Urawa Reds continued their climb up the table under Ricardo Rodriguez in 2021 and their improvement earned the Spaniard MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE Best Manager honors for the year.
When Rodríguez took over Urawa for the 2020 season, the Reds were coming off of one of their worst seasons ever. They had finished 14th and Rodriguez was charged with righting the ship. Last year he began the process, by getting them into the top half of the table thanks to a massively improved attack.
This season, Rodríguez set about fixing the defense and he did it expertly. Urawa conceded just 38 goals in 38 matches a year after allowing 56 in 34 contests. Rodriguez fashioned a sturdy back line that was organized and malleable while maintaining their offensive output and, as a result, Urawa spent much of the season in the race for an AFC Champions League place before finishing sixth in the table.
It’s been a terrific two years for Rodríguez and Urawa. The Reds are historically one of Japan’s top clubs and they’d suffered a fall before the Spaniard took over, but they’ve been on the rise since he took over and now Urawa are on the up. They’re better up front, better at the back and Rodríguez is the architect of it all, making him a deserving Best Manager winner.