Vissel Kobe, a J-League first-division club, announced the departure of manager Atsuhiro Miura on Sunday, as they remain winless after seven top-flight games this season.
Vissel is 16th in the J1 with four points after four draws and three losses, with their sole win this season coming in extra time in an Asian Champions League playoff versus Melbourne Victory of Australia.
Miura, who had been in charge since September 2020 and was previously the club’s director of sport, stepped down on Sunday, with the squad third from bottom of the table.
Despite the presence of World Cup champion Iniesta and former Barcelona teammates Bojan Krkic and Sergi Samper, Vissel have only taken four points from seven games.
Miura led Vissel to third place in the J-League last season and to the AFC Champions League semi-finals in 2020, but he has yet to win a trophy for the big-spending club.
“I’m disappointed to be leaving before the team has fulfilled its goals,” Miura said in a statement released by the club.
“I’ve been involved in the big changes that have taken place at Vissel since 2018 and I’m deeply grateful that I’ve been able to fight alongside the club and its fans.”
After more than 600 games for Barcelona, Iniesta joined Vissel in 2018 and played alongside former Spain teammate David Villa and German World Cup winner Lukas Podolski in Kobe.
Iniesta, 37, inked a new two-year contract deal in May of last year.
With a 4-3 playoff win over Australia’s Melbourne Victory last week, Iniesta helped Vissel qualify for the AFC Champions League group stages next month.
Vissel, owned by tech tycoon Hiroshi Mikitani, one of Japan’s richest men, have also recruited several Japan internationals in recent years, notably striker Yuya Osako.
Miura, a former Vissel player, took over as head coach when Thorsten Fink stepped down at the end of the 2020 season. He led Vissel to their first ACL semifinal participation that year, followed by a third-place finish in the J1 last year, the club’s best-ever result.
Yet they have failed this season and they have a new interim manager in charge of them.
Lluis Planaguma Ramos, Kobe’s Spanish coach, has been designated temporary manager, with the 41-year-old expected to take command of his first game on April 2 against promoted Kyoto Sanga at home.