FC Tokyo 2 - 4 Kawasaki Frontale
Another very late blog post. This time it’s a bit more of a surprise though as this game was quite an enjoyable experience! So there you go, proof that I’m not sulking when we have a disappointing game. More that I’m disorganised whatever the performance and result are like. Given that we’re sailing close to the wind with another game coming up in about 24 hours I’m going to go with the same ‘us’, ‘them’ and ‘ref and var’ sections again and then we can get on with preparing for the visit of Avispa Fukuoka on Wednesday. This time round, let’s start with…
Every time I write a blog post about either FC Tokyo of YFM I end up making the same old bad jokes and subtle digs at our rivals. On this occasion it feels slightly unfair to do so as FC Tokyo seem to be in a bit of a mess behind the scenes and it’s not nice to kick someone when they’re down. Naturally I was delighted that the SBO Leandro was nowhere to be seen. His absence is something of a mystery with various theories going round. My personal one is that he’s just a total dirt bag and a terrible person to have in the locker room. There must have been a reason that Kashima were prepared to let him go for nothing a couple of years ago. I think he’s just bad news. Certainly he does do some good things on the pitch but they are more they outweighed by his total arseholery. But anyway, he didn’t play so I don’t know why I’m bothering to write about him. It does seem though that his influence is rubbing off on Diego Oliveira a bit. I always had thought he was a decent enough guy but recently he seems to have turned into a nasty fouling whinger, with his three options being roll around on the floor after the slightest contact, gesture and shout at the ref if something doesn’t go his way, or put in a horror tackle made up of 95% vindictiveness and violence with a 5% sprinkling of bad football. Perhaps he’s frustrated at being expected to do everything. Nagai basically runs fast and then falls over, nothing much happens in the middle and the two full backs crumple under the slightest pressure. Lovely for us though! Tokyo were pretty average in this game and I guess I should say that we should feel very disappointed to have conceded twice to give some fuel for Tokyo fans wanting to find something in this post to get angry about. To further stoke the fire of annoyance I’ll add that the atmosphere from the Tokyo parts of the stadium consisted of long periods of silence occasionally punctured by the briefest period of applause when they scored. Probably the biggest reaction in the game from their fans or players was when Tanno collected the ball close to the edge of his box, but more on that later… This was preceded by a gag-inducing rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, which I know already doesn’t sit particulalry well with some Tokyo fans, but hearing the version they play accompanied by a silent stadium laid bare quite how horrible it was. Presumably the Gerry & The Pacemakers version is too expensive to use so they made their own version with a Casio preset and a couple of guys who can speak English… but not sing. On Twitter I joked that it was probably some local Eikaiwa staff but hearing the stadium announcer (who, as an aside, I’m pretty sure got one of their players’ name wrong) a bit more clearly due to the silence in the stadium I wonder if his mid-Atlantic drive time radio tones were employed instead. I dunno, this all feels a bit cheap to be honest. The FC Tokyo fans I know are nice guys so it’s not completely fun to be mean about their team. I think they would be disappointed if I didn’t bitch a bit though so hopefully they enjoyed this. I know how they feel though as we’ve had some similarly awful days at the office when nothing works on the pitch and no-one seems to even be able to kick a ball. Thankfully not yet this year, but surely we will have one sooner of later. I’ll just finish up by saying that on this flat performance from them the ‘sexy football’ flag behind the goal (which I was taking a photo of purely to make this joke when Ienaga scored a beauty which I consequently only half saw... Did mean that I have a photo of him scoring which is immediately below this paragaraph), is even more amusing than it normally is. Add in your own joke here about erectile disfunction. Or picture Boris Johnson attempting to mount his latest mistress. SEXY! All quite unpleasant.
