Tuesday, 24 December 2019

2019 Season round-up

Here is my long postponed end of season round up. The end of season posts seem to be dragging on quite a bit this year, perhaps because winning the Levain cup doesn’t quite provide the same euphoria as winning the league. But we shouldn’t diminish the achievement. A few years ago we would have bitten your hand off to win any cup, even this most lowly of ones. I’ll split this up by competition and will just run through some thoughts about how we did and what might have gone wrong. I’ll leave thoughts about the players to the individual player posts as no one wants to hear me go through all that again. So here we go, starting with what I consider to be the most successful and finishing with the biggest disaster. (By the way, I realise the pictures don't really match with the competitions they are next to, but you know, it's difficult to find good photos of bad experiences).

Fuji Xerox Super Cup

We won! We had new players! We made Urawa look terrible. Unfortunately, perhaps they were just rubbish. Given that this was only one game and we won it there was no chance for us to disappoint. Ah, the excitement and hope of early season games!

Levain Cup

The Levain cup was undeniably the high point of our season. Another star won for the shirt and a first victory in a cup competition is quite satisfying. However we did only have to play five games in this tournament against three teams and won only two of them, so let’s not get too carried away. Perhaps the highlight performance wise was the 3-1 home win against Kashima, where we really destroyed them in the second half. Of course the final was exciting and it was pretty exhilarating to win on penalties, but it wasn’t exactly a quality performance from us. Seems churlish to moan though. It always seems a bit off that the ACL teams automatically qualify for the quarter final in this competition. The fact that we started at that stage of the cup also takes the shine off a little and makes me feel like the win was a little undeserved. Going in this stage also denies us the opportunity to give some of our fringe players some pitch time in the group games. But no worries about that for 2020, as there’s a big chance we’ll be playing the group stages due to our dodgy performances in....

J League

After back to back titles, the second of which was a runaway victory in quite some style, this year has got to go down as a big disappointment. Finishing fourth is perhaps not so bad, but given the squad we had, and the fact that most of the league seemed to be worse than in the previous two years, it has got to go down as a huge missed opportunity. As always, we started slowly. The early draws against FC Tokyo, Kashima and Yokohama turned out to be draws against teams who finished above us, so perhaps were not as bad as they felt at the time but they did sow the seeds for a season of us floundering, failing to take chances, not playing what I consider our best eleven and stagnating tactically. We then followed this up with a late home defeat against a totally hopeless Gamba team who couldn’t buy a win at that stage. The late goal was another developing theme of this season. We conceded late on in a lot of games. I hate to see us taking the ball into the corner flag with five minutes to go, or sitting on 1-0 leads with 30 minutes to go and it didn't seem to work very often. Sure, we had some more defensive solidity in the last few seasons under Oniki, but this year that evaporated and when you're not defensively solid and you're trying to hang on for a 1-0 win for a significant portion of the game it’s always going to come back and bite you. We actually lost the least games in the whole league this year, which is perhaps something to be optimistic about and celebrate. However, the fact that we were only out 'drawn' by Matsumoto, (they drew 13 and we drew 12), a team who seemed to be attempting to stay in J1 by getting 34 points from drawing every game shows what kind of company we were in tactically. The draws killed our title hopes and also a significant portion of my enthusiasm. After the initial three draws against the end of season top three we did scrape some kind of form together but the reason we finished fourth is because of Nagoya home, Urawa home, Sagan Tosu home, Matsumoto home, Sendai away, Shimizu home, all of which were draws against bottom half teams. Looking at this list you can see that our home form was rubbish, teams having sussed us out at Todoroki, sitting back and waiting for a chance to hit us on the break, and this is something Oniki has never been able to counter. In previous seasons we’ve started slow and then built up momentum. This season we started slow, accelerated briefly, crunched the gears, veered of the road and crashed into a tree over the summer, then got pushed back onto the road and coasted downhill in neutral to the finish line, with massive pieces of our vehicle occasionally falling off down the final stretch. Yes, I realise I’ve overdone that metaphor a bit, but let me have it, won’t you? It’s maybe one of my favourite things about this years league campaign. Oh, finally, I should probably mention, as I’ve hinted at before, we used a ridiculous amount of different starting line ups this year. Unfortunately, I’ve left the stats I worked out back in Japan, but as far as I can remember, we used 29 different starting line ups in 34 league games, and the few times we repeated a starting eleven were after truly awful performances. I dunno why, I can’t work it out, but it definitely has contributed to a disappointing 2019 league campaign.


It was a a toss up for me as to whether our ACL or our Emperor's cup performances were worse. I’ve plonked for the ACL being just a little better. We had a tough group with three league champions (including us), and one very strong Korean club. We’d actually met the two toughest teams in this group in the previous year's ACL group, so we should have been prepared. As seems to happen in this competition with Oniki, we seemed to try to adjust too much to the opposition rather than playing our own game. Mercifully, due to work commitments, I didn't get to see many of these games this year, but it once again seemed like we were trying to be canny and cagey and hang on for one of those draws we liked so much this year,  yet more often than not failed and conceded late. (Some familiar themes here, eh?). Shanghai away, a late unfortunate penalty undid us. Ulsan away, a 91st minute absolute howler of a goal to concede. And by that stage things we’re looking dicey, even though we’d beaten the mighty Sydney FC at home thanks to a late Manabu goal. A couple more draws followed leaving us theoretically in a possible qualifying position if the game between our two qualification rivals went as we wanted it to. Sadly, these teams also knew what score we wanted and didn’t oblige. We had some more weird team selections in this tournament, Oniki still not really getting the whole rotation thing. Caio Cesar was rewarded for his couple of minutes from the bench away at Matsumoto with a start away at Ulsan, his only start for us ever. If we were struggling for continuity in the league, Oniki really pushed the boat out regarding random selections in the ACL. So basically, bad tactics, bad selections and we still managed to almost qualify, mainly thanks to a couple of wins against a pretty poor Sydney team. Who knows what might have been? Unfortunately, we all know what was. Next year, we probably won’t have to deal with ACL disappointment. we probably wont qualify and therefore won’t be able to underwhelm.

Emperor's Cup

I really want us to do well in this competition, feeling that we have unfinished business. Although it’s a competition that I’m unlikely to ever be able to see to its conclusion as I’m normally back in the UK around the final time. Thankfully this year there was no danger of me having any scheduling conflicts, due to us absolutely stinking away at Kobe and tanking out of the competition. Mercifully, I wasn’t able to attend that game, and not going was perhaps one of the best Frontale things to happen to me this year I think. The writing was already on the wall though. We’d laboured to a 1-0 victory against Meiji university thanks to an own goal. We had a decent team out but could easily have been knocked out at the first time of asking. Not sure Leandro Damiao and Chinen as a front two ever really worked, but still Oniki kept trying it, on this occasion supporting them by playing two left wingers. This saw us move on to Okayama away, where our blushes were spared by a late Leandro Damiao equaliser and then late in injury time, a penalty winner from Ienaga. On to Kobe where we generously gave them a 3-0 lead and unsurprisingly couldn’t pull back three goals in the last half hour. Although the two goals we got maybe made it look a bit more respectable. Still a loss though, and still a load more goals conceded. And another huge wasted opportunity.

