Ajax coach Erik ten Hag on Monday ruled himself out of the running to take over as Bayern Munich coach for the time being, saying he would be staying at the Dutch champions until at least the end of the current season. – Photo 1stnews.com
LONDON — Ajax coach Erik ten Hag on Monday ruled himself out of the running to take over as Bayern Munich coach for the time being, saying he would be staying at the Dutch champions until at least the end of the current season.
Bayern sacked Niko Kovac on Sunday, sparking heated speculation as to who the Bundesliga giants could appoint in his place, with Ten Hag reportedly high on the list after Ajax's scintillating run to the Champions League semi-finals last season and their impressive start to this campaign.
Ten Hag was Bayern's reserves coach from 2013-15 under Pep Guardiola, but told reporters on Monday he would not be tempted to return to Bavaria just yet.
Asked at Stamford Bridge whether he would be staying at Ajax ahead of his side's Champions League clash with Chelsea on Tuesday, he said "I can confirm that."
"I have a strong connection with my team, with everyone at Ajax, so I can confirm that I stay in Ajax this season," said the 49-year-old.
However Ten Hag, who is under contract at Ajax until 2022, refused to entirely rule out an eventual move.
"Bayern is a fantastic club, I felt really comfortable and really enjoyed to work there and they are still in my heart but now I'm in Ajax," he said.
"I'm not a dreamer, I focus on Ajax, and that is important. I live for today and my only focus is on Ajax."
Ten Hag's side arrive in London after losing to Frank Lampard's Chelsea 1-0 in Amsterdam a fortnight ago, a defeat that allowed the Blues to draw level with Ajax on six points at the top of Group H.
Tuesday's match could go a long way to deciding who qualifies, with Valencia lurking two points behind ahead of their match with bottom club Lille.
Ajax have bounced back with two wins that have consolidated their lead at the top of the Eredivisie but Chelsea have won eight of their last nine matches in all competitions, and Ten Hag thinks the London outfit are among the favourites for the competition.
"I think they're one of the favourites. It's going to be difficult but every game is difficult. We know we have to play perfectly and give the best performance," he said.
"Of course there are threats, but I'm not a manager who is thinking about that. I have a lot of respect for Chelsea ... but I also trust my players who are also very good, and if we play as a team for 90 minutes we will have a chance." — AFP