Tuesday 18 April 2023

Vs Nagoya Grampus (home) 15/4/23 J League match 8


Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 2 Nagoya Grampus

With another game coming up soon, I guess I can’t delay writing this any longer. Not saying I’ve been putting it off, but there have been a lot more interesting and fun things to do since the final whistle on Saturday, including boozing, working and having a bit of a hangover. So yeah, the bar was set pretty low when it came to interesting and fun. But the truth is that at least we can learn something from having a bit of a hangover. We can understand that a night of excess and fun does not come without a cost. We can appreciate that we are growing older and are not as young and healthy as we used to be. We can see that life is a mix of highs and lows and that both contribute to our experience. From this game there wasn’t really anything to learn. If you want details just go back and read the previous blog post. I’ll try to stick to what’s new in this post but there wasn’t much and I can’t really be bothered to write the same things again, even though they are still pertinent. I was pleased to see that the club has released a new bit of merch, an Oniki pen. Maybe I should buy one and write the next blog post out by hand and post photos of it instead of typing. At least that would provide some variety. It’s all getting quite predictable on here recently so let’s get this over and done with quickly with the old paragraph headings.

Us -

We’re still shit. We still start with 4-3-3. No matter how many times Oniki’s rejigs the midfield, we still don’t bother to actually try to make chances. Well that’s a little unfair as we scored our first league 4-3-3 goal in this game!!!! And we scored very early in the game for us, (56 minutes…). Let’s ignore the fact that our goal came from Miyashiro defying what must be the team orders but is always denied by Oniki, and just having a shot. After every match we hear Oniki say that he’s encouraging the players to be more positive and try to attack and make opportunities rather than waiting for the perfect chance. The play were seeing defies this slightly though. Whilst we’re feeling positive about scoring for the first time in the formation we’ve started all but one of our games in we should probably ignore what happened before we got our debut league 4-3-3 goal. We’d already conceded twice. You can’t deny their second goal was a lovely one. Even players who can’t score for love nor money in 2023 can score when they play against us this year. The first goal was a bit of a gift. A bit, as we gave them the ball. But only a bit as the ball was given away halfway into their half and there was still a lot to do, although we didn’t put up much of a fight when it came to stopping their attack. Think it was their first shot. It’s a shame that it was Einaga who gave the ball away as I don’t want him to have his confidence shattered. But then again, the rest of the squad are like that right now so it probably makes sense that he is too. In the first half we had almost 70% of the possession and had only managed two shots, both off target. They hit the target more times that we shot. Which is perhaps a bit of a surprise for a Nagoya team that recently has been known for defending and then breaking fast and grabbing a goal. Shame Oniki hadn’t thought about that possibly happening. Shame we didn’t convert some of those lovely sideways passes into shots. According to the stats we had 33 dangerous attacks. Quite how low the threshold for an attack being dangerous is, I don’t know.

So an awful first half, completely predictable. Oniki changed nothing at half time and instead decided to save his first subs for nine minutes after half time when he had a quadruple substitution lined up, them all standing at the side of the pitch, ready to come on. Seemed quite a bizarre move. And he obviously wasn’t happy with what he’d seen in the first nine minutes of the second half. Which made it all the more amusing that we then scored, resulting in Oniki telling the subs to all sit down. I guess if you get a lucky break you should probably just roll with it rather than trying to shake things up. Well for eight minutes anyway. So instead he spilt up the quadruple substitution into two blocks of two at roughly nine minute intervals. The mood and approach did seem to change after the goal and we looked quite dangerous. We had some shots. But we didn’t score again, so any confidence boost we got from a bit of bossing of the game was probably destroyed by the final whistle. Therefore, probably no progress as a result of this game. But maybe some progress when it comes to Oniki coming up with some new ideas. Unfortunately not particularly successful ideas. Although we started this game in the usual 4-3-3, Oniki decided to shake things up by attempting a call back to Sapporo away, playing our main striker on the wing and putting Ienaga in the middle up front. In the Sapporo game he was joined by Tono there as we were playing something like a 4-4-2. In this game it was just Ienaga, who don’t forget has been quite off the pace recently and tends to wander where he wants. Normally when we play Shonan with their three at the back Oniki goes with one central striker who is always out-numbered there. In this match against Nagoya’s back three, he basically went for no central striker there. Ienaga’s free role does cause us to be a bit light on the right sometimes, but on this occasion Oniki clearly thought it would be better to be a bit light in the position where you play the person who is most likely to score a goal. Needless to say, it didn’t work and despite persisting with it for about 35 minutes, during which time he’d tried switching Miyashiro and Einaga’s sides, which also didn’t work, he finally reverted to Miyashiro in the middle. So basically another wasted 45 minutes, with another attempt at a new idea totally extinguished after it provided zero benefit. The problem I really have is that everything is so ridiculously complicated now. Oniki seems to be allergic to going back to basics, always imagining that there is a smarter way to do something when perhaps the obvious and most simple option would be the most effective. On bin day he probably takes his rubbish out using a drone controlled by sensors tracking the movement of the clouds in the sky outside his window. More often than not, the rubbish ends up strewn across his kitchen on the wrong day of the week, but when it works, well, that will be quite something to see! We don’t have bad players but we’re playing extremely badly. I now can’t tell if Oniki’s plan of having Yamane move into the midfield to attempt (and fail) to start attacks is happening anymore. It was so blunt an instrument that we never saw any benefits from it and Yamane seems to also be allowed to do what he wants so it’s difficult to tell where he is supposed to be playing half the time. Oniki seems to now be trying a tactic of occasionally having Ominami and Yamane switch places. The whole midfield seems to swap positions constantly, taking it in turns to play just in front of the defence. It’s Oniki’s version of total football! The only problem is that it’s totally pointless and ineffective. Everything we do is needlessly overcomplicated. We never take the simple option if there is a more difficult and unlikely to succeed one available. As our awful run continues, presumably we’ll keep trying more and more experimental tactics. I can’t help but feel we’d benefit from going back to basics a bit, and trying to get some goals and some confidence from it. If you need to constantly be trying out things on your magnet board at the side of the pitch, I’d suggest that you’re scrambling for ideas, overcomplicating things and taking us ever further away from any kind of potential positives. Oniki doesn’t know who to play in midfield but is absolutely wedded to 4-3-3 and Ienaga and Yamane playing. Everything else is ups for grabs and depends on where the magnets fall. 