Oniki rang some changes in this game, but still Yamane powers on. He had another quiet game but given that he wasn’t getting forward quite as much perhaps he was quiet because he’d been told to defend a bit more, was a bit knackered or was up against a good opponent on his side. Kurumaya came in for Nobori at left back and I thought he had a really good game. Given our wealth of midfielders it might seem strange that Oniki is back on the conversion train again, but Tono started the game in midfield instead of playing further forward. I guess he played there for some of the last game and he scored. I didn’t notice him so much in this game though. Our front three had the ball in the net five times in the game so they are clearly all on fire. I wonder who will start against Fukuoka. I suspect Oniki will mix it up a bit. By which I mean completely change the front three. We scored some nice goals in this game but were gifted at least a couple of them. You’ve still got to put the ball in the back of the net though and we did a great job of doing so. Tanno continued in goal and did ok I thought. He had a bit more to deal with in this game than against Oita (no shots on target). Much like against Tosu, according to the stats he stopped one shot on target. Unfortunately this time he let two in as well, but obviously there’s more to be being a goal keeper than just saving shots on target (although I’m not downplaying the importance of doing that!). I felt like this was a bit like the game Tanno played last year against Kashima. Similarly he did pretty well but then was a little unlucky to concede two goals and obliterate his clean sheet. Thankfully though he did get a couple of clean sheets in the two previous games. And he did really irritate the FC Tokyo fans and get himself mentioned on Twitter quite a lot when he collected the ball inside but close to the edge of his area. We were behind the other goal, so a long way away but at a good angle, and at the time it looked close but not that close. FC Tokyo fans and players alike protested (apart from Nagai, who was the only one close to the incident which possibly says something), and we went up the other end and scored. I’m pretty sure it would have been looked at by VAR to check the goal. I don’t know if it was. But the J League judge replay swatted the complaints away quite quickly using the incident only as a bridge to talk about other similar incidents and to clarify the rule. They were in no doubt that the ball was in the box. But let’s not let facts get in the way of a hot take gained from one side-on replay. I guess we’re quite annoying for lots of other teams’ fans now so they will use any opportunity to have a go at us and try to suggest that we’re getting preferential treatment or the rub of the green. I do get it. If the shoe was on the other foot, I’d probably be doing the same thing. I also think I understand how social media works though. It’s very easy to retweet or like something after a quick glance. And it’s very pointless to argue on the internet so I’m very pleased with myself for managing not to bite. Couple of final things. I think one of Damiao’s assists was an attempted overhead so I’m pleased that is coming back into his game. Perhaps his new thing will be overhead kick assists. He looked delighted with his goal and it’s a total joy to have him playing for us. What a nice guy! And hats off to us supporters. I’m not sure if the upper and lower tier alternate clapping to the ‘Let’s go’ rhythm was preplanned. It seemed to come about organically. It was a lot of fun and when we can combine it with the new arm waving AM10 ‘song’ when we have the drums it’s going to make COVID supporting a hell of a lot more enjoyable. (Excellent timing as we lurch into another half-arsed lot of restrictions which do next to nothing). We’ll see what it’s like at home against Avispa.
Ref and VAR -
VAR first. I hate it. Have I said that before? Hehe. No wrong decisions in this game I think, but the delay for the disallowed goal was ridiculous given that people watching the game online said that it was clearly offside. I haven’t watched it back but I’ll trust them. A few minutes delay for an obvious decision is pretty crazy. If it was obviously onside but they had to check for other infringements, fair enough. But if the offside is clear, we don’t need to check if anyone pulled a funny face behind the ref’s back in the build-up a few minutes previously. About the ref, I have a few more things to say! Looking back on my old posts it seems I didn’t previously have much of a problem with Fukushima but he was a nightmare in this game. When both sets of fans think he had a stinker you can probably be sure that he did. I don’t think he was biased either way, but some of his decisions were completely bizarre. I’m pretty sure after a Tokyo corner was taken and our player was knocked to the floor he blew his whistle and asked them to take it again. I thought he had definitely forgotten his cards as this game was a little feisty as you’d expect from a derby but Diego got nothing for a nasty revenge foul. Also, nothing for a player blatantly taking out Hasegawa or Mitoma or Kurumaya as they raced clear on the left. Basically I can remember where the incident was but not who was involved… somewhat undermining my complaint. He did finally book one Tokyo player but to be honest, I can’t remember that incident so let’s just say he probably got that wrong too. I think all of this was compounded by the long delay in restarting after half time as Fukushima seemed to be having radio problems. The old ‘hand on the ear’ is becoming something that sends simultaneous waves of anxiety and frustration through the body as we anticipate another tedious VAR delay. But to have it at the start of the half with both teams ready to go and standing in position is a bit bizarre. I wonder if in fact it hadn’t been working for the whole of the first half and it was just blasting white noise into his ear. That might explain some of his work I guess. But you know me, I love a moan about a ref, so I’m sure you would have been disappointed if I didn’t have something to say about him.
As I said above a few times, next up, Avispa Fukuoka at home in about 24 hours. Nara has recently started playing for them so I expect he’ll line up against us and have the game of his life. I still don’t blame him for leaving us, and I still blame Oniki for making him leave. (All conjecture of course, but you’d expect nothing less from me!). It’s fair to say that they’ve had a mixed start to the season. It’s also fair to say that we always have bad games against teams that some people
expect us to beat easily. I suspect a bit of Oniki rotation and that this could be an interesting match. Definitely the kind of team we could slip up against. Fingers crossed. After that I have a race against time to get a blog post out before Sunday when we take on Hiroshima at home. So many home games! Some might say that this means we have an advantage, but I’m not so sure that it goes like that for us. It does mean though that we have a lot of nice away trips coming up later in the season which will presumably be ruined by COVID restrictions. Damn… Anyway, Go Frontale!
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 4. JESIEL
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT
MF 25. TANAKA Ao
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
GK 21. ANDO Shunsuke
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
My Frontale Man Of The Match
Hmmmmm. I should probably have thought about this a bit more at the time as now I can’t really remember. I think I thought Joao had another good game. Ao too. Damiao got a goal and two assists. Mitoma finished nicely on a couple of occasions. Ienaga scored twice. Kurumaya did well. I’m basically naming almost the whole team, so let’s leave it again.
IENAGA (Frontale) 8' 0-1
IENAGA (Frontale) 17' 0-2