Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Always The Bridesmaid

For the second time in as many years, we threw out a huge offer to a high profile Japanese national teamer. And for the second time in as many years, weeks of speculation, high-stakes bidding, sales pitches, phone calls and deep personal introspection, National Team guy says after much consternation, No thank you Omiya. Yuji Nakazawa finally made up his hair helmet-engulfed mind and decided that home is where the heart is: Yokohama.

Nakazawa did something rather rare in today's sports universe. He turned down more money from Vissel Kobe and Omiya to stay at a Marinos side rumored to be stripped to the bone by teams looking to boost their talent levels.

Please don't misunderstand, I'm irked that the afro didn't plant his lanky frame right in the heart of our defense. He would have raised the profile of our club in ways that I couldn't even dream of. But the cynical part of me thinks he didn't come because he was afraid of leaving his iconic status and falling flat on his face.

Who can blame him? Can you name one player in the game today that is identified with a team more than Nakazawa is with Yokohama? (Maybe Marcus Tulio Tanaka, but deep down some of the Urawa horde are wishing he would go to Europe and take his histrionics with him. I think it's a love/hate thing with both sides.)

Why come to a club perenially lower in the rankings and light years behind in prestige, when you already have a Herculean effort in front of you at a place where you have a comfort level? (And if you happen to be a Vissel fan thinking I'm just talking about Omiya, maybe you better put that rock down while your standing in your glass house.)

Part of me never really felt comfortable with this deal. Thirty year olds with a ton of mileage and signs of wear and tear aren't really the best bang for the buck. What happens if he gets hurt early in the contract? Omiya would still have been on the hook, forced to choose between aging guys who led us to lower-tier finishes and untested kids from college and the youth program.

The NTT pocketbook would be much harder to open and our options would be limited. Or Nakazawa could lose a step between the first and second season of the deal and we would be playing a shell of what we bought. Iconic veterans moving squads more often than not hurt both teams involved, because they leave a void for the team they bail on and they usually don't live up to unrealistic expectations at their new clubs.

Mostly, it didn't feel right because... it didn't feel right. I can't explain it but I just couldn't imagine him in orange. After everything is said and done, Nakazawa did leave a huge amount of money and security on the table to stay loyal to the team that made him a star. Even though he rejected us, it's hard not to admire the guy just a little bit. It could have been much worse: he could have gone to Kobe or Urawa.

So good luck to you, Mr Nakazawa. I think you made the right choice. And a memo to our little iconic fence sitter: Daigo Kobayashi, it's time to get off the fence and tell Alex Miller that, after serious consideration and a lovely offer, you'd rather hoist the championship in 2011 wearing Omiya orange and blue. Of course, a good chunk of that money we just saved should be passed your way.

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2 comments:

Furtho 15 January 2009 at 20:58  

Let's hope that the photos on this page suggest that Daigo is indeed preparing to stay:

http://www.ardija.co.jp/cgi-bin/info/info.cgi?month=200901&num=6376

Omiya Fan,  15 January 2009 at 22:17  

His ex-teammate Soma is apparently up for grabs. Would be a much more sensible purchase but, again would he come?

Maybe Daigo and Yoshiyuki could have a word!

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