Friday 29 January 2021

2020 season survey results

So here we go with the long-awaited, (possibly), answers to the 2020 season survey. Perhaps there's not so much we can learn this time as many people were deprived of the opportunity to actually go to games. Hopefully the situation will be better in 2021. That's pretty optimistic of me to say so though... We had something of a rarity this year as one of the FC Tokyo Kai Guys answered the survey. I was expecting their answers to all be rude and trolling but they actually answered the questions genuinely. There are only a couple of their answers that are a bit strange in the context of a Frontale fan survey so I'll point those ones out when I mention them. As always, thank you for your responses and thank you for reading this. Go Frontale!

1. Game of season

vs Gamba Osaka 5-0 home win

The runaway winner here was unsurprisingly the 5-0 home win against our nearest title rivals Gamba Osaka which clinched the title for us. Guess that after a terrible game away at Oita where we had the chance to win the league this was quite a bounce back. It could have won either for the fact that it was the game where we won the league or the fact that it was a thumping win against a close rival, but to have both in one game was a real bonus. Also mentioned were the pair of 3-1 wins home and away against noisy neighbours Yokohama F Marinos, the Emperor's Cup Final, the 5-0 home win against Shimizu, the 3-0 against Nagoya at home, the comeback from 2-0 down in the final league game against Kashiwa and the 5-2 win at home against Cerezo, ('railroading the then-2nd placed LotinaBus with vintage Kazama-taka really put the league on notice'). Personally, I think I'd also go for the Cerezo game as they are a long time bogey team for us and people were raving about their strong defence before the game. Lovely!

2. Player of the season


Another runaway winner here, ('Let's be honest, he was the real league MVP'). Others mentioned were Kengo, Ienaga, Noborizato and Morita. I'd be inclined to add Jesiel but it seems churlish to not go with Mitoma as he really changed a lot of games for us.

3. Goal of the season

Two goals received multiple mentions so we'll put those first and then afterwards I'll list all of them and hopefully the videos should start at the right point. Think there are a few in here that have been mentioned more for their significance more than quality. I'm going to agree with the first one mentioned though. Wonderful run, lovely nutmeg and unselfish pass for an easy finish against disliked opposition!

Kobayashi (Mitoma super assist) - vs Yokohama F Marinos (home) 18/11/20  League match 28

'This goal came in added time while leading 2-1, on a counterattack off a Marinos corner kick when we easily could have killed the game off rather than trying to score in spectacular fashion. It was emblematic of a season in which Oniki gave his team an ultimatum to score three goals per game at a minimum, and often spoke of having an obligation to entertain fans of both Frontale and Japanese football at large.'

Mitoma - vs Gamba Osaka 1/1/21 Emperor's Cup Final


Oshima - vs FC Tokyo (away) 8/7/20 League match 3


Mitoma - vs Yokohama F Marinos (away) 5/9/20 League match 14


Kobayashi - vs Vegalta Sendai (away) 22/7/20 League match 6 


Jesiel - vs Yokohama F Marinos (home) 18/11/20  League match 28

Nakamura - vs Shimizu S Pulse (home) 29/8/20 League match 13


Kobayashi - vs Urawa Reds (home) 16/12/20 League match 33


4. Disappointment of the season

Not being able to go to games / Corona virus issues

Guess it's not surprising given the huge shadow that Corona virus cast across this season that its effects take the top spot. Personally speaking, I ended up going to a surprising number of games and even came to enjoy the Covid-era style supporting more than I thought I would be able to. In a season where we generally played so well it makes sense that our occasional lapses were mentioned. The loss to Oita Trinita and drawing against Sagan Tosu were pretty poor. The former as it spolied potential title celebrations and the latter as it spoiled a possible record of having beaten every team in the league in one season. Kengo not being able to get on the pitch in the Emperor's Cup Final was mentioned too. Apparently one respondent thought that our 4-0 victory away at FC Tokyo was the disappointment of the season (yes, this was the answer from the FC Tokyo fan). My answer agrees with one other response, which was the Levain Cup semi-final defeat to FC Tokyo. We were absolutely rubbish in this game and it was particularly annoying that my villain of the season did the damage. And finally a mention for us not qualifying for the ACL and missing the chance for this team to play in it. 'Unfortunately the greatness of this team may be diluted in memory with the reduced crowds and not having played in the continental cup (although the bubble tournament was nothing to write home about). Who knows if they can catch lightning in a bottle again next year?'

5. Villain of the season (anyone, from any team or an official or...)

Joint winner - COVID-19 & FC Tokyo's Leandro

A tie at the top for the two scourges of all decent people's lives. It was crushingly inevitable that Leandro would score against us in the Levain game given how much he'd annoyed me with his punching and elbowing and Twitter idiocy. I've never liked him and this season he definitely got my vote. Although the super small-man-syndrome cheat Erik and serial moaner Everaldo came close for me too. Probably don't need to say anything about COVID-19, do I? Couple of other honourable mentions for 'the usual diabolical officiating', Kashima's Misao for his petulant red card in the game against us and one other answer I can get fully behind, even if it is a little off-topic from a Frontale pint of view, Boris Johnson. A couple of people answered nobody, which is a lot more diplomatic than I could ever be, but one justified it by saying 'Can't think of any who gave us any actual trouble, to be honest. Even when a unscrupulous opponent or incompetent ref was trying to cheat us, we were usually kicking their asses beyond recognition to the point that it becomes difficult to portray ourselves as the victims :)', which I think is pretty much on the nose!

6. Best away trip (if you've done one)

Obviously this category was going to be a bit of a wash out this year as even when we were able to do away trips there was a distinct lack of atmosphere. I think some answers have been given with previous season's in mind. For example, Sagan Tosu. I always like this trip but the game there this year was rotten. Other mentions were the Emperor's Cup Final and Kashima. Personally speaking, I missed some of my favourites this year and the long trips we could go to often ended up in disappointment on the field, so I'm going to agree with my wife's answer of Kagoshima United vs Gamba Osaka U23. Yes, strictly speaking this isn't really an away trip for us, but given that we combined it with Sagan Tosu away which was a pretty terrible game low on quality, seeing Kagoshima come back from 4-1 down to to win 6-4 was pretty amazing, with six different goalscorers too! All while looking at an active volcano and drinking very cheap Shochu. The weather was even quite nice!

7. Best stadium in the J League


Can't say I particularly agree with this completely but there's definitely a good atmosphere, the experience is usually good and I like the fact that the running track is blue now. Gamba's Suita stadium got a couple of mentions, as did Urawa's Saitama Stadium (both without running tracks. Take note J League teams...). Kashiwa Reysol's stadium was mentioned (I think I've moaned about that stadium a few times so I won't repeat myself), and the new Sanga stadium was too. 'My couch' picked up one very comfortable vote. Oh and someone said Ajinomoto stadium. Any guesses who said that?

8. Opposition J1 team you like the most

Shimizu S Pulse 

The votes were spread around quite a bit in this category but Shimizu did get multiple mentions ('Somehow they remind me of Frontale several years ago. If they improve their defence, they can be great').  Consadole got a couple of votes, ('Misha always has zany tactical ideas up his sleeve, but the results recently obviously aren't commensurate with the creative level'). Can't imagine they like us much though, given the outcomes of some of our games in recent seasons. And Vegalta Sendai got a couple of votes, including mine. We couldn't attend the game this year which was a shame but I still have a soft spot for them. Now, moving on to more surprising answers possibly. We had mentions for Vissel Kobe, Gamba Osaka, Cerezo Osaka, Nagoya Grampus, Kashima Antlers, Yokohama F Marinos 'as a neutral I like Kashima and Marinos for their ambitious and cutting-edge football'. Oh, and FC Tokyo (from the FC Tokyo fan naturally). Perhaps this shows that we are a nice bunch of fans.

9. Opposition J1 team you like the least

FC Tokyo, Yokohama F Marinos, Urawa Reds

A three way tie at the top here, so I guess I have casting vote. If you were to press me I might say it's Marinos for me this year, but as I don't like any of these three teams I'll abstain and they can all share the title. FC Tokyo's name was slightly adapted by a couple of respondents but I'll leave that to your imagination, and one respondent said 'They do employ the dirtiest player in the league, and the play can be pretty dull.' Other than these three we had a vote for Vissel Kobe and Nagoya ('They take away our coach and players, and they (IMO on purpose) leak the transfer before our big games. Every year. I like their coach and players, and enjoy games against Nagoya though.')

