Sunday, 28 July 2019

Vs Oita Trinita (home) 17/7/19 - J League match 20

Kawasaki Frontale 3 - 1 Oita Trinita

I'm on holiday so I'm missing a few matches. I'm not going to write loads after having only watched the game on a tiny Bet365 screen. All I need to say is this is another nice step on our road to try to retain our league title. Perhaps it wasn't as convincing as the game against FC Tokyo, and Oita offered plenty and gave us a real game. But with an unchanged eleven we scored three times, had plenty of shots and most importantly got the three points. Next up, Hiroshima away. If we win that game, we'll be right back in touch with the top of the league and will be starting to build up a nice little run. But I'm going to try to not jinx us by talking too much about that. Fingers crossed though, and VAMO FRONTALE!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki
MF 19. SAITO Manabu

GK 21. ARAI Shota
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa (on for TANAKA 66')
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
DF 17. MAWATARI Kazuaki
MF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro (on for NAKAMURA 81')


SAITO (Frontale) 51' 1-0
ONAIWU (Oita) 54' 1-1 
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 61' 2-1
ABE (Frontale) 85' 3-1

Thursday, 25 July 2019

2019 Season first half : Round Up

I’m not going to write too much about the first half of this season as I’ve moaned enough about it already on here. The shocking thing is the similarity in performance from the previous two years. Every year it seems like we’re doing worse than previously but when I check we end up having an almost identical record. I’d say that the team is a lot less settled this year and I’m still not sure if we really know what our best eleven is. Perhaps we are starting to rotate a bit better, which would be crucial for our future, as some of our big names aren’t getting any younger. But perhaps this isn't rotation, but more us struggling to find a team that can win rather than draw. Wakizaka looks like he could be, as predicted, our future Kengo. He’s done well when he’s played, has scored a few goals and always looks to attack. At the back, Jesiel has been a revelation. At the start of the season he looked to be the Brazilian the furthest from the team, but has now sealed himself a starting spot and looks like one of our best players. When Nara comes back from injury he’ll have a tough job getting back into the team. The other Brazilians seem to be getting a rougher ride. Damiao has scored goals and assisted but still doesn’t seem to be valued by Oniki. Maguinho’s plight is maybe the strangest. I feel he’s always done pretty well when called on, but now finds himself way down the right back pecking order, behind a couple of left backs playing out of position. Perhaps he’s more attacking than Oniki might like, but to be honest, I don’t think he made any mistakes in the games he played, so he can feel a bit aggrieved with his lack of pitch time.

In the middle, Ao now seems to be our great hope. Morita has slipped back a little this year, ironically at the same time as getting international recognition. Hopefully he’ll come good again soon. On the left we probably have our biggest quandary. All of Manabu, Hasegawa and Abe have done well when given the chance, but usually only one of them gets a chance per game. Hasegawa is probably Oniki’s favourite, but they all deserve to play so I understand it’s a tricky situation. With regards to players who have been doing well, there has been mercifully little attention to them from overseas so far. Plenty of other clubs are losing players to Europe, but no one seems to come knocking for ours. Whether they do actually come and we don’t hear about it, I don’t know. The only bid we have heard about was one from a Chinese team for Damiao and it looks at the moment like he will stay with us. I’m delighted about this and I think it’s a real credit to him as he hasn’t been getting the star treatment some might have expected but is still 100% committed and up for the job. I know I always speculate about trouble behind the scenes but maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps this is a club with a great relationship between players and management, that people really want to stay with. I’d be delighted if this were true.

I’m not going to dwell on results, but you’ve got to think that we could have done a lot better this year so far. Sure, in the league we’ve only lost once and that was a stinker of a defeat due to a late goal against a dodgy Gamba team. Late goals have been the story of the year to be honest. I don’t know why, and it’s really frustrating. Hopefully we can put an end to that habit. The ACL campaign was another disaster, but again, late goals did for us on a few occasions. I think we were a bit unlucky, but being unlucky doesn’t make it any more frustrating. And to look on the bright side, we now are free from ACL distractions so hopefully we can claw back some ground in the league. I’ve been pretty despondent at times this year, particularly after 0-0 games against teams we have dominated. The FC Tokyo game was hopefully our turning point. Fingers crossed we can push on now, cut out those late goals and turn the draws into wins. Bring on part 2!

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

2019 season first half : Player stats

Here are the stats for each player so far this season. They relate to all our games, including the league, ACL, Emperor’s Cup and Fuji Xerox Super Cup. Comparing them to last year’s halfway stats isn’t totally fair as last year we’d played 23 games and this time round it’s 26 games, but that’s close enough I guess. I won’t go into too much detail here as for the most part, the figures speak for themselves, but I’ll highlight a few things that are interesting or surprising.

