Thursday 27 December 2018

2018 Season round-up

In the interest of getting these round-up blog posts finished before the end of the year, today I’ll post my general thoughts on our 2018 season. Let’s start with the league first.

It’s undeniable that winning our second ever title, with plenty of games to spare, by plenty of points, scoring the most and conceding the least is a pretty fantastic achievement. So full credit to everyone involved for that. Seven losses and six draws meant that we finished up with a slightly worse record than last year, but you could probably make the case that the league was a bit more competitive at the top and the bottom this year. Ten points separated Urawa in fifth and Nagoya in a potential relegation position. So clearly lots of teams were taking points off their near rivals. The shocking thing is that Urawa in fifth, (and very nearly Sapporo in fourth), were closer to V Varen Nagasaki at the bottom of the table than they were to us, just a few league positions above them. Hiroshima’s complete implosion probably spread a few points around the league that you wouldn’t normally expect to be shared around. We were well off the pace earlier in the season and would never have got the chance to make such an amazing comeback if they hadn’t really started stinking the place up. Certainly, pressure from us putting results together contributed to their collapse, but if we are in a similar position next season, we can’t expect our opponents to do the same.

Looking at the games we didn’t win, a few things stand out. Cerezo and Urawa both did the double over us. We still can’t beat Cerezo, although the complete off-season deconstruction of their squad could help us next year. We drew twice with Shonan, which in a way points to a similar problem. Both teams play pretty conservatively, sitting back, keeping things tight and then hitting on the counter attack. As did FC Tokyo, who beat us at Todoroki. Playing these kind of teams was a problem for us last season, and the fact that more and more teams are playing like that now can’t be a good thing for us. Our inflexible way of playing still means we struggle a bit against these tactics. I’m sure more teams are noticing. I feel Urawa worked this out and their two victories against us saw them playing in a less exciting but more effective way than we might normally expect them to. To round up the last few matches we didn’t take all the points in, we have draws against Sagan Tosu and Yokohama, teams who were right down the bottom for most of the season, and also draws against Kashima and Sendai who were doing significantly better (at least when we played them). One of our worst performances of the year was out defeat at Gamba who were in a dodgy position but seemed to be getting things together. Can’t help but feel that we helped them on their way with a stinker of a performance. And I guess I have to mention the defeat against Sanfrecce at home which featured one of the worst refereeing decisions we saw in a season that was notable for the amount of clangers from the officials.

On a more positive note, there were some big wins, the 7-0 against Consadole, which felt a bit mean on a team that were recovering from an earthquake, but was at the same time, quite exhilarating. The 5-3 against Kobe was more satisfying, given that it contained a comeback against a moneybags team that has been trying to buy the title for years and has failed so far and also saw a hissy fit from a Kobe player who had done a very unsporting goal celebration which had irritated me quite a lot and had then seen his team get dismantled. The other big win was the 4-1 against Kashima in the league which was great because it was a spanking for a team that always seems to beat us when it matters. It also featured an own goal from one of Kashima’s big stars Misao and a red card for Shoji. Lovely! My favourite Ienaga shoulder flick was also in this game. The best way to get a booking ever, and well worth it! All in all, a good season, but not as many points or goals as 2017. Only three points less, but a whopping fourteen goals less, and don’t forget that included seven against Sapporo. The defence was tighter though, (by five goals), and I think this was how things generally felt for most of the season. Whether we’d really want to sacrifice that many goals scored for the better defence though, I’m not sure.

On to the cups and I’ll start very briefly with the ACL. The campaign was a total disaster. Against the stronger teams, we displayed a complete tactical ineptness, not playing the way we could, perhaps hoping to tighten things up and not concede, but instead just ended up completely sacrificing any kind of attaching intent. After the first couple of games were lost we were up against it, and it seemed that the pressure told with the two middle games of the campaign against Melbourne Victory which we really should have won. The first home game was a draw after a late penalty, which I think caused Nara to be dropped for a while by Oniki. We should have been out of sight by then though, if we hadn’t been playing so badly. After drawing what should have been our easiest game, I’m not sure if Oniki had given up already by the return fixture as he sent a very strange squad. I guess he had one eye on the league and was considering the long travel involved, but we really should have won that game too, but once again can have no real complaints about losing. After four games we were out, and two of those games were our gimmes in the group. The final two games were draws, but you can’t really take much from either as we were already cooked by then and our opponents were already home and dry. The ACL isn’t my biggest concern, I’m much more interested in doing well in the league, but it would be nice if we didn’t stink it up so much. Not just for the fact that we want to show our best side and do our best, but also for the fact that our ACL failures manage to simultaneously irritate (we’re doing badly for Japan) and delight (we’re losing and showing we can’t hack it at the ‘next level’ up) our J League opponents fans. If we have to irritate and delight rival J League fans, I’d much rather we did it through winning games (Go Japan! Damn Kawasaki, kind of thing).

I think I’ll quickly gloss over our Levain cup this year. Two lacklustre performances against Kashima, one of which was a total disaster at our home stadium for the day, the Ajinomoto stadium. We were rotten in that second game. The supporters were so loud which was surprising given that we had so little to actually cheer happening on the pitch. I didn’t particularly agree with some of the tactics and selections Oniki made, but realise that this is pretty clearly the least significant competition for us and perhaps we treated it that way. I do feel though that we have unfinished business in the competition after our rotten final performance last year. It’s probably also the easiest trophy to win if you’re an ACL team coming in at the knock-out stage, given how lightly many teams take it. Maybe next year, but this has to go down as a missed opportunity.

