After a few months of speculation, news has officially broken than Gamba have made the anticipated change of manager with Masanobu Matsunami (38) being replaced by former Shimizu S-Pulse player and manager Kenta Hasegawa (47).
Hasegawa had been tipped as the successor to Matsunami for a few months now and it comes as no surprise to Gamba fans that the decision has been made to drop Matsunami from the job. Hasegawa was the manager of S-Pulse for six seasons between and including 2005-2010. Apart from his first season when Shimizu finished just outside the relegation zone, he consistently put them in the top half of the table, flirting with 4th to 7th position in those years. His record in J1 in total is = Played 204, Won 89, Drew 53, Lost 62. This is a win percentage of 43.63% and games where at least a point was taken is 69.61%. Comparing this Matsunami’s record (see below), Hasegawa is much more able to convert point-taking games to a win rather than the draws that were so costly to Gamba last season.
Although I have not watched Shimizu under Hasegawa and therefore I do not know what their style of play was, what I can say is that the management of the club are attempting to rectify their errors from last season by bringing in an experienced manager who should be able to get the team back to J1 as long as he is allowed time and money to build his own team.
I wish Kenta a prosperous time as Gamba manager and I, as well as all the other Gamba fans, be it Japanese or us proud and rare foreign supporters, hope he can get us back to where we belong for the 2014 season. It will not be easy at all, but let’s support him and the team together. 頑張れガンバ！
In regards to Matsunami, the 2012 season was seen as a consolidation season with the change of managers at the end of March last year but Matsunami was unable to keep Gamba in J1, with the final nail in the coffin with a 2-1 defeat to Júbilo Iwata on the last day of the season.
Matsunami was close to saving some pride for the team with an impressive run to the Emperor’s Cup final but another of those defensive lapses by Daiki Niwa allowed Hirofumi Watanabe to head home the only goal of the game in the 34th minute. The run entailed wins against Cerezo Osaka in the Osaka Derby and against Kashima Antlers, but the Sun Kings added to the season record against Gamba with four wins and one draw in all competitions this season.
This defeat may just be a blessing in disguise though as the addition of six games (and potentially more) to an already long, forty-two game season, may have evaded the need for change and could have been very costly if it transpired. On the other hand, this may have ended any attraction to the club for some potential targets as well as forcing some players out the door. Only time will tell.
In a total of 43 games this season, his record was 15 wins, 11 draws and 17 defeats. This is just a win percentage of 34.88%. This is just 29.03% in the league, whilst 64.52% where at least a point taken shows that it was always going to be difficult for him to prevent the events that occurred in 2012.
Matsunami will not be leaving the club for good however, as he will become the first ever Gambassador (ガンバサダー). The job will entail working in local community co-operative activities as well as promoting grass-roots football. I’m sure that if he gives the same amount of passion and commitment to his new job as he did whilst he was manager of Gamba, he will be successful in this job. I for one wish him the best future and hope to see him back as manager one day with a point to prove. お疲れ様！