10. Team you're pleased to see come up

Tokushima Vortis

Every answer bar one was Tokushima and the one that wasn't was 'Genuinely don’t know who’s come up
'. Sorry Avispa...

11. Best thing about the J League

I'll just list all of these answers:

- Unpredictability, any team can beat any team in any season.  

- Starting free broadcasting on YouTube for overseas fans 

- The inclusivity and accessibility. One thing they really got right is to appeal to a broad audience and form genuine connections with club hometowns.

- Prices of tickets and drinks

- Frontale :)

- No VAR

- Could play all the games, most of those with audience last year.

- All of the 18 teams finished 34 games during Covid era

- Peace

- Safe away trips

12. Worst thing about the J League

Again, I'll just list these with the comments that were made. Normally I'd say the refs but given that VAR is coming next year, I'll probably look back on these pre-VAR days as being magnificent. Perhaps I'll just say commentators who shout too much and pretend they are South American. KOBAYASHI MIDDLE SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!

- Referee standards are woeful in some games. Goals being scored but not given, massive offside margin but let go, etc...

- Australian coaches

- The league's ambitions are too modest, especially framed in commercial terms. Young players should be able to make real money; big multi-million transfers like Olunga should be regular annual occurrences; the J.League should be unabashed in its intent to be the flagship domestic league of the continent, and to be at least equal to any league outside of the top 5 in Europe.

- Tracks at stadiums

- So much merch. For everything. Every occasion. And it’s all overpriced, like the kits.

- Lack of intensity in some games...snails pace footy!

- Lack of exposure in the media

- Non-reserved seats (this season made me realise how life could be easy if all the seats were reserved)

13. Trophy you would like to win the most next year


The votes were split maybe two thirds ACL, one third league and one vote for 'Let’s take them all this time.' (I know that doesn't add up perfectly but you get the idea). Personally, I think we need a good ACL campaign to shut some people up. But I think winning the league is generally speaking still my priority but let's put the ACL moans to bed.

14. What’s your view of Oniki?

Once again, I'll list the answers. They are mainly positive but there's some variety. Personally, I'm a bit confused. At the start of the year it looked like we'd be super-rotating but we ended up only using 22 players, one of the smallest totals in the league. And an obvious lack of defenders almost bit us in the backside. But, you can't argue with the success he's had this year though. Next year will be tougher and we'll see how he manages. I think I've been noticeably quieter with my Oniki bashing though recently. 

- Smart management this season with rotation and keeping players fresh. Nobody adjusted to the rules this season more than he did and the margin of victory shows that.

- What a step-up this season. I’m surprised and thankful. Curious to see how he can improve because next year will be way tougher.

- I think he is still perfect for the team. There is no hint of stubbornness or ego with the man, only a firm commitment to the values of the club, winning every point and scoring every goal available, and a growth mindset displayed by the coaches and players alike. I wasn't very optimistic for this season, especially after seeing many of the veterans look totally washed up last year, but Oniki came in with a revamped tactical setup (a "European" 4-3-3 with counterpressing) and a ruthless knack for leveraging the COVID-19 circumstances (5 subs, squad rotation) by bludgeoning opponents with sheer quality. You and some other fans (typically of other clubs) questioned his decision not to bring on Kengo on January 1st, but one could say that Oniki was the one manager with the personal capital to pull that off as well.

- Satisfactory

- If he’s not actually brilliant, then he’s exceedingly lucky. And I’ll take lucky.

- Need you ask? King of Kawasaki

- I think last year I answered to this question "he should be replaced."  I was totally wrong.  I love him!

- In 2019 I criticised him, but now I have to apologise to him

- Strategist as well as motivator

- Better

15. If you could have any J League player sign for Frontale, who would it be?


A few names mentioned here and in the next question are a little out of date due to me asking the questions a while ago and only compiling the answers now. Sorry! Two votes for Mateus means he takes it. Lots of other names mentioned though, so here we go with the full list of answers:

- Langerak, to put it him on the bench

- Mateus from Grampus or Everaldo especially would be amazing. Hotaru Yamaguchi for the midfield.

- Mike Havenaar

- Jay Bothroyd, ~50% for the Twitter banter. 

- No one would get in our starting XI.

- Esaka

- Mateus

- Chanatip

- Olunga

- Elsinho

16. Which former Frontale player would you most like to see us re-sign?

NARA Tatsuki

And that's without my vote! I think I might go for Itakura actually as Oniki never gave him a chance. Can't imagine given the trajectory of his career that he's going to come back any time soon though. I think Oniki burnt his bridges with Nara and I wouldn't blame him if he never wanted to come back to us.

- It’s too late for Chong Tese unfortunately, so Tatsuki Nara. Better being our 3rd central defender in a big schedule season than freezing his ass in Kashima Stadium stands.

- The weird thing is that some of the most successful European exports from Frontale never really had a career here. Itakura would be terrific, for instance. Takefusa Kubo was also briefly in our setup. The biggest splash would be Hulk - as far as I can tell his return to Europe hasn't been finalized yet?

- Jeci

- Mitoma. (Joking...I hope. Okubo.)

- Best question I’ve heard in a long time. Miyoshi

- Nara Tatsuki

- Morita

- Nara Tatsuki

- Abe Hiroyuki

- Elsinho

17. What’s your prediction for next season?

Some long answers here which I will copy in full. Thoughts seem to be split between super optimism and sight pessimism. I don't like to make predictions as I'm scared of jinxes so I'm going to skip this question. I'll start with the pessimistic answers, move through medium optimsim, peak with super optimism and then put some a couple of non Frontale related things.

- It’s about time for us to shit the bed.

- The only way is down

- It will depend on how long we can keep Ao and Mitoma, but without Kengo and Morita + the ACL it’s already gonna be a complicated season. I think we will still win one trophy at the end of the season, but I don’t know which one.

- Frontale start strong, falter mid to late season, limp to victory or 2nd place in the league.  

- 2nd but depends on ACL scheduling. We saw ACL2020 teams struggle this past season because of the sheer bollocks they went through with the constant rescheduling. ACL depends on Korean teams(Ulsan look to be rebuilding, Jeonbuk look unchanged) QF should be manageable, I don’t see Chinese teams being an issue but expanded format make work against you with travel though I somewhat expect a bubble again for ACL2021. 

- ACL & J1 double, a bit of a struggle in the latter half of the season after losing Mitoma and Ao. 

- Win more than one title.

- League + one cup It would be great to win ACL but it would be difficult  

- Amazing season! 

- Shimizu will get their act together and improve

- Covid will lead to suspension of games.

18. How has Covid era football been for you?

Personally, I thought it was a lot better than I thought it was going to be. Certainly, the games lacked a bit of atmosphere but I think our fans got their act together towards the end of the season and it was quite fun and hopefully motivating for the team. I like five subs and am pleased we're keeping that for next season. And now I'll let the people speak for themselves. Here are their answers

- (FC Tokyo fan answer) Debating season ticket renewal for 2021 due to system used refunds was dreadfully slow. Not certain if things get worse but still likely to renew. Watching most of the games at home is definitely different and the few games with limited capacity I went to were so bizarrely quiet(you could hear the generators humming)

- Heartbreaking and painful

- A welcome respite from the monotony of sheltering at home.

- Interesting, lots of tv watching of soccer

- Terrible. What a grump I’ve become.

- Awful, I’ve lost a lot of enthusiasm for watching games. Cant stand watching games with 0 fans in the crowd.

- In this disgusting situation, football has been my hope. I could go to Todoroki only a few times, and I was nervous whenever I was there. Nevertheless, when I see or talk/think about football, I'm so excited and happy. I hope the situation will get better, and we can cheer and sing Avante and Vai Lá De Frontale together.

 - I miss stadiums full with supporters.

