Kawasaki Frontale 0 - 1 Gamba OsakaPraise the lord! We now have no games for two weeks. That means we won’t put in any disappointing performances and won’t lose a game for two weeks! I probably still stand by my assertion that Wednesday’s win against Sydney was our worst performance of the season, but boy oh boy, this game ran it close. We looked a bit brighter, but on this occasion decided to trade the usual back-pass style shots for just off target shots. We had 18 shots in the game apparently with only four on target. The fact that Gamba had half the amount of shots but managed to top us in the shots on target count speaks volumes. To be fair, neither team deserved to win this game. It had 0-0 written all over it. I know we often hear games referred to as a ‘great advert for the J League’. This very much did not fall into that category. This was a ‘great game to make you hate football’, making the whole concept of the sport seem pretty pointless. Perhaps the quality of play wasn’t as bad as Wednesday and there were probably less rotten performances. But the whole thing just felt pretty pointless and very unexciting, although now maybe this is just me introducing you into the private hell of the inside of my head. I’ll say it again, no games for two weeks! Hooray! Here’s what we’ve learned from this rotter of a match:
What could it all mean...? -
This is becoming a bit of a common refrain for this blog this season. When I saw the line-up for the game I really wondered what was going on in Oniki’s head. But in a good way, if that makes sense. I was interested to find out why he’d made the selections he had and if he had some secret plan up his sleeve. Admittedly, discovering that Kobayashi was injured solved one of the mysteries of the line-up. I thought Oniki might have dropped an ‘undroppable’ who also happens to be one of our most out of form players. But no, that decision was not his to make. Was Morita dropped? Or was he rested in order for him not to get injured before his international games? If it’s the former, I think it was probably justified. If it was the latter, I have no idea why we are doing such a thing as we’re not in a position form wise to start making these kind of kind gestures at the moment. Hey, look what I’ve done there, I’ve managed to simultaneously say he should and shouldn’t have played. This whole football thing is messing with my mind at the moment. Yamamura got his first start in defensive midfield alongside Ao. Damiao was dropped to the bench. Suzuki started at right back but Maguinho was back on the bench. Manabu wasn’t particularly rewarded for his goal on Wednesday, merely retaining his place on the bench. Sure some players have done alright recently, but you can’t exactly say that anyone has played well and had cemented their place in the starting line-up.
The subs once again didn’t make a whole lot of sense, with Oniki reverting to the Kazama favoured technique of turning one change into two, reshuffling the team each team before finally finding his preferred positions for players. Kengo had another average game, but instead of replacing him with Saito and moving Ienaga inside, Yamamura came off, Kengo dropping back alongside Ao. Is this some kind of warm down for him? He was finally replaced by Shimoda on 82 minutes, but I don’t really know why it wasn’t him who made way when the first change was made. But Oniki does love to shuffle the midfield. Once again it was to no purpose. Damiao coming on for Hasegawa necessitated another midfield shuffle. Of course, if one of these shuffles had resulted in a goal, I wouldn’t be saying this. But I can’t help but feel that our subs very rarely have any positive effect (aside from Manabu on Wednesday I guess, which I suppose pretty much undermines everything I’m saying here).
Spin the wheel of (bad peformance) misfortune -
Whose turn was it to be a bit rubbish today? And who would stop being rubbish? Kurumaya made a good claim to be man of the match with a much improved performance. But then I saw a replay of the goal, and he really could have done something to stop it. To be honest, if he’d done anything apart from watch the ball roll past his feet, we probably wouldn’t have conceded. Nara had a pretty shaky game but improved slightly in the second half. Ao wasn’t very good. Ienaga drifted in and out of the game but did more than he has recently. Kengo was mediocre, particularly with his corners. But pretty much everyone was pretty much rotten. Perhaps the only shining light was Sung-Ryong, who pulled off some good saves, but even he couldn’t do anything about the goal, so poor was the defending leading up to it. Once again, you’ve got to ask what kind of atmosphere there is behind the scenes. Is there something going on? We are looking increasingly hopeless, and when you consider that this team is on paper probably better than last year, (well, if the team selections followed logic it would anyway), you’ve got to wonder what’s going on. The buck has to stop somewhere. I’m not sure where, and I’m not sure who we should blame. Players are playing badly, but you’ve got to think that it’s the job of the manager to make the players play well. It’s not just that people are having an off-day. We’ve had around half of the team having an off-day for pretty much every game. I’m not pointing any fingers, but I’m pleased I’m not going to have to think about this for a couple of weeks.
