Higuchi steps down from Yokohama F. Marinos after another disappointing season

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Yokohama F.Marinos vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors - AFC Champions League Group G

on Saturday announced the resignation of manager Yasuhiro Higuchi at the conclusion of the 2014 season.

The 53-year-old took the reins at the storied club beginning in 2012, leading the aging side to a surprising fourth-place finish.

Expectations were even higher in 2013, with many believing it to be the last chance for aging stars such as Shunsuke Nakamura and Yuji Nakazawa to win the coveted league title.

But after a strong campaign that saw Marinos spend most of the year on top of the table, they stumbled down the stretch and ceded the championship to Sanfrecce Hiroshima on the final day of the season.

An Emperor’s Cup final win against Sanfrecce a month later gave league MVP Nakamura a long-awaited domestic title, but Higuchi has came under fire over the course of the 2014 season for what many considered to be uninspired tactics.

“I apologise for our failure to be involved in a title race this season,” Higuchi said in a statement issued through the club, “and can offer nothing but gratitude to our supporters.

“Marinos are a club with a lot of possibility, and I sincerely hope that they can continue to grow and be a leader in Japanese football.”

The 2004 J-League champions are in 10th place with three games remaining this season.