- Some interesting new discoveries including hearing the players voices on the pitch

- I didn’t attend a single game this season, but we turned game days into events with family members and cooking and lots of booze

- Sad not to be able to sing/shout but on the positive side it was good that all seats were reserved

19. What do you want Kengo to do next?

Youth team coach

Seems the majority want to keep him very much involved. I think if he gets involved in coaching there is always a danger of him tarnishing his legacy but I'm sure he's aware of this. I don't think anyone expected him to become a FRO (Frontale Relations Organizer), probably because it was a position created just for him. Very happy to see him still involved and hope he can have a nice rest whilst considering his next move. Haven't posted the multiple answers that just said youth team coach, but here are the other answers.

- Either DAZN pundit or remain as a coach to youth team. Very rare you get a player like him of such loyalty.

- Resting, coaching the kids/youth, then the 1st team

- I guess it's a foregone conclusion that he'll pursue both coaching and media work, given his gift for communication. He loves European football so it'd be nice for him to get some experience overseas as well - supposedly he majored in "English literature" at Chuo U but how much he can actually speak is uhhh an open question. haha.

- Coach Japan Olympic team

- Become a talento.

- Assistant Manager, learn from the best in the business  

-Commentator for dazn & coach of young players. In the future, after a lot of experience, Frontale head coach.

- Instructional commentator for TV for newcomers to learn about football 

- Coach and do that “Getz” pose for every Frontale goal

20. Do you welcome VAR being introduced next year?

Personally speaking, I really don't want it. The time taken to make decisions interrupts the excitement of the game and often the decisions still remain kind of baffling afterwards. Interestingly, the ref Iemoto is apparently against VAR being introduced and says that even with it, there are still differences of opinion. If the refs don't want it, (although, admittedly this is only from what one ref has said), I can't imagine it's going to be of any great benefit. I don't want to sacrifice the excitement of us scoring a goal for the knowledge that ever single offside decision in a game was 100% correct. Here's what other people said.

- Given our recent seasons, yes😂 (FC Tokyo answer)

- Hell no

- Just do it with as little fuss as possible.

- Hmmm not too sure how I feel about VAR sometimes

- No sir, I don’t.

- No way

- I hope VAR helps referees not to make mistakes, but I'm afraid VAR is too rigid.

- Yes, absolutely!

- Necessary, but a heavy burden for referees

- If used properly, yes

- Against - not be able to celebrate properly after goals

21. Any other comments

Thank you to the peoole who said nice things about my blog. I know it looks like this question is just an excuse to solicit compliments. As balance, I won't paste them here. Here are the other things people said. 

- This year has been quite hard but even if I couldn’t go to the stadium, I was lucky enough to see my favorite club crushing the other teams one after the other every 3-5 days on TV after the re-start, and it was my light in this worldwide pandemic era. So thanks to everybody at Frontale for this season.

- It was a terrible year, but at the same time, fantastic year for us Frontale fans.  

- 今年も楽しみにしています! --------- I hope Nara-chan comes back to Kawasaki :)

- It was great to get to see the Emperor’s Cup at the national stadium but the view from the first tier behind the goal wasn’t great.

Tuesday 26 January 2021

2020/2021 Players in and out


The new season is fast approaching and I still haven't really finished the posts about last season so I'd better get a move on. Here are some words about the players that have left us and have joined us, with a photo cheekily nicked from the Frontale Twitter account. I don't really know if Maguinho fits into this post anywhere as he is still our player but has extended his loan spell at Yokohama FC. As there's not a category for that, I'll just mention it here.




26 year old midfielder signed from Matsumoto Yamaga. Quite tall, which will make a change in our midfield. The internet suggests he can play anywhere through the middle from defensive midfield right up to striker. His squad number suggests that he might be doing some time in defence too perhaps. Scored nine goals in 29 games for Yamaga last year which is a pretty impressive haul. Have heard that he’s a bit of a niggly player and likes a foul but doesn’t get many cards. To be honest, we could probably do with someone like that.


Left-footed defensive midfielder signed from Nagoya Grampus. A transfer that has been held up as a bit of a coup in certain places. Played 24 times for them in the league last year and scored once, getting only a couple of yellow cards which is quite encouraging considering his position. Another player who is quite tall so it looks like we’re thinking about getting a bit more physical in midfield with the ACL in mind. Would imagine he will take Morita’s place in the anchor role.

17. KOZUKA Kazuki

Right sided attacking midfielder signed from Oita Trinita. Only played eight times for them last year, scoring once and providing one assist. His absence didn’t seem to be due to injury so make of that what you will. Perhaps he will be another signing like Shimoda was, where we sign a player from a lower finishing team who didn’t really get much playing time at his former club and then is used mainly as a sub for us. Or maybe he’ll make a claim for a starting spot. Interesting yet at the same time somehow absolutely classic Frontale signing.

19. TONO Daiya

A player who we signed last year, but immediately sent out to Avispa Fukuoka on a season long loan and he tore the place up! I think Avispa were quite disappointed to not be able to hold on to him. Only 21 so still young and came to us from Honda FC where he was considered a hot prospect. Scored 11 times in J2 last year for Avispa and got three assists. Pretty small (165cm), so probably would be played more on the wing in our 4-1-2-3 than up front in the middle, but who knows, maybe we might have some tactical flexibility next season. Quite an exciting prospect for us if he gets a chance as he’ll probably give us something different from Kobayashi or Damiao.

20. CHINEN Kei

Chinen needs no introduction to anyone apart from very new fans. He spent last season on loan at Oita where he took part in 29 games and scored three goals. I say took part because most of his appearances seemed to be as a sub. Not sure quite how much experience he will have picked up from a year on the bench at a different club but to be honest, I wasn’t really sure why we loaned him out in the first place either. Used to be very much in Oniki’s plans but drifted out of them quite dramatically. We’ll see if he’s back in them or this will be another season of frustration for him.


Was nominally with us last year but didn’t take part in any games and this will be his rookie season for us. Comes to us from Toin university and is apparently a right footed defensive midfielder. Scored twice in four Emperor’s Cup appearances in the last couple of years, but as the games were first and second round matches mainly against other universities I’m not sure how significant or useful that info is. Perhaps he’ll be the new Morita. Expect to see him at right back soon!

24. MIYAGI Ten

Frontale youth product who we saw play in a cup game at Todoroki a couple of seasons ago. Plays as a striker but to be honest I can’t remember much about the game I saw him play in. The internet tells me he is a left winger/attacker, so the new Manabu perhaps ie. will spend most of the season waiting for an opportunity behind Mitoma and Hasegawa and maybe Hatate in the pecking order. Or perhaps not, maybe he’ll be this year’s Mitoma. Spent last season on loan at Kataller Toyama where he played 20 times and got three goals and five assists which seems a pretty decent first season in professional football.

30. TANABE Shuto

Another defensive signing! Which is very welcome, but maybe he’s going to be this season’s Kamiya, in other words, completely unused. Only 18 years old and a centre back, which let’s be honest is an area we’re very short in. Comes from the same Shizuoka Gakuen school that Oshima and Hasegawa did which has got to be a good sign, hasn’t it?

40. Kyung-Tae LEE

Joined us last year from Fagiano Okayama after Fujishima left us. With very little rotation in between the sticks last year it is unsurprising that he didn’t get a chance. It’s a lazy comparison but the fact that he’s Korean might suggest he is the long term replacement for Sung-Ryong, but the comparison is so lazy that it is based on absolutely nothing other than his nationality. Pretty much the only other thing I can say for sure about him is that he’s a goalkeeper.



MORITA Hidemasa
The first of this current generation of players to fly the nest and try his luck in Europe. Really pleased he’s transferred to a decent enough looking mid-table Portuguese top flight team rather than a Swiss second tier team. Whether he gets much pitch time, we’ll see, but of course we wish him all the best in Portugal and his spot will be a tricky one to fill as he really upped his performances in 2020. Good luck! (Started, scored and got man of the match in his first game in Portugal! Bravo!)

SAITO Manabu
In spite of having reasonable success with us never quite managed live up to the hype as he struggled to get back to his previous form after his serious injury. Was well loved by the supporters and his fellow players and seemed like he was just a great guy. Transferred to Nagoya where he’ll link up with Abe. Sadly, they play in the same position, so perhaps he’s moving from one team packed with left sided attackers to another. Wish him all the best.

