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


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