Firstly, Damiao is right up there even with Kobayashi on goals scored in spite of playing less games. We seem to be scoring at a similar rate to last year (32 goals in 23 games in 2018 and 39 goals in 26 games this year), which is a surprise, as this year feels a lot more of a slog. I guess in past years, the more exciting second half of the season has made the duller first half fade a little from our memories.

Nothing so surprising to see on the assist top 5 table to be honest.

Perhaps the one surprise about the starts is that Noborizato has come out of nowhere to third in the table. I guess this speaks volumes about Oniki’s trust in him this year, often preferring him to Kurumaya and even when Kurumaya plays, keeping Nobori on the left, a decision which I have questioned on a few occasions. But well done Nobori.

Last year’s man of the match half way winner Ienaga is not even in the top five this time. I think he’s struggled a bit. Perhaps it’s a hangover from being MVP last year. Hopefully he’ll start coming into his own soon and showing us what he can do. Our team is definitely less settled than last year, so this might account for some of his lack of form, but I’m in no doubt he’ll come good sooner or later. Should probably also say that the man of the match is a hugely subjective thing, and whilst I sometimes agree with the official one, I do tend to go a bit left field sometimes. Hasegawa was second last year and takes it this time. I have a Hasegawa towel. Just saying...

Finally on to the cards. Satisfyingly, no red cards this time. I don’t think we’re that kind of team, but sometimes you do end up getting one that can’t be helped. I’m pleased we haven’t so far. I’m surprised to see Kurumaya at the top for the yellows, especially as he hasn’t been on the pitch as much as last year. Perhaps being played out of position has caused him to get into some situations he might have been able to avoid if he were in his preferred position!

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)
ST 25 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 2

ST 18 SB 5 US 3 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 2 MM 0

3. Tatsuki NARA (DF)
ST 12 SB 1 US 0 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 1

ST 9 SB 0 US 2 Y 2 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 2

ST 23 SB 0 US 1 Y 3 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 1

6. Hidemasa MORITA (MF)
ST 15 SB 1 US 2 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 1

7. Shintaro KURUMAYA (DF)
ST 14 SB 3 US 3 Y 4 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 0

8. Hiroyuki ABE (MF)
ST 7 SB 6 US 2 Y 1 R 0 G 3 A 0 MM 0

ST 13 SB 6 US 6 Y 3 R 0 G 8 A 3 MM 1

10. Ryota OSHIMA (MF)
ST 16 SB 1 US 1 Y 1 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 2

ST 17 SB 5 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 8 A 2 MM 0

14. Kengo NAKAMURA (MF)
ST 11 SB 3 US 0 Y 1 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 1

16. Tatsuya HASEGAWA (MF)
ST 13 SB 6 US 3 Y 2 R 0 G 1 A 4 MM 3

17. Kazuaki MAWATARI (DF)
ST 11 SB 2 US 0 Y 2 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 1

19. Manabu SAITO (MF)
ST 8 SB 7 US 5 Y 0 R 0 G 2 A 2 MM 2

20. Kei CHINEN (FW)
ST 10 SB 10 US 5 Y 1 R 0 G 6 A 0 MM 1

21. Shota ARAI
ST 1 SB 0 US 25 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 2 MM 0

22. Hokuto SHIMODA (MF)
ST 3 SB 2 US 4 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 2 MM 2

23. Eisuke FUJISHIMA (GK)
ST 0 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

24. Shunsuke ANDO (GK)
ST 0 SB 0 US 1 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

25. Ao TANAKA (MF)
ST 16 SB 2 US 5 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 2

ST 6 SB 1 US 2 Y 1 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 0

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

28. Yasuto WAKIZAKA (MF)
ST 6 SB 5 US 6 Y 0 R 0 G 4 A 2 MM 1

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

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

31. Koki HARADA (MF)
ST 0 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

34. Kazuya YAMAMURA (MF)
ST 3 SB 8 US 9 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 2 MM 0

41. Akihiro IENAGA (MF)
ST 18 SB 0 US 1 Y 2 R 0 G 0 A 2 MM 0

ST 1 SB 1 US 3 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0 

Most Goals

3. CHINEN Kei - 6
4. WAKIZAKA Yasuto - 4
5. ABE Hiroyuki - 3

Most Assists

1. HASEGAWA Tatsuya - 4
3. SHIMODA Hokuto - 2
3. SAITO Manabu - 2
3. IENAGA Akihiro - 2
3. NOBORIZATO Kyohei - 2
3. YAMAMURA Kazuya - 2
3. WAKIZAKA Yasuto - 2

Most Starts

1. JUNG Sung-Ryong - 25
2. TANUGUCHI Shogo - 23
3. NOBORIZATO Kyohei - 18
3. IENAGA Akihiro - 18
5. KOBAYASHI Yu - 17

Most Man Of The Match awards

1. HASEGAWA Tatsuya - 3
2. OSHIMA Ryota - 2
2. SAITO Manabu - 2
2. JUNG Sung-Ryong - 2
2. JESIEL - 2
2.TANAKA Ao - 2
2. SHIMODA Hokuto - 2