Finally, the Emperor’s Cup. Another missed opportunity really, but not so surprising given how much of a meal we made of getting through to where we did. We struggled a bit against Sony Sendai, having to come back from 2-0 down at half time. It didn’t really feel that we were going to lose, but we only scored the winner in the 89th minute. Perhaps a bullet dodged. The next round away at Mito was different. In spite of leading for most of the game, the late equaliser felt somehow inevitable, if only for the potential journey home difficulties it caused. Extra time was tense, as were the penalties but we scraped through and we finally managed to scrape home around 3am. The next round was possibly our most straight forward game in the competition this year even if we did go behind once again. I guess Shonan were resting some players and there wasn't quite the giant killing potential in the game. A decent second half performance saw us comfortably through to the quarter finals to lose to Montedio Yamagata at home, although the game was played in Yamagata. I’d love someone to explain how that works. I was delighted to get the chance to go to Yamagata though, and aside from the game enjoyed my visit. I think Taniguchi might feel the same. There was a full strength team out for us and we still went three behind in the first 50 minutes. It was another game where we really didn’t turn up, but this time it was individual errors that cost us, with every goal coming from a Taniguchi clanger. A red card for Sung-Ryong didn’t help, but you could say we might have actually played better after that happened. Another good opportunity thrown away as the draw to the final looked pretty good for us. But no complaints from me about either Oniki or the result. Montedio deserved it.

Oh, I forgot about the Super Cup right at the start of the season. We were crap and Cerezo always beat us. That’s probably all that needs to be said about it.

All in all, I guess 2018 will go down as a success. It was great to get the second league title and this was the competition I was most interested in and I think it overshadows the others. However, there were a fair few missed opportunities. Of course we can’t expect to win everything, but perhaps whilst we have the squad we do, we might expect to do a bit better in the cups. Naturally, 100% consistency doesn’t happen, and we’re always going to lose games. However the manner in which we’ve lost some this year, and perhaps also the manner in which we’ve won some games suggests that we still had a significant portion of luck on our side. I guess luck is an important aspect of any successful team, but I’d rather we didn’t have to rely on it so much. As for what next year holds, we’ll have to wait and see. We’ve lost Elsinho, which looks like being potentially a big blow. We’re strengthening, but there are a lot of big teams that are also doing so, and you can’t imagine that the big sides will be content with us taking the league title again. I think 2019 will be a lot more competitive at the top, but perhaps that there will be more of a gap to the middle and lower parts of the table. Hopefully, we’ll still be in the top section, can push on from 2018 and keep our momentum going. Happy Christmas and New Year to all of you. Go Frontale!

Wednesday 26 December 2018

2018 Season Player Round-Up Part 3

This is the third and final part of three round-ups of each of our players' 2018. A more general round up will be coming soon. Or at least as soon as I have got round to writing it and found time to post it.

25. MORITA Hidemasa

Morita has been a bit of a revelation this year. From being an untested rookie last season to a first choice player and our only national team representative is a hell of a lot of progress. I suspect he could be the next player to leave us for a foreign team as he seems more ambitious than some of his team mates. Apparently he doesn’t want a song till he scores a goal, but I think he deserves one next year. Has surprised with his strength, tackling, movement and skill on the ball. Pretty much everything really. Only possible downside is that he occasionally seems to try a bit of showboating and it usually doesn’t work out. Guess this happens when you spend a long time training with Neto! Really looking forward to seeing him and Oshima play together next year and hope we can hang on to him for as long as possible. Should also mention, his transformation from fresh faced youngster to beard, moustache and classic J League haircut look has also been quite sensational.

26. TABINAS Jefferson

A season even less eventful than last year if that’s possible. Not even the solitary bench appearance this time. You’ve got to wonder why we don’t send him out on loan if he’s nowhere near the first team as he was supposed to be a bright prospect.

27. SUZUKI Yuto

Decent first season, and seems to have sealed the spot of replacing Ienaga when he moves inside. Feels kind of like a European style attacker, being a bit tall, powerful and a bit fast. And more direct than many of our other players. Played a bit of time at right back too, so maybe that could be his spot next year with Elsinho gone. Couple of goals, one of which was crucial, and a couple of assists add up to a solid first season.

28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto

Seemed to be the youngster that people were excited about at the start of the year with people saying he would be Kengo's replacement. Has had his pitch time limited though, starting one, coming on once and being an unused sub once. Oniki scandalously (in my opinion), subbed him halfway through the first half in his one start in a cup game. Nice man management from him as usual! That can’t have done his confidence any good. I guess he’ll hope he gets more of a chance next year.

29. Michael James FITZGERALD

Last year’s wilderness man came back and played some football! He even started some games! Although we shouldn’t forget that in the middle of the season we were playing our right back in the middle ahead of him and two other centre backs. It’s difficult to say whether he’s improved on last year as we got so little opportunity to see him last year. Think he’ll struggle to dislodge Nara, but seems to be more at the races this year.

30. ARAI Shota

As always, a reliable back up to Sung-Ryong. His keeping is pretty good I think, but is nowhere near as good with the ball at his feet which has caused us to change our plans on a few occasions. Got an assist this year which he was delighted about. Hasn’t really been found wanting too much this season, and if he’s happy with that I guess we are too.

31. POPP William

One appearance as an unused sub meant we got to sing his name, but are still largely unaware of what he can do. Guess the only thing lonelier than the life of a third choice keeper is the life of a fourth choice keeper.


Big season for Ao. He made his first team debut and on the same occasion scored his first goal. Time was otherwise limited until the last two games where he started due to an injury to Oshima. Not sure if this means he’s ahead of Shimoda in the pecking order or if Oniki was just using the couple of games after we’d won the title to give him a chance. Looked pretty wobbly in the first half against FC Tokyo but steadied himself and did a good job. Very much still in the one for the future category but much loved by the fans due to his long time spent with us from youth level.

33. MIYASHIRO Taisei

Still an unknown quantity. His one unused sub appearance came in the last game where it looked like he might be brought on for his debut, but an early injury to Kurumaya meant that we had one less late sub available and he missed out.

37. SAITO Manabu

Starred out injured but as our great hope, came on and almost won us the game against his old team and then kind of faded back into the shadows. It’s been a real stop/start season for Manabu with more stopping than starting. Another player in our most oversubscribed area, he was never going to walk straight into the team, but I think it’s been trickier than he expected. Oniki’s tactical ‘rigidity’ has meant that he’s never really had a run of games to get going and every time he looks like he’s getting somewhere, it doesn’t quite happen. But he’s an exciting player and can only do better next year. I think we’re all looking forward to seeing him really cut loose.

