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!
11. KOBAYASHI Yu
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.
21. EDUARDO NETO
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!