Monday, 26 April 2010

Agent Orange: Yuuki Fiddles While Jang Burns (Any Hope We Have Of Staying In J1)

Maybe it's time to reconsider Robert Verbeek's Omiya legacy. If you polled Ardija fans about their thoughts on who was the worst manager in the Squirrels' history, I'm sure there would be a fair number of votes awarded to the Dutch version of Frank Stallone. To be fair, he didn't do a great job. Here are his stats:

Played 24 (18 J1, 6 Nabisco Cup)
Won 5 (3 J1, 2 NC)
Drew 9 (7 J1, 2 NC)
Lost 10 (8 J1, 2 NC)
Scored 15 (10 J1, 5 NC)
Conceded 26 (19 J1, 7 NC)

He was fired after putting up these numbers, the only manager during Omiya's five-and-a-bit years to get the axe in the middle of a season. So now let's look at the only J1-era Ardija manager to keep his job after not accomplishing anything (Toshiya Miura got two full years after getting the club promoted... crazy, I know!). Jang Wae Ryong's stats are:

Played 52 (42 J1, 8 Nabisco Cup, 2 Emperor's Cup)
Won 13 (10 J1, 2 NC, 1 EC)
Drew 16 (14 J1, 2 NC)
Lost 23 (18 J1, 4 NC, 1 EC)
Scored 59 (47 J1, 7 NC, 5 EC)
Conceded 82 (59 J1, 17 NC, 6 EC)

Not a real convincing resume, but maybe there were some excuses behind it. Maybe Jang didn't have the team he wanted at the start of 2009. Maybe he didn't quite have his system in place. Maybe he had a lot of bad attitudes on the squad that he needed to purge. Maybe. Let's look at the stats again, only this enabling a more direct comparison of the two coaches by using just the most recent 24 games of Jang's tenure:

Played 24 (Robert 18 J1, 6 NC / Jang 20 J1, 2 NC, 2 EC)
Won 5 to 5 (Robert 3 J1, 2 NC / Jang 4 J1, 0 NC, 1 EC*)
Drew 9 to 7 (Robert 7 J1, 2 NC / Jang 6 J1, 1 NC, 0 EC)
Lost 10 to 12 (Robert 8 J1, 2 NC / Jang 10 J1, 1 NC, 1 EC**)
Scored 15 to 28 (Robert 10 J1, 5 NC / Jang 22 J1, 1 NC, 5 EC)
Conceded 26 to 33 (Robert 19 J1, 7 NC / Jang 27 J1, 2 NC, 4 EC)

* against JFL team Sony Sendai
** against then-J2 team Vegalta Sendai

In other words, Jang actually has a worse record, even with two games against lower division opposition. You might point to the goal differential and say that Jang was much more competitive in games than Robert... not so fast there, Bubba! In the five victories, Jang's squads won by an aggregate sixteen-to-four margin (last year against Kashima Antlers 3-1, Kyoto Sanga 3-1, Sony Sendai 4-2, Urawa Reds 3-0 and this year Cerezo Osaka 3-0). That means that when things are going perfectly, Jang can roll up goals on anyone. But in games in which Omiya wasn't able to score three goals or more, Jang's team has a dismal 0-7-12 with a 12 to 29 ratio.

Omiya has actually not won a game by just a single goal since July 25th of 2009. While Jang has been in charge, they have come from behind to win only one game (3-2 at Sanfrecce Hiroshima at the beginning of last season). I haven't checked the stats, but Ardija has a penchant for giving up goals in the second half: Saturday's Shimizu S-Pulse loss, Jubilo Iwata's tie, the Gamba Osaka loss, the FC Tokyo loss, Kashima's loss and the Vegalta loss all involved goals being conceded after half time and we've either had the lead or been tied in all of them, except Sendai.

How about taking a look at the two coach's rosters?

Goalkeepers - Robert Verbeek started Hiroki Aratani for all but one game of his league reign (a 3-0 loss to Gamba in which Koji Ezumi made his starting debut as an Omiya player). Jang went from a very solid Ezumi to a pretty good Takashi Kitano. Advantage: Jang.

Defense - Robert usually went with a back line of Daisuke Tomita, Leandro, Yasuhiro Hato and Takuro "Red Card" Nishimura. Jang had both Tomita and Hato, but got rid of them in favor of Yuki Fukaya and Kazuhiro Murakami. During Jang's tenure, Omiya upgraded on a solid Leandro for an even better Mato Neretljak and he also has had Taishi Tsukamoto and Arata Sugiyama as side backs; Yosuke Kataoka was on both squads. Strong Advantage: Jang.