Fujishima’s time with us was mainly spent injured. When he did recover he was another victim of the complete lock that Sung-Ryong had on the starting keeper spot. Transferred to Montedio Yamagata mid 2020 season and actually played some games. They have just signed another keeper though so we’ll see what happens. As with many of our players, seemed like a nice guy, so good luck to him!

Can totally understand him leaving as since he transferred from Shonan a few years ago has been something of a bit part player, always ready to step in but never quite getting the chance. Even with 5 subs he was only really playing a few minutes at the end of games at the most. Great set piece taker and feel like we never quite saw the best of him. Had the best player song too, so it’s a shame to see that one go. Good luck to him at Oita!


Going out on loan to the newly promoted Tokushima Vortis for a year. Pleased that it’s a J1 club but not sure quite what happened as he seemed to be in and around the team early last season but then kind of disappeared. Needs more pitch time to show us what he can do and hopefully he can get this at Tokushima. Feel like he’s still one with a future with us and hope he gets games.

Looked like he might have been about to get a chance to play some minutes towards the end of the season but it didn’t happen as Oniki just carried on with the same players. Going on loan for a season to Gainare Tottori, which is a bit of a shock as it’s a big drop to J3, but hopefully he’ll be able to get some pitch time finally and show us what he can do, albeit from quite a distance away.


Never really got much of a chance in 2020 which was a shame so I can totally understand him returning to his parent club in Brazil. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him pop up with another club in the J League and become a regular starter. Though perhaps that will be in post COVID days if they ever materialize. Was hampered by Yamane’s great season but I really felt he offered something different and was great from set pieces so of course wish him well.


Plenty of appearances for Matsumoto Yamaga last season and is now moving on to Jubilo Iwata. Felt like he offered something but was played at right back too much for us and never quite got a fair crack to play in his preferred right wing position. Good luck!

Returned from a disappointing season on loan at Shonan where he hardly got a chance and now permanently transfered to Omiya Ardijia where hopefully he will get more of a chance. Clearly wasn’t fancied by Oniki. Good luck!

William POPP
Got plenty of time on the pitch last year with Fagaino Okayama and has now transferred to Oita Trinita permanently. Always felt like he could be our long term first choice keeper but seems I was wrong. Good luck!


Signed with a bit of a fanfare amid great competition from other clubs. Always seemed like a great ‘mood maker’ but that was the extent of his involvement for us. Perhaps made the bench once if I recall correctly. Went on successive season long loans to Gifu (where he hardy played) and Gamba Osaka U23 (where he played a lot in a quite leaky defence). Delighted I finally got to see him play for Gamba U23 against Kagoshima after going to Gifu and him not being involved. Not so delighted for him that his team conceded 6 goals that day. Now has a permanent move to Mito where hopefully he can finally get his career going properly. Good luck!


Made a few appearances a couple of years ago before being loaned out to V-Varen Nagasaki. Seemed very popular there and was mentioned in a few places as being their player of the season in 2020. Therefore it didn't come as much of a surprise to hear that he has joined them permanently. Good luck to him!



Honestly, there’s not much point me writing much here. A total legend has retired and will now be a FRO, (Frontale Relations Organiser), which I guess is a good way to keep him around the club without him having to commit too much time. His experience and aura will be useful I think. Good luck to him in his retirement and hopefully he will still be able to contribute plenty to the club in his new role.

Thursday 14 January 2021

2020 Season Player Round-Up Part 3

Today, the final part of the player 2020 season round ups from Ando to Ienaga with a bonus Oniki thrown in at the end.

24. Shunsuke ANDO (GK)

Ando continues in his role as the nearly man of Frontale goalkeepers. Each year our keeper line up changes, but Ando remains in his usual uncertain position in the pecking order. Had a few games on the bench earlier this year but then it seemed that Tanno became the established second choice. No injuries to Sung-Ryong meant that no-one else got a chance. Apparently Ando always travels with the team as the emergency keeper. Hope he doesn't mind doing this and isn’t getting too frustrated.

25. Ao TANAKA (MF)

One of my candidates for player of the season. Another great season for him and I’m worried that it will only be a matter of time till he will be attracting plenty of attention from potential suitors. Love his enthusiasm and the fact that on the rare occasions he makes an error, every single time he seems to make up for it and win the ball back. Seems impossible to knock him of the ball which is surprising as he doesn’t look like a particularly big player. Started taking some great set pieces and scoring more goals and has showed that he’s equally able to play in an attacking midfield spot as well as the anchor role. Also just seems like a really nice guy. Delighted he was in the J League team of the year. Well deserved.

26. Kaito KAMIYA (DF)

Even in the midst of a defensive crisis he didn’t even make the bench. I’m sorry if I cursed him by buying his towel. Hopefully one for the future. 

27. Kenta TANNO (MF)

Made it onto the pitch once, starting away at Kashima in the Levain cup group stage where he played pretty well but was unlucky to concede a couple of times at the end of the game when it looked like we were trying to throw the game away. Was foiled perhaps not only by Sung-Ryong’s consistency but also by the lack of Levain games where we might normally expect to rotate a little. Perhaps will have more of a chance next year.

28. Koki HARADA (MF)

A young midfielder with plenty of promise apparently who was cursed to be in a squad with a glut of midfielders. On Twitter it started to look like we might see him late on in the season but Oniki didn’t do it for whatever reason. Going to Gainare Tottori on loan next year which seems a bit random to me but I guess he’ll at least play there. Good luck!

30. Reo HATATE (FW)

Great season for him, although slightly overshadowed by Mitoma (but who wasn’t?). Seemed like he was preferred to Mitoma early on in the season but he didn’t quite kick on until Mitoma had started tearing the place up. Once he got his first goal he seemed to relax and started playing a lot better. Very adaptable. Was played on the left, the right, back in midfield and finally at left back and did a great job in all of those positions. Five goals and six assists from seventeen starts are pretty nice stats and I think he’ll only go from strength to strength in 2021.


See what I wrote about Harada but ignore all the bits about almost playing or perhaps playing next season. Very much an unknown quantity!

34. Kazuya YAMAMURA (MF)

Has been linked with clubs that are interested in taking away from us and who could blame him for leaving if he decided to. Nominally a midfielder but his versatility has counted against him as he’s more often than not been used as a substitute to cover a few positions. When he scored everyone was delighted and this was amplified when it was revealed what a difficult year it had been for him on a personal level. I wonder if he will ever get a chance to play further up the pitch for us or whether he’ll always be used at the back. Or rather always be used as cover for the back. Sure he has something to offer further up the pitch as we could see from the finish for his goal. And did well enough at the back when be was called on to cover there.

41. Akihiro IENAGA (MF)

Another great season from the wily old Ienaga. Scored a lot this year and twelve goals and four assists from 29 starts is a more than decent return for him. The fans love his attitude and his skills. I also do, but I particularly love the way he holds off players at arm's length who have the cheek to try to get the ball off of him. Had a few games where he seemed to be slightly miscalibrated with everything a little bit off but then when he came back after a break was back to his best. Well deserved member of the J League team of the year.

Toru ONIKI (manager)

You can’t complain about him too much when we broke so many records and played such nice football! Definitely seemed to have learned some lessons from our horrific 2019 season where we bored ourselves to tears whilst achieving nothing at all. The change to a more attacking way of play was very welcome. He also seemed to be rotating a bit more at the start of the season. He did seem to stop doing this halfway through though and once again we seemed to be just going with our best eleven and the same subs. Has definitely been helped by us having some great players and avoiding major injuries and suspensions. We’ll see how he manages an ACL season next year as the last two campaigns have been disappointing to say the least. But I should probably stop bringing negative points in as he is a hugely successful manager for us and I guess one of the most successful managers in the J League now.

Wednesday 13 January 2021

2020 Season Player Round-Up Part 2

Today, part two of the end of season player round up, from Yamane to Fujishima.


13. Miki YAMANE (DF)

Something of a revelation going forward this year and finally someone has managed to make our right back spot his own since Elsinho left. Definitely causes me some anxiety in defence though, although perhaps we haven’t been caught out there too much. Spends an astonishing amount of time in the final third of the field for a right back and at times seemed to be in the middle waiting for the ball from a striker who was playing on the right. Honestly can’t believe he played as a centre back at Shonan! Clearly he’s a striker at heart. Can’t help but love his desire to head towards the opposition goal at high speed and to shoot at every opportunity. Deserved member of the J League team of the year.