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

1. KURUMAYA Shintaro - 4
2. TANIGUCHI Shogo - 3
4. MAWATARI Kazuaki - 2
4. JESIEL - 2
4. IENAGA Akihiro - 2
4. HASEGAWA Tatsuya - 2

Most Red Cards


Tuesday, 23 July 2019

2019 Season first half : Refs

As I think I said last year, there's not so much you can read into these stats, as every game is different, with different opponents and different situations, so you can't really compare ref stats particularly fairly. The main thing that has stood out about the first half of this season relating to referees is that the errors and bad performances just keep on coming. Thankfully, neither of this season's ultra shocking refereeing performances have been in our games. But the fact that both errors were so widely reported and discussed has to be a good thing. Whether this new focus on refereeing errors will actually result in an improvement in refereeing standards is another thing. As far as I can remember, the best ref we've had this year was away at Oita and it was his first game. Well done Kasahara and hope to see you again. We have 100% records with Iemoto, Kasahara, Matsuo and our old friend Tojo. Kimura was in charge of our only loss, but you can't really blame him for our rotten performance. No red cards so far this year, which was nice, but to be honest, can't really remember us getting a red card recently that we probably didn't deserve, so that's probably not something to judge a ref on either.

G - Games refereed
W - Wins
D - Draws
L - Losses
Y - Yellow Cards
R - Red Cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

G 1 W 0 D 1 L 0 Y 3 R 0

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

G 3 W 2 D 1 L 0 Y 3 R 0

G 1 W 1 D 0 L 0 Y 3 R 0

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

G 2 W 1 D 1 L 0 Y 3 R 0 

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Few photos and videos from the Supporters Day

This year, I went to the Fan Event. Last year I was sulking about Neto's transfer and generally pretty gloomy about all things Frontale so I skipped it. I was also quite hungover. But this year, after designating the FC Tokyo game as make or break for our season and for my relationship with Oniki, and us winning that game comfortably, I am fully on board the good ship Frontale. Let's see how long that optimism lasts! But right now, things look pretty rosy for us. The FC Tokyo win was a decent performance and we played some nice football. The game against Chelsea, which was criticised by all sorts of people for being a waste of time and all about the money was actually a lot of fun, and it was quite unexpected and exhilarating to be able to do the Avante victory song against an English Premier League team. Sure, they are in pre-season and under a new manager and had a lot of the ball and many chances, but this was still a great morale boosting victory for us. Let's hope it can give us a nice boost over the course of the next few months till the end of the season.

The fan events are always fun occasions, and it's great that the club is so open and available, and players are so happy to just have fun. In the years before we won anything, our fan events would routinely be held up as showing why we would never win. We just weren't serious enough was apparently the feeling. But the last two years' titles show that you can be human and friendly and have fun while still winning football games. I hope so anyway. It was great to see professional footballers willing to not take themselves too seriously, sing some songs and just enjoy the all round good atmosphere. It was a bit terrifying to see Ando playing the drums with a broken finger though. He was actually pretty good though! Fujishima's involvement was surprisingly emotional. As a loan player with a serious injury suffered before he could even make the bench, there must be a possibility that he may never pull on the Frontale shirt. I hope for his sake that this isn't the case though. He seems like a nice guy, as do pretty much all of the squad.

Anyway, this is way too long already for a post that is supposed to just be some pictures and videos. So here you are, some pictures and short videos, one of a vegemite and crisp roll, the food offering from Michael James. That kind of food totally works for me! It's been a great week to be a Frontale fan and this event serves to remind us why we all like this team so much. VAMO FRONTALE!

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Vs Chelsea 19/7/19 - J League World Challenge

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 0 Chelsea

We won! It was fun! Here are a few bad photos.


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 19. SAITO Manabu

GK 21. ARAI Shota (on for JUNG 65')
GK 36. MAWATARI Hiroki
MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo (on for NOBORIZATO 84')
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for SHIMODA 46')
DF 17. MAWATARI Kazuaki (on for SAITO 46')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for IENAGA 46')
DF 26. MAGUINHO (on for MORITA 90+2')
MF 28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto (on for ABE 46')
MF 31. HARADA Koki
MF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for TANAKA 65')
MF 35. ISSAKA Zain


LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 86' 1-0

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Vs FC Tokyo (away) 14/7/19 - J League match 19

FC Tokyo 0 - 3 Kawasaki Frontale

And relax..... I’m sure that plenty of people, myself included are feeling a lot better about Frontale after this game. Of course that doesn’t include FC Tokyo fans who probably have a lower opinion of us now. I’d been saying that this was a make or break game for us and thankfully we made rather than broke. That phrase really doesn’t work as well in the past tense, does it? Such was the tension and excitement leading up to this game, a large amount of alcohol was consumed. Such was the atmosphere, very few notes or photographs were taken. Such was the delay between attending the game and writing this, much has been forgotten. But we’ll see, I’ll do my best to write something of interest in this post. Here is the little I can remember:

