Sunday, 21 June 2009

Agent Orange Reports: Taishi Doin' Work

There are a ton of things you can criticize Seigo Watanabe and Co for during this season. Yes, the line-ups are very erratic. Yes, the communication between players and staff is not great. Yes, the handling of dissenting banners was heavy-handed (but not the full story. Some of the dissenters threw things at an Omiya staff member trying to take the banner down. Not good. Whether or not he should even have tried is another argument [btw, No]). And yes the treatment of some players on the squad has been fairly shoddy: Yoshiyuki Kobayashi should not now be in yellow.

However, when I see pictures like this I can't totally dismiss what this regime is doing.

One of the few things that Watanabe and Haruo Yuuki said that I agree with was this excerpt (tip o' the cap, Mrs F).

A. [Yuuki] I'm thinking about bringing up players who didn't play much last year. I want to win games with younger players.

A. Bringing up young players doesn't mean that we choose players who aren't good enough to win games. It's hard to say which is more important, but we need a mixture of players of different ages. Of course we want to win games, but we also want to develop players who will go on to make Omiya a better team in the future.

Who can say that this is wrong and honestly expect us to win in the future? The team now isn't a championship-winning team. Sorry, it's true. We could put in all the established guys, bunker in and possibly eke out an eleventh-place finish if everything goes right. Or we could take a chance and get some guys with huge upside some real time under fire. Look at that picture again, what do you see?

I see possibilities.

Game Notes

1. I'm sorry, I'm gonna have to disagree with the consensus who say that Taishi Tsukamoto's free kick was soft. Your angle doesn't tell the whole story. The bottom absolutely dropped out of that kick, totally handcuffing Yuuichi Mizutani. The Kyoto keeper was in the perfect position to block 99% of kicks that get to that point. Taishi pitched a sinker [? - Ed] (sorry, I'm American) that absolutely fooled the keeper. Nice shot and not that easy.

2. The whole situation was strangely reminiscent of the last two times Taishi made a big defensive error. His first league game was against Tokyo Verdy, when Diego steamrolled him for the winner. This time, the young Squirrel put Yohei Toyoda down on the ground for a penalty, rather than give him an open look into the net (not an awful move actually. I'll explain below). The second was a gaffe against Kashiwa Reysol after which he dispatched a free kick into the goal. Tonight it was a culmination of both and he stepped up again. Taishi Doin' Work!

3. I think it was probably a good decision with a man advantage to give up the penalty and take a chance that Koji Ezumi stops the PK. Letting Diego go one on one with a keeper who got absolutely shelled last week could have led to disaster. In terms of psyche, letting one in via a spot-kick is much easier to swallow then getting beat in the run of play.

4. The 4-3-3 formation was a bold choice by Jang Wae Ryong and it did what was needed. Adding a third central midfielder really shut down the Kyoto attack. The second half when we reverted back to 4-4-2 initially opened up our defense too much. It also hurt that the legendary Sidiclei was ably manning the defense and orchestrating attacks out of the back. Why he doesn't start for his team is beyond me.

5. If there is one team in the J-League that is our twin, it's Sanga. I had the pleasure of having dinner with Goru no Ura of the Oretachi No Kyoto blog and his friend D, and we had an interesting conversation about player selections, team philosophy and the like and it was truly eery to hear the similarities between their club and ourselves. His son is thoroughly convinced the red card awarded to defender Lee Jung Soo was outrageous and from what I saw, I can't disagree. Hopefully, I can make the return trip down to Kyoto.

One Star

Team effort today. Not always pretty, but you didn't feel that anyone was giving up. Very nice and I hope all the guys who played a good amount of time get the chance to start what is a key game against JEF United next week.



Anonymous,  24 June 2009 at 03:01  

What was said on the banner? Surely if it there were no profanities it was wrong of the staff to take it down..The supporter/customer should have a voice too!

Furtho 24 June 2009 at 16:43  

It's not clear which of the four banners deemed inappropriate was the one that got wrestled over. One of them referred to the club management (or "front", as they're labelled in Japanese), two were of the "Jang Out" variety and the other said "Seven-Second Soccer?", a reference to the coach's style of play. There is no suggestion that there was any bad language used. The club are saying that dissent of this type is still against both club and J-League rules, although there are certainly examples of fans at other clubs protesting in a far more extreme manner (most notoriously the huge Die, For The Sake Of Sendai banner aimed a few years ago at the then-coach of Vegalta). One assumes that the club would say that the staging of the meeting itself constitutes the fans "having a voice."

Anonymous,  24 June 2009 at 22:53  

That's shocking. We're in a similar situation with our Management here in Toronto, but we have been aloud to hang banners without any backlash from the Front Office. I understand it could hurt morale, but at the same time it shows the players that you have their backs and want change. I hope this doesn't stop future demonstrations from happening.

Furtho 24 June 2009 at 23:49  

Well, to clarify that the J-League do not have a problem with banners per se, for example that they might obscure sponsors' advertising hoardings. On the contrary, the league as an organisation is extremely keen to encourage fan involvement of exactly this type - and indeed, on their officially run Js Goal fansite are running a competition for banners made by supporters of J2 teams. Check it out here:

The issue is specifically to do with the fact that the Squirrels supporters had made, brought to the ground and displayed banners that were critical of certain aspects of the club. Ardija have a specific policy of trying to attract kids and families as a way of expanding their fanbase, so I can understand why they might be a little bit touchy about this sort of thing. But this type of reaction seems to me to be an unnecessary Disneyfication of some of the tougher realities of professional sport.

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