14. Kengo NAKAMURA (MF)

What can you say about Kengo? Fantastic achievement to come back from a horrible injury and take part in what was to be his last season. Proved he still had something to offer with some occasional appearances but probably decided to call it quits at the right time. Seven starts and seven sub appearances clearly made a quiet season for him but two goals and three assists from that is pretty good isn’t it? Delighted he sealed his comeback with a goal and then sealed his final home league appearance with an assist for his friend Kobayashi. One club man and total legend. Bit of a shame that he couldn’t get onto the pitch for the Emperor’s Cup final to crown things off perfectly but Oniki had his reasons and Kengo didn’t seem too bothered. Hopefully he’ll still be involved with the club in some way.

15. Zain ISSAKA (MF)

Who knows? Was looking forward to seeing him but had no involvement at all, not even making the bench like a few others.

16. Tatsuya HASEGAWA (MF)

Started the season on fire and then picked up a weird injury that didn’t seem serious but took absolutely ages for him to recover from. Seemed to be training again quite soon afterwards but didn’t get anywhere back near the squad till quite late in the season by which time he had been eclipsed by Mitoma and had understandably lost the early season good form he’d had. Seemed like his combination with Damiao at the start of the year was really working. Five goals from ten starts was great and was playing some of the best football we’ve seen from him. But after the injury seemed pretty flat. Hopefully can come storming back in 2021.


What might have been really. Yamane’s great first season meant that Diogo was barely given a sniff and understandably he has now returned to Brazil. Feel bad for him as I gave him man of the match for the game he started as he offered something quite different. Seemed much more like a traditional winger. Great crosser and set piece taker but we hardly used him at all. Good luck to him.

18. Kaoru MITOMA (MF)

Plenty has been written about Mitoma’s 2020 season and plenty of that has been by me on this blog. Had an amazing impact and really stood out in a team where everybody was playing well. His directness was exciting, his ‘nuru-nuru’ sticky dribbling was exhilarating and he always seemed very willing to have a shot. Sometimes did all the hard work and then messed up the final easy pass but this is merely nit-picking when you consider how important he was for us. And towards the end of the season he seemed to be unbelievably unselfishly setting up people for fun, even when he needed a goal to equal the rookie season top scorer record which was pretty big of him I thought. Top of the assist chart and second top of the goals chart is a pretty impressive debut season achievement. Some people think that he was robbed of the MVP title and I have some sympathy with this, and of course he made it into the team of the year. Clearly wants to move overseas and I suspect it will happen soon, but hopefully we can get at least another half a season out of him before we send him on his way with our best wishes (and presumably no financial compensation).

19. Manabu SAITO (MF)

Another what could have been season for Manabu perhaps. It didn’t look good for him at the start of the year with Hasegawa and Mitoma ahead of him in the pecking order on the left. Hasegawa’s injury gave him a bit of a chance, but the season went the way that Manabu’s career with us has gone. Clearly after his big injury he hasn’t been able to get back his old form and perhaps with so much competition in our squad he was never going to get the chance to play himself into some form. Hope he can do that at Nagoya. Was well loved by the fans who all wanted him to get back to his best but it didn’t quite happen. Two goals and four assist from 13 starts in a season that we are categorizing as a bit of a quiet one is alright though isn’t it? Good luck Manabu!

20. Taisei MIYASHIRO (FW)

Not sure what happened with Miyashiro. This looked like it was going to be the year he got more of a chance with Chinen out on loan and only Damiao and Kobayashi ahead of him in up front. But only started four games and (can’t remember exactly but maybe...) these starts were mainly on the right anyway. Much like Chinen in 2019, he seemed to be involved early on in the season and then kind of disappeared after a few months to never be seen again. With Mitoma and Hatate blazing their own trails ahead of him it was great that Miyashiro managed to score a couple of times and I think he would have had a few more with a few more chances. Particularly weird he didn’t get more opportunities given that Damiao and Kobayashi weren’t exactly tearing the place up. Guess though that with only one player being able to play in the central striker position it was probably always going to be one of Kobayashi and Damiao starting and then the other one replacing them. Going on loan next year to Tokushima so hopefully he can get going there and come back the following year and stake a claim for himself.

22. Hokuto SHIMODA (MF)

I’m sure we’re all sad to see him leaving us for Oita but can totally understand why he might want to move on with only six starts and nine sub appearances in a team that is packed with younger upcoming midfielders. Always great from a dead ball situation and had one of the best songs (I think). Thank you for your service, hope you enjoyed it, sorry you didn’t get more of a chance and good luck at Oita!

23. Eisuke FUJISHIMA (GK)

In a season where the keeper spot was the one of the most predictable and fixed, (and he was at the bottom of a pile of four), it made sense for Fujishima to move on to Montedio where he established himself as their first choice keeper. Very pleased he could do this after a horrible injury. Sorry he never got a chance for us.

Tuesday 12 January 2021

2020 Season Player Round-Up Part 1

This is the first part of my end of season player round-up. Today, squad numbers 1-11. Sorry for the lack of effort this year. The Corona football schedule was so relentless that I have been a bit slack about doing these end of season posts and now I have finally got round to doing them I've rushed them out a bit. Hopefully they are still of some worth though. Fingers crossed we can have a bit more of a regular season in 2021. Although to be honest, it doesn't look like it's going to be, does it?

1. Sung-Ryong JUNG (GK)

Great season for our number one. At the end of last year it looked like Oniki had gone off him and that we might be expecting a change between the sticks but perhaps the departure of Arai sealed Sung-Ryong’s position. Apart from Sung-Ryong only Tanno has played in goal for us this year and that was only for one game. Delighted he won a spot in the J League team of the year. Disappointed for him that he wasn’t able to end up with a better defensive record than Nagoya's but when you consider the two sides playing styles it’s probably not that surprising. Made the occasional error as anyone would and was let down by his defence on a few occasions but this season will mainly be remembered for some absolutely amazing saves. Pleased he’s signed on again for next year, but think we’ll probably have to rotate a little given that hectic schedule we’ll have.



Another player selected in the J League team of the year and 2020 saw Nobori really nail down the left back position. At the start of the year I thought that Kurumaya could have felt a bit unlucky to not be playing more but you can’t say Nobori didn’t have a stormer this year. Kind of the opposite to Yamane on the other side, Nobori did everything expected of him at the back rather than going forwards. Could feel perhaps a little unfortunate to not have scored this year when almost everyone else did, but in spite of the words to his song, it never seems that likely that he will ‘get goal’ but he did weigh in with plenty of assists. Maybe his best season for ages, if ever.


Definitely one of my players of the season. Taniguchi often gets the plaudits and it seems is preferred by Oniki, but without Jesiel we would have got into a big old mess at the back. Loved his tactic of charging out of defence to stop attacks at their start. Particularly enjoyed him racing to the halfway line and fairly cleaning out Furuhashi time after time in one game against Kobe. Also had a few exciting charges forward with the ball towards the end of the season. The goals he scored were crucial and in one game rescued three points for us. Extremely important player for us and without him we’d be in a lot of trouble. Deserved member of the J League team of the year.


A good year for our captain who formed a great partnership with Jesiel at the back. We finished the year with the second best defensive record and when you consider how attacking we were this is even more impressive. Scored a few goals which were important and played a hell of a lot of minutes. Still occasionally prone to the odd clanger here and there (notably the red card against Oita, I guess), but this seems to be happening a lot less frequently than it did so full credit for that. Another J League team of the year member.

6. Hidemasa MORITA (MF)

This one is a bit sad, as now he has moved on to Santa Clara in the Portuguese league. Guess it was inevitable though as this was definitely his best ever season for us. Was always in or around the starting line up but when he finally began to start games in the anchor role he really made it his own and will be difficult to replace. Strong in the challenge and good with his passing. Stopped trying the tricks that he used to do when he was in a good mood and this is all the better I think as it means he made fewer errors. Very difficult to get the ball off of and finally managed to score again towards the end of the season, after which he seemed to want to score at every opportunity. Naturally was another member of the J League team of the year. Wish him all the best with his new team and if he ever comes back to Japan would be delighted to have him back. Hope we have at least some kind of clause in his contract that will get us at least something from his progress. As this is the J League, presumably we haven’t.

