Here's part two of my 2019 season player round ups. Today it's from 11-24, Kobayashi to Ando. Part 3 coming tomorrow.
11. KOBAYASHI Yu
Firstly, I should apologise a little for some criticism of Kobayashi I’ve made this year. Perhaps I hold him to a higher standard than some of his teammates so when he doesn't perform so well (which he’s done on quite a few occasions this year), I probably criticise him too much. As captain, I understand it’s difficult to drop him. However, he’s had some really bad patches this year and Oniki has kept on picking him. Wonderfully skillful player on the ball, it's just his shooting that lets him down, needing five or six shots to find his range usually. This is a bit worrying for someone we’re repeatedly playing as a lone striker. As we’ve seen this year, we’re not getting as many chances, and if we’re wasting most of them, we’re not going to do very well. Strangely he seems to do quite well coming off the bench. I still want to see him on the right, but apparently he doesn’t want to play there. Scored a surprising amount of goals this year considering how how negative I'm being, but sadly it will be the spurned opportunities that stick in the mind.
I dunno, we did ok, taking lots of fans to a lot of games. Clearly our fan base is growing. Have probably been way too quiet at times in games where things are not going our way and the players need encouraging. And at the same time, have been way too kind to them when the have really been stinking the place up.
14. NAKAMURA Kengo
16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
Limited opportunities but decent results. The player who provided the most assists for us this year, despite not starting so many games. Seems to be ahead of Manabu in the pecking order recently. Has his best impact from the bench, which might not be great for him, but certainly works for us. Whether he’s happy with that, I don’t know, but he seemed to be at the end of last year. Fingers crossed he'll stay and fingers crossed our manager can work out a way to accommodate the numerous left wingers we have into the team a bit better, rather than just playing one of them on the right.
17. MAWATARI Kazuaki
Unfortunately injured on a few occasions and when he wasn’t injured was still not getting picked sometimes, with others playing out of position ahead of him. Lack of pitch time has meant he has been unable to really stake a claim to be our first choice right back, but Oniki's tinkering meant that nobody has claimed the spot yet, so it’s still all to play for. Lovely free kick against Kobe was his season highlight I'd say. Oh, and his surprisingly good singing at the fan event!
19. SAITO Manabu
It looks a little like it’s not going to work out for Manabu with us. Another player plagued by injuries and slipping down the pecking order, but I still don’t really feel like he’s got started with us, even after two seasons. Remember he played really well in one game this year and was immediately dropped for the next. Plays in a position that we are hugely oversubscribed in, but really feel he could do a job elsewhere (up front, behind the striker, on the right) too if he were only give the chance as his running with the ball always looks dangerous. Fingers crossed for next year.
20. CHINEN Kei
Whatever happened to Chinen? In the first half of the season he was one of our three strikers who were rotated almost every week. Went on a scoring run fairly early on, but then pretty much disappeared. Whether Oniki lost confidence in him, I don’t know, but we’ve barely seen him in the second half of the season. With us usually only playing one up front, his options are going to be limited, but it’s a bit weird that none of these three seems to do particularly well in the system we’re using right now. Perhaps the problem lies with the system and not the players. He's off to Oita on loan next year, which is good for him I think. I imagine he'll do well given a run of pitch time. Good luck! Judging by Oniki's recent loaning this probably means he'll get transferred to a European team in a season or so.
21. ARAI Shota
Looked like it was going to be another season of bench warming for Arai but then he got his chance in the Levain cup and seemed to become our first choice. His distribution was never as good as Sung-Ryong's but Arai made some really important saves this year and I can't really remember him making any big mistakes. After the Levain final heroics, it seemed to me that he would take over the number one spot and the Sung-Ryong would leave at the end of the season. I suspect however, that he was told about a new keeper coming in and realised he’d be back to second choice again and therefore decided to leave. It seems pretty sad, as many of the players look like they’re going to miss him and he’s always been solid for us. Suspect that Oniki's man management might have come up short again. Good luck to him at JEF.
22. SHIMODA Hokuto
Wonder perhaps if Shimoda will also leave us. Has probably played more games this year than previously, but he’s stuck behind Oshima, Ao and Morita so will most likely always be only a back up for us. Real shame as his song is great and he can actually take set pieces!! Has done well every time he’s been called on, but seems to perhaps unjustifiably be one of Oniki’s first choices to change when we are not playing well, regardless of how he's actually doing.
23. FUJISHIMA Eisuke
Cant help but feel gutted for Fujishima as he has played absolutely no part at all this year due to a horrible injury. Whether he stays on, who knows, but he’s only on loan. Didn't even really get a chance to work out where he was in the pecking order.
24. ANDO Shunsuke
Another quiet year for Ando. Made it onto the bench once I think. No Levain cup group games means that it will always be tricky for him to get involved.
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