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.
31. Kento TACHIBANADA (MF)
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.