Saturday 15 June 2019

Vs Consadole Sapporo (home) 14/6/19 - J League match 15

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 1 Consadole Sapporo

Another hugely disappointing result. And many more things for me to moan about. My pre-game thoughts were ‘I’m not sure we’re going to do very well tonight'. I was right! You’ll have to trust me on this, but as the weeks progress and I keep typing these pre-game thoughts and they are increasingly insanely wrong, you’ll probably realise I’m not cheating on these. The huge 7-0 victory last year was always unlikely to be repeated, and our middling to poor performances this year made it doubly unlikely. Sapporo aren’t in the best of form this season, but that’s no problem for a team coming to Todoroki! We’ll always oblige with a point or three. Thank goodness we can concentrate on the league now our ACL campaign is finished. Oh… actually we’re playing worse since it's been over, presumably as now Oniki randomly rotates less and therefore is less likely to randomly find a combination that works. Our unbeaten run in the league continues - HOORAY! Our run of absolutely tedious games also continues - AAAAAHHH. This is no fun at the moment, and while of course we don’t have any divine right to win, it’s frustrating to play so badly due to the possible insanity of our manager. Particularly when pretty much anyone in the ground could probably do a better of picking a team and making substitutions. Credit to Consadole though. They brought a decent amount of fans for what must be a hugely inconvenient Friday night fixture for their fans who had a long journey. And they frustrated us by defending and not just allowing us to walk the ball into the net and score. Friday Night J League is a mixed blessing for me. If we win it can really kick off the weekend in style. But as is happening more often than not this year, a disappointing result means that I have all weekend to mope about it before the blessed relief of a miserable return to work. This game makes three awful 1-1 draws in a row at home. Some might say we’ve played well, but that’s certainly not true if you're talking about a whole 90 minutes, and three goals in three games suggests that we haven’t played that well. Ok, bring on the misery…

The usual selections and omissions point & the usual substitutions point - 

I am slightly torn with regards to my usual moan about these kind of things. It was a brave decision for Oniki to leave a now not injured Kengo out of the match day squad again. And also a brave decision to leave Kobayashi on the bench (although maybe our second half turn around after he came on suggests that was a brave and at the same time bad decision). Certainly both of them haven’t been playing very well this year and being in the form that we are right now, we shouldn’t let emotions cloud our thinking regarding their selections. Hopefully both can pick things up a little and force themselves back into contention. Presumably Kobayashi now has, after scoring in this game. Let’s be honest though, his goal was down to a goalkeeping blunder and he missed a hell of a lot of fairly easy chances aside from his goal. But goals however they come are welcome and are an increasingly rare phenomenon for us. My big selection beef again is the selection of Kurumaya at right back. He deserves to play, but as I stated in my previous post, why on earth Oniki didn’t play him at left back and Nobori at right back I will never understand. It can be no coincidence that when they were swapped around at half time we started doing a lot better. Thankfully Consadole didn’t seem to target Kurumaya’s undeniable and obvious left-footedness. Unfortunately we seemed to be targeting it ourselves, with him getting caught out time after time by bad passes from his teammates. Or maybe not bad passes, maybe just passes that you’d normally make to a right back, perhaps forgetting that this right back has no right foot. Maguinho is still missing in action, presumably still being punished for scoring away against Oita. He’s currently our only fit right back, but still didn’t make the bench. I don’t get it at all. The bench was pretty lopsided, given that it was basically Arai and Kobayashi and a load of midfielders. I know we have injuries, but maybe a bit more balance would have been nice. It seems that a spot on the bench is a reward for doing well in a previous match, but usually comes with no chance of actually getting on the pitch. I always say it, but the three players who come on seem to be decided before the game and the rest are just sitting there making up the numbers. Moving on to subs, there’s always one that baffles me. On this occasion it was the apparent punishment removal of Leandro Damiao for missing the penalty. Yeah, it wasn’t a particularly good penalty, but at least Damiao had been involved in the match. Chinen played 90 minutes without having a shot. Not exactly what you want from a striker. He also picked up a booking in the first half, making it even more confusing that it was Damiao who was changed. It seems increasingly clear to me that Oniki really doesn't like Brazilian players and will do his best to leave them out if he possibly can. Or at least that’s how it seems to be to me. I agree that the worth of foreign players is often over-estimated in the J League where there sometimes seems to be a feeling that it a player isn’t Japanese he must be better. There are plenty of examples of this not being the case but it seems that at Frontale, or at least for Oniki, the reverse is believed.

Yamamoto, back from the referee sin bin, and keen to show us what we’ve all been missing -

Presumably with an eye on bringing more excitement into the Friday Night J League concept, the league decided to bring back the always engaging Yamamoto to ref the game. Absent since his super-clanger in the Urawa Shonan game, he was clearly intent on getting back to enjoying refereeing to the max, giving penalties where there were none, ignoring where there could have been and flinging cards around like he was an overly enthusiastic casino employee on his last shift before his summer holiday. The penalty we got was soft and probably outside of the box. Their penalty was probably fair enough but came with a feeling that he was trying to even things up. Yamamoto was clearly loving being back in charge and probably was aware that any clanger he made would be dwarfed in comparison to the one in his last game. It was a pretty erratic refereeing performance on the whole. But I don’t think we can complain too much about it, as the big decisions went in our favour for the most part. But would be nice to see someone doing a decent job, wouldn’t it?

