Sunday, 13 December 2009

Agent Orange Reports - Eight Men Out

I do understand the reasoning behind Ardija's release of eight players at the end of this year's campaign. Here are the bios on each:

Nobuhisa Kobayashi (GK) Had to beg the squad to be brought back after almost getting cut in 2007. Did not appear in a game.

Takahiro Takagi (GK) After having a nightmare of a season with Consadole Sapporo in 2008, he came back to Omiya, started out strong in the Nabisco Cup - and then melted down, allowing seven goals in a game and absolutely shanking a clearance to Yokohama F Marinos, effectively assisting on the goal that put us out of that competition.

Takaya Kawanabe (MF) Touted Omiya youth product who failed to make an impression during his time with the big squad.

Haruki Nishimura (DF) The first of four current Omiya youths. The only noteworthy thing he did was have a support banner with the slogan Grip The Dream. No appearances in a game.

Tatsuya Kawahara (DF) One appearance... for Thespa Kusatsu... in J2.

Yusuke Murayama (DF) Came over from Shonan Bellmare in 2007 to save the season. In 2008 he helped to nearly doom it. 2009 was even worse.

Yasuhiro Hato (DF) Four-year starter who failed to score or consistently put up assists. Approaching 34 and rumored to be the highest-paid Japanese player on the squad. Losing speed.

Daisuke Tomita (DF) Been with the team since J2. Lost his spot to Yosuke Kataoka and also on the wrong side of 30. Didn't seem like he was the current regime's type of player.

I understand the thinking - the Haruo Yuuki / Jang Wae Ryong braintrust don't think that any of these players will be able to contribute to a 2011 championship. I agree. We have to start getting in better players who can compete consistently with Kashima Antlers, Urawa Reds, FC Tokyo, Shimizu S-Pulse and eight other teams that seem consistently to finish well ahead of us in the standings. I think we need to cut and fortify other positions, so I imagine that we have yet to see the end of the turnover.

What I have a huge problem with is the crass and frankly rude way that these men were let go. You don't treat people like that, even if you do think they can't help you in the long run. You let them say goodbye to the fans and the team in a proper manner. More importantly, you let the fans say goodbye to them.

1. You let them say goodbye to a keeper that begged the team to come back.
2. You let them say goodbye to a keeper that took a reserve role after being a J1 starter.
3. You let them say goodbye to two kids who started in the youth system and marked a change in the structure and thinking of our franchise.
4. You let them say goodbye to a very nice and humble guy who took time out to talk with a couple of guys in a language he wasn't comfortable with.
5. You let them say goodbye to a hard-working guy.
6. You let them say goodbye to a consummate professional and a guy who represented his country and helped make Omiya a reasonable destination for free agents.
7. You let them say goodbye for six years of giving everything he had to keep this team in J1 and stepping in to help solidify a defense in its most crucial stretch, even though your hand-picked coach didn't think much of him.

You sure as hell don't cut them without a word except, "You can try out again next year." Not because it's polite. Not because it's the decent thing to do (although it is and you should). You do it because other people are watching. Including guys you want to sign. Destruction is easy. Creation, that's the hard part.

Mato Gets Credit

No, not from the J-League in their annual Let's Recognize One Kashima Guy And Ten National Team Member Awards. I'm taking about the opinion-makers. Not only did Mato Neretljak win the coveted and completely non-existent GGOA Player Of The Year trophy*, he also [less importantly - F] claimed a spot in El Golazo's finalist list for Top XI players of 2009 and a spot on Weekly Soccer Digest Best XI. I don't speak Croatian, so Muy Bueno, Senor Mato!

Handicapping The Emperor's Cup

Well, it's down to the final four plus FC Gifu for the Emperor's Cup and we are all waiting with baited breath to see who wins. Well, I don't care but whatever. Anyhow, I think Nagoya Grampus will take the title. Here's why. If Gifu wins, it would be embarrassing for J1 and the ACL trip would pretty much bankrupt the franchise. No way they have eleven players eligible, even if they make it to the final. Shimizu won't win because Kawasaki is out and now they are the team most likely to flame out in the final. And I hate Frode Johnsen. Vegalta won't win because then they would have to play ACL games in their first year of J1 and that would absolutely decimate a team that isn't that deep.

