Tuesday 21 February 2017

2017 season, here we go

Today, a quick post they day before our 2017 season gets underway. It’s an interesting time to be a Frontale fan at the moment. We have plenty of new players and a new manager. I think all of us are hoping that Oniki will continue with the same kind of attractive attacking football that Kazama liked. If he could bring just a little more stability at the back it would be nice though!

We kick the season off with a home ACL tie against the Korean side Suwon Bluewings. A really great Korean football site K League United asked me to help with a match preview writers chat. I’ve used their image above and you can read the article here. It seems like we might be in for an entertaining game as both teams seem to play attacking football. It’s a bit of a mystery who will start for us. The new manager will put his own stamp on the side and we have some exciting sounding new players. Whether Ienaga, Abe, Michael James or Rhayner will be in the starting line up is difficult to say. I imagine Tanaka, Tabinas, Chinen and Popp are more players for the future, but I suspect we’ll see them at some stage in what is going to be a long and challenging season. We’re definitely missing two players though. Edu has just got back from Brazil and is still recovering from a shoulder operation. And Elsinho has broken a bone and will be out for three months. This is a big blow I think, but might give some of the new guys a chance to show what they can do as there is now an Elsinho shaped hole in the starting line-up.

Of course, we’ve also lost a few players, one more notable than the others. The move of Okubo to FC Tokyo seems to have caused a few people to put them as favourites to take the J League title which seems a bit of a surprise to me. Certainly, they don’t have the ACL to distract them, but judging on his performances in the second half of last season, I don’t think they have signed the gem they think they have in Okubo. I’m sure after I’ve said this that he’ll prove me completely wrong and do well, but I think he doesn’t offer as much anymore as he has in the past and I’ll even go as far to say that I think we might do better without him. I wish him all the best though, apart from when he plays us, when I hope he has a stinker.

We kick off the J League season on Saturday away at Omiya on Saturday. I think we owe Omiya a beating after last season’s debacle. Although to be honest, most of the disasters on that day were of our own making, so we can’t complain too much. It did feel a bit like that was a game where another piece dropped off our disintegrating title challenge. And a significant one, like a wheel or something. It gives Ienaga a very early chance to return to his previous team. I wonder what kind of reception he’ll get from them. Hope the kazoku behave themselves this time. We definitely don’t need any more of that nonsense.

So, to round up, I was wondering what people think will happen this season. Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinions on how we’ll do in the league and the ACL, who might win the league (if you don’t think it will be us…). Personally speaking, I think we’ve got a tough ACL group but could sneak through the group stage. I have absolutely nothing to base this on though. As for the league, I think it’s going to be a lot more open this year. To be honest, last year it was pretty much only Urawa, Kashima and us in it for most of the year, but I think Gamba will be sniffing around the top this year and people are saying FC Tokyo, but we’ll see about that. Cerezo seem to have some pretty good players too, so they could surprise. I think the top teams will be a lot closer though and that everyone will be taking points off each other. Could be an exciting season! Just hope that things gel quite quickly for us and we can kick on from last years disappointment. COME ON FRONTALE!

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