And so it is.
Shigeru Takada announced that he was stepping down as manager of the Yakult Swallows after the team dropped their 9th game in a row earlier tonight. Head coach Junji Ogawa will now step in as interim manager.
It seems that club president Tadashi Suzuki tried to persuade Takada to stay on, but could not.
"We kept on talking about having him stay on, and we had his understanding...," said Suzuki. "And just a little while ago, we tried to persuade him to stay, but we couldn't. He had already made his decision. This was really a sad decision for us."
Sanspo has posted parts of the press conference. Below is my English translation (these are all comments made by Takada):
What are your reasons for stepping down?
It only makes sense for the manager to step down after losing so many games. We tried a number of things, but in the end, I thought the only way to change things was for the manager to quit. I'm not sure if this was the right decision though.
What was the cause of the team's poor performance?
We got a pretty decent start at the beginning of the season. But then we stopped hitting and we started dragging our feet. I thought that we could maybe right this ship during Inter-league play, but things got even worse and I could no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel. And I also think the pressure of winning only increases with each loss.
When did you decide to step down?
Today. With the rumors of my stepping down in the media... Tomorrow, the day after... These rumors probably weren't going to die down and I thought it would just become a distraction for the team and the players. That was my main reason.
Any comments for the team?
There are still quite a number of games left on the schedule. I'd like for them to pull of a comeback. I still think it's possible.