Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Agent Orange Reports - Things I Like And Don't Know Why / Mailbag

Last week I heard that French Rock God Johnny Hallyday had gone into a coma because of complications from an injury. I didn't even know there was a Johnny Hallyday. I perused Youtube to find out what he sounded like and found the little gem below. It's in French so I don't understand a word of it but I really like it for some reason. I know some of you out there will say, "Agent Orange, your taste in music is like a kindergarten connoisseur, so kindergarten-y and connoisseur-y, it's almost as kindergarten-ish as your takes on soccer, you connoisseur of all things music, soccer and kindergarten!" I know I probably should get into more sophisticated music, like Sestre [they're no Perfume, are they - F], but I like what I like and you can you like what you like.

I kinda feel the same way about the rumors with Omiya. While centerback wasn't the number one need, picking up in Yuki Fukaya a 27-year-old who can slot into two positions and has championship experience is not that bad an idea. I really like the idea of bringing in a 23-year-old keeper who is on the cusp of being a national team mainstay. I am not bothered about Arata Sugiyama from Ventforet Kofu or Takanobu Komiyama from Yokohama F Marinos, although Junichi Inamoto would be a big coup. I don't know why I have good feelings about this, I just do.


Anonymous of Slovenia writes:

"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."

I don't really understand what you are trying to say so I will kind of infer. First, I think Sanfrecce Hiroshima did much better than expected this year and should be applauded for the way they stuck together through relegation in 2007 and the return season. Fourth place was very laudable - and slightly misleading. Let me delve into it.

When Ilian Stoyanov left the team, Sanfrecce was still in the top three, pushing up towards first. After Stoyanov left, the team went 3-4-2 (they were 3-6-2 overall in games without the Bulgarian NT player, as opposed to 12-5-6 with him), including a five-game winless streak which saw them lose ground on the top two, get passed by Gamba Osaka and humiliated 7-0 by Kawasaki Frontale. The winless streak probably would have gone to six, if not for a red card given to Shin Kanazawa in the 60th minute of their 1-0 win against Omiya. Before the sending off, Sanfrecce had managed one shot. In sixty minutes.

The other two Hiroshima wins were against Jubilo Iwata - who had packed in the season a month earlier and were in the midst of a six-game winless streak and a four-game losing streak - and a slumping Kyoto Sanga who managed one win on the road all season. Add to that the fact that teams like Shimizu S-Pulse and Albirex Niigata had shifted their focus to the Emperor's Cup, Urawa Reds was in the midst of emotional breakdown and FC Tokyo were on a slide as a result of injuries and a schedule which saw them cram in four matches in a thirteen-day period and you get the flattering fourth place result.

I love the enthusiasm and the way Sanfrecce played at the start of the season. I'm just not quite convinced of their mental make-up. They are a team that rides the wave of emotions, which is great... when you are winning. When things go bad, like injuries and injustice, Sanfrecce tends to panic.

Exhibit 1: 7-0 loss to Kawasaki after an early red card.

Exhibit 2: not being able to beat Jubilo or Oita Trinita to advance to the Second Round of Nabisco Cup, even though both teams had long been eliminated from the competition.

Exhibit 3: not being able to win for over a month after losing a key player (they lost at home to a mediocre J2 team in the Emperor's Cup as well during that same stretch).

Right now, their goalkeeping isn't great. And I don't care what side it is that you do this to, but taking away both their main defender and their offensive leader (Yosuke Kashiwagi, who managed eight goals and nine assists and is now a member of the Urawa Reds) is going to cripple a team.

That stretch of nine games kind of showed an inkling of Sanfrecce's makeup. They looked a lot more like the 2007 team that dropped to J2 than they did the team near the top earlier in the season. Stoyanov is the only reliably physical player on that team. Others try, but they are not as disciplined. You want to succeed in the ACL? You need physically and mentally tough guys who can exert their will, even when they face dodgy officials.

Anonymous - I may not be a connoisseur like you (or probably Babelfish) put it, but at least I can put a coherent argument together. The next time you decide that you want to leave a comment (or six of the same ones over and over and over), sign your name.

Steve "Agent Orange" Barme

PS Go fuck yourself.



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