41. IENAGA Akihiro

My and many others player of the year, and the J League agreed. Streets ahead our most consistent performer, with very few off games, he’s brought goals, assists, skills and a kind of lovable on the pitch temper. Particularly like how he avenged Nara against Yuma Suzuki with a very amusing shoulder flick. It’s been said that he doesn’t like to stay at any one club did too long, but I hope he stays for as long as he can, as he’s really been the attacking heartbeat of the team this year.

44. CAIO Cesar

So underused that we don’t even know where he plays really, although I heard he’s a left footed attacking midfielder. If that’s true, whoever signed him must be insane as we have loads of them already. Will he still be with us next year, who knows? Looked a little bit like a signing which was made to keep up our quota of Brazilians.

ONIKI Toru - manager

As I’m sure anyone who has read this blog knows, I’m not Oniki's greatest fan. I realise this sounds stupid as he’s provided us with consecutive league titles in his first two seasons but I feel that these titles have been secured at times in spite of him rather than because of him. Our ACL campaign was a total disaster with just bizarre tactics employed. Hope he’s learned for next year. We also still have no plan B, and we’ve been a bit lucky that our plan A has been sufficient this year. Of course we can’t win every game, but when a team comes prepared, ably defends in numbers and sits back waiting for a counter attack (which many teams have at least tried to do this year), we are often found wanting. Equally worrying is his apparent complete lack of man management skills, which I’ve gone into in detail in individual player posts. Even so, I still feel a bit guilty criticising him. He has tightened things up at the back but we’ve definitely lost a bit of excitement going forward. So far it seems that he’s had luck on his side, and perhaps it’s better to have a lucky manager rather than a good manager. We just have to hope that he shows some more of the latter next season, whilst retaining plenty of the former.

Monday 24 December 2018

2018 Season Player Round-Up Part 2

This is part two of three of my end of season assessment of how our players have done this year. Part three to follow soon!


Decent season but one that didn’t quite reach the heights of last year. Still suffers from needing quite a few warm up chances before he hits the target, but has some lovely skills on him and has left players on their backsides with his nice little turns in the box on numerous occasions this year. His slightly worrying injury at the end of the year denied him the chance to properly lift the trophy for the second consecutive year. Hopefully he can recover from the injury and it’ll be third time lucky for him. Again, perhaps Leandro Damiao’s arrival might have an effect on his position next season. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s back on the right with Ienaga switching to the Kengo position.

14. NAKAMURA Kengo

Still going strong at 38, he’s put in some great performances again this year, particularly when nicking the ball off dallying defenders to score goals from nothing on several occasions. Can’t imagine he can keep it up to the same extent next year and think that Ienaga is being lined up as his successor. Wasn’t all great for him though, as he had a few games where he went pretty much unnoticed. At the same time he had a few games where he was altogether very noticeable for losing possession with passing much less excellent than usual. Not sure what position best suits him as he ages. Previously didn’t really like him in the defensive midfield position but when he’s had to play there this year, he’s done well for the most part. Outstanding amount of goals, assists and appearances for a player of his age and if you take that into consideration, deserved his best 11 spot. 

16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya

Another one of the diminutive attacking left footers. Surprised to see he featured in some way in 24 games as it felt like he was hardly used. I like him a lot as a player but I wonder if he is too similar to Manabu for us to need both of them. His emotional reaction to scoring in the FC Tokyo game made me think he would be leaving, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen. Perhaps a loan move would be good for him, as even if he is in great form, he’s got two big names ahead of him.

17. TAKEOKA Yuto

Another player who has given Frontale great service but it was probably no surprise to see leave. Has had his options limited this year by the presence of Elsinho and I believe a couple of injuries. When he did get a chance, looked pretty off the pace though. Good luck to him wherever he ends up next.


Big, big loss him not being able to agree terms with us. Seemed that he wanted to stay and we really should have done what it took to keep him as he’s been a crucial part of our success. Had a mid-season dip which I think coincided with Neto’s departure and Edu being frozen out. I feel there’s a connection but have nothing to back it up. Not his most prolific of attacking years, but is rarely beaten at the back and is going to be a huge loss I feel.

19. MORIYA Kentaro

Who knows what happened this year for Moriya? He apparently was injured at some stage, but the injury seemed to fade into him just not being considered an option any more. Has seen most of his recent pitch time (which in truth was not very recent at all...) in the defensive midfield position, although I think he’d be more suited further forward. Very popular with the fans and seemed a nice guy. Also helped persuade Saito to join us. Sad to see him go, but totally understand it, given that he’s at best fifth choice in his unfavoured position and even further back where he might prefer to play. Good luck to him!

20. CHINEN Kei

Has got to be pleased with how things have gone this year. Almost made it to double figures with goals and although it looks like he’s played a fair bit, a lot of his sub appearances were for only a couple of minutes at the end of the game. Not sure where the arrival of Leandro Damiao leaves him, but given that he pretty much sealed the second choice striker spot this year, you’ve got to imagine that he’ll be involved in some way next year too. Still not the complete finished product, but puts in plenty of effort and has a knack of picking up some poacher type goals.


Neto seemed to leave us because of a bust up with Oniki. I wasn’t happy at the time and I still think we should have kept him, but Morita has done very well in his place. I can understand Neto wanting to play but I think the official line was that he wanted a ‘new challenge’. It takes a strange character to decide that they want a new challenge fighting relegation and only just escaping on the last day so I think it’s clear there was more to it. As I said above, I think Neto’s exit contributed to Elsinho leaving so even if you didn’t rate Neto, that’s a reason you should rue his departure.

22. SHIMODA Hokuto

When Neto left it seemed that Shimoda would be the one stepping up into third choice in that position. He’s done well when called on but has only had limited opportunities. Has scored though, and a big selling point of his is that he seems to be able to take set pieces, which is bizarrely something of a rarity in our otherwise skilful squad. Along with his goal he’s had two assists. Not 100% sure where he stands after Tanaka’s recent starts though. But a quiet but decent first season.


The season started so well for Edu, starting and scoring in the first league game of the season. He got totally sidelined after his Levain cup final blunder last year so it looked like it could possibly be a new beginning for him. However, he soon dropped out of favour, being singled out and dropped like Nara was, when all around were making worse mistakes. Oniki apparently furiously substituted him in a match because our attacks were breaking down with him. Seemed harsh as he’s a centre back. Undoubtedly, he makes a few clangers, but otherwise he seemed to play no worse than his defensive partner. He’s now clearly bottom of the list, almost completely disappearing for the second half of the season. Apparently he’s one of our highest earners too. All of this points to him leaving, but nothing seems to be happening. I think he’ll struggle to take any part as long as Oniki is still around though.

