Saturday 19 January 2019

2018 Survey results

Thank you to all who responded to my call for answers to my survey questions. Here are the results with some choice comments in brackets when people offered them. My answers, (if you are interested, and I fully understand you not being so!), are included in the comments for each question. Thought it was only fair that I made my responses public.

1. Game of season

A large majority for the home demolition of Vissel Kobe. ('Who doesn't love a dramatic comeback win?'). The huge victory against Sapporo picked up a couple of votes and Kashima home and Kashiwa away got one vote each. I went for Kobe home. Lovely to beat a moneybags team who are trying to buy the league convincingly and very happy to comeback after that rotten celebration from Kobe's Mita.

2. Player of the season

Another clear winner and we agree with the J League awards, giving it to Ienaga. ('Just super!') The only other players mentioned were Morita, Oshima and Kobayashi. I would have loved to give my vote to Nara, but Ienaga was just a different class this year.

3. Goal of the season

We have two from the same game and it was our game of the season Kobe home. Again this was a runaway victory and again we agreed with the J League, giving it to Oshima's goal against Kobe. ('Football Together!'). These videos should start at the right point for the goal, hopefully.

This was my choice as I thought it was emblematic of our season, being very much a team effort. We seemed to share the goals round a lot more this year. Sad that one of Kengo's where he nicked the ball from dallying defenders didn't get mentioned. The other goals mentioned were:

Saito - Kobe home ('Kept our comeback momentum going, and look how happy he was')

Hasegawa - FC Tokyo away

Kobayashi - Sanfrecce Hiroshima away PK


4. Disappointment of the season

Bit more variety on this question but there was a clear winner again which was our ACL campaign. I'm inclined to agree but I actually went for the loss to Kashima in the Levain where we completely failed to turn up. A shocking game! The other answers were the wrongly disallowed goal against Hiroshima at home (more on that soon!), Neto leaving, the Emperor's Cup loss away at Montedio Yamagata and one respondent who simply answered 'Manabu Saito'. One other answer was our performance in all competitions aside from the league, which I guess probably is the best answer of all as it covers most of what people were disappointed by in one neat package.

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

No surprise to see a lot of answers relating to the Sanfrecce home game. Referee Tojo came out on top with one vote each for the linesman and Sanfrecce Hiroshima as a whole. Aside from this game, we had mentions of 'Robo ticket resellers', Kanazaki Mu and Oniki for his apparently random team selections at the start of the season. My vote was a choice between two Vissel Kobe players. Mita (for his smug and provocative goal celebration when he scored at Todoroki) is the runner up to Podolski, who for me is just a toerag, nasty fouling player, well past his peak and declining fast who thinks he's much better than everyone around him (at least until Iniesta joined! Hehe!). Him punching the opposition staff in that crazy game towards the end of last season sealed it though. Surely he should be getting a hefty ban for that?

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

No-one said the same thing on this question which is interesting. I'm insanely jealous of the respondent who answered V Varen Nagasaki as I was denied this experience by being worried about a typhoon, work and home commitments and the availability of a full refund on our plane and hotel. Cerezo Osaka (I guess more for the fact that we won the championship than the actual game!), Kobe and Sendai. My answer was Sagan Tosu, given that we won, it's a fun trip and the fact that I was able to consume Sake and Shochu in the stadium before the game as well as my usual beer. Consequently can't remember so much about the game. There were two sad responses, 'I wish' and ‘Only went to Super Cup and that was definitely the worst away trip’.

7. Best stadium in the J League

This was slightly surprising for me. Todoroki won by a landslide. I suspect there is a little bit of bias involved though! (‘Needs more seats though’, ‘With memories with ex-girlfriend’). Nagoya's Toyota stadium was mentioned, as were Sendai's Yurtec, Kashiwa Reysol's Hitachidai and Gamba's Suita. Personally, I'm torn. I think Gamba's is probably the best but I have a soft spot for Sagan Tosu's and Shimizu S Pulse's due to their slightly unusual design and the fact that they are slightly old. I would definitely never vote for anywhere with a running track though!


8. Opposition J1 team you like the most


Quite close, but Nagoya take it, perhaps due to the Kazama connection. In second place Sendai, (which is my choice) and then behind that one vote each for Jubilo Iwata, Shimizu S Pulse, Kashiwa Reysol ('I'll miss them in 2019 season.  I want them be back to J1 in 2020'), Kashima Antlers and Yokohama F Marinos ('Hilarious to watch!').


9. Opposition J1 team you like the least

Interestingly no mention of our rivals FC Tokyo. Leading the way are Urawa (‘Kobe trying hard to dislodge them though’), closely followed by three teams all with an equal amount of votes, Kashima, Yokohama and Sanfrecce (‘ I don't like the way the coach and players appeal to the referee’). Kobe picked up one vote and I'm sure they'll improve on that score next year if they continue to try to buy every player in the world. I was torn on this one, leaning towards Yokohama as I'm getting a bit fed up with them thinking they are the greatest attacking force in world football, but in the end couldn't tear myself away from the thoroughly and consistently despicable Kashima Antlers.


