Yokohama F Marinos 4 - 2 Kawasaki Frontale
Before I start, welcome, fans of numerous J League teams who are here to enjoy my discomfort. ‘This evidently wasn’t a good result for us, but I think it could turn out to be a useful result if we pay attention to what the game taught us’. That was what I said after we messed up the Super Cup. We didn’t seem to have paid attention to what the game taught us against FC Tokyo and were supremely lucky to come away from that game with three points. We didn’t really pay much attention to what that game taught us either and were less lucky on this occasion, coming away with zero points and a probably humbling hammering by our local rivals. What do you think the chances are that we learn something from this defeat? I’d say pretty low. We’re still plugging away with the same old plan and the same old players where available. So it probably shouldn’t come as any surprise that we’ve lost again. Two losses out of three games so far this season. Of course, it’s still early days, but judging by some of the reactions on Twitter so far, the title has been sewn up by YFM. But then again, people were saying the same thing about Urawa after the Super Cup and look what happened to them after that game. If you think Urawa are great because they beat us, well then maybe Kyoto are better because they beat Urawa. YFM beat us, but drew with Cerezo, so I guess Cerezo, Kyoto and YFM will be fighting each other for the title. All this means that FC Tokyo are surely heading for relegation as we beat them and pretty much everyone else seems to be able to beat us. Or maybe the truth is that it’s too early to start jumping to conclusions after one or two games. But then again we’ve played three times, so I can definitely jump to conclusions about us. So let’s get jumping.
Predicting or even understanding starting line-ups recently has become like some kind of COVID Wordle spin off type experience. You guess who might start and find that those players are missing without explanation and put that down to COVID. But then they turn up anyway. We apparently had another case the day before this game, but your guess is as good as mine who that might be. Perhaps it’s Marcinho as he dropped out of the team and the squad. But then again Joao Schmidt and Seko did the same thing. If you go on the fact that the same players keep getting picked in spite of many of them playing terribly, you might be forgiven for thinking that our squad is riddled with COVID and that we only have the same 15 or 16 players to choose from. If this isn’t the case, I have no idea why Nobori, Yamane, Ienaga and Wakizaka are making it into every starting line up in spite of them looking like they’ve never even played football before. I don’t enjoy moaning at specific players but when you have four players who aren’t really doing very well and they all continue to start games you’ve got to wonder if perhaps the manager isn’t paying attention to what actually happens on the pitch and instead is picking on reputation instead. But then again, maybe Oniki is paying some attention as he subbed Nobori after he didn’t cover himself in glory for two goals we conceded within a couple of minutes. To be fair to Oniki, Sasaki coming on for his debut seemed to really make a difference and was one of the most exciting things to happen in this game. Late on in the game we were actually playing some exciting football, which if I’m being honest, I can’t really remember us doing for a very long time. So that was also a slight consolation. I guess we’ve got used to not dazzling and still winning in the last year or so. But now we’re not at all dazzling and losing which doesn’t really have any redeeming features at all. Good players don’t suddenly all turn awful at the same time so I guess there’s something going on behind the scenes. I’d love it if Oniki really shook things up in the next game and dropped Yamane, Nobori, Wakizaka and Ienaga, but I’m not going to hold my breath. I’m also not going to hold my breath for him having a re-think and changing what we’re doing tactically either but that might not be a bad idea either.