A game of two halves -

Roll out the cliches, this was a classic game of two halves. We started reasonably but crumbled later on in the first half and by the time Consadole were ahead, we looked in all sorts of bother. There were some anonymous performances in the first half. Ienaga and Chinen were nowhere to be seen. Thankfully, Ienaga seemed to turn things around in the second half. Unfortunately, Chinen didn’t really. Jesiel was doing pretty well until he gave away the penalty and then he seemed to have a bit of a wobble, so perhaps his fortunes went in the opposite direction to the team as a whole. Probably Oshima’s did too. He looked immaculate for most of the first half but faded a little in the second. Unsurprisingly we looked better after switching players around to play in positions they can actually play in. The difference when Kurumaya returned to his left back spot was startling. He linked up very well with Hasegawa and it seemed that all of our dangerous attacks were coming down that side in the second half. But let’s not get too carried away about that second half. We battered them with shots but only scored once through a fumble, so although we clearly got the upper hand in the second half, the same old lack of finishing ability cost us again.

Oniki, increasingly bringing a little of Kashima to Kawasaki -

Here is a ridiculous (and not entirely serious) theory. Oniki is a secret agent from Kashima who was sent in to destroy our club and remove any vestiges of exciting and attacking football. Fortunately for us, he was pretty bad at his job to start off with and therefore couldn’t prevent us from winning the league and playing some reasonably nice football. Sadly, he is now getting to grips with his task and slowly managing to drain the enthusiasm and excitement out of all of us. Because we’re too nice, we will keep giving him chances to turn things back around, but of course he won’t really be trying to do that, he’ll be trying to destroy and exit. Seriously though, Oniki is really starting to express himself recently. It’s a real rarity that we manage to score more than once, which is bizarre considering the chances we are creating and the players we have. Ridiculously I have been saying for maybe almost two years now that I don't want Oniki in charge but this perhaps now seems to be a feeling that is shared a little amongst other members of the fanbase. It sounds stupid, but I’d much rather we were playing a bit more excitingly, even if it meant we lost some matches that we might otherwise have drawn. At the moment it’s dull and crushing 1-1 draw after 1-1 draw with an occasional victory where Oniki’s tedium plan misfires. If you play two matches, win one and lose one you get three points. If you draw both, you get two points and a crushing sense of ennui. In the pub I was asked who I'd want to replace Oniki if I want him to leave and to be fair I don’t really have an answer, which I guess was the point of the question. Fact is though, that I think I’d settle for pretty much anyone who could inject a little excitement at the moment. This is almost certainly a moot point though as I don’t think there’s any chance of him leaving anytime soon, no matter how miserable things become. Yeah! we’ve only lost once this year. Oooooooh, we’ve drawn seven times, six of which were at home. Two wins from nine home games is pretty awful form.

That’ll do, before I sink into further despair. Thankfully, we don’t have a game next week. And doubly thankfully our next game is away from home. Sadly, I won’t be able to attend that game away at Jubilo Iwata as the Sunday evening timing makes it impossible to get home from by public transport. Nice scheduling work J League! Also, I think the Yamaha stadium is hugely overrated, at least from an away fan perspective. Difficult to get to and with some pretty dodgy views. It’s a shame, as visually it seems to be a nice stadium, but all things considered the trip just doesn’t seem worth it. Who knows where Oniki will play Kurumaya in that game? It always seems to take him longer than everyone else to notice when something is not working, but surely he won’t start him at right back again, will he? After that we’ve got the excitement of the Emperor’s Cup at home against Meiji University. I really enjoy these games, and the selection for that match could also be pretty interesting. This is the point where I usually do some kind of positive sign off…


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo (Yellow card 73')
DF 4. JESIEL (Yellow card 82')
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (Yellow card 36')

GK 21. ARAI Shota
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki
MF 19. SAITO Manabu (on for CHINEN 77')
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto
MF 28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto 
MF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for MORITA 87')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

A real mixed bag this game. Can’t really get too effusive as we 100% didn’t do the business. Kobayashi scored, but missed a real hatful of good chances. Jesiel was looking good till he gave away the penalty. Oshima had a great first half but kind of faded in the second. So neither of them can really be considered. I’ve narrowed it down to two and I’m not sure I can choose between them, so I’ll give it to….

HASEGAWA Tatsuya & MORITA Hidemasa - Hasegawa had another good game and is legitimately keeping his spot at the moment. Sadly there was no-one able to finish any of the many chances he made. All our major threats came through him. Morita seems to have come back from international duty a changed player. He was tidy and thankfully free of the sloppiness he sometimes falls into when trying over-fancy tricks. He did really well in this game and as I’ve criticised him in the past, I thought it was only right that I praised him on this occasion.


SUZUKI (Consadole) 39' PEN 0-1
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 69' 1-1


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