AZ Alkmaar have dismissed coach Ronald Koeman in the wake of a 2-1 league defeat by BV Vitesse, with the 46-year-old former Netherlands international conceding: "I did not expect this."
Article top media content
AZ Alkmaar have dismissed coach Ronald Koeman in the wake of a 2-1 league defeat by BV Vitesse, with the 46-year-old conceding: "I did not expect this."
Friday's Eredivisie reverse prompted AZ director of football Marcel Brands to sever ties with the 78-times capped former Netherlands defender and midfielder, but it was not an easy decision. "It is a strange feeling," said Brands. "In my 12 years as director of football I never sacked a coach. On a human level it was a hard decision, as our relationship with Ronald Koeman was good, but in the end I am the one who has responsibility for football matters. Results were disappointing, the team kept on struggling and too many players have not been playing at their normal level. In those circumstances, you have to make a decision."
"I did not expect this," said Koeman, who previously coached Vitesse, AFC Ajax, SL Benfica, PSV Eindhoven and Valencia CF. "I was very surprised about the club's announcement. I never had the feeling that things would not improve. The relationship with my players was not the reason for my sacking; it was down to the confidence of the management. I feel very bad." AZ have begun a search for a permanent successor for Koeman, with his 57-year-old assistant Martin Haar, another former defender, taking temporary command. Koeman's other assistant, Tonny Bruins Slot, has left the club with his boss.
Koeman took over as the Dutch champions' coach on 12 June following Louis van Gaal's departure for FC Bayern München, and while he kicked off his reign with success in the Dutch Super Cup, the club failed to reach the UEFA Champions League knockout phase in their maiden campaign and are sixth in the league, having dropped 23 points already; significant since they only dropped 20 in the whole 2008/09 season. They could yet take a place in the UEFA Europa League round of 32, but need to beat R. Standard de Liège in Belgium on Wednesday to finish third in Group H.