Oniki, tactical genius -

I don’t know if he has been hiding his talents thus far this season or whether he got lucky, or whether FC Tokyo finally ran out of luck, but we controlled this game for pretty much the whole 90 minutes. We looked dangerous in attack and solid at the back. It says a lot that Sung-Ryong only had one save to make in the whole match. Whether this says more about our defensive solidity or Tokyo’s blunt attack, I don’t know. Their usual tactic of hoofing it forward to the two big guys up front didn’t work. Diego and Nagai seemed to spend most of the match on the ground. I’ve read that we were putting in some meaty tackles, but I can’t remember them particularly. In fact in the few notes I wrote I said that FC Tokyo were playing hard and dirty. Take everything I remember from this game with a pinch of salt though as emotions were running high and booze was freely flowing. To get back to the point, it’s a question as to whether the big change in our fortunes came about through Oniki’s changes to the line-up or something else. Kengo was back starting, Ienaga and Hasegawa were replaced with Abe and Saito and Shimoda started alongside Ao. Oh, and I can’t believe I didn’t mention this first, but Kurumaya was back at left back and Nobori was at right back as many of us have been calling for recently. Well done Oniki for finally realising that would be a better way to line us up. My opinion, however, is that perhaps the change in fortunes was more down to a change in approach. We looked a lot more positive for once and weren’t afraid to actually attack incisively instead of ponderously. Whether Oniki chose to do this or whether the personnel caused this to happen I don’t know. But either way it was very welcome. The fact that two of our goals were scored by these changes and two were assisted by these changes points towards them making the difference. Ienaga hasn’t been at his best so far this year and whilst I thought it was unlucky for Wakizaka to not start, Kengo is the kind of player you want to play in this kind of intense match so you could say the changes were justified. Anyway, all of this excitement and positivity and the great result will be for nothing if we don’t get results in our following league matches. Our next game is actually the friendly against Chelsea, which to be honest, I’m not particularly bothered about. As long as we put in a decent showing in that game, (but not decent enough to have any of our players attract any attention from other clubs), and then we carry on the positivity in the league, I’ll be happy. We’ve got a real chance now. The boost this convincing win has done to our confidence can only be equalled by the knock FC Tokyo’s confidence should have taken. Plenty of people have been saying that perhaps they are in a false position, doing better than they maybe should be, but as long as no-one is challenging them for consistency, it won’t matter to what extent they are over-achieving. Hopefully, this victory will provide a tactical blueprint for other J League teams who are playing them soon and prove that they are far from invincible.

The heart of the team was the heart of the victory -

Recently it has seemed that we have been spoilt for choice on who to play in the defensive midfield spots. Morita is currently our only national team player but he’s probably been the one who’s playing the worst in that position for us this year. I guess me and Moriyasu aren’t seeing the same things. He’s clearly a big talent but has only shown flashes of that this year for some reason. In this match, possibly due to Morita’s driving indiscretion and certainly due to Oshima’s injury, Shimoda got a rare start and he was awesome. As I said in the game against Meiji University, his set pieces are much better than anyone else’s in the squad and that was where our first goal came from. Alongside him, Ao had another awesome game, belying his age. Both of them were totally solid in the tackle and distributed the ball beautifully. Ahead of them, Kengo was really involved too. Before his injury he’d been a bit rubbish this year. Much like last year in fact when the first half of the season for him was pretty mediocre. It seems that many things are repeating from last year in fact, with us having a very similar record so far. Perhaps it’s significant that our first great result of the year coincided with Kengo having his first decent game of the year. I think this would be a bit tough on Wakizaka though who has really surprised me this season. In any case these are all welcome developments. I shouldn’t forget Manabu and Abe either. They both are very attacking players and maybe their directness was also a big factor in this game. It’s unusual recently that there’s not really anyone to single out as having a dodgy game. Long may that continue!

Damiaout? -

Rumors were circulating last week that a Chinese club had offered a significant amount for Damiao. I’m not sure the rumours have either been confirmed or quashed to be honest. The situation is a bit of a weird one. I can’t imagine there would be much keeping Damiao with us. Oniki clearly doesn’t rate him. Or perhaps he’s playing a really rough game of ‘treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen’. I really wouldn’t blame him if he decided that he was wasting his time with us as his chances have been severely limited with no chance to play himself into some form. Kobayashi had a shocking last league game in front of goal but started this game (and admittedly scored a nice goal…). Damiao didn’t even get off the bench. Perhaps Oniki has too many options in this position, particularly if we are only playing one player up front. But Damaio does seem to really like playing for us. Not sure why given his limited opportunities but perhaps it’s because he realises the fans really like him. The mystery seems set to bubble along and it was perhaps slightly strange to not even give him any time on the pitch in this game to show that we want him to stay. But, he was on the bench, which seems like it would suggest that he’s not going anywhere. But, we do always seem to have a few players on the bench with zero chance of actually coming on, so maybe that is not significant. But, Miyashiro has just been loaned out to Renofa Yamaguchi which is not something a team who are about to lose a striker would do. (Good luck to him, by the way. Hope he’s not going to be the new Miyoshi in that respect). So, basically who knows? As usual there’s so little clarity in stuff going on behind the scenes and in this case there are a lot of contradicting factors so maybe I should just stop speculating about this.

