Wednesday, 22 December 2021

2021 season ref stats

Here are the 2021 season ref stats for our games. I’ve included the usual things I do each year. These figures include all domestic fixtures but not the ACL games. If it was a cup game and we won or lost on penalties it counts as a draw when it comes to points per game in these stats. No red cards for us in any competition this year means that the cards stats look a bit better than last year. But you’d also expect this given that we were named as the fair play team of the season. This year as a bonus I’ve added total stats at the bottom. Not sure if this is at all useful but the averages are at least slightly interesting and we got a pretty satisfying average amount of points and cards this year. 

Out of the 19 different refs we had, we got a perfect points record with quite a few. As some of them were only in charge of a single game, there’s probably not much to draw from their info. I’d say that of the refs who were in charge of our games on numerous occasions, we’ve probably got to say we like Araki (who only gave us one yellow in four games so probably is our ref of the year), Iida and Nishimura (!!!!) the most when it comes to points. The first two saw us take maximum points from four and three games respectively and from Nishimura’s five games we got a respectable 2.6 point average. Of the refs who reffed multiple games, the only ones in whose games we dropped to less than two points a game were Kimura, Imamura and Iemoto, who we got our worst points return from. This proves that for once I was right when I said he’s a nightmare ref for us… maybe. When it comes to cards Iemoto is the worst for us again. He gave almost a quarter of our total season yellows (5 out of 21) in only five games. Nishimura was close behind with four, but given that we did better in the games he reffed, I’d say that Iemoto is definitively the worst ref for us. So maybe his retirement is good news. Obviously there might be some kind of bias in the figures given that the big-name and supposedly better refs might be given the bigger and maybe tougher games. But I won’t let accuracy get in the way of having one final moan about Iemoto. I'm sure he's pleased he's retired! I guess we should be quite happy about it too.

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 4 W 4 D 0 L 0 Y 1 R 0 
AVC 0.25 AVP 3

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

G 5 W 1 D 4 L 0 Y 5 R 0
AVC 1 AVP 1.4

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

G 2 W 1 D 1 L 0 Y 1 R 0
AVC 0.5 AVP 2

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

G 2 W 1 D 1 L 0 Y 1 R 0
AVC 0.5 AVP 2

G 4 W 2 D 1 L 1 Y 1 R 0
AVC 0.25 AVP 1.75

G 2 W 1 D 1 L 0 Y 1 R 0
AVC 0.5 AVP 2

G 2 W 1 D 1 L 0 Y 1 R 0
AVC 0.5 AVP 2

G 5 W 4 D 1 L 0 Y 4 R 0
AVC 0.8 AVP 2.6

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

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

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

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

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

G 2 W 2 D 0 L 0 Y 1 R 0
AVC 0.5 AVP 3

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

G 2 W 2 D 0 L 0 Y 2 R 0
AVC 1 AVP 3  

G 46 W 31 D 13 L 2 Y 21 R 0
AVC 0.45 AVP 2.3 

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

2021 Season survey questions

Here is the 5th annual Frontale Rabbit Blog survey. Again, it's mostly the same questions 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 got some 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5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 do you feel about us having lots of players leaving for Europe?

19. How was VAR for you?

20. Any other comments

Monday, 13 December 2021

Vs Oita Trinita (home) 12/12/21 Emperor's Cup semi-final

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 1 Oita Trinita (AET) (4-5 on penalties)

