger said of his French striker. “He did well.”
Wenger was also asked to reflect on Bergkamp’s contributions to the London club.
“He changed the destiny of the club as he was the first big star to arrive here,” Wenger said. “Everyone admired Dennis in our team, everyone speaks about his class. He was also loyal to this club.”