Five managers Ajax could turn to after sacking Schreuder
Dutch giants Ajax are on the hunt for a new manager after relieving Alfred Schreuder of his duties on Thursday.
The former Hoffenheim and Club Brugge boss was axed after a run of seven Eredivisie games without a win, including six straight draws, leaving the reigning champions seven points adrift of leaders Feyenoord.
Life after Erik ten Hag has proved troublesome for the Amsterdam outfit and chief executive Edwin van der Sar is now under immense pressure to get the next appointment right.
We take a look at five contenders who could be tempted to take up the hotseat at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
If Ajax want dynamic football, then they need look no further than the maverick that is Marcelo Bielsa.
The former Leeds boss, 67, held talks with Everton about replacing Frank Lampard this week but no agreement was reached, suggesting he is at least open-minded on an imminent return to the touchline.
Few can match Bielsa’s CV, with coaching spells in England, France, Italy, Spain and at international level with Chile and Argentina to name just a few — though he has yet to sample Dutch football.
On paper, it looks a great fit. The enigmatic tactician is best known for his development of young players and engraining an almost chaotic style of attacking football which fans would love.
The lure of a potentially deep run in the Europa League could also entice Bielsa and it would be fascinating to see how he set about reinvigorating a talented group of under-performing players.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Since being sacked by his beloved Manchester United in November 2021, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has not set foot back into management.
However, the presence of his former Red Devils team-mate and good friend Van der Sar in the Amsterdam hierarchy could well see the Norwegian make it on to the club’s shortlist.
Solskjaer’s time as boss at Old Trafford was not all bad, winning over 54% of his games in charge and guiding his old club to a runner-up finish in the Premier League, as well as a Europa League final.
Van der Sar spent two seasons with the 49-year-old in Manchester during his playing days and has previously spoken favourably about the way Solskjaer tackled the United job.
If the baby-faced assassin is waiting for the right opportunity to make his return to the dugout, this could well be it.
Johnny Heitinga has been put in temporary charge of Ajax alongside Michael Reiziger — but may well be in the running for the full-time post too.
Former Everton defender Heitinga, 39, racked up over 100 appearances for the Toffees in his playing days and is also an 87-cap Netherlands international.
He has been in charge of Jong Ajax, the club’s reserve side, since last year and local reports claim he was initially considered as a potential assistant manager for Schreuder.
Clearly, he is held in high regard by the club he started and finished his career with, though his lack of senior coaching experience would be a cause for concern.
If Ajax are to appoint Heitinga, do not be surprised to see an experienced assistant installed alongside him.
Pascal Jansen has quietly been working wonders at AZ Alkmaar for some time now and looks an elite manager in the making.
Since being made head coach in December 2020, Jansen’s team have been one of the Eredivisie’s most entertaining, qualifying for Europe last year and now finding themselves embroiled in the title race.
Alkmaar have tied their promising boss down to contract extensions twice in his short tenure but it remains to be seen whether he could resist the call from a footballing giant, should it arrive.
Last year, the 50-year-old told Sky Sports: "When I close my eyes and see my team perform, it is about pressing, it is about being dominant, being disciplined but with room for creativity."
Given his side convincingly beat Ajax 2-1 earlier this term, the reigning champions know that Jansen is true to his word.
Peter Bosz returning to Ajax looks like a move that could work for both parties.
The 59-year-old was in charge of the club for a solitary season six years ago, leading De Godenzonen to the 2016-17 Europa League final where they were defeated by Manchester United.
That summer, Bosz would be headhunted by Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund, who paid over £4million in compensation to land their man — though he only lasted all of six months.
Stints with Bayer Leverkusen and Lyon have followed since and with Bosz currently out of work, a return to his homeland would likely appeal.
Yet Bosz’s relationship with Van der Sar is said to be strained following his unceremonious 2017 departure, meaning some water will need to have passed under the bridge for a move to happen.