Sunday 29 September 2019

Vs Vissel Kobe (home) 28/9/19 - J League match 27

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 2 Vissel Kobe

Still we continue to plough this furrow of utter shitness, playing terribly and getting terrible results. Still Oniki is making absolutely senseless decisions. Still he doesn’t do the honorable thing and quit. But let’s look on the bright side. We now really don’t have to worry about the league title, although the teams above us continue to slip up giving us yet more reminders of what could have been if we had a proper manager in charge of our talented squad. And the kick offs are getting earlier, so now we have plenty of time to get smashed in the pub after the game in order to forget the horrors we’ve just watched. My enthusiasm about writing this blog post is low and to be honest most of the points I should make have been made in countless previous posts as the same rotten things are happening every week. I’ll be even lighter on detail than usual in relation to these aspects as I’m sure you’re fed up of hearing me moan about them. As usual, there is plenty that could be learned from this game, but as has happened in the past, it seems unlikely we will actually learn anything. In any case, here are the usual bullet points, but perhaps slightly truncated.

Team selection randomness and substitution nonsense -

See the previous ten or so blog posts for more details. Another all Japanese team, with two players playing out of position and plenty of players who’ve done next to nothing starting, and plenty of players who’ve played well being frozen out. Kurumaya has really been looking better in recent weeks playing at left back where he belongs. So cunningly Oniki decided to switch him to centre back. We have two adequate right backs in the squad, therefore Oniki decided to play Morita who has been struggling a little this season in his preferred position at right back where he has pretty much always had a dodgy game. As usual the subs were absolutely nonsensical. Oniki removed Ao, who was one of our only players who was playing well. Before this he took out Shimoda and replaced him in the defensive midfield spot with Wakizaka, one of the few players who ever shows a real attacking intent. The removal of Ao meant that we were playing Kengo and Wakizaka in those defensive midfield spots, so a further two players playing out of position. I really don’t know what Oniki’s problem is. This was his 24th different starting line up in 27 league games. He must really be going for a world record. Or perhaps his little magnetic line-up board feel on the floor, scrambling all the magnets and he thought it was a sign from above. That's about the only way I can explain the mess of decisions he's made recently.

Tactical incompetence, no, hang on, complete lack of tactics -

This could have been a welcome return of Iikura to Todoroki. He is a total liability in goal for any team who decides to use him as a sweeper keeper. It’s perhaps unfortunate that in spite of his limitations in this area, he now seems to be expected to do this. I think anyone who has paid any attention to the J League recently knows that when you have Iikura in goal for the opposition, you are always going to get some chances if you pressure him into errors. And we did… once in the entire game. The obvious selection would have been Leandro Damiao as he always does a good job of hassling the opposition keeper. However, Oniki’s aversion to playing him overrides any common sense and instead for the majority of the game, Kobayashi let Iikura do what he wanted, effectively giving Kobe an extra player. There was no support for Kobayashi in chasing Iikura down so perhaps this is why he was reluctant to commit too much to doing it, but this has all got to go down as being another Oniki blunder. Playing Morita at right back also really messed with any attempt of ours to play any kind of offside trap. As Taniguchi pushed the defensive line forwards, Morita was always a few steps behind. It’s a miracle we weren’t made to pay for this, as Kobe clearly seemed to be focussing their attacks down that side where we were clearly weakest. I am by no means a football tactics expert, but these things were leaping out at me time and time again as we huffed and puffed our way towards another defeat. If Kobe weren’t so awful we could have been absolutely battered. If both teams had been playing well and sitting great the top of the table you could probably say that this game was for the most part a great tactical battle between two teams at the top of their games. As it was, it was a slog between two awful sides, neither of whom for the most part could manage to string a whole attack together. Kobe had two shots on target and scored twice. We had plenty of shots, if you can call them that, but rarely troubled their keeper.

Here you go, a couple of goals, you're welcome -

I mean what happened for that first goal? We lost possession and the entire defence went missing. It was just a travesty. Neither Kurumaya nor Taniguchi got anywhere near making a challenge and the two full backs were nowhere to be seen. A total gift for Kobe. The second was equally generous from us. Plenty of our players complained about the goal, but I’m not sure what they were complaining about as it clearly wasn’t offside. Once again it was just a total absence of defending that did it, with loads of our players in the box but no-one actually getting anywhere near the ball. It hurts even more that one of Kobe’s biggest donkeys managed to score. But to be honest, it probably hurts more that were weren’t hardly able to get past said donkey at the other end of the pitch. The goal we did score was utterly meaningless, and I know it’s wrong, but I was delighted we didn’t manage to get an equaliser, as we really needed to lose this match. We were totally crap and a draw would once again have papered over the cracks. We are losing a lot of games and Oniki has to take responsibility for both these losses and the awful draws we are also sometimes luckily getting.