So, all a bit gloomy this, isn’t it? But I’m sure you’d expect nothing less. I’m shocked that such an underwhelming league campaign could be the second best we did this year. I think we need to take a good look at ourselves, as many of these competitions were there for the taking this year as most of the teams in the league seemed pretty average this year. Yokohama would definitely have given us a challenge, but if we hadn't had all those awful league results we would have been putting some pressure on them. Next year, perhaps we'll get a go at the Levain group stages for the first time in a few years. Whether that is a welcome thing, you’ll have to decide for yourself. 2019 saw us gain another star for our shirt,  yet can’t really be taken as a huge success. It might sound snooty to say so, but we could have done a lot better and we probably should have. Anyway, that’s all from this blog this year. I’ll post the results of the survey some time early next year. Until then, I hope you all have a happy Christmas and a happy new year. Or that you enjoy whatever festive event you celebrate at this time of year. Cheers!

Sunday, 22 December 2019

2019 Season Player Round-Up Part 3

The third and final part of my end of season player round up. Today, from Ao to Oniki. Plenty more moaning coming I guess.


Definitely my player of the season. His improvement has been phenomenal, and now he looks like he’ll soon be pushing Oshima to be our first choice in that spot. Composed on the ball, tough in the tackle and more often than not plays a great pass. Fully deserves to get international recognition and I’m sure other clubs are looking at him. Really hope he stays.


Scored twice, assisted a similar amount, has played pretty well when asked to. Is another who finds himself behind other players paying out of position at right back. Oniki really doesn’t seem to like him (again... if so, why did we sign him?). Perhaps a bit more attacking than Mawatari so occasionally got caught out at the back, but like many others, only was able to work on this on the training pitch as more often than not, he didn’t even make the match day squad.

27. SUZUKI Yuto

Spent a large portion of the season on loan at Gamba Osaka. Before he went on loan was another player who was played out of position at right back. Didn’t really have a chance so it’s not really fair to comment too much. No idea if he’s coming back, staying on loan, or leaving us permanently.

28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto

Another rising star of 2019. Has played in both the Kengo role and on the right. Always seemed to gets subbed around 60 minutes regardless of how he was playing. Imagine his future will be in the Kengo spot. He has a good eye for a pass and really wants to score. Still raw, and gives the ball away cheaply at times, but it always seems to be with a nice pass in mind, rather than through carelessness. The fact that he’s our joint third top scorer with not so many appearances says a lot. And it’s even more impressive when consider that even though he seemed miles from the match day squad last year, he’s now staking a very real claim to be a starting member.

29. Michael James FITZGERALD

Similarly to with Suzuki, Michael James left midway through the season and didn't play much before he did. The few appearances he did make though seemed to be an improvement on previous seasons. Definitely he wasn’t as good on the ball as some of our other defenders, but he played reasonably well I thought. Particularly strange from our point of view that we let him go to Niigata when we had only one fit centre back. But I guess from his point of view the move made sense. Good luck to him!

30. MIYASHIRO Taisei

Never made it onto the pitch for us, (was on the bench a few times though) but scored a couple of times for Renofa Yamaguchi on loan. One for the future but there are a lot of other strikers looking to claim that one spot, so perhaps another season on loan would do him good.

31. HARADA Koki

No action for him, not even making it to the bench.

32. MITOMA Kaoru

Once an unused sub, once a used sub and seemed to be quite bright when he came on, but it was only briefly so we'll see next year, I guess. One for the future.

33. HATATE Reo
Made it briefly onto the pitch in the final game of the season and seemed up for getting stuck in. Was played on the right though is apparently a striker. One for the future.

34. YAMAMURA Kazuya

Ultra versatile but only really got a chance at centre back. Always seems to want to go forward with the ball when he’s playing there though, it seems. Did a reasonable job at centre back and scored a couple of times, but I think he and I would both like to see him playing further forward. Could he not do a job on the right side of midfield perhaps? Maybe his versatility will count against him though, as he’s a really useful player to have on the bench, given how many positions he can cover.

35. ISSAKA Zain

One appearance as an unused sub so judgement is delayed. One for the future.

36. MAWATARI Hiroki

No action for him, not even making it to the bench. The goalkeeper situation is so up in the air that I've no idea what will happen.

41. IENAGA Akihiro

Tough season. Only one goal in the Emperor's Cup from the penalty spot and started off the season with some pretty ordinary form. I’ve heard he had some personal and injury issues earlier in the year which can’t have helped him perform to the best of his ability. Came alive in the second half where he started to look a lot more like the old Ienaga we know and love. I particularly like his shoulder barges against opposition players which seem simultaneously quite aggressive and amusingly soft at the same time. Passion! And quite enjoyed the way he went on a yellow card spree at the end of the season, timing it perfectly to avoid a ban!


Breakthrough year for him, although sadly he broke through and then was sent out on loan. Younger than I thought so maybe one for the future and think that the loan will do him good. Whether he'll come back to us at some stage or the loan is a stepping stone to a permanent move, who knows. Came on briefly against Matsumoto and then started an ACL game. That probably says more about Oniki's selections than Caio though. We'll see.


I don’t think I need to say too much as anyone who’s read any of my blog Posts will know what I think of Oniki as our coach. This year, I think his luck ran out. Previously we’d been able to get away with being pretty inflexible and tactically rigid. This year, we weren't able to do this at the start of the season and Oniki went for the opposite, changing the team almost every game, giving no one a chance to get into any kind of form. We drew far too many games and ridiculously there were a crazy amount of 2-2 draws. The excitement is draining away from our football. There are players who seem undroppable and there are players who seem unselectable. I don’t think Oniki has the ability to freshen us up after we’ve fallen into this malaise. The Levain cup has papered over the cracks, but we went into the competition late and didn't exactly knock anyone’s socks off in most of the games we played. I don't dislike Oniki and when I watched one game from behind the dugout I was delighted to see him having a real go at some more useless officials. He's won our first three titles so deserves credit for that but I would like a new manager though. If it can happen in a mutually beneficial way, that would be nice. So, come on Kashima and hire him and then we can all get a happy ending!

Saturday, 21 December 2019

2019 Season Player Round-Up Part 2

Here's part two of my 2019 season player round ups. Today it's from 11-24, Kobayashi to Ando. Part 3 coming tomorrow.


Firstly, I should apologise a little for some criticism of Kobayashi I’ve made this year. Perhaps I hold him to a higher standard than some of his teammates so when he doesn't perform so well (which he’s done on quite a few occasions this year), I probably criticise him too much. As captain, I understand it’s difficult to drop him. However, he’s had some really bad patches this year and Oniki has kept on picking him. Wonderfully skillful player on the ball, it's just his shooting that lets him down, needing five or six shots to find his range usually. This is a bit worrying for someone we’re repeatedly playing as a lone striker. As we’ve seen this year, we’re not getting as many chances, and if we’re wasting most of them, we’re not going to do very well. Strangely he seems to do quite well coming off the bench. I still want to see him on the right, but apparently he doesn’t want to play there. Scored a surprising amount of goals this year considering how how negative I'm being, but sadly it will be the spurned opportunities that stick in the mind.