Them -

Nagoya haven’t really ever been a big enemy of ours but that has all changed recently. Last year’s ‘accidental’ misunderstanding of the rules causing our game with them to be postponed to a time that was much more beneficial to them has created some bad feeling. Add to that them getting annoyed when we booed their players at the away game due to this bad feeling. This in part caused them to decide that due to fans misbehaving, (in our case merely booing), the away fans would now be accommodated on the second floor of their stadium. This was interpreted by some as being designed to increase their home advantage and basically piss off the opposition fans. It certainly pissed off the Urawa fans who after being moved upstairs initially and then moved back downstairs due to a ban on standing in the upper tier decided that they’d be up for a bit of mini-rioting and a head butt to a steward. Of course I’m not condoning this kind of behaviour, but I’d be lying if I said that there aren’t many other teams who I’d prefer Urawa’s hooligans to kick off against. Just wish they’d head butted someone on the board rather than a presumably older gentleman in a blue security uniform. I have no problem with their players, (well, not particularly), and of course no problem with the fans. But the club itself seems to be the perfect embodiment of a total arsehole. When we had the usual ‘welcome the fans of the away team’ announcement there was a bit of booing which was something I can’t remember happening before. All this bad feeling meant we really wanted to beat them… oh. Aside from grumbles about the club, I don’t really have anything else to say about them. We knew how they’d play and they played like they always do but this time sneakily making their attack a bit better, and they deserved to win the game. We can’t throw away at least 45 minutes of every game and not expect to get beaten every week. If we hadn’t given them the ball on so many occasions I’m not sure they would have had so much success up front. Maybe we could have got a draw!!!! When you play a counter attacking team and repeatedly offer them counter-attacking chances without them even having to make a tackl, you’re going to get punished, and that’s what happened. Oh, one last bitch, I know you want one. Junker seems to like a whine doesn’t he? I wonder if that had anything to do with him not playing much and then leaving Urawa on loan even though he seemed to be one of their most dangerous strikers.

Ref and VAR -

Was perhaps a bit card shy, but once again, don’t have much to say about either him or VAR, which I don’t think was used at all in this match. Another triumph for the less famous refs. 

So next up, Shimizu at home in the Levain on Wednesday (with us potentially getting knocked out of the competition so that we can concentrate on doing terribly in the league), and then Urawa at home on Sunday in the league. The Levain Cup gives us an opportunity to shake things up and… oh actually it’s difficult to shake things up when you haven’t got a clue what your first team actually is. In the past, Oniki has tended to play the strongest team possible when it comes to a crucial cup match regardless of the opponents. The problem is that right now I don’t think anyone knows what the strongest team actually is. Add to this the fact that we’re still suffering from loads of injuries, particularly in defence. I guess Kurumaya might be back after his ban, but as far as the rest of the team goes, your guess is as good as mine. Kamifukumoto in goal I suppose. Oh, and almost certainly Yamane and Ienaga involved at some stage. Some people might say that we should focus on improving in the league and forget about the Levain, but to be honest, I think we need to take any kind of confidence boost we can get right now. But, Shimizu did beat us quite easily in the away fixture and after a terrible run in the league, scored six last weekend. And they have got nine points in the seven games since we last played them and we’ve only managed four in the five games we’ve played in the same period. So basically they aren’t doing very well. but don’t worry S Pulse fans, we’re doing worse! We still haven’t won a game at home. We still haven’t scored a goal in the first half of a game in the league. We are still clueless. And these blog posts are still grindingly repetitive and relentlessly pessimistic. Sorry! 

GK 1. JUNG Sung-Ryong
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 3. OMINAMI Takuma
DF 29. TAKAI Kota
MF 49. KOZUKA Kazuki
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 26. EINAGA Takatora

DF 5. SASAKI Asahi (on for NOBORIZATO 74')
MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT (on for IENAGA 74')
MF 16. SEKO Tatsuki (on for WAKIZAKA 83')
FW 17. TONO Daiya (on for KOZUKA 64')
FW 20. YAMADA Shin (on for EINAGA 64')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

JUNKER (Nagoya) 9' 0-1
MATEUS (Nagoya) 45+2' 0-2
MIYASHIRO (Frontale) 56' 1-2

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