Tuesday 27 August 2019

Vs Shimizu S Pulse (home) 24/8/19 - J League match 24

Kawasaki Frontale 2 - 2 Shimizu S Pulse

I was looking forward to this game but I guess I was just being naive in believing that me attending a game would give us a boost of luck and get us back to winning ways. Instead, it’s just business as usual for us 2019 style. Once again we had an opportunity to claw back some ground in the teams ahead of us and once again we messed it up. This game was so underwhelming yet so predictable that I am almost unable to even get irritated by our rotten, rotten form.  Not sure I’ll even have the energy to do my usual attempt at witty bullet points on this post. It will instead be a just a few paragraphs with some doom and gloom but it’s probably more dumb and glum. After we scored an encouraging first goal with a nice move things could have gone one of two ways. Another quick goal for us and I think we would have run away with the game and maybe picked up a morale boosting big win as the Shimizu defence really looked like a defence that had conceded eight in their previous outing. Instead we conceded, from what looked like a bit of a dodgy free kick earned by Douglas who seemed to have mistaken his boots for banana skins as he spent an inordinate amount of time falling and rolling around on the floor. You can’t argue with the finish though. It was a lovely free kick from him and whilst Sung-Ryong got a hand on it and couldn’t quite keep it out, it was on the side of the goal that the wall should have been protecting, so you can’t blame him too much. Shimizu did an interesting free kick routine with players kneeling in front of the wall, which seemed to catch our players attention as much as it did mine, judging by the ineffectiveness of the wall. It’s weird to think that a little while ago Sung-Ryong had the best ever save ratio in the J League. A few games later were conceding an average of two goals a game with the opposition usually only having a couple more shots on target than goals they score. I don’t know where to point the finger to be honest but I have an idea. It doesn’t feel like he’s playing badly and he’s certainly being let down by his defence at crucial moments, but you’ve got to say that the stats make for bleak reading. Taniguchi had another dodgy game I think, but he’s one of Oniki’s undroppables, particularly given that we’ve now got almost no cover there. If Nara gets fit again we should really be thinking about a centre back pairing of him and Jesiel, but I’d be truly amazed if that happened. It was nice for once to see a left back and a right back who actually play in those positions. I think both of them did ok and the substitution of Maguinho was one of the most predictable and pointless subs I’ve seen Oniki make. He clearly doesn’t really rate either Maguinho or Mawatari so as a last resort when he runs out of players to play out of position there will randomly choose one of them to start and then utterly pointlessly change them for the other one, presumably to make sure that neither gets a chance to find any form or pick up any kind of confidence.

This was a weird game to be honest. For the most part we totally dominated it, but were only able to find a way through Shimizu’s ten man defence a couple of times. Understandably after last weeks defensive disaster, Shimizu wanted to tighten things up a little, but the way they were playing they really shouldn’t have been allowed to. They came apparently looking to take a point but weirdly found themselves ahead in the second half and didn’t seem to really know what to do. In the first half after what was a nice goal from us we looked like we were finally finding some confidence again, but then we conceded and Saito got injured, the latter being quite unfortunate as Saito was looking very dangerous. I hope the injury is not too serious. Shimizu’s second goal early on in the second half was entirely our fault, a dodgy pass from Taniguchi being dithered on by Morita, the ball nicked and then Taniguchi left totally flat-footed in defence. It’s something of a miracle that we managed to get back into the game, and even more miraculous that Kobayashi took the first chance he had as it normally takes him a while to get going and find his range in games. Recently, it has sometimes taken more than 90 minutes! I do feel that if he is forced to play instinctively he’s a lot better than if he has time to think about what he’s doing. Perhaps this is also a confidence thing. It’s bizarre that we don’t have more confidence though, being double league champions, but there is a definite feeling that this year the wheels have come off. I’m not sure if the players have the same lack of confidence in Oniki that I do, but it’s definitely the case that people’s abilities are demonstrated more in testing times than when things are going well. Perhaps Oniki’s shortcomings are being exposed recently and are clear to the squad. Certainly there seems to be a lack of a coherent plan. It now feels like we are just throwing stuff at the wall and hoping to find something that eventually sticks. Certainly the referee played a part in the result. He ignored Douglas’s diving and a hell of a lot of time-wasting from Shimizu. Fair enough, add some extra time on at the end, but people are not going to stop time-wasting until they start getting booked for doing it. Saying that, there was a horrible inevitability about this game finishing 2-2. However long we played it seemed that we wouldn’t get a winner. And in the last few minutes of the game you’d almost think that we were the ones playing for the draw, as we passed the ball across the back four, apparently waiting for the ref to blow the final whistle. Perhaps we were, and that would be a sign of how far our confidence has sunk. It seems that it doesn’t matter who the opposition is, we’ll most likely play out an ultimately dull draw. Unless it’s someone crap and then we’ll probably lose.

Next up we have our traditional bogey team Cerezo Osaka, away from home. This is a fixture that almost always ends in a disappointing defeat. Considering that 2019 is one disappointment after another, how amusing and amazing it would be if we knocked that run on the head and got a big win. It would also be amazing if I won the lottery, but I suspect neither of those outcomes are likely to happen. It’s sad that now the best part of an away fixture is the travel and enjoying a different city before and after the game. That used to be the bread with the football being the filling of an enjoyable sandwich. Now we get our sandwich, take a bite, choke and gag on the filing, scrape it out, trying to forget about it and just settle for eating the bread. This season is over I reckon, so let’s just enjoy that bread as best we can. I think the three teams above us will slip up again, but I don’t think all three will slip up sufficiently to cover the fact that we will almost certainly spend at least half of our remaining fixtures on our backside. The thought of us finishing strong and making a charge for the title seems ridiculous. So perhaps we should focus on the cups then. Well, we have perhaps the least enticing draw possible in the Emperor’s Cup. Away to Vissel Kobe really lacks excitement for me and we’ll probably lose. And in the Levain we have two games against Nagoya who recently totally destroyed us in the league. So, what is there to look forward to? Not much really. Perhaps the most enticing prospect is having this season over and done with and then having a fresh start next year. We might even have some Levain group games next year which will be fun. To be honest, right now, the 2019 season can’t end fast enough for me.


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto
MF 19. SAITO Manabu
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki (Yellow card 90')

GK 21. ARAI Shota
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for MORITA 78')
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for SAITO 35')
DF 17. MAWATARI Kazuaki (on for MAGUINHO 69')
MF 28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
MF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya

LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 14' 1-0
DOUGLAS (Shimizu) 30' 1-1
RENATO (Shimizu) 65' 1-2
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 79' 2-2


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