Nagoya Grampus 1 - 0 Kawasaki Frontale
The run is over and in the spirit of sour grapes, I’m going to try to race through this blog post. Now we can all start talking about tiredness and I think this applies not only to players and staff but also to bloggers. The pace is pretty relentless, and will get even worse for some clubs soon when the ACL restarts. But please spare a thought for us bloggers who have to watch the match, tweet attempts at amusing banter and then write a blog post too. Seriously, there will almost certainly be some burn out soon. It’s never good to have a winning run end, but it was inevitable that it would do so at some stage. It’s a little strange though that we went from smashing the second place team on Wednesday to a pretty limp loss away to Nagoya, (who admittedly are also riding high in the table but are not a team that we have as much trouble against as we do with Cerezo). But anyway, in the interest of grasping any positives, I would much rather lose the run against Nagoya than do it in either of our next three league games against Kobe, Shimizu or Yokohama (for different reasons, but you get my point I think). We can hope that this very limp performance from us was a blip and that we can build another run starting with the next game but there are a few potential problems that might impact this which I’ll get on to shortly. Much like the team probably want to do, I’ll try to look briefly at this defeat then put it behind us. We have a good amount of points on the board already this year. In fact we’ve almost got half of last year’s total already and this good start could be a big bonus in such a crazy season. Fingers crossed we can bounce back in the next game.
Hats off to Nagoya -
Firstly, you’ve got to say well done to Nagoya. We didn’t look like we’d score if we’d played another few hours and this was in part due to Nagoya’s energy all over the pitch, closing us down, hassling us and not letting us settle. They got their goal and then had something to defend and Ficcadenti teams have something of a good reputation for not conceding. Nagoya certainly seem to be something of a different prospect this tear after previously starting brightly but chaotically and then fading away in recent seasons. To be honest, the signs were there in the Levain Cup game against them where we conceded twice and eventually got the draw that suited both teams. In that game we found it hard to get going for long periods and maybe we have to consider that Nagoya have got us sussed. Hopefully they won’t share their findings with other league teams.
Batteries running out -
On the other hand, and not wanting to take anything away from Nagoya, we were really lacking in quality in this game. Fifteen shots with only three on target and a general failure to get anything going. In the first half Damiao seemed unable to find any space and when this happens we normally bring on Kobayashi who plays like he’s up against a completely different opposition. In this case though Kobayashi had the same problems. Along with this, we once again were able to pass and move smoothly anywhere on the pitch and there were way too many errors from players who’d previously seemed peerless. I have to admit that I had a few drinks after this game without writing too much down before so I’m mainly going on feel and smudged memories rather than any evidence here, but we really weren’t clicking and for the first time this year looked really tired as a group. Individuals have had off days recently, but pretty much all of the team weren’t really at the races in this game. Or perhaps it was Nagoya’s quality. Either way, you have to say this was a fair result (kind of, but I’ll address that in my last point).