Perfectly balanced bias -
This was another slightly weird refereeing performance, but this one was a little different from usual. Normally, I like to imagine that the ref favours the opposition as it then gives me something to moan about. In this game it seemed that the ref (on this occasion Kimura), gave everything to the team attacking in a southerly direction. The first half saw us get plenty of marginal decisions and this was almost completely reversed in the second half, with Gamba getting pretty much everything. I wonder if Gamba had a word with him at half time and he thought he had to try to even things up. Still, I suppose favouring the team shooting in one direction means that at least over the course of the game he’s impartial!
Sing when we're stinking... -
Once again I am going to flip flop between extremes from blog post to blog post. Last time I moaned about the long periods of silence during the game when the opposition had the ball. This time I am going to complain about us singing too much. Well, it’s not exactly that black and white I suppose. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but I am all in favour of supporting the team as much as possible during the game, even if we’re playing terribly. However, I’m not sure about singing them off the pitch and into the changing rooms for about 10 minutes after the end of the game after them having put us through such a load of rubbish. I’m not saying we should boo them. Just pick up your stuff and go home. Sure, if they’d done their best and been cruelly denied, fair enough. But 90 minutes of poor play, culminating in a soft goal being conceded doesn’t count as being song-worthy to me. Perhaps this is just me being a bad loser though. Am I insane? I’m slightly worried by the fact that Damiao apparently didn’t come round with the rest of the squad after the match. Instead he walked back round the pitch in the other direction. I hope this isn’t a sign of something bad going on behind the scenes. But at least that would give us some inclination as to what on earth is going on.
This now is more than just a slow start -
Gamba had conceded eight goals in their previous three games but we looked like we still wouldn’t have been able to score if we were still playing now. Another late goal conceded but this time to lose three points instead of two. Woeful shooting when it finally did come, the team tactics apparently being to try to pass the ball into the net. Ponderous and pointless build ups with little direction and a whole load of sloppiness. It doesn’t feel like we’ll ever score again! Four games played, three draws and a loss. Only three goals scored and four conceded. What’s happened to us? It’s still early in the season, but even the slight step forward of a fortunate ACL win after a rotten performance has been followed by a big step backwards. Our big money signing is sitting on the bench, and apparently doesn’t seem that happy about it, and I guess who can blame him? Last year I moaned about us not having a plan B but this year we don’t even seem to know our plan A. It is still early, but it will take time for us to get out of this mess (if we do manage to do it) and by that time we could already be out of touch. I don’t know what the solution is, but then again, I’m paying to go to watch this, rather than being paid to be there so it's not up to me to fix it.
So let’s forget this match and let’s hope the two weeks off do us all some good and we can start afresh away to Matsumoto. At least we have the consolation of having a nice trip for that game. We need to catch a break some time. Let’s hope it’s soon.
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 27. SUZUKI Yuto
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 7 KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 25. TANAKA Ao
MF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
FW 20. CHINEN Kei
GK 21. ARAI Shota
MF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO (Yellow card 84') (on for HASEGAWA 68')
MF 19. SAITO Manabu (on for YAMAMURA 56')
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto (on for NAKAMURA 82')
DF 26. MAGUINHO
No shortage of players undeserving of this, I probably should just forget about it, but in the interests of saying at least one slightly positive thing in this miserable diatribe, let’s give it to….
JUNG Sung-Ryong - made some saves and wasn’t rubbish, unlike many of his teammates.
MIURA (Gamba) 90+1' 0-1