12. Supporters

I dunno, we did ok, taking lots of fans to a lot of games. Clearly our fan base is growing. Have probably been way too quiet at times in games where things are not going our way and the players need encouraging. And at the same time, have been way too kind to them when the have really been stinking the place up.

14. NAKAMURA Kengo
Time is perhaps unsurprisingly catching up with Kengo. The big injury he got near the end of the season could have been a career ender but he seems determined to come back from it. At times he’s been great and at times he’s been not very good. Like most of our players, he seems to be unable to take corners, especially compared to how he used to. Still has something to offer I feel, but probably just as much in the changing room as on the pitch. It might be shocking for some people to read, but I don’t think he should be a regular starter next year. Wish he'd take over as player manager, to be honest.

16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya

Limited opportunities but decent results. The player who provided the most assists for us this year, despite not starting so many games. Seems to be ahead of Manabu in the pecking order recently. Has his best impact from the bench, which might not be great for him, but certainly works for us. Whether he’s happy with that, I don’t know, but he seemed to be at the end of last year. Fingers crossed he'll stay and fingers crossed our manager can work out a way to accommodate the numerous left wingers we have into the team a bit better, rather than just playing one of them on the right.

17. MAWATARI Kazuaki

Unfortunately injured on a few occasions and when he wasn’t injured was still not getting picked sometimes, with others playing out of position ahead of him. Lack of pitch time has meant he has been unable to really stake a claim to be our first choice right back, but Oniki's tinkering meant that nobody has claimed the spot yet, so it’s still all to play for. Lovely free kick against Kobe was his season highlight I'd say. Oh, and his surprisingly good singing at the fan event!

19. SAITO Manabu

It looks a little like it’s not going to work out for Manabu with us. Another player plagued by injuries and slipping down the pecking order, but I still don’t really feel like he’s got started with us, even after two seasons. Remember he played really well in one game this year and was immediately dropped for the next. Plays in a position that we are hugely oversubscribed in, but really feel he could do a job elsewhere (up front, behind the striker, on the right) too if he were only give the chance as his running with the ball always looks dangerous. Fingers crossed for next year.

20. CHINEN Kei

Whatever happened to Chinen? In the first half of the season he was one of our three strikers who were rotated almost every week. Went on a scoring run fairly early on, but then pretty much disappeared. Whether Oniki lost confidence in him, I don’t know, but we’ve barely seen him in the second half of the season. With us usually only playing one up front, his options are going to be limited, but it’s a bit weird that none of these three seems to do particularly well in the system we’re using right now. Perhaps the problem lies with the system and not the players. He's off to Oita on loan next year, which is good for him I think. I imagine he'll do well given a run of pitch time. Good luck! Judging by Oniki's recent loaning this probably means he'll get transferred to a European team in a season or so.

21. ARAI Shota

Looked like it was going to be another season of bench warming for Arai but then he got his chance in the Levain cup and seemed to become our first choice. His distribution was never as good as Sung-Ryong's but Arai made some really important saves this year and I can't really remember him making any big mistakes. After the Levain final heroics, it seemed to me that he would take over the number one spot and the Sung-Ryong would leave at the end of the season. I suspect however, that he was told about a new keeper coming in and realised he’d be back to second choice again and therefore decided to leave. It seems pretty sad, as many of the players look like they’re going to miss him and he’s always been solid for us. Suspect that Oniki's man management might have come up short again. Good luck to him at JEF.

22. SHIMODA Hokuto

Wonder perhaps if Shimoda will also leave us. Has probably played more games this year than previously, but he’s stuck behind Oshima, Ao and Morita so will most likely always be only a back up for us. Real shame as his song is great and he can actually take set pieces!! Has done well every time he’s been called on, but seems to perhaps unjustifiably be one of Oniki’s first choices to change when we are not playing well, regardless of how he's actually doing.

23. FUJISHIMA Eisuke

Cant help but feel gutted for Fujishima as he has played absolutely no part at all this year due to a horrible injury. Whether he stays on, who knows, but he’s only on loan. Didn't even really get a chance to work out where he was in the pecking order.

24. ANDO Shunsuke

Another quiet year for Ando. Made it onto the bench once I think. No Levain cup group games means that it will always be tricky for him to get involved.

Friday, 20 December 2019

2019 Season Player Round-Up Part 1

This is the first part of my 2019 season player round up. I wrote these on a plane, sleep deprived and still a bit grumpy about the 2019 season, so fans/haters of my moaning are going to find lots to enjoy/get angry about in here. Given that Arai has left already and is almost certainly not going to be the last player to leave, I'd better get these three parts up soon, before all of this becomes horribly out of date. By the way, Chinen is off on loan next year to Oita, so I'd better update his part before I post it. Here we go then, squad numbers 1-10 today.

1. JUNG Sung-Ryong

Bit of a weird year for the player who was our number one keeper, but now, who knows really where he is. I feel he has been unfairly blamed for us conceding goals, when it seems to me that the problem has mainly been in the defence in front of him. He hasn’t helped his cause by making a few blunders, but every keeper does that, don’t they? Him being dropped towards the end of the season convinced me that he was going to leave. Him being recalled confused me, but then it became apparent that Arai was leaving. I suspect they both will go in the end as Oniki seems to really not get on with foreign players. But full credit to Sung-Ryong, who has been a crucial part of a couple of successful seasons for us, and shouldn’t be blamed for our failing this year.


A stop start year for Nobori due to some injuries. Feel like he’s a really important part of Oniki's plans though. Has played on both the left and the right sides of what was a slightly shaky defence at times and always does his best and gives 100% it seems. Can’t imagine he’ll be played further forward due to the huge number of left wingers we have in the squad. His versatility is one of his best attributes and can definitely still do a good job for us. As with many other players, he’s not at his best at right back, with his left-footedness being taken advantage of on a few occasions, but can certainly do a better job at playing there than some others we’ve tried to cram in. 

3. NARA Tatsuki

A season blighted by injury for Nara. Of course I’d say so, but we’d definitely have done better this year if he had stayed injury free. If all players are fit, you’ve got to think that Nara and Jesiel are our best centre back pairing. But that’s never going to happen, is it? Disappointingly looks likely to leave, but you can’t blame him. At the end of the year he wasn’t even making the bench whilst players ahead of him in Oniki’s pecking order were making mistake after mistake. I’m sorry Nara that you had to have Oniki as your manager.


Seemed a different class after he’d settled in. Another player whose season was blighted by injury, and another who couldn’t get on the pitch at the end of the year even when fit. Attracted some big attention for his performance against Chelsea. If we can hang on to him, it will be a big bonus. But in order for us to cash in on this bonus, we’d actually have to play him. 