I’ve lost my focus a bit with this post. I’ll blame the alcohol again. I’ll finish things up here with a load of little points backed up with no explanation or evidence and leave them hanging. Jesiel was great and I was gutted that he hit the bar rather than got his first goal for us. Their pitch started cutting up pretty badly early on, maybe due to the weather, but for once a dodgy pitch didn’t seem to stop us. Loved Manabu’s celebration for Abe’s goal (check it out on the highlights video) and what a shocking clearance that was by the FC Tokyo defender. Oh, and our second goal (I think it was the second) was total justice as we were attacking, put the ball out for an injury to one of their players and they didn’t give it back. We promptly went back down their end and scored. Oh, and whilst 3-0 was very welcome, it could easily have been more. We hit the post a few times. But let’s not get too greedy, eh? A deeply unsatisfying structure to this post, but as you can probably tell, I’m trying to get this finished after leaving things too late. Next up, Chelsea but that’s not very important. Really next up, Oita at home which we need to win to get a run going. No more draws please. And of course, no more defeats. I’ll be on my summer holidays for that game and a few after so these posts will become mercifully short. Hopefully, before then, I’ll manage to get my usual mid-season stats post up. Will be interesting to make some comparisons between this year and last year and probably find that they are almost identical. Until then, I will bid you farewell with a rejuvenated and hopefully long lasting VAMO FRONTALE!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (Yellow card 40')
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki (Yellow card 44')
MF 19. SAITO Manabu

GK 21. ARAI Shota
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for SAITO 78')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for KOBAYASHI 85')
MF 28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
MF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya  (on for NOBORIZATO 90+1')
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro

My Frontale Man Of The Match

This could go to any of the midfield really. It could also go to Jesiel at the back who I though was pretty great. In fact, pretty much anyone could get it. The fans deserved it too, as we totally outsung FC Tokyo and it was really loud and a great atmosphere. I cop out on this too often by either not bothering to award it or awarding it too many players at once. Must stop doing that I guess, but today it will go to….

SHIMODA Hokuto & TANAKA Ao - copped out again, didn’t I? But you couldn’t really separate these two. Perhaps Ao had the better match in the middle, but Hokuto’s set pieces were crucial. So both of them can share it. Cheers!


KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 20' 0-1
SAITO (Frontale) 55' 0-2
ABE (Frontale) 69' 0-3

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Vs Sagan Tosu (home) 7/7/19 - J League match 18

Kawasaki Frontale 0 - 0 Sagan Tosu

This game has left me with another stinky blog post to right. I don’t know how many times I can write the same things before I go insane, but clearly this was another case of the same old failings and the same old result. Whilst Sagan Tosu’s form has improved slightly of late (it couldn’t get much worse really, could it?), this was clearly a game that we should have been able to win comfortably. The fact that we didn’t has given another boost to FC Tokyo and to Yokohama F Marinos and has given another kick in the guts/nuts to our fans and players. Whilst it took 60 minutes for me to get fed up of the Emperor’s Cup game, I don’t think I made it through the first half in this game before I became distracted by exciting things like looking at the floodlights and taking pictures of rain. The worst thing was that it was so predictable. Every game looks like being a draw at the moment. Occasionally we liven things up with a win and some excitement, but are soon back to the same old dullness. There are not many new things we can learn from this game, as it is totally the same old story. But I’ll try to come up with at least some kind of interesting new way to moan. Here we go...

Is this our best eleven? -

It could be said so, and I saw a friend on twitter saying exactly that before the game. I can’t imagine many people thought so after we got this result though. As I said last week, we have so many good players for most positions that it should be easy to pick a winning team. Most combinations should work or at least give us a decent chance, but recently it seems that all combinations will underwhelm. Kurumaya was back at right back again with Maguinho once again missing. Damiao also disappeared. There were rumours that he wasn’t recovered from the leg injury he picked up against Urawa, but if that’s true, why did he start against Meiji and Consadole? Kengo was back on the bench and we were back to 4-2-3-1 with Wakizaka in Kengo’s position. Kobayashi was hyped up pre-match as his next goal will be his 100th. Judging on this performance, he probably won’t get it this season. We’ve got all these good players and are playing most of them in the right position, so you’d think that we’d be doing alright, wouldn’t you? But we’re not, and we were woeful again. I don’t know what we have to do to get out of this rut. Neither does Oniki it seems. Again, the substitutions did nothing and we start every game looking like we’re going to draw. The team looks like it has no confidence and who can blame them. We’re rubbish at the moment. It’s time for Oniki to step up and sort it out. Unusually, he did admit after the game that he was at least partly responsible for our poor form. It’s a good first step to sorting it out, but the more difficult part is actually doing it. Ganbatte Oniki!