24. ANDO Shunsuke

Regular third choice goalie season for Ando, who apparently usually travels with the team to away matches in case of any en route goalkeeping injuries. Been on the bench eleven times but that’s as far as it went for him. Not much else to say!

2018 Season Player Round-Up Part 1

As I did last year, I've done a little write up for each of our players' 2018 season. I wrote most of these on the plane back to the UK for Christmas so apologies if some of them are slightly insane. It's a long flight and I was quite tired. Parts two and three to follow soon.

1. JUNG Sung-Ryong

A solid season for our keeper, but with a couple of straight red cards thrown in for excitement. He got significantly less man of the match awards from me this year, but I think that says more about the standard of our defending than his play. He certainly had less opportunities to stand out because things were more solid in front of him. Conceding the least goals in the league can’t be a bad thing, can it?
A tricky write up as Abe hasn’t quite got going either this year. He’s spent far too much of his pitch time playing out of position but this was caused by us having way too many diminutive left footed attacking players all going for the same spot. You’ve got to wonder where his future lies. I have always liked him playing up front, but it seems Oniki doesn’t feel the same way. His six goals and four assists sees a decrease from last year when he got 14 goals and seven assists, and he hasn’t played as much either. Interesting season coming up I guess.


It’s been a good year for Nobori and he’s been involved quite a bit. Oniki switching Kurumaya to centre back mid season meant that Nobori was getting a lot of pitch time. He always stands out for giving 100% and is an excellent option for us to have on the bench, but will probably struggle to get ahead of Kurumaya at left back or any of the many short left footed attacking players on the left wing.

3. NARA Tatsuki

Obviously, I’ve got a lot to say about Nara. In my admittedly slightly biased opinion, he’s got to be up there as one of our best players this year. Unfortunately, Oniki disagreed for a significant portion of the year. Seems less prone to a blunder than Taniguchi but often doesn’t get the credit he deserves I think. Clearly he had a big part to play in our excellent defensive record this year and would be a huge loss if he went to Gamba, who’ve put an offer in for him.(Breaking news, he rejected them and is staying with us. Hooray! Happy Xmas to me!). Nice for him to round off the season with a goal as he must have been pretty unsure of his position earlier in the season when Oniki dropped him. The fact that he has ended up as the only one of our back five not in the team of the year is pretty ridiculous really. I would suggest that he was more deserving than any of the others but just seems to not get recognised for some reason.

4. OKUBO Yoshito

I’ll write about Okubo more for posterity than anything else. It’s been another slightly dodgy season for him. I was against him coming back but I thought he was still offering something from the bench for us. It seems that he wasn’t into that kind of role though and let’s be honest, he was never going to be happy as a permanent sub. I wish him well in his quest for 200 J1 goals, but have no idea where he will be attempting that feat next year. Not sure Jubilo was right for him, but I think his abilities are on the wane, so not sure where would be right to be honest.


Taniguchi is a bit of a mystery. He’s been an almost ever present this year, captaining the team on a few occasions. His form has swung from solid to abject and he’s made plenty of costly blunders, most obviously against Yamagata. But he is a protected species and seems undroppable. He chipped in with some goals this year and on the whole performed decently, but if we accuse Edu of always having an error in him we have to recognise that the same is true about Taniguchi. I think he’s a crucial player for us, but I think plenty of people think he’s better than he currently is. Hopefully next year he doesn't have to play as much and can sharpen things up. I know he always saw himself as playing in the defensive midfield position and he did well there in the first leg against Kashima in the Levain alongside Kengo, but both of them were rubbish in the second leg. I don’t want to criticise him too much as he’s done well, but it’s clear that he exists under different conditions to the other centre backs in the squad.

6. TASAKA Yusuke

The writing was somewhat on the wall for Tasaka this year. A mistake from him in the Super Cup was partly responsible for us conceding and after that Oniki seemed to lose faith in him, substituting him in that game and after that he slid out of the team and then off the bench. One of many victims of Morita, who initially took his place at right back whilst Elsinho was injured, and then went on to terminate a few defensive midfielders’ Frontale careers. We should remember that he probably didn’t really want to play at right back in the first place, but he’d slipped down the pecking order in the positions he would have preferred to play in. He’s put in great service for the club and I’m sure we all thank him for that, but I think moving on is best for him and us as he’s been merely making up the numbers recently. Good luck to him at JEF next year!

7. KURUMAYA Shintaro

Kurumaya seemed to stand out a lot less this year than last year. I’m not sure if he was playing worse or the players around him were doing better. He’s played a decent amount of games this year, but his one assist all season pales in comparison with last years 12. Perhaps Oniki switching him to centre back when he dropped Nara didn't help this, but on the whole it feels like he didn’t have quite the same impact this year. This change of position has probably also lead to him dropping off the international radar too. I’m delighted that he turned down Urawa and Kobe this year as he’s clearly our best left back and we suffer when he doesn’t play. Just can’t help but feel that this year he didn’t quite get going. Hope he can do so next year!

8. ABE Hiroyuki

A tricky write up as Abe hasn’t quite got going either this year. He’s spent far too much of his pitch time playing out of position but this is caused by us having way too many diminutive left footed attacking players all going for the same spot. You’ve got to wonder where his future lies. I have always liked him playing up front, but it seems Oniki doesn’t feel the same way. His six goals and four assists sees a decrease from last year's 14 goals and seven assists, and he hasn’t played as much either. Interesting season coming up I guess.

9. AKASAKI Shuhei

Looked like an interesting signing but has inherited more from Morimoto than just the number 9 shirt. Didn’t really get much of a chance, only getting on the pitch on six occasions including two starts in the Levain Cup against his former side. Will most likely slip even further down the pecking order with the arrival of Leandro Damiao, who seems to have also taken his number 9 shirt. We’re going to have loads of strikers fighting for one position up front, so hopefully we rotate a bit more next year, but things look a little bleak for him I’d say.