The player with the most appearances this season and towards the end, it was showing. I don’t want to criticise him too much, but he’s made some serious errors this year and seemed to be dropping clanger after clanger whilst retaining his place in the team. Needs a rest, I think. Not saying he doesn’t make some magnificent and crucial interventions at times. It’s just that more than often, these are dwarfed by his mistakes. But no one really seems to notice the mistakes. Inconceivably was in the running for the team of the year, but I suspect that was more for the fact that he was a mainstay in a top 4 defence rather than being a selection made by anyone who’d actually watched us play this year.

6. MORITA Hidemasa

This could have been a great year for Morita. He finally scored his first goal for us and therefore finally got his own song. He had some recognition from the national team (although I don’t think he made it onto the pitch). Can’t help but feel that he was outshone by his younger teammate Ao though. Oniki putting him at right back at the end of the season was a disaster and I don’t know when Oniki will stop thinking this is a good idea. He’s great going forward, but constantly got rinsed in defence. Perhaps he could be tried in the Ienaga position in the future. Has great composure and keeps the ball well for the most part, but still occasionally loses it through trying some kind of trick or fancy play. Doing this nowhere near as much as he used to though, and is clearly still learning and improving.

7. KURUMAYA Shintaro

Much like with Morita, Kurumaya has done pretty well when he’s been played in his preferred position. Seeing him at centre back doesn’t fill me with too much confidence, especially when it’s as one of two. Used to do better on the left of a back three when Kazama was manager, but would still always rather he played at left back. Hasn’t all been great at left back though, as he went through a bit of a sticky patch, but then again, who didn’t this year? Someone will almost certainly try to lure him away from us again this year and I hope he once again stays, as he’s a crucial player for us.

8. ABE Hiroyuki

Seemed to have a slightly quieter season than usual, perhaps because he kept getting switched over to the right early on in the second half of games. It didn’t really work, but Oniki persisted. Scored an impressive amount of goals considering he hasn’t seemed to have played as much as in previous  campaigns. Still love the fact that he always seems willing to have a shot and he’s scored some crackers. Does seem to have drifted in and out of games a bit this year though, perhaps a reflection of the general malaise in the team.


Undeniably our most exciting signing at he start of the year, and has been undeniably underused. Never got a chance to have a proper run in the team. If he started and didn't score, he was dropped for a few matches. If he made an impact from the bench, that’s exactly where he stayed in the following game. This is all exaggeration of course, but it certainly felt that way. Did well to get as many goals as he did given his limited pitch time. The games he started tended to be ones where we were fielding rotated line-ups and his sub appearances often amounted to little more than time wasting changes. Oniki clearly didn’t want to play him and there was no real attempt to accommodate him. Perhaps wasn’t the best choice signing for our system (in which case, why did we sign him?!?!), and we never really played to his strengths. But he still did reasonably well and we are definitely left wondering what might have been if he’d been played a bit more. If he gets an offer from another team, I really wouldn’t be surprised if he took it, although he does genuinely seem to want to do well for us. Good guy!

10. OSHIMA Ryota

If we’d had Oshima fit all season, we would have done better. Pretty obvious thing to say I guess, but clearly it’s true. But then again, Oshima is never always fit so this is something we have to expect. We look so much more organised and composed when he’s playing and we really miss him when he isn’t. Doesn’t seem to shoot as much as he used to, so I’d like to see more of that as he’s got the potential to smack in some crackers. Defintiely one of our best players and if fit, even with Ao and Morita playing in the same position, he’s probably the first name on the sheet in the defensive midfield spot. 

Sunday, 15 December 2019

2019 season survey

Here is the third annual Frontale Rabbit Blog survey. Once again, the questions are not exactly thrillingly original. In fact most of them are still the same as last year but there are a couple of new ones this time.  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, instagram message me…. 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!

Frontale Rabbitブログの年末恒例アンケートも3年目になりました。質問は昨年とほぼ同じですが、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、Instagramのメッセージなど。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. Favourite Frontale song/player song

19. What’s your prediction for next season?

20. Any other comments

Saturday, 14 December 2019

2019 season round up: Ref stats

As usual, there’s probably not a great deal we can take from these stats to be honest but I still enjoy compiling them for some reason. I’ve added average cards per game and average points per game in an attempt to find something we can take away from these stats. Although some of these games were cup games, I've still counted the result towards the average points per game total. It seems that since the ridiculous applause for Iemoto that we gave him before FC Tokyo away he is doing his best to not give us decisions and we’re not doing well in his games. Perhaps it’s a sign of the general quality of this year’s performances that we only have one ref with a perfect record with us this year (Koya, but it was only one game so probably doesn’t count). Even if the ref was great for us we often weren’t able to win this year. But Matsuo, Yamamoto and our old friend Tojo (!) seem to be the best refs for us now. And Nakamura and Iida seem to be the most card happy. I have given triple points significance for the calculations to red cards as I feel a red is probably more than twice as costly as a yellow so two points didn't seem quite right. This is all a bit tenuous away I guess, so interpret them as you want.

G - Games refereed
W - Wins
D - Draws
L - Losses
Y - Yellow Cards
R - Red Cards
AVC - Average number of cards per game (yellow = 1, red = 3)
AVP - Average points for us per game

G 3 W 0 D 3 L 0 Y 2 R 1 
AVC 1.66 AVP 1

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

G 3 W 1 D 0 L 2 Y 1 R 0
AVC 0.33 AVP 1

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

G 3 W 1 D 1 L 1 Y 4 R 0
AVC 1.33 AVP 1.33

G 3 W 2 D 0 L 1 Y 2 R 1
AVC 1.66 AVP 2

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


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

G 3 W 2 D 1 L 0 Y 2 R 0
AVC 0.66 AVP 2.33

G 2 W 1 D 1 L 0 Y 3 R 0
AVC 1.5 AVP 2

G 1 W 0 D 1 L 0 Y 2 R 0

G 4 W 1 D 2 L 1 Y 3 R 0
AVC 0.75 AVP 1.25

G 4 W 2 D 1 L 1 Y 3 R 0
AVC 0.75 AVP 1.75

G 2 W 1 D 1 L 0 Y 0 R 0

G 3 W 2 D 1 L 0 Y 4 R 0
AVC 1.33 AVP 2.33

G 2 W 1 D 1 L 0 Y 0 R 0

G 3 W 2 D 1 L 0 Y 4 R 0
AVC 1.33 AVP 2.33

Thursday, 12 December 2019

2019 season round up: Player stats

Here is the first of my end of season posts. This year, I'm starting with the player stats. As I went through compiling these I spotted a few errors in my match posts, so I'm not going to vouch for them being 100% accurate, but I've done my best! I'm particularly lacking in confidence with the assist figures as I don't record them myself (maybe I should next year), and the official website's figures are a little confusing. I think they count assists as being something a bit different from what I do. Also, I don't award man of the match for games I haven't attended and as I missed a few matches in the second half of the season there aren't many of these awards. I think I often couldn't be bothered and sometimes forgot too. Anyway, here are a few comments on the various ‘winners’ mentioned in the charts at the bottom.