Home vs Away -

All season I’ve been grasping at the hope that FC Tokyo’s huge number of home games that are stacked at the start of the season will prove their undoing later on in the year. I am still desperately clinging to this hope. I was shocked to see though that we have played the same number of home games as them. However given our rotten home form, I can now add an additional hope which is the fact that we’ve played over half of our home games means that we might do a bit better when we can play away more often. I’ve always enjoyed away games more but thought that was down to the atmosphere and the distraction of some travel and sightseeing. But we do play better away from home, don’t we? In recent seasons we’ve struggled to impose our attacking game at home as teams worked out that if you just sit back and defend and hope for a long ball counter attack you might have a chance of a draw or nicking a win. It’s the same this year, but it seems that the away team has now got cheeky and wants to attack and play football and that we've sunk to new depths with regards to being unable to break through the opposition's packed defence. In ten home games this year we have gathered only 13 points. Pretty dreadful stuff. We’ve scored only ten goals in those 10 home games and have conceded seven. We’ve also been totally boring. Away from home we have almost double the points from three less games (19 points from seven games), have scored 15 and conceded only four. We top the away results only league in spite of us having played two or three less games than our nearest challengers. Sadly the league is decided on both home and away games, but you can’t deny that the stats tell a pretty horrible story and show a problem that needs to be sorted out soon.

What’s going wrong? -

I don’t know, it doesn’t make sense. We move the ball around beautifully until we reach the final third where we appear to run into a glass wall. Strangely the opposition seem unaffected by this barrier. Add to this some truly awful finishing when we do finally manage to make a chance. Kobayashi was shocking in this game. Apparently we had six shots on target, but I think you’d struggle to find an occasion where we worked their keeper or actually where we even made him move. There’s no point in people staying to watch the match recently. You might as well just watch the warm up where we practice passing the ball back and forwards and then go home as, apart from our defending, that’s all you’re going to see. The closest we get to goal scoring action is when the subs are on at half time smacking the ball into the empty net. Unfortunately these don’t count. Kurumaya is doing ok at right back but he would be much better used at left back. He is so left footed that there’s never any doubt what he’s going to do when he has the ball. Every one of his crosses bent in past the far post and off the pitch. Unsurprising, as he’s been doing the same cross from the left for the majority of his career and in that case the ball bends away from the keeper into a dangerous area. Nobori has done reasonably well, but surely we’ve got to put Kurumaya back on the left. I can only hope that Oniki will soon see the light, as he did last season around this time when he stopped playing Kurumaya at centre back and brought back Nara. Quite why he always feels the need to persist with something that seems fairly illogical and doesn't seem to be working, I don't know. Yesterday’s referee was Ueda and he was of course rubbish, but you can’t really say that our performance had anything to do with that. We would have been awful no matter who the ref or the opposition were. Players are lacking confidence, the manager is lacking ideas and I am seriously lacking in optimism and interest.

Enough with the moaning!!!! Let’s finish this. A rotten game, a rotten result, rotten weather, an injury to Oshima and our rivals in the league winning. What’s not to hate? Next up, we have FC Tokyo away and an opportunity to either reignite our season or confirm that this year is going to be a bit crap. You’ve got to think that with all of these terrible performances we might have a decent game sooner or later. I just hope that it will be against Tokyo. Instead it will probably be in the completely pointless Chelsea game. I can’t believe that we’re in third considering the way we're playing. The league must be pretty weak this year. Hopefully, this shocking game, the latest in a run of plenty of mostly awful games will be the one that finally gives us a kick up the backside. Sure, we're difficult to beat, but we’re also difficult to watch. If ever there was a time or an occasion to turn things around it will be next weekend and there’s now plenty riding on it. Keep you fingers, toes, legs, arms... in fact everything crossed. Maybe not your eyes. Ok, keep everything apart from your eyes crossed.


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya

GK 21. ARAI Shota
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa (on for OSHIMA 57')
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki (on for HASEGAWA 79')
MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo (on for WAKIZAKA 64')
MF 19. SAITO Manabu
MF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya

My Frontale Man Of The Match

Not a great deal of choice. Plenty of people who it shouldn’t go to. Guess we didn’t concede so that gives the defenders a chance. But actually....

