Monday 13 March 2023

Vs Albirex Niigata (away) 11/3/23 J League match 4

Albirex Niigata 1 - 0 Kawasaki Frontale

Once again let’s try (and probably fail) to keep this brief. I think this game was perhaps the worst 90 minutes I’ve seen us play for ages, and that includes some truly shocking performances over the years. Fair play to Niigata as they scored against us, (although our defence is still a shambles), and they stopped us from scoring, (although our attack is also a shambles. And that’s not mentioning the midfield which is perhaps the part of the pitch where we are most ineffective). So many players were off the pace and giving the ball away under no pressure that it must be something more than just everyone having a dip in form and playing badly at the same time. Oniki doesn’t have much choice when it comes to picking players at the back due to season upon season of ridiculous transfer inactivity in that area. The current run of red cards and injuries which continued in this game, (Yamamura off at half time, apparently injured), is nothing more than what could easily have happened at any stage over the last few years. Until now we’ve been kind of lucky in not having too many injuries or suspensions at once. The fact is though that we’re playing like crap at the moment and I struggled to even really applaud the players when they came over at the end of the game. Sure they’d tried hard, but so many were so bad. Again. Still we were persisting with mostly the same starting members in league games in the midfield and up front. Presumably we would also be doing so at the back if we hadn’t lost almost all of our defenders. Thankfully the new tactics appear to have been abandoned. Yamane was in a role more like in previous seasons but still contrived to fuck up and give them a goal. I screamed so hard at him and Ienaga fucking around in a dangerous area and losing the ball that I gave myself a headache for the rest of the day. I’m pretty sick of Yamane to be honest. I’d love him to stop fucking up and start being a bit more of a team player but I don’t think it will happen. And still he gets one of the highest scores for a player in our team from some websites. In the same way that Moriyasu is blinded by the light of players playing overseas no matter how shit the level, it seems many J League watchers are blinded by the light shining out of Yamane’s backside. Yes, he’s now our only national team player, but on his recent (the last six months or year perhaps) performances I don’t think he should even be playing for us. He’s been directly at fault on numerous occasions and is always the first to shout at a teammate when they slip up. Oniki would probably do well to realise that it’s not always best to pick the ‘best’ players regardless of position or form and it’s maybe better to instead try to make the best team. Due to the ongoing defensive crisis Yamane is clearly safe at the moment though. No idea how long Yamamura will be injured for but there are some rumors going round that Tanabe has been recalled from his loan at JEF as he wasn’t involved at all in their last match or training apparently. Probably will turn out that he’s also injured. He’s only played 24 minutes so far this season anyway, and Oniki seems to have never really liked him that much. We’ll see, I guess. {Between writing this bit and putting it online he has indeed returned to us. I hope for his sake that it’s not a complete waste of time. Perhaps it could even be a really good opportunity for him and do us some good. That’s your lot for positivity in this post, so I hope you enjoyed it.}

Other than the Yamamura injury, Oshima is inured again. It was a bit of a weird one as he didn’t seem to go down and walked off the pitch without any apparent signs of a problem. But I guess it’s not a huge surprise. And, (I know people aren’t going to like this…), it might help our midfield out a bit. The Oshima Wakizaka Tachibanada midfield has been pretty shit so far this year. The individuals are all great players but playing them together hasn’t worked. Now Oniki will have to try something different. Presumably it will be bringing Tono in and someone new onto the bench. As I said above, I kind of feel that the midfield has been where the biggest problems have been. We can’t keep the ball there, and the only passes we make there are backwards ones. The few attacks we’ve made have come from longish balls bypassing the midfield. The situation has been the same in every game so far this year and if I’ve noticed it, I’m sure Oniki has too. But he seems wedded to the same stuff every week. I don’t want to blame the players too much. There seems to be some kind of horrible funk hanging around stinking up everything we do right now. It would also be quite unfair to blame the forwards. They haven’t really had that any chances. Well Marcinho has had a couple of great ones but he too seems to be off the ball a bit this year. I’m going to break down our goals scored and conceded further down to compound the misery so more on that later. A few years ago with Kobayashi playing we’d always miss our first few shots whilst he got his aim sorted out. But there was always a feeling that the goals would come as we’d keep making chances and he’d click. In this game we had only six shots in 90 minutes and on average just the one on target every 45 minutes. In this game both came at our end. I can remember the weak Marcinho header but the other one was probably so slight that it dissolved into the Niigata air as soon as it was saved. It has certainly leaked from my memory. By contrast Albirex had almost twice as many shots and if it wasn’t for Sung-Ryong we could have lost by three or four goals. Presumably some experts on Twitter will be calling for him to be dropped. 

The ref was pretty cack in this game I thought, but aside from what looked like a definite penalty that he didn’t give us in the second half, all I have are really just grumbles about bookings. The inevitability of Joao Schmidt being booked for probably his first tackle and their midfield getting away with hack after hack is such a common complaint for me that I don’t even know why I’m bothering to make it. Even if he had given us the penalty we probably would have tried to play it short or backwards anyway as we do with almost every free kick. We are still completing those lovely passing triangles though, halfway inside the opposition half on the wing before going back to the keeper or those lovely cross defence passes from side to side, slowly advancing as if we were trying to color every blade of grass with an inked-up ball, then realizing as we approach the halfway line that we’d missed a bit and going back to the keeper to start again. It’s what we all go to football games to see, isn’t it? There’s nothing as exhilarating as the completion of a sideways pass! Thankfully, and somewhat bizarrely, Niigata didn’t press us much, which is the route that every other team has found to getting a goal against us. To be fair to them, they’d probably watched our previous games and realized that they needn’t waste their energy as we’d give them the ball just after we entered their half anyway. I’ll end this paragraph with a couple of slightly tenuous cooking comparisons that I thought of when pondering quite how shit we are right now. Our football right now is like my cooking. I can start with the best ingredients and still make something utterly bland, destroying the deliciousness of the component parts and ending up with something that just about passes for food. And then our endless pointless passing is like watching someone clean their kitchen who never cooks. You know something nice could be made there, but instead all you get is the least appetizing part of the process, endlessly.

