Strugglers make their move

In the past week, two teams that are around Gifu in the table (ie: near the bottom) have gambled that a coaching change will turn their season around.

Last week, Oita Trinita canned long time coach Kazuaki Tasaka after they hit the bottom of J2 while on Sunday Mito Hollyhock fired the only coach they’ve known in their J.League history, Tetsuji Hashiratani. These teams, much like Tokyo Verdy & Roasso Kumamoto last year are banking that a managerial change will provide an immediate fix to their problems, but it is by no means certain that they will.

Oita’s new manager, when they take the reins, faces a schedule of:

  • Zweigen Kanazawa
  • JEF United
  • Consadole Sapporo
  • Cerezo Osaka

That is not a pretty slate of games for a side at the bottom of the table to be looking at (and at the same time, probably illustrates why Tasaka was fired – bottom of the table but haven’t had the hardest schedule).

Mito’s interim manager, first team coach Takayuki Nishigaya, makes his Mito managerial debut at home against Cerezo Osaka, but after that appears (on paper at least) to have decent run of games against:

  • Thepsa Kusatsu Gunma
  • Yokohama FC
  • Tochigi SC
  • Oita Trinita

No schedule is easy for a team at the foot of the table, but that run at least appears to have some winnable games.

Mito Hollyhock supporters in Gifu

So which other managers might be shifting nervously on their hotseats? The first that springs to mind is Kyoto Sanga coach Masahiro Wada, although it is to be said that his side have taken 7 points from their last 9.

Kyoto Sanga supporters in Gifu earlier this season

BUT, this is a team that has a lot of talented players to call upon, including last year’s top scorer Masashi Oguro, but they’ve been woeful so far this year and their supporters won’t put up with it for much longer. They two home games in a row coming up, against Yokohama FC & Tochigi SC and if they lose those two, I’m not sure he’ll be able to survive.

Kyoto forward Masashi Oguro

Also looking a bit sheepish at present would be Shinji Kobayashi from Tokushima Vortis. His side have suffered the mother of all relegation hangovers and currently sit in 18th place, just three points above the bottom. Kobayashi did a phenomenal job to get Tokushima promoted two years ago and in some ways he is paying the price for inflated expectations, but Vortis have only won twice this year – clearly a situation that can’t go on.

To stick or twist? That is always the eternal question for struggling football clubs. A few more are going to have to make that choice sooner or later.


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