I CAN'T BE BOTHERED - the players who did ok, did ok, but the overwhelming shittiness of the match means I can’t be bothered with this. Normally would be happy to give 🤡niki another clown of the match but for some reason, after this game, I feel a little sorry for him. He’s run out of ideas and needs to come up with something fast otherwise he's going to ruin his perhaps fortunately acquired good reputation.


Absolutely not



Saturday, 6 July 2019

Vs Meiji University (home) 3/7/18 - Emperor's Cup 2nd round

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 0 Meiji University

Our first involvement in the Emperor’s cup of 2019 gave me an excellent opportunity to forget my numerous moans and groans about our season and just enjoy a game of football with the added excitement of it being a cup match with there being a big distance between the two teams in terms of league and stature. I don’t really understand why attendances for these kind of games are so low (although we did get the biggest attendance of the round, helped in no small measure by there being loads of Meiji University fans in the ground). I enjoy the romance and excitement of the cup, and was looking forward to seeing some different players in action for us. Unfortunately this excitement and enjoyment didn’t make it through the whole 90 minutes intact though. And midway through the second half I was back to my doomiest and gloomiest. Attending our games had again become a bit of a chore, (especially the home games, ironically), and Oniki’s ongoing agenda of sucking all the enjoyment out of watching Frontale was once again at the front of my mind. This game was live on NHK, so now plenty of people in Japan have had the opportunity to be thoroughly bored by us. This wasn’t a great advert for Frontale. It could have been a great advert for Meiji University if they’d brought their shooting boots. But as it was, we scraped through on a single own-goal victory. I’m quite aware that I am moaning non-stop recently, and as Ben pointed out on my recent J-Talk podcast appearance (listen here), sixteen other teams in the league right now wouldn’t mind trading places with us. But while watching these performances continues to slowly chip away at me mentally, I will have to keep on whinging. Here’s what we already knew but have had reinforced by this game and possibly one new thing if you’re lucky.

(Strength in) squad depth -

This game saw some players get some valuable game time. Shimoda actually managed to get on the pitch and did a great job I thought. His set pieces were particularly good and it was from one of them that we scored our goal. Sorry, they scored our goal. Yamamura got a start and it was at centre back, which I think is a first for him this season. Oniki has played him in midfield and up front, but now he’s completed his set. He looked pretty good too, as did his partner Michael James. Well until the last quarter of the game anyway, when everyone looked pretty dodgy. Maguinho is still with the club! It may come as a surprise given recent match day squads. I really feel sorry for him to be honest. He’s not getting a chance, and Oniki is presumably going to drop him for the next game. Kurumaya played at left back! Praise the lord! Actually, he probably had a better game against Jubilo when he was at right back, but I’m standing by the assertion that left back is clearly where he should be playing. Abe was back and very willing to shoot, which is a bit of a rarity in our team. I can only guess that Oniki wants us to pass the ball into the net and the fact that Abe shoots is a contributing factor to his lack of match time this season. Fujishima could have had a look in for a first bench appearance in this game, but he’s picked up a serious injury I believe, so that was pretty unfortunate for him. But it did give Ando a chance to be part of a match day squad again. I still can’t remember the words to his song. I’m not sure who is currently our third choice keeper, and I guess as long as Fujishima is injured, we’re not going to find out. In the pub after the match, I was pondering on who I would select if we had an injury free squad. It’s difficult! Almost every area of the pitch has decent competition for places, and you’ve got to think that whoever we select, we should have a strong team. Sadly though it seems that whoever we select, we have an under-performing team.

