COVID-19 threw a spanner in the works for Cklamovski, who had coached just one J.League match before the season was put on hold for almost five months because of the pandemic.
Cklamovski had already been given a mandate to make sweeping changes but when Japanese football authorities opted not to enforce relegation this year because of the disruption caused by the coronavirus, he was freed up even further to put the building blocks in place for a Postecoglou-inspired tactical revolution, favouring aggressive attacking tactics and young players at every turn.
Despite their poor results, he was expected to at least see out the season. But sources familiar with the situation said Cklamovski had become frustrated with Shimizu’s inactivity on the recruitment front – having not brought in any players during the last two transfer windows – and believed his vision for the future was no longer aligned with the club.
Faced with the prospect of a drastically reduced budget for next season and with no confidence the club would back him to make the changes he felt were necessary, Cklamovski sought a release from his contract, which was granted by S-Pulse on Sunday.
Shimizu had shown flashes of serious promise during Cklamovski’s tenure – most notably in a thrilling 4-3 defeat to Postecoglou’s Yokohama F. Marinos in August – but some supporters had grown increasingly restless over the course of the year as the losses piled up.
According to a Yahoo! Japan report, however, the team was given a standing ovation by the S-Pulse away fans who travelled to watch their scoreless draw with Kashiwa Reysol on Saturday – suggesting that at least some sections of the club’s fanbase were prepared to give him more time.
Cklamovski is believed to be keen on seeking another opportunity in Japan rather than an immediate return to the A-League.
Meanwhile, Postecoglou’s hopes of back-to-back championships are in tatters, with F. Marinos languishing in seventh spot on the J.League ladder – 24 points behind leaders Kawasaki Frontale, with five games left to play.
With the title race over, Yokohama will soon turn their attention to the AFC Champions League, which resumes next month in a hub in Qatar. Postecoglou’s side is in Group H alongside Sydney FC, who they trounced 4-0 earlier this year.
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.