Monday 6 March 2023

Vs Shonan Bellmare (home) 4/3/23 J League match 3

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 1 Shonan Bellmare

After last weekend’s last minute elation, this round of games saw us back at home and up against our recent local nemesis Shonan Bellmare. The two horrific defeats against them last year, in a season where they spent a lot of time struggling to keep out of the relegation zone, looked costly at the time, and in the end proved to be so. If we’d won even one of those games we would have won the league. But we lost both. Which brings me on to some early positivity in this post. WE DIDN’T LOSE TO SHONAN! That’s probably the end of the positivity though. With another game coming up on Wednesday and given that I’m on a train right now, I think I’ll keep this quite brief and dispense with the bullet points. After another disappointing game I find myself at the ‘resigned to another difficult season’ stage. Some might say this is way too early but I don’t think there has been much in the first three games, where we've always conceded before scoring, to suggest that this will be a positive year for us. So let’s get on with the grumbling.

Three games, one loss, one late win and one draw. The first half of all of these games has been a waste of time. We start each game with our much heralded new and exciting tactics for 2023 and almost without fail do absolutely nothing other than pass the ball around our own half and look wobbly. It’s almost as if we have some kind of community service sentence that we need to serve. I don’t know what we all did wrong, but it seems that we have to endure at least 45 minutes of nothing every week with no hope of scoring a goal. Perhaps our sentence will have been served soon, as the good news was that on this occasion we managed to not concede a goal in the first five minutes. Guess that’s some progress. The fact is though that us fans might as well not bother turning up to watch the first half of any of our games. We only really get going, (and I wouldn’t say we totally get going), when the new tactics are abandoned and everything just becomes totally random and frantic. Our ‘good’ periods in the first two games came after we were down to ten men and the best made plans were in tatters on the floor. In this game we only started threatening once we were playing 4-4-2 with a schoolboy making his debut at left back. As darkly amusing as it might be to see Oniki clutching his magnet board in the 95th minute after the allocated additional time has elapsed and with all of our subs having been made, you can’t help wonder what might happen if we didn’t write off 45 minutes of every match with our best hope being going in 0-0 at half time. If we are going to persevere with this new system, I can’t help but feel that Tachibanada might be a better option at right back as unlike Yamane, he doesn’t seem to give the ball away immediately once he moves into the middle of the pitch. I guess I spent all of last season moaning about us not having any ideas other than the usual one and now I’m moaning about the new idea. But I’m not sure how long we have to keep giving it a go with the 100% unsuccessful so far new plan. Hopefully not long.

I saw a Japanese sports website on Twitter mentioning our latest ‘defensive emergency'. I feel like when we’ve failed to sign any cover we can’t really call our eternal lack of numbers at the back an emergency. I guess if you set fire to your own house you might be able to call it an emergency, but I don’t think it would quite have the necessary element of surprise a real emergency has. A dictionary definition of emergency says ‘a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action’. I’d say we can claim the first and third parts, but I’d say it would be more unexpected if we didn’t have a shortage in defence, and when it comes to immediate action, well we don’t even get action when we know well in advance that players will be injured for half of the upcoming season as Jesiel was last year, so anything immediate happening is something of a pipe dream. Whilst we’ve recently become accustomed to going down to ten men due to a DOGSO red card, on this occasion it was our other old foe the centre back injury that did us. Now both of our first choice centre backs, (perhaps...  who really knows, but given that they started the first game, I’m going to presume it’s the case) are injured. Yamamura will be back again for the next match though. It’s kind of unfortunate that we have a midweek game just when injuries are hitting us the most. I guess we don’t know how serious Jesiel’s injury is yet. We can take some solace in the fact that he did manage to walk off in the end. But then forget that solace and sink back into misery as he didn’t reappear at the end of the game. You can’t help feel that our new tactics might also be contributing to the red cards and the injuries. I’ve lost count of the absolute desperation situations we’ve been in after giving the ball away cheaply with defenders playing in midfield. So, not only do these tactics not work from an attacking point of view, they are also destroying us at the back. What a joy! We’re not making any more chances than previously, we’re absolutely not taking the few chances we are getting, we’re conceding more goals and we’re picking up red cards and injuries everywhere. Surely time to dump the new tactics, isn’t it?

It was nice to see Segawa score. Miyashiro must be gutted though. It seems that the few chances he’s getting are ridiculously tough ones and that we only start to make better ones once he’s been taken off. I don’t know if Oniki doesn’t think Miyashiro and Yamada can play together. We haven’t seen them have the chance yet. Our midfield looks a bit of a mess. The players are good but I don’t think Oshima and Wakizaka work together for some reason. I’m not having a go at the players though as I think they’re doing their best in a bad situation. I’m not even having a go at Oniki particularly. I do hope he sees the light soon though as clearly how we’re starting isn’t working. We’ve played three games so far and have had a total of 10 shots on target in 270 minutes. In every game we’ve failed to get more than a third of our shots on target. In this game we only managed 2 out of 10. We didn’t even have a shot in this game till the 23rd minute! Our ‘best’ chances came from long balls. Not exactly encouraging stuff, is it?

Normally the ref and the opposition get a paragraph each but not on this occasion. I was horrified to see my Araki prediction coming true for this game, but I have to admit, that aside from a vague and probably biased ‘he didn’t book any of their players but should have’, I think he had a reasonable game. Shonan look a lot more organised and solid than last year. They don’t look at all exciting and I was slightly shocked to see a Shonan fan saying they deserved to win, as I thought both teams were pretty dull and a draw was probably the right result, but 0-0 probably should have been the right score. The game was very open towards the end, but there was a general lack of quality up front on show, so the fact that it wasn’t a goal fest didn’t surprise. I feel like they’ll definitely be fine this year. I’m slightly disappointed that we won’t be going to their ground as the Shonan away fixture this year is in the equally bad for football National Stadium. So, similarly poor views, but much more expensive beer and I won’t be able to go to Yggdrasil. At least we have a Levain game there I guess.

Perhaps this blog post has the most stinging criticism from me ever as instead of the usual moaning it’s instead like that thing with parents when they say ‘I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed’. Next up and coming soon, Shimizu away in the Levain on Wednesday. Normal clubs might expect some rotation for that fixture, but I don't expect to see much from us apart from the bare minimum we have to do to incorporate young players. Not sure what the rule is to be honest. And the fact that Matsunagane is probably going to have to play might mean that Oniki changes nothing. We can just pray that we don’t get another totally pointless first half. After that, it’s Niigata away in the league on Saturday. Two lovely trips! Which is a nice and positive way to finish this otherwise quite negative post!

GK 1. JUNG Sung-Ryong
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 3. OMINAMI Takuma
DF 5. SASAKI Asahi
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (Yellow card 67')
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT (on for OSHIMA 86')
MF 16. SEKO Tatsuki
MF 17. TONO Daiya (on for MARCINHO 72')
FW 20. YAMADA Shin (on for MIYASHIRO 72')
DF 27. MATSUNAGANE Yuto (on for JESIEL 56')
FW 30. SEGAWA Yusuke (Yellow card 85')(on for WAKIZAKA 46')

My Frontale Man Of The Match
Once again, not a great deal to get excited about but in the increasingly sentimental way I’m giving these out this year it has to go to….

MATSUNAGANE Yuto - considering he’s still at school and nobody ever could have predicted us being short at the back, he was probably surprised to play and whilst he had a few wobbly moments, he also had some great ones. Good luck to him!
HIRAOKA (Shonan Bellmare) 64' 0-1
SEGAWA (Frontale) 81' 1-1

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