10. OSHIMA Ryota

Another season with a few injuries for Oshima. However, that, and maybe the fact that he seems to be a homely kind of person might be the things that are keeping him with us. Crucial player and seems to always play well but go a little unnoticed. Ironic that since he’s stopped shooting from distance he got the J League goal of the year award for the lovely team move goal towards the end of the season. Crucial piece of our jigsaw, who hopefully will stay fit all of next year.

Thursday 20 December 2018

2018 full season referee stats

More in the interest of finishing something I started, rather than for any particular practical reason, here are the complete season stats for referees officiating our games. Of course, I'm aware that we can have a disastrous game with a great ref who gets everything right or conversely a great game with a calamitous ref. I suggest that these stats are therefore taken with a grain of salt. As I said in my FC Tokyo away post, I don't think we should be cheering the announcement of refs' names before the match, as if they are aware of it, it can only serve to make them more 'balanced' and therefore favour the opposition. I guess this probably works in reverse too, but it's a lot more fun to boo a terrible ref. I've added a new column for average points per game so we can work out who to really single out for some stick next year. Three cheers though to Enomoto, Hirose, Iemoto, Imamura, Kamimura and Ueda, all of whom we have a perfect record with. Best not vocalise those three cheers though, in case they hear and overcompensate in our next game they officiate. I'm toying with the idea of marking the refs out of ten next season. What do you reckon? Good idea? Anyway, here, without any more comments, are the full season ref stats for 2018.

G - Games refereed
W - Wins
D - Draws
L - Losses
Y - Yellow Cards
R - Red Cards
AV - Average points per game

G 4 W 1 D 1 L 2 Y 4 R 1 AV 1

G 1 W 1 D 0 L 0 Y 0 R 0 AV 3

G 2 W 1 D 0 L 1 Y 1 R 0 AV 1.5

G 1 W 1 D 0 L 0 Y 1 R 0 AV 3

G 4 W 4 D 0 L 0 Y 3 R 0 AV 3

G 5 W 2 D 2 L 1 Y 8 R 0 AV 1.6

G 1 W 1 D 0 L 0 Y 1 R 0 AV 3


G 1 W 1 D 0 L 0 Y 1 R 0 AV 3

G 4 W 2 D 1 L 1 Y 1 R 1 AV 1.75

G 1 W 0 D 0 L 1 Y 1 R 0 AV 0

G 3 W 2 D 0 L 1 Y 4 R 0 AV 2

G 2 W 0 D 1 L 1 Y 3 R 1 AV 0.5

G 3 W 2 D 1 L 0 Y 3 R 0 AV 2.33

G 4 W 2 D 1 L 1 Y 4 R 0 AV 1.75

G 2 W 1 D 0 L 1 Y 3 R 0 AV 1.5

G 2 W 2 D 0 L 0 Y 3 R 0 AV 3

G 1 W 0 D 0 L 1 Y 3 R 0 AV 0

Wednesday 19 December 2018

2018 full season stats

Once again I’ve assembled some end of season stats for each of our players. This post will be followed up sooner or later, by referee stats, player round ups and a general ‘thoughts on the season’ piece. Oh, and I’ll do a survey results piece if I get any responses. The stats make pretty ominous reading for some of the players, who’ve hardly featured at all this year and probably goes to show quite how much we’ve relied on the same core of players for a lot of the season. In the end the two parts of the season seem to have balanced out quite nicely, given the extra ACL games we had in the first ‘half’ of the year. I won’t delve into these stats too much as they speak for themselves, but I’ll make a few comments on the charts I’ve made at the bottom.

Firstly, once again Kobayashi leads the way with goals, with a total of 16 in all competitions. (I should have mentioned that these stats are all for all competitions, Super Cup, ACL, Levain, Emperor’s Cup and the league). He’s done alright, considering he’s had a few periods out with injury. Our second choice striker Chinen, (at least that’s what the substitutions would suggest, with him coming on from the bench on 22 occasions, usually for Kobayashi), is in second place with a creditable eight goals. In spite of them scoring 24 between them though, I wouldn’t say either has looked particularly deadly this year. Chinen is clearly still in the early stages of his career and shows promise for the future. And I still believe Kobayashi plays better on the right than up front by himself. Maybe this will be the case next year, with our new high profile Brazilian coming. The rest of the list is as expected really, but with a great contribution from OWN GOAL, who’s scored at vital times this season. It probably would have been a bit of a surprise to see Manabu so low down on the list, but 2018 was clearly a season of transition for him. Hopefully he gets the chance to give a better account of himself next year.

The assist list sees Ienaga top the chart, and it came as no surprise, with him being both my player of the season and also the J League MVP. Congratulations to him on that! Not much else to say here I think.

I haven’t listed all the starts as I thought that is self evident from the figures, but Taniguchi comes out clearly on top. I guess this is more to do with him being the reserve captain and our chronic lack of numbers at centre back, (or at least a lack of players Oniki was willing to play), rather than being a representation of how his season has been. Full credit to him for playing so many games, but I can’t help think that it showed at times. Particularly Montedio Yamagata away! Hopefully next year we won’t need him to play quite so often. We might even get some cover in that area! The rest of the top five is as you’d expect with perhaps the only surprising omission being Kobayashi, who was slightly hampered by injuries this year. And fair play to old man Kengo who is still right up there in terms of starts. I think that last year, I expected him to wind down a little, but he clearly hasn’t in 2018.

With regards to cards, the reds are, as you’d expect, more memorable. Particularly the two straight reds for Sung-Ryong, one of which saw Nara in goal and keeping a clean sheet for 25 minutes. Abe’s was when he took one for the team, getting a second yellow against Kashima late on in the game and potentially saving us a point. We seemed to have a lot less suspensions this year with only Ienaga and Morita actually getting there. I think one of Taniguchi’s yellows must have been in a cup. Surprising to see that Edu, Eduardo Neto and Saito are all joint fourth, given their lack of pitch time. One final thing that surprised is that Nara didn’t get a single card in the league this year, which is astonishing for a centre back.

