Saturday, 28 March 2009

Depth - Fearing The Unknown

I remember going to Fukuari in 2007 during the Robert Verbeek regime and seeing one of the most blatantly negative lineups in Omiya Ardija's short and tumultuous history. If I recall correctly, we had Mauricio Salles as the lone target man and Takuro Nishimura as an attacking wing. We had no chance of scoring, not much of a chance of tying, and our only question was when Bob would decide which defensive midfielder was going to be subbed in and which would come out. We stunk, we knew it, and there was some comfort in that.

Flash forward to March 25th, 2009 and you saw the kernel of a deep, attacking team starting to appear. Finally, we are two-deep at the keeper position. We have many options up top at the striker and wing positions. We might have extra options at branch with the return of Captain Yoshiyuki Kobayashi.

And finally we have a glimpse of depth at the troubling full back position. Against Albirex Niigata in midweek, Kohei Tokita played a respectable ninety minutes at a new position. He wasn't great, he got burned numerous times by the tandem of Marcio Richardes and Gilton (who is a GREAT pickup for Albirex... pure speed, combined with a monster body. He would have been a great signing) but he was better. A lot better than the pre-season showing against Tochigi.

I like the fact that Tokita is trying to make himself as versatile as possible. What scares me is the lingering feeling that they are trying to use him as a replacement for Taishi Tsukamoto, of whom I'm a huge fan - partly because Omiya's record in all competitions since he hit the starting line-up towards the end of last year has been 5-4-2. In the new system, it seems like the wing play is getting stuck because of the more methodical approach of Chikara Fujimoto and Hayato Hashimoto. Wednesday saw a more wide-open game with Daisuke Watabe playing the wing position; I would love to see a Watabe - Tsukamoto combination on the right-hand side.

I'm not sure who loses time with the addition of Yoshiyuki and Denis Marques. Do we revert back to last year with a central midfield of Yoshiyuki and Yosuke Kataoka (who is like Lazarus in his ability to creep back into the starting XI... as long as he has a roster spot, he's always a threat to play)? Will we see Denis and Chikara choke off the offense with dazzling displays of dribbling that end up frustratingly producing no goals or chances? Will we see Klemen Lavric play again? And do we have anyone on the roster that can put up a decent cross on a consistent basis?

I don't know. I'm hopeful that these additions make us a stronger squad, but I fear that it makes us a more... disgruntled squad. I also fear that the young guys are going to get buried and the usual suspects will come back to lead us to another disappointing thirteenth place finish. I still don't know this coach and I don't know if he knows this team yet. So color me cautiously optimistic. I am completely freaked out about this next game against Assault and Battery FC, who will probably muck it up enough to get a 1-0 result. I don't like Trinita. I never will. And I pray for the day that Pericles Chamusca and his twin towers of Brazilian thuggery in the middle find their way to new employment in Qatar or some other awful league.

More Thoughts on Nabisco Cup Game 1

I liked the installation of our three small forwards on the field at the same time. I think I like it better at the end of a game rather than the start. That's why I'd like to see Klemen come back and play as a sixty-minute man. His size would wear down any central defensive combination and soften them up enough to let the little speedsters attack. I don't know why Klemen and Jang Wae Ryong don't see eye to eye, but I hope they can figure out what the problem is and fix it.

Takahiro Takagi looked pretty good in net, making only one big mistake on the free kick that led to Gilton getting a score. He looks much better than when he was behind the porous Consadole defense (not so great a game at the other end for Takashi Kitano, who managed to stand and watch as Naoki Ishihara's slow roller curled just in to the net. Ishihara was touted for his speed, but it looks like his positioning is what gets him his goals... which pretty much makes him the anti-Kota Yoshihara).

Best signing of the year so far has to be Mato Neretljak. He has been one of the best defenders in the J-League and a dangerous offensive option to boot.

My Three Stars

1. Watabe

2. Mato

3. Ishihara

Hey, check out J2!

Our man Hiroshi Morita has already lit up the scoring sheet with two game-winning goals in four appearances for Ventforet Kofu; Kota Ogi has also solidified a weakness with some stellar play in net. On the same night Morita hit his winner versus Vegalta, Kota Yoshihara scored for Mito. I don't remember them scoring on the same day for Omiya. I could be wrong. Anyhow, congratulations to all three men and good luck for the rest of the year.



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