Monday, 8 June 2009

Agent Orange Reports: The King Of Omiya

I'll be blunt. The Nabisco Cup performance against Yokohama F Marinos made me sick and angry. There were a few bright spots, which I'll touch upon later, but for the most part the team that was assembled out there was lacking in effort, intelligence and skill. At one point, the side featured a central midfielder at central defender, two center midfielders on the wings, a wing player at forward and a central defender at forward. None of them were effective. You could argue that the main culprit in this was the manager. Jang Wae Ryong put out a line-up that for the most part lacked any pace or ability to serve up chances to our attacking players.

The free kick duties fell to the modest skills of Denis Marques and Chikara Fujimoto. Our two players with any real speed, Tomoya Uchida and Park Won Jae, were left out. In their places were a young player who lacks strength and finishing skill in Kohei Tokita and an older player who lacks speed and good decision-making in Yusuke Murayama. Tokita did nothing on the offensive end, but got back well on defense and he was pulled at half time for an eager but ultimately limited Ryohei Arai.

Both of Marinos' early goals were right at Murayama's left-back spot. The first came about when Fujimoto turned the ball over and neither he nor Murayama bothered to run back. The second happened when Murayama stopped when he thought young forward Takaya Kawanabe was offside and gave up on the play altogether. Mato Neretljak did a decent job of making both chances difficult but unfortunately, the big man can't do it by himself. Numerous times, Yokohama attackers ran past the erstwhile wingback and Jang did nothing to adjust.

Denis Marques got the start and did his usual dribble / giveaway / jog back on defense. I'm not sure what happened between his picking up the injury last season and now, but he looks less than motivated. By my estimation in all competitions he is a minus -11, beating only Yosuke Kataoka's dismal -12. My special batch of bile, though, [Ewww - squeamish Ed.] has to fall at the feet of newly-minted captain Chikara Fujimoto, who gave away chance after chance. That would be frustrating enough, but to watch him walk back when Marinos broke as a result of his errant passes time and again was not only distressing, it was pathetic.

Numerous times he drifted into the center of the field, leaving Murayama alone on the left like a lame deer surrounded by wolves. It was an inexcusable display by someone who should be leading by example, not through his exaggerated gestures of disappointment when he misses a shot or turns over a pass. I cannot help but compare Fujimoto's performance to the last time I saw Yoshiyuki Kobayashi play for Ardija before his move to Kashiwa Reysol. Ironically, it was at Hitachi (where he made his Sun Kings debut in the 1-1 Nabisco Cup tie with Montedio Yamagata) in a friendly game.

The weather was awful, the game was meaningless and fewer than 100 people were in the stands, yet Kobayashi hustled on every play, making sure he was involved, directing the offense and breaking up Reysol attacks. Compare that to the game today - a chance to eliminate Marinos from the competition and have our destiny in our hands to move on (if you care about the Nabisco Cup. I don't, but I'm not playing). Far more important than a friendly. Yet here is our new captain, taking shots from near the half-way line, slowing down our attack and giving away balls on breakaways.

The one shining moment was a pass from Kataoka, which he took into the box close range, shot straight into the keeper and performed his patented dance when the hustling Yoshihito Fujita forced the Sailors' defender to put the ball into his own net. Yeah, he did his dance right in front of the Yokohama faithful because of an own goal. Very classy, Chikara. Very captain-like indeed.

I'm sorry for saying this out loud, but am I the only one who thinks we gave Kashiwa the wrong captain? And am I the only one who is starting to think that we will go on achieving similar results until we get rid of this culture of changing managers every year and then half-assing it until we are in extreme danger?

Some more questions. Was that the best this team could do after being absolutely embarrassed in Hiroshima? That's how you respond? That's how your captain responds? That's how your highest-paid player responds?

Game Notes

1. The two center-backs were the bright spots on an otherwise dismal day. Mato Neretljak was solid as usual and was vocal in his displeasure at the numerous Murayama breakdowns. It was really great to see Daisuke Tomita come back and play an excellent game. Numerous times he ran in and broke up dangerous chances. It looks like he got his legs back and was really focused.

2. Kataoka and Yasuhiro Hato were mostly alright until the third goal, when Kataoka did an absolutely awful backpass to keeper Takahiro Takagi who sent a lame clearance to the middle of the field. The two defenders then both stared as the ball went to Kenta Kano, who put a weak shot past the out of position keeper. Hato however had earlier stood by as Koji Yamase put the first one in.

3. Shin Kanazawa did a decent job again breaking up the attack but when he and the immortal Masato Saito were asked to play wings, our attack suffered (well, suffered more than it already did). I think the big problem was that Kataoka and Kanazawa are both very limited as playmakers and rookie Ryohei Arai is even more limited. It's a lot like last year when Naoya Saeki and Kataoka would start in the middle. Neither was good at seeing the offense in a bigger way, they just saw the first open player in front of them.

4. Fujita forced a couple of good errors out of the young Marinos keeper but lost steam near the end.

5. If I see one more Omiya player direct their pass to another player, I'm gonna scream. You might as well tell the opposition who, where, and when you're going to pass to.

Three Stars

1. Daisuke Tomita

2. Mato Neretljak

3. Takahiro Takagi I suppose.

I'm sorry, not a great read today. Omiya's own Kazu Miura pissed me off.



Anonymous,  8 June 2009 at 07:04  

Jang Wae Ryong GOOOOO OUTTT...he destroy Omiya...gooooo back in Korea...gooooo

Furtho 8 June 2009 at 16:27  

Chikara Fujimoto is saying on his blog that this is the toughest time he's experienced since coming to Omiya. Remembering what's happened over the last few years, that seems to me to be quite a claim.

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