Presumably much to the delight of all followers of J League football aside from Frontale and Kashima fans, our season is over. And it’s a bit of a shame that the end came in such a disappointing way, but that’s football I guess. After all, if every game went as people expected it to and how the stats or the relative strengths of the teams suggested, it would be a very boring sport. Not going as far to suggest that I’m in any way pleased by us losing providing a welcome cup upset though. In fact, I’ll go nowhere near that far. But at least if we were going to lose, we can’t really feel too upset about doing so on penalties in a game that we played reasonably well in, and in which we can’t blame the defeat on anyone or anything. Which all makes it sound like this could be a relatively moan free blog post! So I’ll start with a bit of a moan about the tournament to make up for it. I felt like there was a bit of mixed messaging going on in this game. In the way the the JFA always likes to stamp its authority and individuality on to Emperor’s Cup games, they decided that this would be the first full capacity game of the season. To be honest, it kind of makes sense as even the most optimistic of people would probably find it hard to say that this isn’t probably the best situation with regards to Corona that we have been in for a long time and probably will be in for a long time. Maybe to counter this increased attendance from an ‘optics’ point of view, there was no alcohol for sale in the stadium. Perhaps the JFA gets a cut of gate receipts but not alcohol sales. If that’s true I guess we know why the attendance was increased. So it was our biggest attendance of the season but it was nowhere near a sell out, probably because in this competition the seating allowance is always split 50/50 between the two sets of fans. And Oita isn’t very geographically close to Kawasaki. It also now seems to be an Emperor’s Cup tradition that the two teams come out separately, again I guess with COVID in mind. Which is kind of ridiculous when you consider they will be getting very close to each other and breathing a lot heavier during the game. Guess it was mainly for show though. But it did seem slightly bizarre when at the same time you are seating people right next to each other in the whole stadium for the first time in the season. You’ll be disappointed, I’m sure, that it has been more questioning rather than moaning so far so I’ll get the proper moans going. The music is still utterly awful for this competition. Which is no surprise as it’s still the same awful songs. Please check my last Emperor’s Cup blog post for detailed whinging. The other moan is that they sell the tickets for the final before the semi-finals have been played. After our defeat, this has created a massive rush of people tweeting, trying to sell tickets for the final now. Considering that the prices for these games are higher than for regular games it does some like something of a cash grab. But I have been told that it is a kind of a tradition for fans of all teams to want to go to the game, regardless of who is playing. Perhaps they wouldn’t be buying tickets behind the goal in the main supporter section though. Given the previously mentioned distance from Oita, I’m not sure many people will be able to sell their tickets. I guess I’m going to go still, but it’s kind of weird to attend and sit in the section with the fans of the team who have knocked you out in the last match. Perhaps Oita’s opposition in the final, pantomime villains Urawa, will make it a bit easier for people to build up some enthusiasm to support the team who they don’t support but in whose section they are sitting. But to be honest, I’m not exactly that excited about going. I probably wouldn’t even bother watching it on TV if we didn’t have tickets. There is an element of sour grapes in this, but also the realisation that usually lightning doesn’t strike twice and that Oita’s dogged resistance in this game might not be so successful in the final. Hmmm, skirting dangerously close to actually talking about the game here so maybe I’d better move on to that section.