10. Team you're disappointed to see go down

Somewhat fittingly, with only two teams going down, the votes were split exactly between V Varen Nagasaki and Kashiwa Reysol. I went for the former as I really wanted to go to that away game after missing it in 2018.

11. Team you're pleased to see come up


Matsumoto Yamaga at the top here with over twice as many votes as Oita who tied with 'no-one' and there was a single vote for 'I don't know yet'. I said Matsumoto but I'm pleased about Oita too.


12. Best thing about the J League

I'm just going to copy and paste these as they were written:

- Friendly atmosphere among the fans.
- Feeling of unity

- Not so far from my home
- Friendly away fans and locals
- Vissel Kobe's strategy

- That we win it every year
- The atmosphere
- It's all in good fun.
- Peaceful

I'll add to this my answer which is something to do with the experience of away games, where you're welcomed, the atmosphere in the stands is more focused and exciting than at home and you get to see some different cities.

13. Worst thing about the J League

Once again, I'm just going to copy and paste these as they were written:

- Popularity. In Japan, most people like baseball more than football.
- Toss up between dire officiating and outrageous uniform prices.
- People queuing for queuing

- This year the World Cup break caused ridiculous fixture congestion
- Lack of Japanese referees' skill
- Queuing system 
- Not quiet
- Players transferring/retiring

- Referees' level should be higher. (Fans including me should learn rules more, too.) 

I think for me, the referee thing is potentially the most damaging thing as some of them are totally useless. But from a personal point of view, it's kind of annoying to queue for such a long time before the game and then have at least two hours to kill before there is any sign of anything happening. But I'm aware that I am part of the problem here.


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

The league takes it, ('Let's make it three in a row'), with double the votes of the ACL. No mention of the Levain or Emperor's Cup. I went for the League.

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

A resounding win for first team regular. ('Starter. I think he'll let us know when he's not ready for that anymore.' 'His role in 2018 was very good, I think. As a starting member, play at full power until around 60 minutes.'). Only a couple of people (me included) thought that he should be a semi-regular starter. My thinking behind this was that he had a few dodgy games and I think we relied too heavily on him in 2018. Let the man have a rest sometimes and someone else have a go. I think Ienaga will be starting in that position a few times next season.

16. What’s your view of Oniki?


I think I've made my feelings about Oniki well known, but I'll try to sum them up briefly before copying and pasting the other responses. I think he's a lucky manager, which is great, but I think some of our results have been achieved in spite of him instead of because of him. I'm most worried about his man-management, with his favourites being undroppable and others having to take the blame for them. But, yeah, stay lucky, won't you?

- Good motivator.
- Someone who can grow with the players 
- He should wear a formal suit.
- Lucky (to take over the team Kazama created)
- Must become accustomed to ACL
- Love him like a father
- I hate his squad management but I respect his regularity to get points in the crucial moments of the championship. I’d like him to know how to establish a valuable plan B next season. He has the squad to play great in all competitions
- We've won the league back to back, so I think there must be something going for him. On the other hand, some games he's more tic-tacs than tactics
- A good leader

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

I'll just list them:

Nishi Daigo (Kahsima Antlers)
Fernando Torres (Sagan Tosu)
Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol) 2 votes
Misao Kento (Kashima Antlers)
Amano Jun (Yokohama F Marinos)
Ruben Ira Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea...)
Nakayama Yuta (Kashiwa Reysol)
Matsubara Ko (Shimizu S-Pulse)

Personally, this is tricky for me. I get too attached to the players we have and don't want them to leave or get replaced. I have recently developed a bit of a love-hate relationship with Yuma Suzuki (previously a hate-hate relationship...), as he's the kind of player I thought we could probably do with in certain situations. But perhaps Leandro Damião could be that kind of player. Without having seen the new right backs in action yet, I'll say I'd like us to get the Shimizu right back Elsinho in. I've heard he's good...

18. Any other comments

This wasn't supposed to be a self congratulatory question, but thank you for the nice things you said which I'll copy below, along with a few other comments that aren't pats on the back for me. My other comment is 'Thank you very much for responding and thank you very much for reading the blog. And please say hello if you see me at a game. I'm the British guy wearing the Nara shirt.'

- I hope Leandro Damião will be the key player for ACL.
- I hope I’ll come back to Todoroki in 2019 !
- Happy new year! 
- I'm looking forward to read your blog again this year!
- I enjoy your blog always.  Thanks:-)
- Great blog, keep up the good work and go easy on Oniki :P

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