Saturday, 31 October 2009

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So last weekend provided one of the most bewilderingly positive experiences that Squirrels fans can ever have enjoyed - a Saitama derby match that Ardija ended up dominating, Rafael scoring two goals and missing at least a couple of other good chances as he connected superbly with Chikara Fujimoto. It is hard to think of any recent game in which Omiya's front players were allowed such a large amount of space by the opposition defence, but in particular after they were reduced to ten men with the dismissal of Robson Ponte this was an especially weak Reds performance.

As well as a desperately-needed win, the three points have taken the Squirrels a major step towards J1 survival, as they now lie nine points ahead of Kashiwa Reysol with four matches remaining. Of course this in itself has to go down as good news, but after posting a particularly gloomy preview a week ago it would be silly now to believe that Jang Wae Ryong's Omiya are anything more than an inconsistent, lower-half-of-the-table side. Exactly the same kind of team that his predecessors have delivered ever since Toshiya Miura gained promotion.

Saturday sees Ardija rejoin what the club are trying to market as the Road to ACL, as Vegalta Sendai visit Omiya Park for an interesting-looking Emperor's Cup Third Round tie. There are question marks over the line-up that Vegalta might select, given that their priority for the remainder of the season will surely be to move up from J2, while there are rumours that Dudu will pick up another start for Omiya. A cup run would certainly add some considerable excitement to the latter stages of a what has mainly been a wasted year. Let's see if Jang can deliver that.



Anonymous,  31 October 2009 at 14:57  

wasted year? How so?

Furtho 1 November 2009 at 19:27  

Yes, I think that 2009 has been a wasted year when you bear in mind where the club was in 2005 and what the targets of club management supposedly are, i.e. among others, to win the J-League in 2011, with a shorter term aim having been to gain an ACL spot for next year. I feel massively frustrated about this.

Nobody would suggest that a club like Omiya wouldn't take a good while to bed down at J1 level, but we have been in the top division for five seasons now and on the pitch there is absolutely no sign of any progress having been made: we were a bottom six team in 2005 and we're a bottom six team in 2009 as well.

Miura got us promoted and kept us up for two years - with hindsight, that's beginning to look like an even more impressive achievement. Verbeek and Higuchi for a variety of reasons didn't take things forward and Jang hasn't done so this year, either, although one key distinction between them is that Jang has had strong support from club management, whereas Verbeek and Higuchi arguably were operating in much more restricted circumstances.

At the meeting between management and fans in June, Watanabe and Yuuki continued to be supportive of Jang, reiterating that they had faith in their man. Well, that's what management should do, so I cannot criticise them for that.

However, less positively, time has proved them to be completely wrong in their decision-making. Watanabe and Yuuki appointed on a one-year contract someone whose stated professional goal is to be the Korean Olympic coach, not someone who wants to win the league with Ardija in 2011. I am not blaming Jang for having his own professional ambitions, but when they do not tally with those of the club that he's coaching, that becomes a lot more problematic.

In a nutshell, on the pitch Omiya is the same club that it was in 2005. Jang has messed up this season, falling woefully short of the target that he was supposed to meet, but it's Watanabe and Yuuki who must take the responsibility for overseeing the overall progress of Ardija and Watanabe in particular via the decisions he has made has demonstrated that he simply is not up to the job.

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