It will come as no surprise to see Kobayashi at the top of the scorer charts as he’s been our main striker for most of the season. Unbelievably, he scored more goals this year than last year. Definitely doesn’t feel like it! The slightly surprising thing for me is that Leandro Damiao managed to run him quite close which is a miracle as he had 50% less starts and most of his sub appearances probably clocked in at less than 5 minutes. Sadly for Damiao, his goals seemed to come in games that we either lost or drew, whereas Kobayashi scored more in wins. (At least that’s how it felt to me). I think both of them played better coming off the bench which is weird and probably sums up one of the problems about this season. We never seemed to really be able to get going at the start of games when it mattered. It’s great to see Wakizaka up there with Abe in joint third. Thankfully they were around to score goals when the forwards weren’t firing. Chinen’s stats possibly could have been better if he’d had a chance in the second half of the season. He only scored once, but only started two games. Hmmmm.

As mentioned above, the assist figures are possibly not the most accurate. They are a little confusing, as there doesn’t seem to be many assists at all, which is weird when you consider we’re a team that likes to try to pass the ball all the way to the goal. Hasegawa and Damiao lead the way and neither of them started many games. Maybe that’s why we didn’t do so well!

It will come as no surprise to see Taniguchi at the top of the starts stats. However, it did come as quite a surprise to see him starting games towards the end of the season as he lost form steadily game by game. I guess he might be tired as he’s a long way ahead of any other outfield player in this chart. Outside of the top five the figures dropped off quite quickly which I guess is due to the numerous starting line-ups Oniki tried. (Big reveal on this coming in another post soon). Maybe he’ll find one he likes soon.

The limitations of my man of the match figures are many, and are influenced by factors including moodiness, pettiness and forgetfulness. I think though at the end of the season it has come out pretty much right though as far as I’m concerned. Ao finished at the top as he well deserved to. No one else came close in my opinion. Wakizaka’s goals and attacking mindset offset his rawness and he fully deserves to be in second place. I was unsure about him when he first started playing for us, but I think he’s a really important player in the future and also in the present. Maybe sometime he’ll get to stay on the pitch after the 60th minute! Hasegawa is a game changer. I’m not sure how many of his man of the matches came after he came on as a sub, but I’d imagine at least a couple. He never seems to make as much of an impact when he starts, but coming off the bench, he definitely adds something. Aside from these three, it was pretty widely spread.

On to the cards, Ienaga is the runaway winner, mainly thanks to him getting a bit grumpy at the end of the season. He was booked in five of the last six games. I understand this totally! They were a bit frustrating. I like him a lot for his moodiness actually. Kurumaya is a bit of a surprise in there as I don’t remember him getting booked that often. Guess he sometimes takes one for the team as he’s not that kind of player really. Of course there are a couple of Brazilians in there too. Our Brazilian players always seem to pick up cards more regularly than the Japanese players. I guess that’s just a J League thing. The real bad boy was Taniguchi, being booked in five games, getting two yellows in one and a straight red in another. I guess he’s played more often than everyone else, but perhaps his card count also hints at his lack of form. He’s probably had to take a yellow on a few occasions after getting caught napping. The red in the Levain final was probably a necessary one to take so I’ve got no complaints about that. It’s just a shame that they scored from the free kick. Hopefully he can get some rest in the off season and perhaps we might even find some defensive stability next year!

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 25 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 2
2nd half   ST 10 SB 0 US 12 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total        ST 35 SB 0 US 12 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 2

1st half    ST 18 SB 5 US 3 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 2 MM 0
2nd half   ST 12 SB 2 US 2 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 0
Total        ST 30 SB 7 US 5 Y 2 R 0 G 0 A 3 MM 0

3. Tatsuki NARA (DF)
1st half    ST 12 SB 1 US 0 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 1
2nd half   ST 1 SB 0 US 3 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total        ST 13 SB 1 US 3 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 1

1st half    ST 9 SB 0 US 2 Y 2 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 2
2nd half   ST 7 SB 0 US 4 Y 2 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total        ST 16 SB 0 US 6 Y 4 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 2

1st half    ST 23 SB 0 US 1 Y 3 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 1
2nd half   ST 21 SB 0 US 0 Y 2 R 2 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total        ST 44 SB 0 US 1 Y 5 R 2 G 1 A 0 MM 1

6. Hidemasa MORITA (MF)
1st half    ST 15 SB 1 US 2 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 1
2nd half   ST 17 SB 1 US 3 Y 1 R 0 G 1 A 2 MM 1
Total        ST 32 SB 2 US 5 Y 2 R 0 G 1 A 3 MM 2

7. Shintaro KURUMAYA (DF)
1st half    ST 14 SB 3 US 3 Y 4 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 0
2nd half   ST 20 SB 2 US 0 Y 2 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 0
Total        ST 34 SB 5 US 3 Y 6 R 0 G 1 A 2 MM 0

8. Hiroyuki ABE (MF)
1st half    ST 7 SB 6 US 2 Y 1 R 0 G 3 A 0 MM 0
2nd half   ST 17 SB 4 US 1 Y 1 R 0 G 6 A 1 MM 0
Total        ST 24 SB 10 US 3 Y 2 R 0 G 9 A 1 MM 0

1st half    ST 13 SB 6 US 6 Y 3 R 0 G 8 A 3 MM 1
2nd half   ST 8 SB 11 US 4 Y 1 R 0 G 6 A 2 MM 1
Total        ST 21 SB 17 US 10 Y 4 R 0 G 14 A 5 MM 2

10. Ryota OSHIMA (MF)
1st half    ST 16 SB 1 US 1 Y 1 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 2
2nd half   ST 6 SB 3 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 0
Total        ST 22 SB 4 US 1 Y 1 R 0 G 2 A 2 MM 2

1st half    ST 17 SB 5 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 8 A 2 MM 0
2nd half   ST 14 SB 6 US 2 Y 0 R 0 G 9 A 0 MM 0
Total        ST 31 SB 11 US 2 Y 0 R 0 G 17 A 2 MM 0

14. Kengo NAKAMURA (MF)
1st half    ST 11 SB 3 US 0 Y 1 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 1
2nd half   ST 11 SB 3 US 3 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 4 MM 1
Total        ST 22 SB 6 US 3 Y 1 R 0 G 2 A 4 MM 2

16. Tatsuya HASEGAWA (MF)
1st half    ST 13 SB 6 US 3 Y 2 R 0 G 1 A 4 MM 3
2nd half   ST 6 SB 11 US 3 Y 1 R 0 G 4 A 2 MM 0
Total        ST 19 SB 17 US 6 Y 3 R 0 G 5 A 6 MM 3

17. Kazuaki MAWATARI (DF)
1st half    ST 11 SB 2 US 0 Y 2 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 1
2nd half   ST 7 SB 2 US 4 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total        ST 18 SB 4 US 4 Y 3 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 1

19. Manabu SAITO (MF)
1st half    ST 8 SB 7 US 5 Y 0 R 0 G 2 A 2 MM 2
2nd half   ST 5 SB 3 US 2 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 0
Total        ST 13 SB 10 US 7 Y 0 R 0 G 3 A 2 MM 2