I’ve left the Man Of The Match chart to last, as it’s clearly totally subjective and I am fully aware that people might not be so interested in what I think. Also, I never give them if I haven’t been at the game and due to the World Cup break I ended up missing a few matches this summer, so there are quite a few missing. It was closer than I expected to be honest, but the top two are exactly as I picked in my top three players of the year. Ienaga was clearly our best player this year and totally deserved to win the MVP. Aside from the four times I’ve ‘honoured’ him he’s almost always been thereabouts with regards to being our best player in almost every game. I’m delighted Nara is second. He’s clearly (to me), been one of the foundations of us retaining the league this year. I just wish he’d get more recognition for his efforts and not always be in the shade of Taniguchi. One thing I omitted from the list was the multiple times I grumpily gave it to NO ONE. It seems churlish to moan about games in a season where we won the league and scored the most and conceded the least, but in amongst all the good stuff there were some very notable stinkers which I’m sure I bore on about in my end of season round up.

Stats by player

ST = games started
SB = used as substitute
US = unused sub
Y = yellow card
R = red card
G = goals
A = assists
MM = man of the match (according to me)

1. Sung-Ryong JUNG (GK)
1st half  ST 18 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 1 G 0 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 20 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 1 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total      ST 38 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 2 G 0 A 0 MM 0

1st half  ST 7 SB 6 US 4 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 0
2nd half ST 14 SB 9 US 1 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 1
Total      ST 21 SB 15 US 5 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 1

3. Tatsuki NARA (DF)
1st half  ST 14 SB 1 US 4 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 17 SB 0 US 0 Y 2 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 3
Total      ST 31 SB 1 US 4 Y 2 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 3

4. Yoshito OKUBO (FW)
1st half  ST 8 SB 9 US 2 Y 1 R 0 G 3 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 0 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total      ST 8 SB 9 US 2 Y 1 R 0 G 3 A 0 MM 0

1st half  ST 22 SB 0 US 1 Y 2 R 0 G 2 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 23 SB 0 US 0 Y 3 R 0 G 2 A 0 MM 1
Total      ST 45 SB 0 US 1 Y 5 R 0 G 4 A 0 MM 1

6. Yusuke TASAKA (MF)
1st half  ST 3 SB 1 US 1 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 1 SB 2 US 6 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total      ST 4 SB 3 US 7 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

7. Shintaro KURUMAYA (DF)
1st half  ST 19 SB 0 US 0 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 18 SB 0 US 0 Y 2 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 0
Total      ST 37 SB 0 US 0 Y 3 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 0

8. Hiroyuki ABE (MF)
1st half  ST 15 SB 3 US 1 Y 2 R 0 G 2 A 4 MM 1
2nd half ST 15 SB 4 US 1 Y 0 R 1 G 4 A 0 MM 2
Total      ST 30 SB 7 US 2 Y 2 R 1 G 6 A 4 MM 3

9. Shuhei AKASAKI (FW)
1st half  ST 1 SB 2 US 2 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 0
2nd half ST 3 SB 0 US 0 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total      ST 4 SB 2 US 2 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 0

10. Ryota OSHIMA (MF)
1st half  ST 16 SB 2 US 0 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 2 MM 1
2nd half ST 17 SB 1 US 1 Y 1 R 0 G 2 A 3 MM 2
Total      ST 33 SB 3 US 1 Y 2 R 0 G 2 A 5 MM 3

1st half  ST 12 SB 4 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 5 A 2 MM 0
2nd half ST 18 SB 0 US 1 Y 1 R 0 G 11 A 5 MM 1
Total      ST 30 SB 4 US 1 Y 1 R 0 G 16 A 7 MM 1

14. Kengo NAKAMURA (MF)
1st half  ST 14 SB 3 US 0 Y 1 R 0 G 4 A 3 MM 2
2nd half ST 23 SB 0 US 0 Y 2 R 0 G 2 A 3 MM 0
Total      ST 37 SB 3 US 0 Y 3 R 0 G 6 A 6 MM 2

16. Tatsuya HASEGAWA (MF)
1st half  ST 6 SB 8 US 7 Y 0 R 0 G 2 A 2 MM 2
2nd half ST 4 SB 6 US 6 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 1
Total      ST 10 SB 14 US 13 Y 0 R 0 G 3 A 3 MM 3

17. Yuto TAKEOKA (DF)
1st half  ST 4 SB 2 US 9 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 1 SB 1 US 5 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total      ST 5 SB 3 US 14 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

1st half  ST 16 SB 1 US 2 Y 0 R 0 G 2 A 1 MM 0
2nd half ST 23 SB 0 US 0 Y 2 R 0 G 2 A 2 MM 1
Total      ST 39 SB 1 US 2 Y 2 R 0 G 4 A 3 MM 1

19. Kentaro MORIYA (MF)
1st half  ST 6 SB 3 US 9 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 0
2nd half ST 1 SB 0 US 4 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total      ST 7 SB 3 US 13 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 0

20. Kei CHINEN (FW)
1st half  ST 10 SB 6 US 6 Y 0 R 0 G 3 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 9 SB 16 US 1 Y 1 R 0 G 5 A 3 MM 1
Total      ST 19 SB 22 US 7 Y 1 R 0 G 8 A 3 MM 1

1st half  ST 15 SB 1 US 0 Y 3 R 0 G 2 A 2 MM 2
2nd half ST 0 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total      ST 15 SB 1 US 0 Y 3 R 0 G 2 A 2 MM 2

22. Hokuto SHIMODA (MF)
1st half  ST 1 SB 0 US 2 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 5 SB 2 US 12 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 2 MM 0
Total      ST 6 SB 2 US 14 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 2 MM 0

1st half  ST 7 SB 0 US 9 Y 3 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 0 SB 0 US 3 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total      ST 7 SB 0 US 12 Y 3 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 0

24. Shunsuke ANDO (GK)
1st half  ST 0 SB 0 US 3 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 0 SB 0 US 8 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total      ST 0 SB 0 US 11 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

25. Hidemasa MORITA (MF)
1st half  ST 10 SB 9 US 4 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 2
2nd half ST 16 SB 1 US 0 Y 4 R 0 G 0 A 2 MM 0
Total      ST 26 SB 10 US 4 Y 5 R 0 G 0 A 3 MM 2

26. Jefferson TABINAS (DF)
1st half  ST 0 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 0 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total      ST 0 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