Injuries and rotation -
There has been noticeably more rotation this year than we have come to expect from Oniki which is definitely something we have to do if we want to survive the season. It is probably significant though that it is pretty much the same 18-20 players who are being rotated. And there are areas of the pitch where no rotation is happening at all. I think Taniguchi has played every minute of the league campaign so far. One other issue is perhaps that even though we are rotating, players are rarely ever actually getting completely rested. It’s more a case of you will play 2/3 of this match and 1/3 of the next match. Perhaps we need to have players not playing at all in some games rather than them having to go through the whole match day procedures (traveling, training, warming up etc.), to play 20 minutes at the end of a game that has already been won (obviously not referring to this game here!). The changes in this game didn’t change anything to be honest and perhaps that effect is being diluted by the fact that the players who are coming on aren’t as fresh as we might hope they would be. I wonder if we need to significantly shake things up in the next game to give some players a chance to have a rest. Not sure what people might think about this though and it would be a brave manager to implement such big changes. Jesiel looked like he might have picked up another injury yesterday which might mean that Taniguchi has to start again but to be honest, I’d go for some wholesale changes to try and get some players time to rest. Kurumaya should be fine still but I’d bring in Diogo on the right. The centre backs are tricky obviously. I’d put Yamamura in there but I’m still left with one spot and it would seem brave to start Kamiya, wouldn’t it? But somehow we need to give Taniguchi a rest before he ends up with an enforced rest due to an injury. In the other areas of the pitch it is equally difficult to make wholesale changes. Miyashiro can start. Perhaps Shimoda and Morita are not fatigued yet either. Maybe Manabu could get a start. It’s difficult though and these kind of big changes are risky and quite unlikely too. I just feel that we’ve got to give some people a break though. Mitoma left the pitch injured yesterday and it looks like he’ll be out for a little while. To be honest, he didn’t look particularly good yesterday starting the game. Maybe Oniki was onto something using him as a sub. We definitely missed the lift he gives us in the second half. But it wasn’t only him who was out of sorts and as I’ve already said we can attribute this to tiredness and to Nagoya doing a job on us. The thing is, although I’ve written in this point that we need to make big changes and rest people, I’ve been unable to explain how we might be able to do this. I suspect Oniki won’t want to change too much and that next game we’ll have Nobori back and maybe Kurumaya in the middle of defence, but I think we’ve got to act now as the fatigue problem is not going to go away and will only get worse in subsequent games if we don’t address it soon. It’s weird, as when the run was in progress, we looked pretty good and perhaps the wins were giving us an energy boost. But that’s gone now, so I’d say this is the time to try to do something about it. And perhaps try to sign a central defender if Kamiya is still too young and inexperienced to be called upon.
The usual officials grumbles -
So here we go, the sour grapes section of this post. We were really let down by the officials in this game. Of course, the most obvious example of this was Morita’s ‘goal’ where the ball clearly crossed the line. The fact is though, this call is down to the linesman rather than the ref and he really messed it up. Late in the game when the same linesman also seemed to miss the ball going out for a corner the referee and a Nagoya player had a laugh about it, with the referee gesturing as if to say, it’s the same guy again, so what did you expect. That was quite funny I thought, but the fact remains that if we scored first the game would have been very different. I don’t want VAR back, (although I’m sure they’ll bring it back as soon as possible), I’d just like competent officials. But like I said this one was down to the linesman. The ref, Sato (incidentally from Aichi prefecture… just saying), seemed to be giving pretty much everything Nagoya’s way. Of course I’m biased, but he really seemed to be giving us nothing and this can’t have helped our confidence and flow much. But I’m not going to moan too much about this as we didn’t have enough on the day to overcome any misfortune we were getting from the possible refereeing blunders. That goal though… They don’t really need to cover it on the referee review show for long as the decision is so obviously wrong that they could just show the replay, acknowledge the mistake and move on. Which is probably what we should do too.
So, a disappointing Sunday for us, but probably a delightful Sunday for the rest of the league. As I’ve said, we need to forget this game, get rested if that is at all possible and move on to the next match. Definitely, Oniki has some thinking to do and perhaps some bold changes to make. We’ll see what happens on Wednesday when we play Kobe away in the league. We shouldn’t let one admittedly lacklustre and limp defeat put too much of a dent in the fact that we’ve had an amazing start to the season and we should try to start building our next run of good results as soon as possible. Go Frontale!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 4. JESIEL
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto
MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
FW 18. MITOMA Kaoru
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for WAKIZAKA 46')
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 61')
FW 20. MIYASHIRO Taisei (on for MITOMA 73')
MF 25. TANAKA Ao (on for IENAGA 70')
FW 30. HATATE Reo (on for SHIMODA 46')
My Frontale Man Of The Match
Pretty disappointing all over the pitch in this game but there was one player who stood out for me and that was….
JESIEL - perhaps strange to give this to a defender when we’ve lost our first game of the season but he looked like a rock and wasn’t at fault for the goal. Slightly worried he might be injured again as without him and with a tiring Taniguchi we could be in some real strife at the back.