Urawa Reds have fired manager Holger Osieck just two games into the new season and replaced the German with assistant coach Gert Engels, the J. League first-division club said Sunday.
“I felt that the relationship between the players and the manager was breaking down,” said Urawa president Mitsunori Fujiguchi. “The team was not united and I figured the best way to solve the crisis would be to change the manager.
“Gert has the respect of the players and at this present time he is the only person for the job,” said Fujiguchi.
Osieck’s dismissal comes 24 hours after Urawa suffered their second defeat in a row with a 2-0 reverse at home to Nagoya Grampus.
Engels, 50, who has managed now-defunct Yokohama Flugels, JEF United Ichihara (now JEF United Chiba), and Kyoto Sanga, said he was looking forward to the challenge of getting Urawa back on track.
“Obviously there is a lot of pressure but more than that I feel excitement,” said Engels, who has been on the coaching staff at Urawa since 2004.
“In a sense, I will be starting from scratch but I believe in the potential of the players,” said the German.
Osieck, 59, began his second stint as manager last season after replacing fellow German Guido Buchwald and guided the Saitama giants to the Asian Champions League title in their debut in the competition.
However, the ACL exertions took their toll and Urawa suffered a late season collapse and surrendered their J. League title to Kashima Antlers on the final day of the campaign after a shock defeat at already relegated Yokohama FC.
Urawa appointed Osieck for the first time in 1995 after the Reds finished at the wrong end of the overall standings the previous two years. He guided the team to a fourth-place finish in his first season in charge and sixth the following year.