SAITAMA — Urawa Reds manager Gert Engels has urged the club to make a decision on his future after an apparent pretender to his throne watched his side’s 2-1 defeat to Shimizu S-Pulse on Sunday.
Former Freiburg manager Volker Finke was at Saitama Stadium after weeks of speculation that Engels would be sacked, despite Urawa starting the day just one point off the top of the J. League table.
But Engels, who has one year remaining on his current contract, insisted he had not been informed of any imminent sacking, and hit out at the club’s hierarchy for making moves behind his back.
“There are no clear decisions, which makes everything difficult for the team and for the coach,” he said. “For me personally and for my team, they know what’s going on here, that the coach is in the stadium — the coach-to-be or the candidate.
“This would be very unusual in Europe. They are not sure now, they are doubting. They have known me for five years now and they know what they can expect from me next year.
“If this is OK, then we can start with the preparation for the new season and they trust me. Or they can do the opposite. But they could have made this decision before.
“This was supposed to be secret but they couldn’t keep it secret because I am a German. I knew it all three or four weeks ago.
“I confronted them and they said it was nothing. I knew the development but there were no clear answers. The first time they denied it. Then they didn’t lie, but they didn’t confirm it.”
Engels feels the situation the team finds itself in is not all his fault, having taken over two games into the season when his predecessor, Holger Osieck, was fired.
“We had a few problems this year, but some are homemade problems,” he said. “Of course I am responsible for some things, but there are a few reasons around.
“It’s not like we are at the bottom of the league. We had some good players going out, not the real big transfers coming in, and of course Robson Ponte and Keita Suzuki had a few injury problems.
“I don’t like to have excuses, but if they say next year you can get the players you like but you must be champion, this is a pressure I can live with.
“We tried to bring the team on course but it was not exactly how we would have liked.”