Kawasaki Frontale 0 - 2 Consadole Sapporo
Finger pointing and flat performances -
I love a bit of finger pointing after a loss. Grumbling is a joy for me it seems. Problem is, in this game I don’t have enough fingers to point out all the things that we did wrong. Tactically, Consadole did us, much like FC Tokyo did in the Levain Cup, although in a very different style. They started with a weird, but not unheard of for them, formation of 3-7, playing no strikers. Naturally this meant that the middle of the pitch was very congested. Quite why we tried to pass our way through it repeatedly I don’t know. We were apparently playing with three forwards but you wouldn’t have known it. On the few occasions we managed to get through the masses of midfielders it was with one player and no support. All pretty depressing. Perhaps Kengo’s announcement had a similar effect on the players as it did on the fans who seem to have spent the last few days emoting on twitter in a bit of a flap. Certainly his absence is going to be felt next season but we need to make sure our anticipation of it does not affect us for the remainder of this year. I’m not sure that was the reason for this performance though. We’ve been going flat out for most of the season and whilst we’ve rotated a fair bit, it hasn’t been particularly wide rotation with the same 16 or so players taking part in most games. Certainly in this game some players who’ve been wobbling a bit recently really wobbled their wheels off. Yamane has played all but two games this year I think. He has been great at times but the occasional mistake that is understandable has escalated a bit recently I feel. He needs a rest. You can’t really say that Diogo looked dodgy when he came in. We really should have used him a bit more I think. Similarly, our defensive partnership of Taniguchi and Jesiel have done more than their fair share of work with only the occasional rest. The cracks have started to show a bit recently and we generally got away with it in recent games as we’ve been pretty exciting going forward. Sadly, when our attacking falls to bits there’s a lot more pressure on our defence and it cracked in this game. Although to be honest, both of their goals were gifted to them by us in this game. However, the fact is Consadole were on top for large parts of this game and for most of this game we couldn’t even manufacture a chance, let alone a good one. Both of their goals came from us pretty much giving them the ball. The first saw the recently excellent Morita get the ball stuck in his feet and get robbed and the second saw Ienaga inexplicably dribbling back towards his own goal, only to give Kengo a horrible uncontrollable pass, losing the ball and we conceded again. It was notable that for both goals Taniguchi seemed to be well away from covering the area you’d think he should be in. I’m not sure that the Consadole changes were super subs. More that they coincided with brain freezes for a few of our players. It’s not a good look though that Consadole played with no strikers for most of the game, then brought two on and scored twice within four minutes. And I can’t say the goals particularly awakened us from our hopeless slumbering play. Scoring even a consolation looked unlikely, let along the two goals needed for a draw or three for a win.
Subs are a great way to change a game, (just ask Petrovic in this game!), and Oniki has done much better with them this year than previously. In this game though it was all a bit mysterious. Wakizaka and Hatate were withdrawn at half time much to my surprise, as it looked like Ienaga should have gone as he was even more badly calibrated than in the previous game. Give the man a rest! We used all of our remaining changes after the two goals, bringing on Nobori, Miyashiro and Kengo for Jesiel, Damiao and Manabu. Admittedly Manabu and Damiao hadn’t managed to get anything going, but quite why we wasted a sub on reshuffling the defence is a mystery. I thought it would have made more sense to bring on Yamamura up front and start trying to be a bit more direct given that we couldn’t break though in our normal way. Miyashiro had a go, but I would have liked to see him on the right and Yamamura in the middle. Also, I don’t get what is going on with Mitoma. Recently, he starts on the left and then seems to go wandering. He was all over the pitch, but it didn’t seem to be to particularly any effect. I don’t know if this was a tactical instruction from Oniki, but if it was, it didn’t work. He’s fast and likes to run with the ball but we persisted in the patient (turgid) build up that hadn’t worked for the whole game. Sure we had a few chances towards the end of the game but we never really looked like scoring and 11 shots with only six on target in 90 minutes tells the story I think.
I’m not blaming Nishimura for our defeat in any way, but just feel the need to once again state how utterly shit he is as a ref. As always, he seemed to want to be the centre of attention. I don’t know why he kept doing weird little double whistles for things like throw ins. His reluctance to book anyone (of either team) for anything contributed to things heating up. His response was to tell people to calm down although it was clearly a problem of his own making. Unlike Matsuo in the last game who had gone slightly under the radar for me in spite of me slagging him off in the past, the announcement of Nishimura at the start of the game is always guaranteed to get a groan and in this game he didn’t disappoint in his ability to disappoint.
The drum was back! It was a bit weird clapping some chants without being able to fill in the bits with the words. Timing is surprisingly difficult when you don’t have the singing bit. I did think it made the support a bit more cohesive though and was definitely a positive thing for me. More positive though was the fact that the crowd seemed to be overruling the drum a bit, filling in some of the gaps in the songs and on one occasion starting a clap themselves which the drummer then joined in with. I’m sure there are plenty of people who will enjoy blaming the Kazoku and drum on our change in form in this match but that would be ridiculous. It did feel though that there was a slight change in the balance of power somehow between them and the regular fans. In contrast to us, Consadole had got the drumming and clapping thing sorted. Their coordination was much better and I found myself tapping my foot to their rhythms on a few occasions. I know the away team support is always a bit more passionate and exciting, but I feel like we were shown up a bit on this occasion both on the pitch and in the stands. Hopefully things will have improved a bit for the next game.
Move on and forget this. That is my intention and I hope the players feel the same way. Unbelievably, despite losing we were still able to cross off one of the remaining wins we needed to take the title, thanks to a draw in the Osaka derby. So now nine points will do it. Hopefully this was a blip and we can get going again in the next match which is in ten days and is away to Kashima. A rest will probably be a good thing for some of the players, but maybe we actually need to do a bit more organizational work. I wonder slightly if we hadn’t really tried out some of the combinations on show in this match on the training pitch as it all looked a bit disjointed. Looking back, our starting midfield three looks a bit inexperienced, doesn't it? Hopefully we’ll learn from this, players and manager alike. We've bounced back well from previous disappointments so hopefully we can do so again. We’ve been absurdly fortunate to witness some great football so far this year so we shouldn’t moan too much about a bad day at the office. As long as it doesn’t turn into a bad week and then a bad month. Fingers crossed and 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 30. HATATE Reo
MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
FW 19. SAITO Manabu
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei (on for JESIEL 70')
MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo (on for SAITO 70')
FW 18. MITOMA Kaoru (on for HATATE 46')
FW 20. MIYASHIRO Taisei (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 70')
MF 25. TANAKA Ao (on for WAKIZAKA 46')
FW 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya
My Frontale Man Of The Match
Can’t think of anyone who even slightly deserves it really.