20. Kei CHINEN (FW)
1st half    ST 10 SB 10 US 5 Y 1 R 0 G 6 A 0 MM 1
2nd half   ST 2 SB 7 US 7 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 0
Total        ST 12 SB 17 US 12 Y 1 R 0 G 7 A 1 MM 1

21. Shota ARAI
1st half    ST 1 SB 0 US 25 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 2 MM 0
2nd half   ST 13 SB 0 US 9 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 1
Total        ST 14 SB 0 US 34 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 2 MM 1

22. Hokuto SHIMODA (MF)
1st half    ST 3 SB 2 US 4 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 2 MM 2
2nd half   ST 15 SB 2 US 5 Y 1 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 0
Total        ST 18 SB 4 US 9 Y 1 R 0 G 1 A 3 MM 2

23. Eisuke FUJISHIMA (GK)
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

24. Shunsuke ANDO (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 2 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total        ST 0 SB 0 US 3 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

25. Ao TANAKA (MF)
1st half    ST 16 SB 2 US 5 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 2
2nd half   ST 12 SB 1 US 5 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 3
Total        ST 28 SB 3 US 10 Y 0 R 0 G 2 A 1 MM 5

1st half    ST 6 SB 1 US 2 Y 1 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 0
2nd half   ST 6 SB 1 US 4 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 0
Total        ST 12 SB 2 US 6 Y 1 R 0 G 2 A 1 MM 0

27. Yuto SUZUKI (MF)
1st half    ST 3 SB 5 US 6 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 3 SB 5 US 6 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

28. Yasuto WAKIZAKA (MF)
1st half    ST 6 SB 5 US 6 Y 0 R 0 G 4 A 2 MM 1
2nd half   ST 13 SB 4 US 3 Y 0 R 0 G 5 A 1 MM 2
Total        ST 19 SB 9 US 9 Y 0 R 0 G 9 A 3 MM 3

29. Michael James FITZGERALD (DF)
1st half    ST 7 SB 0 US 3 Y 1 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 7 SB 0 US 3 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

30. Taisei MIYASHIRO (FW)
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 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0
Total        ST 0 SB 0 US 3 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

31. Koki HARADA (MF)
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

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

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

34. Kazuya YAMAMURA (MF)
1st half    ST 3 SB 8 US 9 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 2 MM 0
2nd half   ST 14 SB 3 US 6 Y 0 R 0 G 2 A 0 MM 1
Total        ST 17 SB 11 US 15 Y 0 R 0 G 2 A 2 MM 1

35. Zain ISSAKA (MF)
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

36. Hiroki MAWATARI (GK)
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

41. Akihiro IENAGA (MF)
1st half    ST 18 SB 0 US 1 Y 2 R 0 G 0 A 2 MM 0
2nd half   ST 16 SB 3 US 2 Y 6 R 0 G 1 A 2 MM 2
Total        ST 34 SB 3 US 3 Y 8 R 0 G 1 A 4 MM 2

1st half    ST 1 SB 1 US 3 Y 1 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 1 SB 1 US 3 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

Most Goals

1. KOBAYASHI Yu - 17
3. ABE Hiroyuki - 9
3. WAKIZAKA Yasuto - 9
4. CHINEN Kei - 7


Most Assists

1. HASEGAWA Tatsuya - 6
3. IENAGA Akihiro - 4
3. NAKAMURA Kengo - 4
4. SHIMODA Hokuto - 3
4. NOBORIZATO Kyohei - 3
4. WAKIZAKA Yasuto - 3
4. MORITA Hidemasa - 3


Most Starts

1. TANUGUCHI Shogo - 44
2. JUNG Sung-Ryong - 35
3. KURUMAYA Shintaro - 34
3. IENAGA Akihiro - 34
4. MORITA Hidemasa - 32

Most Man Of The Match awards

1. TANAKA Ao - 5
2. WAKIZAKA Yasuto -3
2. HASEGAWA Tatsuya - 3
3. OSHIMA Ryota - 2
2. SAITO Manabu - 2
2. JUNG Sung-Ryong - 2
2. JESIEL - 2
2. SHIMODA Hokuto - 2
2. IENAGA Akihiro - 2
2. MORITA Hidemasa - 2
2. NAKAMURA Kengo - 2

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

1. IENAGA Akihiro - 8
2. KURUMAYA Shintaro - 6
3. TANIGUCHI Shogo - 5
4. JESIEL - 4

Most Red Cards

1. TANIGUCHI Shogo - 2

Monday, 9 December 2019

Vs Consadole Sapporo (away) 7/12/19 - J League match 34

Consadole Sapporo 1 - 2 Kawasaki Frontale

The season is over. Let’s be thankful for small mercies. It might sound like an arrogant thing to say in a season where we won a cup, but this year has been pretty much a big old disappointment. And this game was the perfect one to reflect the season to be honest. A brief flurry of hope followed by grinding tedium, a bit of good fortune followed by a big old let-down. The only thing that could have made this game totally emblematic would have been a late equaliser for Consadole and therefore another 2-2 draw, again throwing away points from a winning position with a late goal conceded. But why is this post so gloomy? We won, after all. True, but the performance was so predictably bad. And thanks to plenty of other previous predictably bad performances, this game was close to pointless. We’ve ended up fourth in the league but have also ended up as the team who lost the least games. The story of the year has been draws. Draw after draw after draw. Our summer was particularly disheartening, with us drawing against the teams who finished in 11th, 12th, 14th and 15h and losing heavily to the team who finished in 13th. Of course we don’t have any divine right to do well and beat these teams, but this year is one string of missed opportunities given the talent we have in our squad. It seems that barely a game goes past recently without me irritating someone on twitter so I’m not going to go into much detail about this game. I also can’t be bothered to. I want to forget about it. It seems bizarre that I’m writing about an away win like this, but this wasn’t much fun to watch. Thankfully Sapporo is a fun place to visit. If we’d finished the season like this and then had to come back from Kashima on the bus I’d be even closer to despair, I think. It probably would also have taken longer to get back from there than it did from Hokkaido. Anyway, let’s get this over with.