Let’s have a moan about something else and where better to start than with another absolutely hopeless ref. Araki, fresh from a monstrous blunder with the Patric red card in the Gamba Kashima game the previous weekend was rewarded with a match between last season’s top two. I kind of preferred it when refs who are ridiculed everywhere for a shocking decision get sent to J3 for the rest of the season (Hi Tojo!). I guess this would require some kind of acknowledgment from the league that a mistake had been made though, and they don’t seem to be willing to do that in the Patric case. I feel like he’d got a bit of a private telling off though for not listening to or checking VAR as in this game he seemed to be on a one man mission to sulkily refer as much as possible to VAR. The signs were there early on when after the pre-game coin toss he stopped, arm out-stretched with his palm facing out and the other hand on his ear, and then ran to the pitch side monitor to check that the coin had been tossed correctly. (For the benefit of readers who don’t understand when I am making a joke, that was a joke). I wouldn’t be surprised if he messed up the toss though, as he messed up most things in this match. YFM online moaners seemed to think they should have had all number of free kicks penalties and bonus goals awarded to them. I thought that he gave pretty much everything to them. It’s hard to recall any kind of tackle from us that didn’t result in a free kick for them. And usually a yellow card for us. Frontale old boy Edu though got away with a few yellow card offences before and a few after he actually got his yellow. I’m not going to pretend though that we would have won with them down to ten men. We started the match with only 7 players anyway so would have still been at a numerical disadvantage. People always say that if both sides are complaining about something or someone being against them, that thing or person is actually probably fair. On this occasion I think I’ll go more with the equation ‘we think he’s shit + they think he’s shit = he’s definitely shit’. I think this was most apparent when after one of his early rendezvous with VAR he then decided to trot over to the Marinos bench and explain why the decision hadn’t gone their way. Love it when some goes the extra mile to keep people happy whilst doing their job. Or was it just him sulking again and pre-empting any moans he might get. Certainly was a bit of a weird look though. My other grumbles about him are numerous, but I’ll spare you the majority and instead just pick a couple more. Not sure why he didn’t let Chanathip back on the pitch for their first goal. He’d had treatment so had to leave, but the action restarted nowhere near him but Araki didn’t let him back on the pitch till the ball was in the back of the net. Chanathip’s aerial dominance could definitely have helped us defend the chance. I’m pretty sure that our second disallowed goal being given was not a clear and obvious error, particularly when you compare it to the Patric red card on the clear and obvious error scale, but on this occasion he was happy to listen to VAR. I dunno, did our team bus cut him up on the way to the stadium or something? Or has a massive light blue block of flats just been built in front of his house blocking out his sunlight? Or has has neighbour Kawasaki-san made a noise complaint against him because he’s been playing J League Judge Replay back repeatedly and screaming responses to it and Twitter users’ comments? I think Araki was one of the refs who we did best with last year, but clearly that’s all gone to pot now.
But anyway, we shouldn’t moan too much, as we were utter rubbish. Somehow now we can’t pass, tackle or keep the ball. And all of our player have forgotten how to play. Our hero against FC Tokyo Sung-Ryong seemed to have used up all of his saves, as in that game, nothing could get past him and in this game they only had six shots on target and scored four times. I’m not blaming him though as he was let down time after time by his defence, particularly the full backs. It’s almost as if YFM had done their homework and seen how badly we’d been playing in those positions in our last two games and targeted them. I guested on the YFM podcast before the game and I was right in my prediction that this would be a game with a lot of goals as our defence is a mess at the moment. I was hoping though that things might have clicked a bit more going forward though. And while we did have some chances and even played some nice stuff when the game was basically lost, if you concede four goals in a game, it’s very difficult to draw, let alone win. I’d like to think that instead of a bogey team this year we instead have a bogey stadium as in games that we haven’t played at the Nissan stadium we have a 100% record! Pleased to not be going back there again this year. Hopefully anyway. Although next time the Meguro line extension will make the journey a lot easier. Good that I’ve found something positive to say! As I said, it’s still a bit early to start drawing too many conclusions, but there is definitely a bit of a 2019 three-peat choke and total disaster season feeling growing. So, maybe we’d better snap out of that with a nice easy game at the weekend away at Kashima, who had their game called off due to Oita’s COVID woes so have had a nice rest and were pretty free scoring in their opening game. Hmmmm. Could be that the horrendously long coach trip back seems even longer on Saturday. And there’s not even anything to do near the stadium. It truly is an unappealing away game. But we’ll be going, and juggling a new combination of lucky routines and jinx avoidances. Fingers crossed.
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
My Frontale Man Of The Match
Not much to go on here again and normally when we lose heavily to a local rival I have a tendency to moodily not bother with this, but I’ll do it anyway on this occasion. I’m not going to mess around and explain it much though and will just give it to…
SASAKI Asahi - Extremely sad to see him bowing so deeply on his debut, presumably feeling that his standing in front of the YFM keeper got the goal disallowed (well, I guess it did, but it was pretty harsh I thought so he shouldn’t feel bad about it). But I hope he takes heart from the fact that when he came on we were actually quite fun to watch for a while and that the damage had been done before he appeared. I hope he starts the next game but it would be a bit of a surprise if he did.
ELBER (YFM) 57' 1-1
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