Can Harry Kewell lift Yokohama F. Marinos out of a slump, or is he about to face the coaching axe AGAIN?



Harry Kewell’s Yokohama F. Marinos recently suffered their fourth consecutive defeat, losing 4-0 to Gamba Osaka. This result dropped them further down the table, now just sitting six points above the relegation zone.

Kewell is the third Australian manager in a row at Yokohama, following in the footsteps of Ange Postecoglou and Kevin Muscat, who both had successful times winning league titles. Kewell did get off to a successful start, guiding the team to an Asian Champions League final after taking over. They unfortunately lost that across the two legs, and since then, Yokohama have struggled to find any such form.

Fans are starting to lose patience after these results, and it seems to be the same for Kewell as he has had a couple of outbursts at supporters and officials in recent weeks. However, looking back at his managerial career, does his unsuccessful spell come as a surprise?

Harry Kewell, First Team Coach of Celtic, gestures prior to the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and Heart of Midlothian at Celtic Park on March 08, 2023 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Harry Kewell worked with Ange Postecoglou with Celtic FC in Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Kewell was appointed for his first managerial job by League 2 club Crawley Town for the 2017/18 season. Becoming the first Australian manager in the English professional leagues, he guided them to a 14th-place finish.

Only six games into the 18/19 season, Kewell made a shock move to Notts County, who were sitting bottom of League 2. This came as a surprise to many as it was seen as a downgrade from his current job.

The gamble did not pay off as he was sacked after just 11 games. However, Notts County fans were not pleased with that decision as he helped them climb up to 22nd on the table, just above the relegation zone.

After almost two years out of management, he joined Oldham Athletic in League 2 for the 2020/21 season, becoming their fifth manager in a 12-month span. Kewell had a mixed time at the club but was sacked in March of 2021 after sitting 16th on the table.

At the beginning of the 2021/22 season, Kewell was appointed manager of recently relegated League 2 club Barnet. This was undoubtedly Kewell’s worst stint yet, as he did not manage a win in his first seven games and was sacked in September with the team sitting bottom of the table.

After a year away from management, Kewell joined up with Ange Postecoglou at Celtic, where he would become an assistant. Kewell received praise during his time at Celtic and helped the team flourish to a domestic treble. Kewell stayed with Celtic after Postecoglou’s departure, continuing as the assistant for Brendan Rodgers’ return to the club. In December, Kewell was approached by Yokohama F. Marinos after the departure of Kevin Muscat.

This was seen as a huge gamble by Yokohama considering his track record, but Yokohama was persuaded by his work under Postecoglou and the club’s previous success with Muscat. Kewell started well at Yokohama, guiding them to the Asian Champions League final, where they eventually lost 6-3 on aggregate after winning the first leg 1-0. However, in the league, they have had almost no luck.

Yokohama have become used to success in recent seasons under Australian managers, but due to the club letting go of most of their valuable players for high transfer fees and not finding strong replacements, Kewell’s side is not built for a title push.

Reports coming out of Japan are that the club is beginning to discuss their next manager options. Former World Cup-winning coach Joachim Low has been one name that is reportedly being discussed. Should the opportunity for Yokohama to bring in Low present itself, it would be hard to see the club sticking by Kewell.

During a 2021 interview with Optus Sport, Kewell touched on his managerial career thus far. During the interview, he stated, “I would not change one thing I have done in the coaching aspect”. He also went on to say he feels as though he has been “hard done” by owners of his former clubs.

If Kewell departs the club, he would need some time to think about his next move. Whether he moves back into an assistant role where he has had success before, or he decides to come home to Australia to try and rebuild his managerial career here. In the past, he has been linked with multiple A-League jobs, including Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney. On the other hand, Kewell could decide to move away from coaching and move into a pundit role.

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