Same team = same old rubbish, unsurprisingly - 

Another game with plenty of rotten performances from players. Kobayashi’s useful input finished after he tapped home after 45 seconds. The rest of the game he did his normal thing of missing chance after chance and irritated me particularly by moaning at Chinen after he came on. Kobayashi is perhaps something of a problem for us going forward. He’s in awful form, but is undroppable. He doesn’t want to play on the right but is basically a waste of time up front as the person who is supposed to be putting chances away. He can be a great player, but seems to be shorn of all confidence and not up to much right now. The same could be said about Taniguchi at the back. It’s a miracle he was nominated in the short list for the J League team of the season. Whoever picked that list clearly hasn’t watched any of the games he’s played in for the last few months. To be fair to him, he always seems to make one amazing tackle or block per game, but always fills up the rest of the 90 minutes with errors, gaffes and bad passes. I think I’d settle for playing a defender who doesn’t make the great block but doesn’t make all the mistakes. He’s another player whose form and perhaps confidence are at rock bottom. I’d mention Morita at right back again, but am aware that he’s being played out of position whilst we have available right backs who are being overlooked. Which leads us to the main problem I guess, and it will come as no surprise for you to hear that I think it’s Oniki. We lost our last game to our big local rivals 4-1 at home basically handing them the title. No changes for the next match. I just don’t get it and am fed up with trying to understand it. Sure we won this game, but aside from the first 15 minutes where we were quite efficient with chances, we were totally rotten ,and it seemed only a matter of time till we’d concede, with our toothless attacking preventing us from having any chance of scoring any more goals. Astonishingly, we apparently had 18 shots in this match, eight of which were on target. I can’t really remember their keeper having to make any saves so they were probably the usual powder-puff back pass like shots that we favour recently. Wakizaka was again withdrawn around 55 minutes, as I predicted he would be on Twitter. But there’s no glory in getting this prediction right as it always happens. Not sure what Oniki’s doing in that regard either. We had 43% possession. Exhilarating stuff! You could say the season has petered out. but that would suggest we ever really got any kind of momentum going. I can’t believe we finished 4th to be honest.

Potential exodus - 

I don’t know if Oniki is staying next year. I’m pretty sure it’s obvious what I would like to happen. If he leaves, I fear he might leave quite some wreckage behind him. But if he stays he could cause even more damage. I think we are going to lose a lot of players in the off-season. I can’t imagine Leandro Damiao will stay. Why should he? He hasn’t been given a real chance. Maguinho likewise. Jesiel was being courted by some big names after the Chelsea game it seemed. Since he’s recover from injury he’s been on the bench or in the stand behind a defensive duo who were playing pretty badly. Gamba are once again trying to tempt Nara. I wouldn’t blame him for leaving for the same reason. (It seems today he’s confirmed he’s leaving...). Anyone who’s been watching us play recently would find it unbelievable that we had two good defenders like them who were unable to get on the pitch. At the end of the match Arai seemed very emotional, which suggests he’s leaving too. Which is weird as I thought Oniki preferred him and was going to get rid of Sung-Ryong, who I expect will also leave. So maybe we’ll lose both. It’s weird as Arai was clearly first choice for a while. I thought he must have been injured when he didn’t make the bench last game but I wonder now if it was some more great Oniki man management after Arai had perhaps suggested he might be looking elsewhere. Shimoda has been linked with a departure too. And Ao was also quite emotional. Whether that was because of Arai or because he too is going to leave I don’t know. It’s going to be a pretty different squad next year I think. I can’t blame anyone who leaves or is considering leaving. There seems little chance of Oniki improving anything as he seems out of ideas (if he ever had any). Perhaps the departure of Oniki might give some of these players thinking about going second thoughts. I keep hearing about how bright the future is for Frontale. And this could be true, as we saw another bright prospect get his first pitch time yesterday. Congratulations Hatate! But the truth is, if Oniki is the one in charge, these great young players might as well think of going elsewhere, unless they are looking to play football that is increasingly dull and less effective game by game.

Another hopeless ref - 

I’ll quickly mention the ref, who I thought made some major mistakes, having more than decent reason to send of Anderson Lopes twice in this match but only gave him one yellow card. And Suzuki made a horrible tackle too. But apparently the officials did rule out a legitimate Consadole goal for offside. And some Consadole fans thought he gave us everything. I think it’s funny that rival fans can have such differing views on the same match. Apparently Consadole fans don’t think that’s quite so interesting. But given that arguing on the internet as about as pointless as writing this blog is, I’d rather step away from at least one of those activities and as I seem to be stuck doing this blog I guess I’ll continue with it. I think one thing we can all agree on is the fact that this was another rubbish ref, even if we disagree on the details.

So, good riddance 2019 league campaign. And 2019 Emperor’s Cup campaign. And 2019 ACL campaign. Hooray for the Levain Cup! A competition in which we played only five games, and won only two of them. I’ll do my usual end of season survey and round ups soon and then I can vent a bit more on this year. Right now, I’m glad we don’t have any more games and that I don’t have to think about the J League for a while. The less we say about the league champions the better too. I remember when we used to play attacking football. Now, we just have possession and grind out 2-2 draws. Toru Oniki, sucking the fun out of football and being a Frontale fan! Thank you for your services, but let’s hope we either have a new manager or at least some new ideas for next year.


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa 
DF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro (Yellow card 90+3')
MF 28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki

GK 21. ARAI Shota
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for WAKIZAKA 59') 
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto
MF 33. HATATE Reo (on for HATATE 85') 

My Frontale Man Of The Match

It was probably Ao again, but tell you what, just to be petty, let's give it to...

WAKIZAKA Yasuto - nice free kick goal. Naturally withdrawn by Oniki around 55 minutes as predicted. It's almost as if the decision had been made before the match. It probably had been.


KOBAYASHI (Frontale)1' 0-1
WAKIZAKA (Frontale) 13' 0-2 
FERNANDES (Consadole) 34' 1-2


Monday, 2 December 2019

Vs Yokohama F Marinos (home) 30/11/19 - J League match 33

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 4 Yokohama F Marinos

Football is crap, isn’t it? Or rather, we’re crap, aren’t we? How far we’ve fallen over the course of the last 12 months. For a while it looked like we might end up agonisingly short in the league thanks to a truly awful run in the summer but instead we’re going to be well short at the end of the season and deservedly so. The only saving grace from this game was the fact that Yokohama weren’t able to actually lift the trophy in our stadium. Let’s be thankful for small mercies. As it was, we did our best to make it near impossible that they won’t lift the title next week by significantly contributing to their goal difference. The Levain cup win is something we can take away from this season, but to be honest, that victory is only papering over the huge cracks. Of course, you know I’m going to blame Oniki for this. But we’ve had plenty of terrible performances from players this year as well as the terrible decisions from our manager. I don’t think he’s signed the contact we offered him for next season yet. I wonder if he will do the honorable thing and leave us at the end of the year. It’s pretty clear that he doesn’t know where to go from here. Our system has been found out and there’s no sign of any other ideas. Losing 4-1 to your local rivals in your own stadium to practically hand them the title hurts me, so hopefully he realises quite how bad it was too. We’ll see, I guess. This blog post is going to be full of bitterness, so I’ll try to keep it brief. If you don’t want to wallow in misery better stop reading now. If you are a Yokohama fan looking to enjoy our misery, you’re probably only going to get irritated by my opinions on your ‘brave heroes’ so I’d stop reading here too. A lot of it is sour grapes, but I think there’s an element of truth. I’ve deliberately delayed writing this a little to try and tone down the sourness, but watching the goals has upped the acid level again. Here are my points about this travesty, and beware, everybody’s in for a slagging here.

