Should your club hire an Asian coach?
If an A-League club can sign a player of Shinji Ono’s calibre as its marquee, why not sign a marquee Japanese coach like Akira Nishino?
On New Year-s Day, the Central Coast Mariners learned that Kashiwa Reysol would join them in an already tough AFC Champions League group after winning Japan-s famous Emperor-s Cup.
The team from northern Chiba beat relegated Gamba Osaka 1-0 in front of a packed house at Tokyo-s National Stadium courtesy of a solitary goal from defender Hirofumi Watanabe.
One interested spectator was surely Akira Nishino - a man who for four years coached Kashiwa Reysol before turning his attention towards transforming Gamba Osaka into one of the most successful clubs in Asia.
Nishino was at the helm when Gamba thumped Adelaide United in the 2008 ACL final but decided to step down as coach in Osaka at the start of 2012 after a decade in charge.
He was undoubtedly Gamba-s most successful coach, leading the Osakans to their first and only J. League title in 2005 and a runners-up place five years later, as well as two Emperor-s Cups along with that coveted Asian title.
And he did it playing some of the most attractive football ever seen in Japan, with Nishino-s sides renowned for consistently outscoring their opponents thanks to their free-flowing attacking football.
Indeed, when the subject of who should coach the Japanese national team came up, Nishino-s name was always one of the first mentioned in Japan-s vociferous sports press.
Gamba clearly struggled without their long-time mentor and finished the 2012 campaign in 17th place, dropping into the second division for the first time in their history as a result.
It was also a disappointing year for Nishino.
Appointed coach of Gamba-s neighbours Vissel Kobe midway through the season, the 57-year-old was unceremoniously sacked with four games still to play as Kobe fought desperately to avoid relegation.
They failed to do so, but it was a rare blot on Nishino-s otherwise spotless managerial copybook.
And it begs the question that if an A-League club can sign a player of Shinji Ono-s calibre as its marquee, why not sign a marquee Japanese coach like Nishino as well?
He clearly has the credentials, speaks a reasonable level of English and would no doubt relish the challenge of pitting his wits against Australia-s best coaches.
All it would take is a little thinking outside the box for an Australian club to suddenly have one of the most knowledgeable coaches in Asia calling the shots.
Ironically it-s the much-maligned Takeshi Okada leading the way when it comes to export Japanese coaches.
The bespectacled tactician came in for fierce criticism after Japan limped through qualification to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, only for Okada to steer the Samurai Blue to a shock second round appearance.
And just like Nishino-s famed Gamba side, Okada had his Japanese team playing slick passing football built around a side of fleet-footed attacking talent.
Okada is now in charge at Chinese Super League outfit Hangzhou Greentown, who finished the last Chinese campaign in a mid-table position.
The pressure is on Okada to get Hangzhou challenging for an ACL place this season as he-s at the vanguard of Japanese coaches testing their skills overseas.
And if the quality of Western Sydney Wanderers star Ono is any indication, there-s plenty the A-League can learn from the Japanese game.
It could do worse than try to learn it from Akira Nishino, who will no doubt keep a close eye on one of his former clubs Kashiwa when they take on the Mariners in Group H of the 2013 ACL.
With a little bit of forward thinking, one day Nishino could keep a close eye on the A-League as well.