Dirty Furuhashi, useless referee -

I used to like Furuhashi but recently there’s been plenty that has put me off him. Sure he’s a good player, but he’s also a terrible diver and in this game put in an absolutely horrible tackle on Taniguchi totally unnecessarily. If the same tackle had been put in by us on one of Kobe’s ‘Barcelonitos’ (or whatever people call them, which definitely not what I just wrote...), it almost certainly would have resulted in a red. I don’t know if it is because of the constant high profile whinging that Mikitani has been doing for the past few years and particularly this season, but it seemed that any tackle on a Spaniard resulted in a free kick for Kobe. On the contrary, Kobe shoved Frontale player after Frontale player to the ground from behind and I don’t think we even got a free kick. But let’s not go overboard on the ref as the real problem about this performance was us. To lose once to Kobe is pretty bad, but to lose to them two games in a row takes quite some incompetence.

Booooooooo -

This game finished with a significant section of the main supporter section booing the team as they came to us after the match. I totally understand this, but I didn’t do it myself. I will however try to boo every mention of Oniki going forward as in my opinion, and I’m sure this come as no surprise to you, I hold him fully responsible for how bad we are this year. He is out of his depth, has no ideas tactically or in terms of selection, despite having his little board with those magnets, and is in danger of doing irreparable damage to us. We have to get rid of him as soon as possible. A better man would probably have offered his resignation before now, but it seems like he’s not going to do so. He must be aware that he has no idea what he’s doing and has no chance of getting us out of this mess. If he doesn’t go soon I think we are going to lose a lot of players at the end of the season. I’m only going on my gut feeling, but I reckon Sung-Ryong, Taniguchi, Kurumaya, Jesiel, Maguinho, Ienaga and Damiao will go. There are plenty more who could also be justified in wanting to leave. We’ll be left with a lot of gaps in our squad and we all know how bad Oniki’s recruitment has been so far. If he’s still in charge next year, I really feel we could be involved in a relegation battle. Ienaga’s post match comments said something along the lines of how the manager has lots of decisions to make but the players have to do their best. Which sounds to me like he’s not particularly happy with some of Oniki's decisions and who can blame him. Ienaga, Kobayashi, Kengo, Taniguchi, Morita, Sung-Ryong and many more have been pretty average this season. When one or two players are under-performing we can point the finger at them, but when it’s so many of the squad who are below par, you’ve got to think something’s not right with the management. The team selections are mostly random it seems which can’t exactly help the players get into any form or build up any confidence. Seriously, get rid of him now. Don’t wait till we inevitably crash out of the Levain cup (can you really see us beating Kashima, the state that we’re in at the moment?). A lot of people question who we would get in to replace him, thinking that if we don’t have a replacement we can’t get rid of him. I’d say that there’s a lot more danger involved in keeping Oniki in charge than having the assistant manager take charge for a few games whilst we look for someone else. Oniki is the bright spark who let one of our few central defenders leave the club when we had two of the remaining three injured. He’s the guy who delights in trying to force square pegs into round holes playing multiple players out of position. He’s the guy who has no plan A, let alone a plan B. He’s the guy whose substitutions seem to have been planned before the match and are made with no consideration of what’s going on in front of him. He’s the guy who seems to be unable to deal with any foreign players we have or had. He’s the guy who has knocked the confidence out of some talented players to the extent that they now appear completely clueless. He’s the guy who supposedly had tightened up our defence, which has now conceded 14 goals in the last eight league games, the majority of which were against teams in the bottom half of the table. He’s the guy who has contrived to get us knocked out of the ACL in the group stages for the last two years against some very average teams and has almost certainly guaranteed that we won’t be taking part in that competition next year. He’s the guy who has to go as soon as possible, preferably right now. We don’t need to boo the players. We 100% need to boo the manager.

Next up, Shonan away, a game that we always disappoint in. After that, two games against Kashima in the Levain cup. Let’s see if we can get knocked out of another competition at the first stage of asking. I normally would try to finish with an optimistic ‘go Frontale’, but I can’t. The longer we keep getting average to shit results, the longer Oniki will remain in charge. Instead this post finishes unsurprisingly with ONIKI OUT!


GK 21. ARAI Shota
DF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro 
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for ABE 68')
DF 17. MAWATARI Kazuaki
MF 28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto (on for SHIMODA 54')
MF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya

My Frontale Man Of The Match

Normally I would sulk and not do one of these after a game like this, but on this occasion, without a doubt it has to go to...

TANAKA Ao  - head and shoulders above everyone else on the pitch on either team, defensively and going forward.

VILLA (Kobe) 44' 0-1
OSAKI (Kobe) 70' 0-2
HASEGAWA (Frontale) 90+1' 1-2


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