7. Shintaro KURUMAYA (DF)

Difficult season for the player who was our first choice left back in recent seasons. Seems his flexibility is his downfall, as I guess Oniki liked to have him on the bench to cover both the left back and centre back spots. Saying that, he didn’t really stake a strong claim to be the first choice left back when he did have his chances. Didn’t particularly do anything wrong but Nobori was outshining him. I wonder how he feels at the end of the year? It seems Oniki clearly favours Nobori. I really like Kurumaya though so I hope he wants to stay with us and make a case for a starting spot. The fact that Hatate seemed to be ahead of him in the left back pecking order at the end of the season is a bit worrying for many reasons. Guess he could have still been slightly injured or unfit. I hope so, as otherwise I can’t imagine he’ll want to hang around. Fingers crossed he does.

8. Yasuto WAKIZAKA (MF)

Mixed season for our number 8. Didn’t have quite as much of a splash as he did in 2019 but he was surrounded by some pretty impressive midfielders. Four goals and six assists is a good return, but at the end of the season it seemed that our preferred midfield three were Morita, Oshima and Tanaka, and that Wakizaka had dropped to a supporting role. Decent set piece taker and clearly still developing as a player. Perhaps went under the radar a little in some games though and didn’t really stand out in the way that Tanaka and Morita did. Then again, the same thing could be said about Oshima and he’s a legend, so maybe I should be paying more attention. Interested to see how he does in 2021.


14 goals looks pretty good. Sadly for him as a striker he’s got Mitoma and Kobayashi ahead of him in the goal scoring chart, so could perhaps be considered unlucky to find himself in a team where so many players are scoring. Think that the assists column is more significant and a part of his game that is often overlooked. Six assists is pretty good for a goal scoring front man. Also did loads of hassling and chasing down keepers and defenders and get kicked around a bit for his troubles. Started the year on an absolute bicycle kick frenzy but this later progressed to a preference for always trying for a backheel goal instead. Feel that he’s a bit unlucky sometimes with things that don’t go his way. But then that also seemed to be the case with Kobayashi when he started up front. Sad that he won’t get another opportunity to play with Diogo as I think the combination of Diogo’s crosses and Damiao’s finishing would have got us a lot of goals. Guess Oniki didn’t think the same. It’s telling though that when a decent cross was put in for him he absolutely buried it (against Gamba, I think). Ran out of steam a little at the end of the season when due to Kobayashi’s injury he wasn’t being rotated as much and probably got a bit knackered. Fingers crossed for 2021.

10. Ryota OSHIMA (MF)

Relatively quiet season for a player who always goes a bit under the radar for me somehow. If he’s playing well I don’t notice him for some reason. Our midfield spaces were hotly contested this year but I think everyone would agree that our best three were Oshima, Tanaka and Morita. Oshima didn’t make the J League team of the year which maybe suggests he had a quiet year, perhaps due to the usual absences due to injury. Still managed eight assists though (our second best assister/assistant/provider). The red card for two yellows away against Nagoya was pretty weird for him and I seem to remember that he was perhaps a touch unlucky to get it. Hopefully he can remind us how great he is next year.


Much like Damiao, did the business but was overshadowed a bit. Finished our top scorer and didn’t play as many games as Damiao, but an injury and the problem that our main starting striker never really seemed to score perhaps held him back a bit. My 2020 Kobayashi moment has to be his big contribution to the comeback away at Vegalta Sendai. We were a total mess in that game till he came on and did the business. He probably won’t like me suggesting it, but I feel like he could definitely do a job on the right of a front three with Damiao in the middle, but I’ve been saying that for ages and I think it only happened once this year so obviously Oniki disagrees. Seemed utterly distraught at Kengo’s farewell ceremony so perhaps the impending departure was playing on his mind a bit this year. Will be interesting to see how he starts 2021.

Sunday 10 January 2021

2020 season round up: Player stats

Today, player stats. There's probably not a great deal of surprising information here to be honest as we've been able to notice most things as they've happened this year. However, one notable point is that considering the packed schedule in 2020 it's something of a surprise to notice how few players we've used. There was a bit more rotation this year than previously, but there were still quite a few players who never even made it to the match day squad let alone the pitch, even when we were short in their position. We spread the goals around a lot this year but if you look at the top five the numbers do drop off after number four. But then again, the top four did score a LOT of goals so that's to be expected. Assists seem to be coming from all over the pitch with lots of players tied for third place. The fact that Mitoma came second top for goals and top for assists suggests that if he does leave we're going to have a big gap to fill. Some might say that he should have won J League MVP... From the appearance chart it's clear that we didn't change the backline much in 2020. I don't think we will have the luxury to play the same back four every game next year so work is needed in that department in the transfer window. We came close to wobbling when we had suspensions for Taniguchi and Jesiel. An injury at those times would really have put a spanner in the works. But this consistency at the back might have contributed to our decent defensive record I guess. Can't really complain much about our disciplinary record. We didn't get that many bookings as I don't think we're that kind of team. It was a bit of a surprise for me to see that Jesiel only got 4 yellows and received a suspension. Seems a bit harsh over the course of a 34 game season. I will also say though that our good disciplinary record might be influenced by 2020 referees reluctance to book players. I think this went against us more than it went in favour of us in 2020 but of course I would say that. Will be interesting to see if it was a one off loosening of the regulations with the stress of a packed COVID ravaged schedule in mind or whether the laxness will be back in 2021. Horrifically we have VAR coming next year so refs will have double the opportunities to make horrendous errors... Finally, my man of the match award totals. I always say that these are awarded slightly randomly and often ridiculously. Mount Fuji got it at the Shimizu away game this year if you needed any proof of this. But looking back on the season I can't say that I can argue with the fact that Jesiel and Morita jointly took the top spot, closely followed by Mitoma and Sung-Ryong with Ao sneaking in to fifth place. On the J Talk podcast I said my top three players of the year were Jesiel, Ao and Mitoma, so the fact that my man of the match awards kind of bear this out makes me feel quite relieved. Oh and sorry these posts aren't more visually gratifying. This wasn't a great season for good photos and I'm trying to get all of these posts out of the way as quickly as possible to be honest. Sorry!

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 40 SB 0 US 0 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 4

ST 29 SB 4 US 4 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 6 MM 0

ST 35 SB 0 US 0 Y 4 R 0 G 3 A 0 MM 5

ST 34 SB 2 US 1 Y 1 R 1 G 3 A 1 MM 1

6. Hidemasa MORITA (MF)
ST 27 SB 10 US 2 Y 3 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 5

7. Shintaro KURUMAYA (DF)
ST 13 SB 13 US 9 Y 3 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 0

8. Yasuto WAKIZAKA (MF)
ST 27 SB 9 US 1 Y 2 R 0 G 4 A 6 MM 0

ST 26 SB 14 US 0 Y 1 R 0 G 14 A 6 MM 1

10. Ryota OSHIMA (MF)
ST 20 SB 9 US 0 Y 1 R 1* G 3 A 8 MM 2

ST 15 SB 18 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 18 A 4 MM 1

13. Miki YAMANE (DF)
ST 37 SB 0 US 0 Y 2 R 0 G 4 A 6 MM 1

14. Kengo NAKAMURA (MF)
ST 7 SB 7 US 3 Y 0 R 0 G 2 A 3 MM 2

15. Zain ISSAKA (MF)
ST 0 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

16. Tatsuya HASEGAWA (MF)
ST 10 SB 5 US 0 Y 1 R 0 G 5 A 0 MM 1

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

18. Kaoru MITOMA (MF)
ST 14 SB 22 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 17 A 13 MM 4

19. Manabu SAITO (MF)
ST 13 SB 14 US 2 Y 0 R 0 G 2 A 4 MM 0

20. Taisei MIYASHIRO (FW)
ST 4 SB 16 US 6 Y 1 R 0 G 2 A 2 MM 0

22. Hokuto SHIMODA (MF)
ST 6 SB 9 US 7 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 2 MM 1

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 6 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