I am however rooting for them to win because they now have been crowned with the Hands Down, 100% Best Fans In All Of Japan And Possibly The World Because We Used To think That Urawa Was But We Got Tired Of Them... Really, Sick Of Them Award and I'd like to see how people react when they get relegated and their fans are back to throwing around death threats to the coach, like in 2005. Gamba are the favorites but I'm not sure that Sanfrecce is up to the task of playing ACL, especially if they are losing Yusuke Kashiwagi and possibly Ilian Stoyanov. Nagoya it is then.

Agent Orange Best XI And More

GK Naoki Shimizu (Montedio Yamagata) That team is in J2 if he doesn't stand on his head all year. He was the perfume on that stink.
DF Marcus Tulio Tanaka (Urawa Reds) Not a great year by his standards, but the other three on that back line were awful. Vaya Con Dios!
DF Mato Neretljak (Omiya Ardija) Take a look at the Best XI J-League list. Take a look at the defenders. If you switched them with Mato, do you think Omiya would have been better or worse? What about Shimizu, Urawa or FC Tokyo? That's why he's on the list. And the eight goals don't hurt either.
DF Daiki Iwamasa (Kashima Antlers) Physical presence and a lockdown defender on the best defense in J1.
DF Ilian Stoyanov (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) Wanna know how important he was? Watch Sanfrecce after he left. Not so hot.
MF Naohiro Ishikawa (FC Tokyo) Excellent season before the injury and the guy that carried FC Tokyo on his back and dragged them from the bottom.
MF Yosuke Kashiwagi (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) More of a forward than a midfielder, Kashiwagi was the engine that drove a dynamic team to fourth.
MF Mitsuo Ogasawara (Kashima Antlers) Rock in the middle of the best team in Japan.
MF Marcio Richardes (Albirex Niigata) Still under-rated. Albirex is in J2 without him.
FW Lee Keun Ho (Jubilo Iwata) The team was dead in the water until he came in and revitalized not only Ryoichi Maeda, but the whole offense.
FW Shinji Okazaki (Shimizu S-Pulse) Another good year for the youngster.

Newcomer Of The Year 18-year-old kid at FC Tokyo - he played well in a very difficult position. I don't know his name but he was good.

Coach Of The Year The guy with the big head at Sanfrecce - I don't know his name either and I thought they fired him when Hiroshima got relegated but he got 'em into fourth. Good job!

Player Of The Year Tiger Woods. That dude has gotta be tired after hooking up with cocktail waitresses on thirteen continents. Hope you kept the little knit cozy on the club, if y'know what I mean. Hole In One, indeed! I don't even know what that means.

All winners of this year's Agent Orange Best XI And More win a free slice of pizza and a drink at the Shin Misato Costco. Only valid for players who play for Omiya Ardija in the 2010 season, and for Tiger Woods if he hooks me up with one of his many cocktail waitress friends. I'm putting it on the green! I don't know what that means either!

Go sign players now!

(* Mato, if Furtho is too cheap to buy you a trophy, I'll spring for pizza and a drink at Costco. You met me there one time. I was the fat, intense guy with pizza sauce all in my beard. We can talk about all sorts of subjects, like who my favorite character is in Some Kind Of Wonderful and why David Lee Roth was better than Sammy Hagar in Van Halen. Or we can talk about what you like, either way is cool. Alright... um... gotta go now.)



dokool 13 December 2009 at 11:32  

According to some posts on BigSoccer, if Gifu wins the EC then the 4th ACL slot would go to Hiroshima. Apparently there's a rule about J2 clubs not being eligible? Not quite sure.

The fact that Ishikawa has consistently shown up in everyone's Best XI continues to sadden me, mainly because if he'd played through the rest of the season the odds are good that not only would he have been the goal leader but probably a shot at MVP.

Our wonderkid was Takuji Yonemoto (who just turned 19!), and I'll let him know that the next time he's up in Omiya he can get the slice of pizza from you =P

Anonymous,  15 December 2009 at 23:20  

Agent Orange, you showed that great connoisseur of football. I'd rather write articles on kindergarten as a football. Why underestimate Hiroshima team? If a small monitor and know the football to see that Iliana Stojanov played the last game of Hiroshima 12.09. and at that time was 9 on Hiroshima city. The last 9 games they played without Stojanova and get the 4th place. It is a shame all who work in football. Without football izobrazbe.Sramota Agent Orange. Write to prefer the children, soccer and football left to connoisseurs.

Anonymous,  18 December 2009 at 13:23  

huh .. ?

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