An outspoken club president Masao Okano has attracted criticism from the supporters and media.
Cerezo Osaka announced that Marco Pezzaiuoli and Carsten Lakies left the club and appointed the Academy Director and U-18 Manager Yuji Okuma as the new manager of the first team. The club also appointed the Cerezo Osaka Sports Club Representative Director Isao Miyamoto as the newly-created GM (Kyoka Honbucho), demoting the Head of the Team Strengthening Division Toshinobu Katsuya.
One reason of criticism is that Okano was absent at (or escaped from attending) a press conference which was held to reveal the new manager and GM, due to a “business trip.” In the situation of this massive team reshuffle, the only person responsible for it didn’t provide any explanation. Mainichi Shimbun’s Yuka Nakamura pointed out that “the starting point (for Cerezo) to unite as a team must be for people at the top of the hierarchy to achieve accountability” at the end of her article.
Nikkan Sports’ Koichi Mashiko is far more harsh. He clearly asserted that “autocratic appointments and signings (initiatives taken by Okano) have led to the chaos.” Okano himself had admited his “autocratic” behavior, as he repeatedly told media that only a few people including Okano and the Yanmar president Takehito Yamaoka knew he was trying to sign Diego Forlan. And this time again, when the club chased a former German international Cacau, the Head of the Team Strengthening Division Toshinobu Katsuya said “What kind of player is he?” when he was asked about it. A shocking news in dual meaning. Mashiko thinks this episode suggests “how arbitrarily the club president has been involved in the team building.”
New GM Isao Miyamoto promoted several U-18 coaches and the Section Chief of the Team Strengthening Division Akio Kogiku, who is famous for scouting Shinji Kagawa and known as a good motivator, to the first team. For Cerezo Osaka which won the Best Youth Scheme Award at the J. League Awards last year, this replacements are described as it was “forced to put its hand into the ‘sanctuary’” by Sankei Shimbun’s Nobuhiko Hosoi.
Masao Okano has received both praise and blame. Although it’s true he made the club attracting a lot of attention, he is so outspoken that some of the supporters have casted doubt or criticized. For example, in the interview published 3 months ago, Okano needlessly said “I’m a company manager and businessman. For people who play on the pitch, winning is the most important thing. But for me, it’s not the priority.” Great, we are struggling in the relegation zone now. Thank you president.
Having said that, we have no time to discuss who is to blame. Cerezo Osaka, as a team, has to do everything they can do for staying in J1. But after we succeed in doing it, we must comprehensively review what the club has done this year.