Midfield - Like Jang, Robert had as starting players Chikara Fujimoto and Hayato Hashimoto starting, as well Yoshiyuki Kobayashi and Naoya Saeki, and even Daigo Kobayashi for a few brief injury-riddled appearances. Jang has Shin Kanazawa, An Yong Hak, Tomoya Uchida, Jun Kanakubo and other options off the bench. You might remember that the depth on Robert's team was so low that Takuro Nishimura actually started as an attacking wing in one game, a 1-0 loss to JEF United. Advantage: Jang, for the strength in depth.

Forwards - Robert had possibly the worst collection of J1 forwards in league history. Hiroshi Morita and Kota Yoshihara were two of his five rotating members. One is now playing at Mito Hollyhock, the other is in Thailand; Manabu Wakabayashi was an option off the bench and he's now back in the JFL. Omiya at that time also boasted two of the worst foreign players in J-League history in Mauricio Salles and Enilton. Jang's Omiya has Naoki Ishihara, Yoshihito Fujita and Rafael, plus substitute Masahiko Ichikawa. Advantage: Jang.

During his time as manager, Jang has been able to bring in seventeen players. Robert? Three: Leandro, Enilton and Salles. Two of those were sealed before he was named coach and only Salles was came to the club after he had taken over.

Kind of makes you feel sorry for Robert, doesn't it? It makes me wonder why Jang still has a job. It makes me wonder how long Omiya will wait before giving Jang the heave ho. It makes me wonder when General Manager Haruo Yuuki will do the right thing and resign. Nobody has really enquired why Yuuki hasn't lost his job. He's the one pulling the strings, so why has there been no real outrage over his performance? And when supporters did protest last season, didn't he promise that things would get better?

The cold fact is this. If we can't get six points in the next three games, we will be averaging less than a point a game and less than the woeful 34 points we got in the Verbeek / Satoru Sakuma era. If we can't beat Kyoto next week, we are finished. Something needs to change. My guess is that we're stuck with Yuuki. I imagine that we might get a new coach during the World Cup break. If I had to put money on it, I'd say it was Yuuki's former boss at Kofu, Takeshi Oki, who will be the new guy in charge. He's out of a job and he does have a past with Yuuki. I don't know if it will be enough.

The Shimizu Game

Furtho's touched on the game itself - it was a better performance than last week, so maybe there is a glimmer.

I do like Nihondaira. Actually, the two Shizuoka stadiums are among my favorites in the J-League, mention of which provides an opportunity to list the five best and five worst that I've been to.

The Five Best J-League Stadiums I've Been To

5. Homes Stadium, Kobe - It looks like a Costco but it's a good place to see a game.

4. Nihondaira - Would be higher up the list, but it's a little far from the pitch. The view is fantastic, though, it's like there is a stadium in a forest.

3. Hitachi, Kashiwa - Bare bones but very easy to watch a game in. Very close to the pitch.

2. Big Swan, Niigata - Don't know why but that stadium always has interesting games.

1. Toyota Stadium, Nagoya - It's a palace. It's something to marvel at.

The Five Worst J-League Stadiums I've Been To

5. Todoroki, Kawasaki - I got crapped on there. Literally.

4. Hiratsuka, Shonan - The sight lines are odd and it's not easy to look at.

3. National Stadium, Tokyo - For all its history, it's kind of a dump. Not a fun place to watch a game.

2. Komaba, Urawa - It's a dump... no history, just a dump.

1. Ajinomoto Stadium, Tokyo / Nissan Stadium, Yokohama - Both of these multipurpose stadiums have seats too far away from the pitch to be any good for viewing games. When they aren't full, both are like tombs, killing any sort of ambience. They suck.

The only real problem I had with Nihondaira was the non-segregation of fans in the away side. It made for a few uncomfortable moments when a couple of S-Pulse fans got there late and couldn't make up their minds where to sit, so they instead decided to stand in front of an Omiya supporter trying to take pictures. When the Ardija fan told them to move, they told him to shut up. Not a huge deal, but it kind of spoiled the day.

I for one am not going to let two assholes cloud my judgement of a great set of fans. I had the pleasure to meet and chat with the UK Ultras! Barry and the gang are very nice folks who have a good thing going down south. I appreciate the welcome and the hospitality and hope to return the favor on 9-11 when Shimizu comes to town!


50 more points to 55! Fire Yuuki!! Fire Jang!!! Fire the girl who helps Ardy get on the segway!!!!



David 27 April 2010 at 15:14  

Jang quits and also Fuka leaves. About bloody time.

Barry 4 May 2010 at 00:25  

Sorry to hear there was some unpleasantness down the away end. Yeah, maybe Nihondaira is just a little *too* relaxed. It's part of the place's charm, but football is football and people can rub each other up the wrong way.

Glad you enjoyed your visit otherwise, though! Always fun to meet others from the English language J. League blog world. Still not sure if I'll make it to Omiya this season, but will be in touch if I end up heading up!

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