Oniki out -

Come on, do the right thing and go. This was awful again. The game plan didn’t work, and we had no response to going behind. The back four were useless. Please never play Morita at right back again. It has never worked and it never will. Play him right wing maybe as he was alright going forward, but not right back. Three of their four goals came from that side and he was clearly being targeted. PLAY A RIGHT BACK AT RIGHT BACK!!! Taniguchi and Yamamura were a total mess. Sure they may be the most handsome center back pairing in the league, but they both had nightmare games.  Taniguchi is clearly undroppable for Oniki but to be honest I think most of the people in the stadium could have done a better job in this game than he did. A while ago we were very short of centre backs but now we have Jesiel and Nara both sitting on the sidelines or in the stand and yet Taniguchi is able to continue blundering his way through game after game. Give him a rest. He’s not a bad player, but he’s playing incredibly badly right now. For two of our goals he was closer to taking out Sung-Ryong than getting anywhere near either the ball or a Yokohama player. Kobayashi had another game to forget. As soon as Leandro Damiao came on we looked a different team. I really can’t believe that Kobayashi is up there on the scoring charts. I don’t think he should play up front by himself but apparently he’s said he doesn’t want to play on the right. Fair enough, don’t play him there, but don’t play him up front alone either. Quite why Oniki always withdraws Wakizaka and ignores those players stinking it up even more around him I don’t know. But then I don’t really understand many things Oniki does. I don’t know who should replace him if he goes, but I know that whoever it is, it’s got to be a hell of a lot better than what we’re getting right now.

Terrible referees (the usual refrain) -

Nishimura - a referee announcement that always strikes fear into the hearts of everyone. Please retire! Thankfully he was changed at half time, apparently due to an injury, but I like to think of it as being the match commissioner hauling him off for the rotten display he was putting in. Seconds after kick off Oshima was fouled off the ball. No card. This pattern was repeated throughout the game. Yokohama hacked and dived and feigned injury all the way through the game. I can only guess that Nishimura was due to drive home in a lovely new luxury Nissan provided by Yokohama. I’ve never seen a more infuriatingly one sided refereeing display. Oh, actually, I probably have as the refs are always terrible but this one really stood out. His replacement in the second half was even worse, apparently unaware of what sport he was even officiating. Random decision after random decision. Stopping the play for an injury and then restarting with a goal kick instead of a drop ball. Sure he probably was only expecting to only be lifting up the substitute board and got thrown in at the deep end, but seriously, he was clueless. Quite why Nishimura and the 4th official got selected for a potentially title deciding game I don’t know. Surely it’s time that Nishimura got sent off to pasture. Leandro Damiao through on goal and hacked down by the last man on the edge of the box. Amazingly he got the award of a free kick rather than a penalty right, but no card? I think it could have been a red. Plenty of terrible fouls from Yokohama that weren’t even given as free kicks. Another clear penalty that wasn’t given when Daimao was shoved in the box. A handball in the box from a Yokohama defender that the ref also missed (well, I saw it!). Marinos players rolling around on the floor, kicking the ball away, anything to waste some time and getting away with it. I don’t even know why they were bothering as if they hadn’t they probably could have scored three or four more. Let’s not forget the fact that it wasn’t just the ref and we were rubbish too, but we definitely didn’t get the rub of the green in this game.

Dubious Yokahama -

I’ve been wavering on who I least disliked winning the league for the last month or so. First of all, I decided the least bad option was Kashima as at least it would be business as usual and would deny both of our neighbours. But Kashima were such a bunch of scumbags when we played them, (shout out to Bueno!), that I couldn’t possibly hope for that. So, down to Yokohama or FC Tokyo. I then moved on to Yokohama because at least they score a few goals and don’t just hoof the ball to the fast guy to dive and win a penalty so that the chubby guy can run up, stop jog on the spot, reverse, skip a bit and then finally kick it (all in one ‘seamless’ run up, right?) and then win 1-0. But after this game, they’re out too. I would have liked us to smack Yokohama by four or five goals and then would be happy for them to win the title. But that didn’t exactly happen, did it? So now I’m going for Tokyo, I guess. Yokohama apparently play beautiful attacking football, but all I saw yesterday was a bunch of cheating midgets diving, fouling, time wasting, feigning injury and most annoyingly of all, finishing off chances clinically. Nakagawa apparently said he wanted to thank Frontale for his time with us as a youth player by beating us. Interesting logic. Similarly interesting was his goal celebration, kneeling and praying with his hands aloft right in front of our main fan area. Presumably this was in thanks to us too. I don’t know if they’ve been doing this all season or they just save it for local derbies, but if they have, I think that any sense of them having the attacking football moral high-ground disintegrates on closer inspection. Perhaps we were aiming for the moral high-ground and were pursuing it at the expense of actually playing football. Funnily enough, we out possessed and out-passed them and were only one shot behind them too. And we if we avoid defeat next weekend we will end up as the team who lost the least games in the league this year. But these stats aren’t really much consolation as they beat us 4-1 at our place and will win the league comfortably ahead of us.

Foreign players -

One big difference between Yokohama and us was in the use of foreign players. They had four Brazilians, one Thai and one Korean player in the starting line up. We played Sung-Ryong, probably only because Arai was injured (I’m guessing) and that was it. I’ve often moaned about Oniki having a problem with foreigners and it seems like he’ll do anything to avoid playing them. The thing is, the reason they have a limit on foreign players is presumably to stop big money clubs fielding a whole team of foreign ringers, the implication being that there’s a much bigger pool of good foreign players to choose from. Most teams understandably use their foreign spots to boost their starting eleven. For some reason, we use our foreign spots to warm the bench or maybe just to keep the translators occupied. Damiao has been used sparingly and seemingly reluctantly. Oniki has never attempted to mould the team around him (our big money star player) and has instead put him in up front by himself with no thoughts on how he could get the best out of him. If Oniki is with us next year, there’s really no point us having any foreigners.

Four goals, all coming from mistakes from us, all put away by a superior if quite cheaty Yokohama team. Have a close look at the replay of the game please Oniki. Thankfully this season will soon be over and we won’t have to deal with any more of this rubbish for a few months. Next up, our final game, away at Consadole Sapporo, a team who probably really want to beat us after the Levain Cup final. We need to win to have any chance of an ACL place next year. Not sure we particularly deserve one, and we’d probably only mess it up again, but it could be useful for player retention and attraction. Least it’s a nice trip. Hopefully we’ll see some kind of reaction to this disaster. Fingers crossed.


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
DF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro (Yellow card 90+5')
MF 28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki

GK 24. ANDO Shunsuke
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO (on for ABE 61') 
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for WAKIZAKA 54') 
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for KOBAYASHI 79') 
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto

My Frontale Man Of The Match

A fair few terrible performances, a lot of average and ineffective ones. Normally in a game we lose heavily I sulk and don’t give anyone this, but one player at least tried to do something.

TANAKA Ao - wasn’t crap. But to be honest, wasn't as good as he normally is.


NAKAGAWA (Yokohama) 8' 0-1
ERIK (Yokohama) 49' 0-2 
ERIK (Yokohama) 69' 0-3 
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 74' 1-3
ENDO (Yokohama) 89' 1-4