Sunday, 18 July 2010

Agent Orange: Lowly

I made the mistake of reading the Daily Yomiuri the other day. The headline read Kawasaki Draws With Lowly Omiya. In the article, a Kyodo news wire feed, there were two more mentions of our inept play. It made me angry, not only because it was a gratuitous slap at our team in a non-editorial piece, but because Shonan Bellmare and Kyoto Sanga's contests were mentioned and they got straight coverage. After Saturday, I'm not so angry.

That was the worst game of the season. Defensively we were fine and goalkeeper Takashi Kitano did another great job. Offensively, we were garbage. We saw the return of Chikara Fujimoto, who put in a lackluster performance. One could argue that he's not yet in full form after his period of injury, but after watching him play no defense, bog down the offense with his isolation plays to nowhere, complain about his teammates not passing it to where he wants to go, errant passing, dogging it on easily-reachable balls, falling down for no reason, arguing constantly with officials, and committing a stupid foul when it was completely unnecessary, I would say our captain is already back in his regular mid-season form. To add balance, Norio Suzuki made his debut and didn't really impress.

I didn't understand a lot of the decisions in this game. I get starting Suzuki and Chikara, because our midfield is bad. After 65 minutes of inept play on the wings, though, why sub out a defensive midfield player? An Yong Hak was the only big player among the back six. He was the only player who could match up against the behemoth young midfielder Denilson. Especially with a man up, a substitution like that smacked of Robert Verbeek tactics... Hey, we're a man up, now let's make sure we keep that tie!

Why not sub out the two wings who weren't doing a lot and bring in Daisuke Watabe and Jun Kanakubo? All Watabe did in his ten minutes of play was force three corners and put up two shots that World Cup squad keeper Seigo Narazaki had to strain to get to. Instead, he went with the plodding Dudu, whose first play was an awful long shot that ricocheted off a Nagoya defender to a Nagoya attacker and started a counter which led to the their only corner, which led to the only goal.

I don't understand why we're playing two small centerbacks over Mato Neretljak. Our team is a lot weaker and we lose an offensive weapon. I'm upset that we only got one point from two very winnable games and I don't think we can survive. Not with this squad, not with these players - and not with Chikara Fujimoto being the featured offensive player. Congratulations, Jun Suzuki, today you officially became an Omiya Ardija manager.

OK, Bigmouth, What Would You Do?

Glad you asked!

I start with Kitano, of course. Haruo Yuuki has been garbage as a technical director, but Kitano was a good pick-up.

My back four would be Arata Sugiyama, Shusuke Tsubouchi, Mato and Kazuhiro Murakami. The defense isn't the problem, I just want someone with size and another target on set pieces.

My midfield is this: Kanakubo, An, Takuya Aoki and Watabe. If we aren't going to upgrade, then we will fail. Our mids have combined for one goal this season. If we are destined to fail, then I'd much rather fail young and build a core for the J2 campaign. I imagine, though, that Captain Chikara will privately lobby for Hayato Hashimoto, Shin Kanazawa and Tomoya Uchida and I fear that we'll see that woeful foursome sometime soon (I like Shin and think he has a role off the bench, even though he was really bad against Nagoya and they took control after he and Dudu came on).

My forwards, of course, are Naoki Ishihara and Rafael. And that's our best offensive XI. We need offense. We haven't scored in over four league games. The fun fact that I read was that we are last in the league on goals scored with nine - fewer than Shonan's twelve with one more game played. We actually are tied with Joshua Kennedy, who managed to notch his nine goals in two fewer contests. Another fun fact. If we take out the two multi-goal games (Kyoto and Cerezo Osaka), we have four goals in eleven contests. So we've been held scoreless in over half of our games.

I'm not sure if anyone in the front office realizes this, because they have yet to do anything about it. And speaking of Haruo Yuuki being garbage, when are we going to pull the plug on the grand Dudu experiment? Wasn't he supposed to be this great scorer? The only time he notched a goal was against Sony Sendai. Why is he the man off the bench?

Combine all this with a packed house of people who weren't really there to support the team and don't know how to act when there are a lot of other people in a small space (hey, 30-ish SMAP-wannabe guy. Is it too much to ask you to not spread your legs wide open during a game? I don't wanna touch and I sure as hell don't wanna smell you) and it was possibly one of the least enjoyable games I've been to in a while.

Oh yeah, Marcus Tulio Tanaka whined for a majority of the game and then made the play to beat us. Excellent. Not sure how much more I can take of this.

Adios Kohei

In another move signalling the end of the Jang Wae Ryong regime, perennial personal whipping boy Kohei Tokita gets sent off to Oita Trinita to recreate the powerful Yusuke Murayama /Tokita power duo that we are were wowed by for years. I'm a little disappointed because the speedy Tokita showed moments of quality and I think the ill-advised move to side back really stunted his growth. I thought he could have served a role as late game speedster who could earn corners and free-kicks deep.

If you look at the start of last year, the golden class of 2008 looked ready to slot in at many key spots. Tokita was a bench contributor, Watabe was starting to get minutes, Taishi Tsukamoto had the right back position, Masahiko Ichikawa was a starter at forward, Aoki was playing with the U-20 National team, and even Tatsuya Kawahara was in a position to get experience at Thespa.

Now? Tsukamoto is fighting cancer, Ichikawa is still not the same after a horrible leg injury, Kawahara is out of football, Tokita is off to the cash-strapped Oita, Watabe is still not a regular player, and Aoki is starting but not in the National Team picture. What the hell happened? Here's hoping that Tokita can get some consistent time and develop his game. J2 is a good level for him right now and playing time and confidence in a low-pressure environment is the best thing for him. Good luck, Kohei.


Don't let me down, Suzuki!

Orange! Kobe is a must-win!! ARRRRRRRRGHHHHH!!!



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