27. Yuto SUZUKI (FW)
1st half  ST 1 SB 3 US 1 Y 0 R 0 G 2 A 1 MM 1
2nd half ST 3 SB 16 US 4 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 1
Total      ST 4 SB 19 US 5 Y 0 R 0 G 2 A 2 MM 2

28. Yasuto WAKIZAKA (MF)
1st half  ST 1 SB 1 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 0 SB 0 US 1 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total      ST 1 SB 1 US 1 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

29. Michael James FITZGERALD (DF)
1st half  ST 1 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 4 SB 0 US 18 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total      ST 5 SB 0 US 18 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

30. Shota ARAI (GK)
1st half  ST 5 SB 0 US 19 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 4 SB 1 US 15 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 0
Total      ST 9 SB 1 US 34 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 0

31. William POPP (GK)
1st half  ST 0 SB 0 US 1 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 0 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total      ST 0 SB 0 US 1 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

32. Ao TANAKA (MF)
1st half  ST 0 SB 0 US 1 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 2 SB 2 US 1 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 0
Total      ST 2 SB 2 US 2 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 0

33.  MIYASHIRO Taisei (FW)
1st half  ST 0 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 0 SB 0 US 1 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total      ST 0 SB 0 US 1 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

37. Manabu SAITO (MF)
1st half  ST 2 SB 5 US 0 Y 2 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 5 SB 10 US 5 Y 1 R 0 G 2 A 0 MM 1
Total      ST 7 SB 15 US 5 Y 3 R 0 G 2 A 0 MM 1

41. Akihiro IENAGA (MF)
1st half  ST 19 SB 1 US 2 Y 2 R 0 G 3 A 3 MM 3
2nd half ST 20 SB 1 US 1 Y 4 R 0 G 4 A 7 MM 1
Total      ST 39 SB 2 US 3 Y 6 R 0 G 7 A 10 MM 4

1st half  ST 0 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
2nd half ST 0 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total      ST 0 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

Most Goals

1. KOBAYASHI Yu - 16
2. CHINEN Kei - 8
3. IENAGA Akihiro - 7
4. NAKAMURA Kengo - 6
4. ABE Hiroyuki - 6
6. TANIGUCHI Shogo - 4
6. ELSINHO - 4
6. OWN GOAL - 4
9. OKUBO Yoshito - 3
9. HASEGAWA Tatsuya - 3
11. SAITO Manabu - 2
11. OSHIMA Ryota - 2
11. SUZUKI Yuto - 2
15. NOBORIZATO Kyohei - 1
15, NARA Tatsuki - 1
15. SHIMODA Hokuto - 1
15. EDU - 1
15. TANAKA Ao - 1

Most Assists

1. IENAGA Akihiro -10
3. NAKAMURA Kengo - 6
4. OSHIMA Ryota - 5
5. ABE Hiroyuki - 4
6. HASEGAWA Tatsuya - 3
6. ELSINHO - 3
6. CHINEN Kei - 3
6. MORITA Hidemasa - 3
10. SHIMODA Hokuto - 2
10. SUZUKI Yuto - 2
13. MORIYA Kentaro - 1
13. NOBORIZATO Kyohei - 1
13. KURUMAYA Shintaro - 1
13. AKASAKI Shuhei - 1

Most Starts

1. TANIGUCHI Shogo - 45
2. IENAGA Akihiro - 39
2. ELSINHO - 39
4. JUNG Sung-Ryong - 38
5. KURUMAYA Shintaro - 37
5. NAKAMURA Kengo - 37


Most Yellow Cards (Two yellows in one game not counted here but added to the red column)

1. IENAGA Akihiro -6
2. MORITA Hidemasa - 5
2. TANIGUCHI Shogo - 5
4. EDUARDO - 3
4. SAITO Manabu - 3
4. NAKAMURA Kengo - 3


Most Red Cards

1. JUNG Sung-Ryong - 2
2. ABE Hiroyuki - 1

Most Man Of The Match awards

1. IENAGA Akihiro - 4
2. NARA Tatsuki - 3
2. OSHIMA Ryota - 3
2. ABE Hiroyuki - 3
2. HASEGAWA Tatsuya -3
6. MORITA Hidemasa - 2
6. NAKAMURA Kengo - 2
6. SUZUKI Yuto - 2
6. THE FANS - 2
12. CHINEN Kei - 1
12. TANIGUCHI Shogo - 1
12. NOBORIZATO Kyohei - 1
12. SAITO Manabu - 1
12. KOBAYASHI Yu - 1
12. ELSINHO - 1

Sunday 16 December 2018

2018 season survey

Here is the second annual Frontale Rabbit Blog survey. I have to admit, the questions are still not exactly thrillingly original. In fact most of them are the same as last year.  If you have any questions you think I should add, please let me know and I'll put them in. Please reply any way you want. Leave a comment on the post, send me an email to frontalefan(at)gmail(dot)com, tweet them... any way you can think of really. I'll follow up collating the answers when I've (hopefully) got a few responses. And in the interest of getting as many replies as possible, it's in Japanese too. Thanks!

他のフロンターレサポーターの意見に興味があるので、Frontale Rabbit ブログアンケートを行うことにしました。これ以外にも聞いたらおもしろいと思う質問があったらお知らせください。返答方法は自由 - ブログコメント欄、メール(frontalefan(at)gmail(dot)com)、ツイートなど。返答が集まったら結果を報告します!