The importance of the manager -

This is some mystery in how far the effects of a good manager go for me, but having one clearly makes a difference. It’s common to see a good squad stinking the place up, only to be completely revitalized by new leadership and new ideas. The new manager bounce is undeniably a thing. Therefore, you’ve got to think that the old manager splat is also a thing. We seem stale and lacking in ideas. Our one system for the last two years doesn’t seem to be working anymore and experiments with 4-4-2 have been pretty fruitless too. Of course, this is all said with the caveat that we’re not doing so badly, but it’s clearly a case of a lot of mediocre performances getting mediocre yet just about positive results. Perhaps the league is pretty weak this year and this might help explain things. It’s churlish to complain about being in second and probably in a better position than we were in last year at this stage, but jeez, this is pretty depressing stuff at the moment. Occasionally we’ll cut loose and attack and shoot and score, but more often than not, we bundle a deflected goal in and then desperately hang on to either a one goal lead or a one-one draw. We pour forward attractively but it is usually all ultimately pointless. If it comes to pass that we fluke a shooting opportunity it’s either smacked high or wide or dollied straight to the keeper. Unsurprisingly, the front players look devoid of confidence. I think most of the squad know that the slightest error will probably see them dropped. No-one is given a chance to play themselves into some form. Substitutions almost always have a negative effect on our shape and play and seem pre-ordained and unrelated to what’s going on on the pitch. The most predictable part of the game yesterday was the withdrawal of Damiao and Maguinho. Amusingly, it came just after the two had combined to create a chance. If it had gone in, it would have been a fantastic example of the nonsense of Oniki Frontale. I keep saying this, but I think it’s undeniable that he has a problem with Brazilian players. So why do we keep signing them? Jesiel is probably the only one of them who has any chance of securing a starting spot right now, and that’s in part due to Nara’s injury. I suspect he’s only one mistake away from being replaced at centre back by Kurumaya though and sent into exile. In every game, at least 2 out of 3 of our substitutions are absolute nonsense. Perhaps the only one that made any sense in this game was the introduction of Kengo, which had a brief positive effect on the pitch and lifted the crowd. Unfortunately, Chinen being left as the lone frontman saw him really lose his fizz. I’m not sure it’s a good position for him to play. He’d been doing much better with a partner up front. In spite of everything, at this stage of the game, we still looked ok. However, the introduction of Wakizaka for Shimoda completely destroyed our shape, leaving Ao by himself in the defensive midfield spots and with no-one really sure what they were supposed to be doing ahead of him. I have no idea what Oniki was thinking with this change. Wakizaka did ok, but the change totally disrupted everyone else. It can be no coincidence that this was our dodgiest part of the match. Meiji had more than enough chances to knock us out. We were rubbish. They were unlucky. I don’t feel great about constantly criticizing Oniki, and I don’t particularly want to see him sacked. He said after the game that he was disappointed with the performance, but ultimately, he’s one of the few people in the stadium who can actually do something about it. I’d just love it if he did a bit of a better job.

Plucky and honorable Meiji -

Meiji did a perfect job of playing their plucky underdog part in this game and as I said above were unlucky not to win in the end. I think Arai only had to make a couple of easy saves, but they had some very good chances. If they had managed to get the ball on target from any of these many opportunities this would have been a very different game. They did a good job of really getting into us, pressing us hard and disrupting us successfully for most of the game. It’s a real shame for them that they went out via an own goal, but perhaps in a way it’s better to lose unluckily than to be beaten due to your inadequacies. On paper, this should have been a relatively easy victory for us, (even more so considering Meiji had their three best players absent playing in a different match), but it by no means was. I think many people looking at Frontale this year would say we’re doing alright and whilst the results just about back this up, the performances tell a different story. I’m delighted it didn’t go to extra time as I was sick of watching this from about 60 minutes in, but we could have had no complaints if it had done. Pleasingly, the Meiji players went all round the ground after the match and got a great reception from our fans. I certainly clapped them harder than I had clapped at any other time in this game. Displeasingly, we made them wait whilst we did a totally unnecessary Vai La De Frontale which most of the players looked embarrassed about and which felt a bit of an extravagance given what had preceded it. Perhaps though, our fans lead by the Kazoku are recently grasping any opportunity for positivity and celebration. I can’t blame them to be honest, but I think we could have been a bit more classy and skipped the song this time.

So, we’re through and we’ll meet Okayama in the next round. I have glossed somewhat over the action in this game again. I could have said the Manabu was captain, that Michael James had a diving header saved, that Abe was unlucky to hit the bar with a lovely lob, or that their keeper did a great job of keeping them in the game in the first half. Instead though, I think I’d rather just keep on with the moaning. Meiji deserved more than they got and we deserved less. But such is football, and it’s not exactly uncommon for a team doing well to grind out results through poor performances. Doesn’t make it much fun to watch though, does it? Next up we have Sagan Tosu at home on Sunday evening. Torres seems now to be footloose and fancy free having announced his retirement so it seems unlikely that we’ll have a repeat of last year's game where we battered them but it finished 0-0. Far more likely is us sharing a high scoring draw with them or even getting beaten. I’m working a little along the lines of a reverse jinx with this negativity, so we’ll see if that works. I’m pretty down about all this at the moment. Would love us to show even a tiny glimpse of some excitement as I don’t have many games left before I’m off on my summer holiday where I can probably watch a different team disappoint me! At least that holiday will give you all a break from this blogging misery!


GK 21. ARAI Shota
DF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (Yellow card 45')
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki
MF 19. SAITO Manabu

GK 24. ANDO Shunsuke
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei (on for MAGUINHO 61')
MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 61')
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
MF 28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto  (on for SHIMODA 86')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

This was by no means a vintage performance, but there were some positives perhaps. Yamamura was solid in his first start at centre back. Arai did what was required. Kengo looked bright when he came on (at least until Oniki totally smudged our shape), but given that he is probably not going to get much of a go of it this year as he’s stuck behind two Oniki favourites in the the pecking order, I’ll give it to…

SHIMODA Hokuto - great performance in the middle, passing and tackling with ease and doing exactly what was required. Typical that Oniki took him off! Real bonus was his set-pieces which were much more dangerous than those of any of the many other players who’ve been taking them recently and lead to our marvelous goal.

OWN GOAL (Frontale) 15' 1-0