Ok, finally lets look at the goals we’ve scored (that’ll be quite quick) and the ones we’ve conceded so far this year and see if there’s anything to be learnt. Against YFM we got one from a defensive mistake from them, when the game was already pretty much over and we were just throwing players forward to try to get some pride back. At Kashima we got a goal from a set piece and then one from the penalty spot, although we had to get a second chance to score that one. At home to Shonan we actually scored from open play! Although we did need a defensive cock up again for the ball to fall to Segawa. Shimizu, we got one lovely goal from a great Marcinho assist and a great Chanathip finish but the other one was a penalty again. And Niigata… oh…. So basically two goals from open play in five games. As for the conceded ones we’ve got the shocking error from Sung-Ryong and some terrible defending from a corner against YFM which even though their header was awful, still left them with plenty of time and space for them to pick up the ball and score unchallenged. Kashima, absolutely useless defending of a header again. Shonan, useless defending of a cross. Shimizu, three calamities including not winning a header, giving the ball away in our own half and just not having any defence at all. And Niigata, giving the ball away within shooting distance of the goal. It’s been pretty awful. And we always seem to go behind, normally pretty early on, and give the opposition something to hang on to and wait for us to over commit going forwards. At least in the Niigata game we waited for 22 minutes, so we could enjoy some more of that ‘we’re not losing!’ euphoria. Errors all over the pitch, the same problems regardless of the starting line up, a total absence of tactics when it comes to going forward (well, we had a new plan A but it was so much worse than the old plan A that it seems to have thankfully been abandoned, but sadly replaced by ever changing variations of shuffling the same magnets around on the same magnet board to similar (ie. no) effect). When Oniki jumped off the bench in this game bringing his magnet board to the touch line, his bench jacket (as I believe they are called) trailed out behind him as if he was some kind of magnet powered football version of Barman. Given how bad we’re doing right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if he borrows Taniguchi’s old facial injury protecting mask next game to compete the image, but at the same time give himself a bit of anonynmity. I would imagine pretty of Frontale fans at away games might be hoping to be similarly unrecognizable when out on public over the next few months. 

It was so sad to not feel like clapping the players at the end of the match. They looked gutted, (well some of them did anyway), and I’m sure the newer players must be wondering what they have done to their career by joining us. From the outside maybe it looks like we’re struggling to get the new guys to settle in. The truth is that they are only involved due to the massive (and massively predictable) injury crisis that we’re going through. Oniki has always been in the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ camp. To be honest last year he took it a stage further to ‘even if it is broke, still don’t bother to fix it’.  But he’s got some real fixing to do now. Whether Tanabe will actually be back and if he is whether he’ll be involved straight away, who knows? I think the more serious issue is to get some good feeling back in the camp and to try to take the pressure off a bit. That pressure isn’t coming from us fans, who are still happy-clappy to the point of insanity, (at least at the games anyway). On occasion last year, I wanted Oniki to quit. I didn’t think then and I still don’t think now that he would ever be fired. Right now for some reason, I’ve swung back the other way. I think we’re fucked this year, but I kind of feel slightly sorry for Oniki. He got all excited about his new idea over the break and it’s failed. He’s now desperately searching for something, anything that might work. I just hope he has noticed what doesn’t work. It will be a hugely unpopular suggestion to make, but I reckon we probably shouldn’t play Ienaga in the next match as he’s clearly not up to speed right now. I’d also change the midfield completely. Tachibanada has perhaps been trying to do too much and is consequently failing at what he can usually do naturally. I think perhaps we should switch to 4-4-2 as well. Our 4-3-3 has been pretty ineffective for a while now, with some very lucky results last year helping to cover up some very dismal play. At the back we have no choice about who to play, but I think that maybe in the midfield I’d go for Joao and maybe Tono in the middle with Marcinho on the left wing and maybe Segawa on the right wing. Or perhaps Seko in the middle and Tono on the right. And play Miyashiro and Yamada up front together for a change. I know nothing about football tactics and this would perhaps be a disaster (not normally a good idea to drop your best players some might say), but you know, maybe not worse that what we’ve already seen so far this year, and probably a bit more effective than playing Miyashiro up front by himself against a Shonan back three. Whatever happens, I’ll still be going to the games, but it would be nice if the matches actually became something other than the three hours of frustration that interrupts an otherwise fun experience. Phew…..

GK 1. JUNG Sung-Ryong
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya
DF 3. OMINAMI Takuma
DF 5. SASAKI Asahi
MF 8. TACHIBANADA Kento (Yellow card 38')
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT (Yellow card 70') (on for WAKIZAKA 62')
MF 16. SEKO Tatsuki
MF 17. TONO Daiya (on for OSHIMA 19')
FW 20. YAMADA Shin (on for MIYASHIRO 62')
DF 27. MATSUNAGANE Yuto (on for YAMAMURA 46')
FW 30. SEGAWA Yusuke (on for MARCINHO 77')

My Frontale Man Of The Match
Slightly bizarrely, given that I’ve hardly done this at all this year and this was said by me to be our worst performance in ages, I’m going to do it this time. Probably no surprise that it’s going to….

Sung-Ryong JUNG - didn’t have much chance for the goal and saved us with some great stops on a few occasions. Has more than made up for the cock up against YFM.
ITO (Albirex Niigata) 22' 1-0



No comments:

Post a Comment