25. Ao TANAKA (MF)
ST 28 SB 9 US 3 Y 2 R 0 G 6 A 1 MM 3

26. Kaito KAMIYA (DF)
ST 0 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

27. Kenta TANNO (MF)
ST 1 SB 0 US 35 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

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

30. Reo HATATE (FW)
ST 17 SB 20 US 2 Y 0 R 0 G 5 A 6 MM 2

ST 0 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

34. Kazuya YAMAMURA (MF)
ST 6 SB 7 US 6 Y 1 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 1

40. Kyung Tae LEE (GK)
ST 0 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

41. Akihiro IENAGA (MF)
ST 29 SB 4 US 1 Y 2 R 0 G 12 A 4 MM 3

* Red card was 2 yellow cards

Most Goals

1. KOBAYASHI Yu - 18
2. MITOMA Kaoru - 17
4. IENAGA Akihiro - 12
5. TANAKA Ao - 6

Most Assists

1. MITOMA Kaoru - 13
2. OSHIMA Ryota - 8
3. HATATE Reo - 6
3. NOBORIZATO Kyohei - 6
3. WAKIZAKA Yasuto - 6
3. YAMANE Miki - 6

Most Starts

1. JUNG Sung-Ryong - 40
2. YAMANE Miki - 37
3. JESIEL - 35
4. TANIGUCHI Shogo - 34
5. IENAGA Akihiro - 29
5. NOBORIZATO Kyohei  - 29

Most Man Of The Match awards

1. JESIEL - 5
1. MORITA Hidemasa - 5
2. JUNG Sung-Ryong - 4
2. MITOMA Kaoru - 4
5. IENAGA Akihiro - 3
5. TANAKA Ao - 3

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

1. JESIEL - 4
2. MORITA Hidemasa - 3
2. KURUMAYA Shintaro - 3
4. IENAGA Akihiro - 2
4. TANAKA Ao - 2
4. YAMANE Miki - 2

Most Red Cards

1. TANIGUCHI Shogo - 1
1. OSHIMA Ryota - 1

Saturday 9 January 2021

2020 season survey

Here is the 4th annual Frontale Rabbit Blog survey. Once again, the questions are not exactly thrillingly original. In fact most of them are still the same as last year but there are a couple of new ones this time.  If you have any questions you think I should add, please let me know and I'll put them in. Please reply any way you want. Leave a comment on the post, send me an email to frontalefan(at)gmail(dot)com, tweet them, instagram message me…. any way you can think of really. I'll follow up collating the answers when I've (hopefully) got a few responses. And in the interest of getting as many replies as possible, it's in Japanese too. Thanks!

Frontale Rabbitブログの年末恒例アンケートも4年目になりました。質問は昨年とほぼ同じですが、これ以外にも聞いたらおもしろいと思う質問があったらお知らせください。返答方法は自由 - ブログコメント欄、メール(frontalefan(at)gmail(dot)com)、ツイート、Instagramのメッセージなど。返答が集まったら結果を報告します!


1. Game of season

2. Player of the season

3. Goal of the season

4. Disappointment of the season

5. Villain of the season (anyone, from any team or an official or...)

6. Best away trip (if you've done one)

7. Best stadium in the J League

8. Opposition J1 team you like the most

9. Opposition J1 team you like the least

10. Team you're pleased to see come up

11. Best thing about the J League

12. Worst thing about the J League

13. Trophy you would like to win the most next year

14. What’s your view of Oniki?

15. If you could have any J League player sign for Frontale, who would it be?

16. Which former Frontale player would you most like to see us re-sign?

17. What’s your prediction for next season?

18. How has Covid era football been for you?

19. What do you want Kengo to do next?

20. Do you welcome VAR being introduced next year?

21. Any other comments

Thursday 7 January 2021

2020 season round up: Ref stats

Here are my usual annual ref stats, as useless as usual, but still interesting for me. The categories seem quite straightforward, apart perhaps from average cards per game. For this one I'm assigning a count of one point for a yellow and three for a red, adding up the total and dividing the number of games refereed by this total in order somehow to work out who is most card happy. There seemed to be a lot less cards given this year but Iida, Ikeuchi, Kasahara and Ueda seem to have not forgotten where they put them. Given our great results this year the points per game stands at a perfect 3 for quite a few refs. Ignoring those who've only reffed one game, I'd say our current favourites should be Araki, Iida, Kimura and Tojo. It will come as no surprise to see that Nishimura is consistently one of the worst refs for us, along with Sato, and Kasahara who just loves to send Taniguchi off. We'll see if he does that again next year. 


G - Games refereed
W - Wins
D - Draws
L - Losses
Y - Yellow Cards
R - Red Cards
AVC - Average number of cards per game (yellow = 1, red = 3)
AVP - Average points for us per game


G 3 W 3 D 0 L 0 Y 1 R 0 
AVC 0.33 AVP 3

G 3 W 2 D 1 L 0 Y 0 R 0
AVC 0 AVP 2.33

G 3 W 2 D 1 L 0 Y 1 R 0
AVC 0.33 AVP 2.33

G 2 W 2 D 1 L 0 Y 5 R 0
AVC 2.5 AVP 3

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

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

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

G 7 W 6 D 1 L 0 Y 4 R 0
AVC 0.57 AVP 2.7

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

G 5 W 3 D 0 L 2 Y 1 R 0
AVC 0.2 AVP 1.8

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

G 4 W 2 D 1 L 1 Y 4 R 0
AVC 1 AVP 1.75

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

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

G 3 W 3 D 0 L 0 Y 2 R 0
AVC 0.66 AVP 3

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

G 1 W 1 D 0 L 0 Y 0 R 0
AVC 0 AVP 3 

Saturday 2 January 2021

Vs Gamba Osaka 1/1/21 - Emperor's Cup final

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 0 Gamba Osaka

We’ve done the double! And we’ve won the Emperor’s Cup for the first time in our history. All in all, a pretty good year! Although if we want to be ultra greedy, we could say that we missed a great chance to do the treble by losing against FC Tokyo in the Levain Cup. Whichever way you look at it though, I’m quite pleased we’ve finally reached the end of this intense season. After this blog post I’ll do a brief season round-up with some transfer news, a player by player season round-up post and my usual Frontale fan survey, although perhaps the answers to that will be a bit vaguer this year given that everything seems to have merged into one big blob and we also haven’t been able to watch as many matches in person as we might have liked. And then we can all have a bit of a rest. Although not much of a rest as the new season is already breathing down our neck a little as it will be starting late next month (I think). There will definitely be plenty of off the pitch action between now and then and with that in mind, let’s get this blog post done as quickly as possible. Here are some bullet points on what was a historic day for a few reasons.

The stadium! -

Perhaps one of the highlights of reaching the Emperor’s Cup final was the opportunity to play at the new national stadium. If the 2020 Olympics had already happened perhaps more people would already be familiar with this massive new structure. But given their postponement, holding the final here gave us an opportunity to join the club of people who’d had a look inside it before it was able to host the reason for its construction. From the outside it looked great with quite a lot of greenery up the side of the multi layered edifice. In a normal year the area outside the stadium would probably have been full of opportunities to spend money on refreshments or goods. Given the influence of a certain virus on everything it was basically just an empty space with a couple of slightly bizarre sponsor related stalls. I wondered why lots of people were queuing up at one and when I investigated found out that they were in line to ‘win’ a box of plasters and decided it would be better to just go inside. Inside, the concourses were pretty spacious and the toilet facilities were pretty generous. There was a huge line of people waiting for the gents at half time but there was an almost empty second lot of toilets on the floor below. The strange way the tickets were sold for this event (with the sales being promptly stopped as the number of Covid cases rocketed) seemed to have left large areas of the stand unfilled. Not sure why the central area behind the goal was one of those to be honest, as either side it was pretty busy with us all the required one seat apart from each other. Out of the 16000 or so tickets that were sold, it seemed that only around 3000 people had decided to either get a refund or not attend. Of course people didn’t want to miss this and to briefly lapse into something political, I’d say that as long as the government continues being pretty wishy-washy with its advice people will continue to wishy-washily follow it. The instructions to us earlier in the year were a lot clearer and stricter when the number of cases was significantly lower. I wonder if things will be tightened up again soon. The new year period of inactivity and closed doctors’ surgeries will probably result in another huge figure once things are open again. Whether that will cause a rethink in policy I don’t know. Anyway, back to the stadium, the pitch looked quite small and very distant, but to slightly paraphrase an episode of Father Ted, this pitch here looks big, and that one looks small because it’s a long long way away. To be fair, it didn’t look so bad from the seats, but from the concourse the distance seemed bigger than at other track stadiums. Anther potential problem might be the sun. I think Gamba decided to change ends before the match thinking that they could take advantage of Sung-Ryong having the sun in his eyes in the second half. As it was, I don’t think it was too bad for him, but as a spectator, it was pretty difficult to see anything that was going on without shielding your eyes. Combine this with the distance and I think you’ll start to understand why my comments on the actual game are so vague.

