The Ajax curse! Every team Dutch stars faced in historic Champions League run last season have now sacked their manager as Mauricio Pochettino is axed just six months after Tottenham’s semi-final win
Mauricio Pochettino’s departure from Tottenham on Tueday may have seemed a shock – but evidence suggests it was inevitable.
The Argentinian’s sacking merely means that the Ajax Curse has now run its full effect, now accounting for six managers in less than a year.
Every club the Dutch side faced in reaching the Champions League semi-final last season has now replaced their coach.
Mauricio Pochettino celebrates after Tottenham beat Ajax in Champions League semi-final
Ajax swept aside several major clubs in their run to the 218/19 Champions League semi-finals
Argentinian Pochettino was sacked as manager of the club on Tuesday after a run of poor form
THE AJAX CURSE
Benfica – Rui Vitoria (Jan 19)
Athens – Marinos Ouzounidis (Feb 19)
Real Madrid – Santi Solari (March 19)
Juventus – Max Allegri (May 19)
Bayern Munich – Niko Kovac (Nov 19)
Tottenham – Mauricio Pochettino (Nov)
Group stage opponents AEK Athens, Benfica and Bayern Munich all have new men in charge, while knock-out rivals Real Madrid, Juventus and eventual conquerors Tottenham are all now under new stewardship.
The first manager to fall was Benfica boss Rui Vitoria, leaving the club on January 4, 2019 after three and a half years in charge.
He would be followed by Marios Ouzounidis a month later, the Greek departing AEK Athens to be replaced by the returning Manolo Jimenez – only to last less than four months himself.
After a turbulent spell in charge of Real Madrid, taking over from the sacked Julen Lopetegui on October 30, Santiago Solari would then himself be replaced by Zinedine Zindane in mid-March.
That victory meant Tottenham reached Champions League final for the first time ever
Rui Vitoria became the first manager to fall victim to the Ajax Curse when he left Benfica
Niko Kovac (L) and Santiago Solari have lost their jobs since playing Ajax in Champions League
When Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri revealed he would be ending his five-year spell in Turin in May, that left just Pochettino and Niko Kovac remaining heading into the new season.
Erik Ten Hag’s team progressed as Group E runners-up behind Bayern Munich, winning three matches – beating AEK Athens home and away and Benfica in Amsterdam – and drawing the others.
That would set up a memorable second-round 5-3 aggregate triumph over Real Having.
Benfica parted company with coach Marinos Ouzounidis in February after nearly four years
Juventus, under now departed Massimiliano Allegri, lost to Ajax in the quarter-finals
Having lost the first match 1-2, a 4-1 victory in Spain would seal progress, with Solari gone two months alter.
Juventus would be the next name to fall as the young Ajax side made their markon the tournament.
A Cristiano Ronaldo goal in each leg would not be enough to prevent the Italian’s elimination courtesy of Mattijs de Ligt’s header to seal a 3-2 aggregate win.
Having reached a rare Champions League semi-final, it appeared that – courtesy of a 1-0 first-leg win away from home and two early goals in the second leg – that an appearance in the showpiece event had been sealed.
A late Lucas Moura hat-trick would end their progress, but as each manager departs, the Dutchmen have had the last laugh.