Nels-in-ho, Nels-out-ho…

Out of nowhere Kashiwa Reysol boss Nelsinho announced he was resigning – then he reconsidered…


Nobody expected it. In fact, when Nelsinho announced his resignation after Kashiwa Reysol’s 3-1 defeat to Kashima Antlers I was already on the bus heading back to Tokyo.

Granted, that was partly because the game had taken place at Antlers’ ludicrously-situated stadium and any failure to catch said bus would have left me sleeping with the deer in Kashima Jingu, but I also didn’t have any inkling that there’d be anything noteworthy said in the press conference after a fairly standard J.League game.

A quick scan of Twitter on my way home proved otherwise, however, and as news broke of the Brazilian’s decision to stand down the typical reaction of fans and media alike was shock.

Yes, Reysol had been comfortably beaten by Antlers but prior to the loss they were unbeaten in nine in the league, had their Emperor’s Cup second round game coming up in midweek, a Nabisco Cup semi-final the following Saturday and, grandest of all, the ACL quarter-final second leg against Al Shabab on the agenda next week.

Kashiwa Reysol line up against Kashima Antlers ahead of what was, temporarily, Nelsinho's last game in charge.

Nelsinho’s reason for calling it a day was that he felt the club shouldn’t be languishing in mid-table come the business end of the season and should instead be leading the way, or at least in or around the top three. Considering Reysol’s strenuous schedule this year though – the loss to Kashima was their 36th game of the season, if you include the Super Cup, and they had a maximum of 23 more to play – it is entirely forgivable that they would struggle to compete fully on all fronts.

Also, while ninth place is below par for a club that has established itself as one of the top teams in J1 over the past couple of years, there was still almost a third of the season to play when the veteran tactician threw in the towel, and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that they could accumulate enough points in the last 10 games to move themselves back up to where Nelsinho feels they belong.

Perhaps this was one of the things that crossed his mind in the cold light of the days following his announcement, as five days later – and with any official announcement from the club having been conspicuous by its absence – the 63-year old reversed his decision and was back on the training pitch.

The silence from the club had provided fans with the glimmer of hope that he may make a swift return to the dugout, and they campaigned passionately at their side’s Emperor’s Cup second round match against Tsukuba University (for which coach Masami Ihara was in temporary charge) for Nelsinho to rethink.

“It was not because of this game but a considered decision,” the coach had insisted when announcing his resignation after the loss to Kashima, but he exhibited a slightly more emotional streak in the light of the fans’ requests, performing a sensational U-turn on Thursday evening.

Nelsinho back on the Reysol bench a week later

“In the days afterwards I spoke to many friends and different people about the decision and on reflection felt that I wanted to come back and work for this club again,” he explained. “It is not easy to retract a decision like that, but if you realize you have made a mistake or an error I think it is stupider to see it through.”

Of course, there are a host of other theories as to what may have brought him back, but I am inclined to take him at face value. That may be naïve but in my experience he has always come across as an honest, intelligent, and amiable individual and if the club simply refused to accept his resignation he may have felt duty-bound to see out his contract.

The timing was always baffling, and it was hard to understand why he would leave Reysol at such a vital stage of the season. Perhaps the full realization of that didn’t sink in until after the decision had been made, and having enjoyed so much success with the club during his four years in charge – and with a realistic opportunity of adding more silverware this year – he may have envisioned a more distinguished way to bow out at the end of this season.

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Back Catalogue

what day is it?

September 2013

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