The game! -

Very sunny, couldn’t see… Well I could see us having loads and loads of shots most of which were either straight at their keeper or well off target. Going in at half time with 65% possession and 12 shots to Gamba’s 2 should have suggested that we were well on top. And I guess we were, but only from the point of view of stats, as we had hardly troubled Higashiguchi and had even let the ball go into our net on one occasion. Sitting approximately 150m and directly behind the offside decision I can definitely say that it was clearly offside… Apparently the officials did get it right though. Perhaps for the wrong reason, as I reckon the linesman might have signaled offside for a different player, but the fact is that if we had VAR (and praise the lord we don’t, but take back that praise for the lord as we will have soon I think), the goal would have been ruled out… after about 5 minutes of consultation with everybody in the ground just socially distantly chatting amongst themselves and twiddling their thumbs. Actually, if we had VAR and it was being done by the usual refs we get in these games it probably would have actually been incorrectly given, I guess. But there’s not really any use endlessly writing sentences about a non goal that wasn’t given so I’ll stop that now. Aside from this chance Gamba did pretty much nothing in the first half or for most of the second half. Apparently they came with a tactic that they’d sit back, soak up pressure and try to hit us on the break. Not sure why they were time-wasting so much though. Unless they were playing for penalties. Our goal caused a bit of a change of plan for them, but to be honest, still nothing much was happening for them till the last 10 or 15 minutes. I’ll gloss over this period as we were really under the cosh and it was quite uncomfortable watching. I wonder if they’d come and tried to be a bit more attacking they might have done a bit better. At the same time, I totally understand why any team would try to play spoiling tactics against us, particularly one that we beat 5-0 in our previous encounter. The tactics are perfectly justified but didn’t exactly make for an exciting game. As I said above though, if we hadn’t been quite so off target this could have been a very different game. We ended the match with 26 shots but it was only necessary for Higashiguchi to have any involvement in a small number of them and for maybe half of those his involvement was comfortably catching a ball that was softly patted directly into his gloves. Annoyingly he did make some very good saves for the other half of our chances though. Some might say he should have been the goalie in the J League team of the year. Actually it seems that everyone says it should have been anyone apart from Sung-Ryong, but I’m not going to argue against our nice guy in between the sticks getting it. Oh, I should say, nice finish Kaoru for the winner, but equally, a lovely assist from Damiao and I think that’s something that often gets overlooked when people are looking at our number 9’s performances. Oh, and Patric goes down pretty easily for a big guy doesn’t he? That is when he’s not shoving people off the ball after the half time whistle. 

The snub! -

This game was set up to be Kengo’s curtain call. Apparently there was a lot of footage of him warming up shown on the TV feed during the game. We were all prepared for him to come on for the last 5 or 10 minutes and take his final bow in what has been a great career with what we now know was a fairytale ending. But as any connoisseur of fairy tales knows, every fairy tale needs to have a big bad wolf. Step forward Oniki! It’s been a while since I’ve been able to moan about our great leader but I think he deserves a bit of a bashing on this occasion. 100%, winning the trophy is more important that any kind of niceties and compassion, but Oniki’s use of Kengo has been a bit confusing recently. It seemed slightly strange that in his last home league game he was played for 90 minutes. I thought that most managers might have withdrawn him a few minutes from the end to let him have a standing ovation, particularly as the result was pretty much settled at that stage. Perhaps he wanted to have one final 90 minutes though. Against Blaublitz in the semi-final we had a five minute cameo for Kengo to get some more claps and say goodbye to Todoroki one more time. In this game, we imagined the same thing would happen again but it wasn’t to be the case. I’m not really sure we needed to change Oshima for Wakizaka in the 89th minute. If Oshima needed to be changed, I’m not sure why it couldn’t have been Kengo. Or perhaps with us potentially having the thought of conceding and going to extra time lingering in the back of any of our pessimistic minds, why, if Oniki didn’t fancy Kengo for 30 minutes of extra time couldn’t the change have been made later to use up a bit of injury time? The fact is, bringing Wakizaka on in the 89th minute and therefore using up our final allowed substitution window meant that Kengo finished his career as an unused substitute in a game where we only made four changes. Seems like a snub or power move from Oniki somehow, (I don’t imagine that Wakizaka feels particularly good about it either, even though he had absolutely nothing to do with it. Either that or he’s a bit of a sociopath. The stadium interviewer indirectly asked Oniki about the fact that Kengo wasn’t used in his final game but gave Oniki enough room to wriggle free and slightly avoid the issue. I definitely think winning the title is more important, but I can’t help but feel that it could have been handled better. Certainly, there were plenty of people who felt that the triumph was slightly undermined by the weirdness of the decision. Similarly, I don’t know if Kurumaya is 100% fit or not, but if he isn’t I can’t imagine he would have felt too good about being second choice to an attacker when it came to selecting a left back. As before, there may be unknown reasons behind this decision, but it rang bells for me of the way Oniki treated Nara and to a certain extent Jesiel last season. Both of them at times found themselves being used as something of a last resort in their preferred position. It just makes me think that there is more going on in Oniki’s mind than choosing the best team for the game. Sure, he’s got some fantastic results this season, but he has also been blessed by having a lot of fantastic players at the same time. Its been a great year, but I can’t help but feel that we’ve been left with a little bit of a bad taste in the mouth. If he is in charge again next year (not sure it has been confirmed yet), let’s see how well he does with the ACL on his plate and also dealing with the probable loss of a few of his best players. We’ll probably need a few more ideas next year.

The trophies! -

Jeez there were a lot of them…

So that’s it, we’re finally done! The double is complete and the off-season business will begin. Morita is almost certainly moving to a club in Portugal (for free naturally, another bit of great J League business!) and Diogo is going (his lack of opportunities with us was a bit of a shame for him), but Damiao, Jesiel and Sung-Ryong have all signed new contracts. I imagine there will be a bit more movement happening too. Perhaps this will be a bit clearer by the time I get round to writing my player write-ups. But for now, let’s enjoy the fact that we’ve had a great season in a difficult year. The fact that I don’t really know who my player of the season is suggests that plenty of people have done well. Some perhaps too well for Frontale’s sake. But one player leaving means another will get a chance so maybe we might see Harada or Kamiya or some more of Miyashiro next year. Plenty of time for talk about that at a later date though so let’s leave it at this for now and enjoy a bit of a break. Bravo and congratulations Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG 

DF 13. YAMANE Miki



MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa

MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota

FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro


FW 18. MITOMA Kaoru


GK 27. TANNO Kenta 

DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for HATATE 86')

MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto (on for OSHIMA 89')



FW 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for MITOMA 79')

DF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya

My Frontale Man Of The Match

With vision hampered by sunlight and distance I have to go more with gut feeling on this. Our wastefulness up front means that I don’t think I can really give it to anyone up there. I’m going to split it two ways, a decision of which half is probably just to slightly irritate some possible readers. So, let’s give it to…

HATATE Reo and Sung-Ryong JUNG - Hatate is a total champ for filling in well out of position and I thought he had a really good game for the most part. And of course, the keeper of the season kept another clean sheet and made some crucial saves when we were really under the cosh after having a pretty quiet 70 minutes. Nice work Sung-Ryong!


MITOMA (Frontale) 55' 1-0