1. Game of season

2. Player of the season

3. Goal of the season

4. Disappointment of the season

5. Villain of the season (anyone, from any team or an official or...)

6. Best away trip (if you've done one)

7. Best stadium in the J League

8. Opposition J1 team you like the most

9. Opposition J1 team you like the least

10. Team you're disappointed to see go down

11. Team you're pleased to see come up

12. Best thing about the J League

13. Worst thing about the J League

14. Trophy you would like to win the most next year

15. What's Kengo's role next season? (first team regular, semi-regular starter, sub etc.)

16. What’s your view of Oniki?

17. If you could have any J League player sign for Frontale, who would it be?

18. Any other comments

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Vs Jubilo Iwata (home) 1/12/18 - J League match 34

Kawasaki Frontale 2 - 1 Jubilo Iwata

The season’s over, the #supertitle secured, with us scoring the most and conceding the least in the league. It would be difficult to argue that we aren’t worthy champions.  Although we hardly finished the season in emphatic style, requiring a last minute own goal to defeat Júbilo Iwata. (I'll just say now, that I'm not sure if that accent over the 'u' is correct but the computer is adding it and it looks snazzy so I'm keeping it). Before the match I felt slightly conflicted, as Júbilo did us a huge favour last year drawing against Kashima, allowing us to secure our first title. They also beat Hiroshima a few games ago, but let’s be honest, pretty much everyone has beaten Hiroshima recently. They looked like they were in a little danger due to their dodgy goal difference, but with three teams needing to overtake them to put them into a relegation place and two of them playing each other, it seemed that they’d probably be ok even if we beat them. But as it turned out their last minute own goal dropped them into 16th and now they face Tokyo Verdy in a fight for their J League life. As they’d spent most of the first half trying to kick lumps out of us, I lost any sympathy I might have had for them and when the late winner went in I felt they’d possibly got what they deserved. This was not a nice game of football to watch. They packed the defence, it almost looked like they were playing a back four and a back three simultaneously, and hoofed the ball forward to a returning Yoshito and Kawamata, a forward who I find hard to like due to his constant elbowing of defenders which went entirely unpunished in this game. He, like Yoshito is a classic example of the type of player who you love if he’s on your team, but you can’t help but dislike if he’s playing for the opposition. He did miss a few good chances in the first half though, so maybe you don’t love him that much if he’s on your own team after all. It was a bit of a drab first half for us. We couldn’t really get going and they had the better chances. It seemed that Iemoto has had a word with Kimura and asked him to also give us nothing. As I always admit, I’m hugely biased, but pretty much every decision went against us. The only bright spark was Hasegawa absolutely rinsing Shunsuke Nakamura on a few occasions. I’m not sure if Hasegawa is playing for his future with us, or Oniki just thinks Abe needs a rest. For his sake, hopefully not the former, as he missed a sitter in the second half. Guess we’ll find out soon given that the season is now officially over.

The second half was a bit better for us, and a lot better for fans of entertainment. We had GOALS! Although only three, shared between the two teams and they took a while to come. Júbilo seemed a bit less interested, presumably having seen that Shonan were two goals up against Nagoya. Inevitably though, they opened the scoring and inevitably it was through Okubo. It was a bit of a sloppy goal to concede, Taniguchi lunging and missing his tackle by the touchline, a deep cross to Okubo who’d drifted back off Elsinho at the far post and was in acres of space, and a relatively easy finish. He celebrated wildly and you can’t really hold it against him as the goal seemed like it would be pretty significant for them. The goal gave them something to hang on to and they replaced Okubo shortly afterwards with Musaev, who I have a grudge against, but can’t remember why. This defensive tactical move was immediately answered by us with a long overdue goal from the player who I’m sure everyone acknowledges as the greatest player in our squad, Nara. He hasn’t scored for a while and it seemed to me at least the perfect way to round off a decent season for him. After the goal we continued to push on. I had a feeling earlier in the half that if we scored one we would get going and get another. Admittedly, I hadn’t included conceding first as part of this plan though. The winner came heart-breakingly late for Iwata, and to add to their misery it was an own goal. To be fair, the defender had to do something with the ball as Chinen was right behind him waiting to prod it home, and the accuracy of the pass made it difficult to do anything much apart from deflect it into his own net. Júbilo consequently plummeted into the relegation zone and you have to think that the momentum is all with Tokyo Verdy in the play off. Certainly an interesting game to watch! With an eye on next season, it’s probably noticeable that Ienaga has often been switched into the Kengo role late in games recently. I hope he’s being lined up as the long term replacement and that he decides to spend plenty more seasons with us. Ao presumably is also being blooded with an eye on the future. He’s done ok, but personally I think Shimoda should still be ahead of him in the pecking order. And presumably due to the unexpected injury to Kurumaya, Miyashiro was denied the opportunity of making a late substitute appearance for his debut which is a shame, but hopefully he’s got a long career ahead of him.

So that’s it, all done and with us being out of the Emperor’s Cup, we have a relatively early end to the season. It hasn’t exactly been the most exciting season, but we’ve put in plenty of good performances and are deservedly champions. Whilst some of the play hasn’t been as exciting, the margin of victory in the final table shows we’ve done it a bit more convincingly than last year. But let’s not get carried away. Hiroshima were a long way ahead of us and if they’d kept getting even half of the results they were earlier this year it would have been a lot tougher for us. I’m not convinced we’re as good as the table might suggest and I think we had some luck along the way. I also think we might have a bit of thinking to do before next season. Elsinho has gone and will leave a huge hole in our defense and attack. Plenty of rich clubs have made offers for plenty of our best players and whilst you’d hope they all stay, we might end up losing a few. There are a lot of players who haven’t really seen much pitch time this year as we’ve kept the line up pretty similar all year and we don’t really have a plan B for when things aren’t going our way. It’s hard to believe I’ve found so much to moan about when we’ve just won the league by 12 points, but you know, I do my best! Next up, a rest for the players and an interesting off-season. Next up for this blog, the usual end of season round up posts and I’m going to do the survey again so look out for those in the next month or so. Until then, let’s enjoy the feeling of being champions again! Good work Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki
DF 7 KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 25. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya

GK 30. ARAI Shota
MF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei (on for KURUMAYA 14')
FW 8. ABE Hiroyuki (on for TANAKA 67')
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto
MF 37. SAITO Manabu (on for HASEGAWA 78')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

I’d love to give this to Nara again, but I’m going to cop out, like they did with the official man of the match and give it to…

THE WHOLE TEAM - can’t really argue with how that table looks at the end of the year.


OKUBO (Jubilo) 78' 0-1
NARA (Frontale) 83' 1-1
OWN GOAL (Frontale) 90+4' 2-1


The Frontale youtube channel usually has longer highlights provided by DAZN, but given that a previous year's highlights got wiped when the broadcaster got changed, I'm going to stick with the official J League ones. But you can watch the longer highlights here if you want. And we have that extra footage video again at the bottom.