Sunday, 14 June 2009

Agent Orange Reports: Culture Clash

I recently ventured into my local 7-11 looking for my favorite beverage, Coca-Cola Zero. Despite the unfortunate red and black packaging, I'm addicted to the stuff. Literally. Some people have told me that my bones are going to melt because of the crap inside your average Coke Zero. Goodbye bones I guess. Anyhow to get to my point (and this is going to be magical, trust me), I saw sitting next to my magical elixir a silver-encased bottle of Coke Plus. Coke Plus used to taste like this godawful citrusy lemon-grapefruit abortion of a flavor that makes me expunge all of my recent meals in a very quick manner. Not orally either [Christ Almighty - Ed.].

To my surprise, however, the new Coke Plus had a unique new taste. Taking the modern taste of Americana, Coca-Cola decided the good people of Japan would enjoy the drink more if it included the traditional taste of green tea as well.

I think that possibly is one of the dumbest ideas I've heard. I got the perfect name for it: Devil's mansack. Seriously, some things aren't meant to be combined. Like when they made the second Blues Brothers movie with John Goodman instead of the late John Belushi, or when Van Halen replaced David Lee Roth with Sammy Hagar... and then replaced him with Gary Cherone (Gary f%$^*ng Cherone, are you serious? The guy from Extreme? Hagar was a douchebag, but Gary Cherone?).

OK, so why am I talking about diarrhea, beverages, bad sequels and 80s hair bands gone totally wrong? If you've watched Omiya Ardija this season, you can spot the connection right away. Putting together a coach who wants to change the way that soccer is played with a core squad who have resisted any and every change to their familiar slow ball is a disaster on so many levels.

Jang Wae Ryong wants a system in which players are ultimately able to slot in at multiple positions. He wants a fluid game where the team attacks and presses for ninety minutes. For four years, Omiya has played a more cautious style of absorbing multiple attacks and countering when the opportunity permits. The coach has aspirations of pushing towards the top of the J-League. The core of the team has a mindset of, "Survive for another year. Stay in J1 and we all keep our jobs."

In a perfect world, I would side with the coach. I've sat through four years of dreck, saved only by an exquisite November / December period when the team perks up and plays well enough to survive. This is followed by off-season talk of disappointment and how we will fight together next year. It's boring and predictable except for the penultimate game. Jang's theory is a complete turnaround from that. He wants attacking, flowing soccer. So do I. He wants a team of guys intuitive enough to shift and cover. So do I. He wants to win. So do I.

My problem with his system is that we don't have players that can do that. We have a few. Most of them struggle to play one position well. Multiple positions are too much to ask. We had a very good central midfielder who didn't press and attack as much as Jang would like. He's out. We have a mammoth forward who is very good at playing in the box and fairly ordinary at getting back and playing defense. So he's banished to the practice fields of Shiki. We have a young defender who has a free kick that's a thing of beauty but like everyone else on the backline he makes mistakes. So he sits and the rest play. We have a dynamic young wing who makes some mistakes but always hustles. But he plays the same position as the team captain... who makes mistakes and doesn't always hustle.

Some of the players he chooses are a mystery to me. I'm not talking about Yasuhiro Hato. He's limited and I don't think we can win with him as a starter but he does calm things down in the back. Honestly at this moment he's the best we have at left back. I also am not talking about Yosuke Kataoka. My choice is to see if the big lad Shunsuke Fukuda can play in the center but it's a question of tastes. I was all ready to tear into him when I saw the 6-2 scoreline but he played pretty well until the team leader decided to make an absolutely stupid foul in the box in a place where we were in no danger of conceding.

My problems are when he tries to force Kohei Tokita in as a defender when he is barely getting used to playing midfield at a J1 level. My problem is playing two players on the wings who hold the ball way too long and don't cross well. My problem is pulling young guys after one or two mistakes while letting veterans commit multiple mistakes without any consequences. My problem is playing Yusuke Murayama... well, ever. I think playing any starter was a waste of time today. If you weren't going to run a full squad against Reds, don't run any of them. Let the kids play in an inferno. Get some guys experience so they can challenge the old guys for jobs.

That, however, is not my major issue with the hiring of Jang. My major issue is that he is a one-year coach. If he's lucky. There are rumblings that the players aren't happy with his style and the team play has been lackadaisical of late. I compare our situation to that of the team we edged in 2007, Sanfrecce Hiroshima. They stocked their team with dynamic young talent, stuck with the coach who led them to relegation and got rid of their "veteran leadership". They committed to that coach and stuck with his system. Who's closer to winning a title in 2011?

Oita Trinita has lost a ton of games and a ton of players. How many times have the let up five goals this year? They are on year five with a team stocked with young players and a coach who plays an absolutely putrid style of soccer, but who has led them to a title. You don't hear about their players complaining or coming out with uninspired performances.

You can't have coaches that have no leverage and no real say in the formation of the team. And you can't invest in players if you don't know what system you will play. Either break it down completely and start it over, or find a coach who can get the best out of this squad. Yasuhiro Higuchi might have actually been that guy, because he was weak enough to let the players stay in their comfort level.

Stop forcing Devil's mansack down our throats.

Game Notes

1. The team didn't look that bad. The first goal was so offside that the Urawa commentators said multiple times that it looked offside.

2. Chikara Fujimoto made two absolutely stupid fouls that would have got Daisuke Watabe sent to Thespa Kusatsu on loan for all eternity if he had committed them. Shoving your elbow into the back of a guy in an area of the penalty area where he wasn't gonna score is really unforgivable (granted, Naohiro Takahara embellished it a lot), especially when you took a cheap shot earlier on a turnover for your first yellow.

3. Koji Ezumi had possibly his worst performance in an Omiya uniform. I think it's rust from being inactive for three weeks.

4. Yosuke Kataoka is now at -16. I thought he actually was doing well getting physical on Edmilson. It was when the Reds got the advantage that the Brazilian was dangerous.

5. Kohei Tokita very calmly dispatched a great pass from Shin Kanazawa into the goal. Maybe that was the spark the kid needs to be a scorer. You could see Jang was very happy for him. It was funny to see him pantomiming breathing on the sidelines.

6. You can see the difference when Naoki Ishihara is on the pitch. It opened up so much and that was lacking in the two games he didn't play.

That's it until Wednesday, or until the team decides to hire the next guy to be fired.

Gary Cherone... what a tool.



Anonymous,  14 June 2009 at 16:01  

Big problem our Omiya is styl of the game...when i wach i dont see nothing... not sistem ,not styl...notingggg...this stupid Jang Wae Ryong he thing only with runing he play...but he dosnt understand whay runing...if you look Hiroshima you will see than Hiroshima he have stayl and sistem in the game...he runing the same...but point is you must teach whay players must runing,when,wher...our idiot Jang Wae Ryong he thing he traning atletick players not soccer must now to teach and explanded players whay runing and must teach tactich and sistem...Jang Wae Ryong GOOO OUTTTT

Omiya Fan,  14 June 2009 at 17:03  

Did someone spike Agent Orange's Diet Cola?

Stiffs lost 2-1 to Sendai today. I wonder if someone will leak the findings of Wednesday's meeting?

Furtho 16 June 2009 at 16:26  

Hi Anonymous, which Japanese teams do you think play good football?

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