What can I say really? We totally bossed normal time in this game. Normally I would moan about us not being able to get shots on target but in this game that wasn’t the case. We shot a lot and frustratingly ex-Frontale keeper Takagi was having the game of a lifetime and was almost unbeatable. Of the two occasions where we did manage to beat him, we scored one and the post saved him on the other occasion. Absolutely typical really, particularly given that he’s had some dubious reviews of less than stellar performances this year. But as often seems to happen in football, someone playing against their old team seems to find just that little bit extra to put in an amazing performance. Full credit to Takagi, he was amazing and stopped things which looked impossible. It was pretty much totally one way traffic for the regular 90 minutes yet we failed to score. But I’m not going to moan about it. It clearly wasn’t meant to be. And the game was a lot more even in injury time with both sides giving it a go. When we finally managed to get one past Takagi it came from a Kozuka cross (who is he again? It’s been quite a while. Once again the curse of the former player!) and a Kobayashi finish. But we could only get one goal from the 41 shots we had, half of which were in extra time and around 75% of which were on target. It REALLY wasn’t meant to be! And then we conceded when we were down to ten men as we got struck with another serious looking injury. This time it was Tono who hadn’t been on for long when he somehow got involved in a tackle that another one of our players was making. He tried to continue but really couldn’t. Whether us being down to 10 men contributed to us conceding, I don’t know really, but it can’t have helped. It wasn’t very nice to concede in the 121st minute (somewhat similar to our Levain exit to Urawa), but the massive feeling of it just not being our day should have prepared us somewhat for the goal going in. Oniki’s reluctance to make too many changes till he really had to probably speaks volumes about his confidence in the players he had put on the bench. I wrote previously about the starting line up being obvious but he actually changed things slightly with Oshima starting and Marcinho dropping to the bench. I wonder if Marcinho’s honeymoon period is over now, being withdrawn at half time against YFM, somewhat bafflingly as far as I was concerned, and now dropping to the bench. With Oniki and Brazilians, things seem to go one of two ways. Either they are straight in the team as a big money or big name signing as Damiao was, or they are made to very, very patiently wait for their opportunity, which only comes when every other option is exhausted as Jesiel had to. (Remember Oniki preferred playing Kurumaya at centre back before Jesiel made the spot his own). Players in the former category do tend to get dropped at some stage and then never get their place back. I’d put Neto and Joao Schmidt in that category. Whether Marcinho will join that group too, a long way ahead of schedule, who knows? I’ve often said it, but Oniki does tend to have an approach to man management that verges slightly on the psychopathic looking from the outside. But at the same time lots of people say that the players love him, so perhaps he is honest with them, saying to Neto and Joao Schmidt, you’re only going to get in the team if my preferred Japanese youngster gets horribly broken and they take it well. If we continue to be reluctant to rotate a bit more we will inevitably end up in the situation again where a serious injury could totally derail us. Or where we have two players who have hardly played at all this season stepping up to take penalties in a cup semi-final, presumably desperate to do something to prove their worth. Poor Tsukagawa! You probably know I really like him and it was horrible to see his penalty hit the post. He really didn’t deserve to be one of the fall guys. Yamane’s decisive penalty was saved and his situation is probably the opposite of Tsukagawa. He has nothing to prove but probably can barely even move his leg to kick the ball after playing almost every minute of the season for us. He’s not even going to get much of a break as Japan has a totally stupidly timed international friendly in January. Yamamura’s situation is probably somewhere between the two others. He hasn’t been used much, but at least he’s been involved, mainly sitting on the bench. You could say that Yamamura will have bad memories of this game as he missed his penalty and he was the player who was beaten for the Oita goal (the goalscorer having more than a handful of Yamamura’s shirt but I’m not going to whinge). Kozuka had possibly the opposite kind of game, assisting for the goal and scoring a penalty in the shoot out against his old team. But let’s be honest, no-one involved with Frontale will want to remember this game, in spite of there being nothing particularly wrong with the performance. If you concede a penalty in a shoot out with the ball bouncing off the post and then in off the back of your keeper's head you've just got to accept that you were destined not to get to the final. And we just came up against a keeper with something to prove, who did exactly that, so hats off to Takagi and good luck to Oita in the final. They have had a disappointing season and I’m sure they’d love to combine a J2 promotion push with a crack at the ACL next year.

So, yes, it’s over for 2021. Losing to a relegated team in the cup would usually prompt me to say that we don’t play very well against teams near the bottom. I was prepared to say this but a bit of research has shown that it’s not really the case this year where against the five bottom teams in the league we have won all of our games aside from a draw away at Shonan and a draw at home against Vegalta Sendai. So what can I blame then? THE KYUSHU CURSE! Also probably previously referred to at length in this blog, it doesn’t really make sense, particularly when the game is at home as this one was, but teams from Kyushu do seem to have a habit of kicking us in the nuts. Last year Trinita prevented us taking the title by beating us in Oita, a result that was something of a surprise. This year in the league we dealt with them more comfortably, winning 2-0 home and away. And then they knocked us out on penalties in the semi-final of the cup… So what about the other two Kyushu teams? Yep, those games were our two league defeats this year, both happening on the island that provides great away game adventures but bad results for us. Thankfully we couldn’t go to Avispa away as I am still a bit annoyed about the winning goal being scored by someone who should have been sent off on a couple of occasions in the match before he stepped up and scored an annoyingly good goal. Would probably have been difficult to keep a COVID mandated lid on my irritation if I had been watching it in the stadium. The loss to Sagan Tosu was a similarly disappointing performance but was made up for by being able to attend the game and enjoy the alcoholic delights of Kyushu. That game came after the title was sealed so there was perhaps something of a hangover to the performance. Perhaps the same could be said about this loss as it came after Damiao got the MVP and Golden Boot, Yamane got the fair play award and our players filled seven out of the 11 places in the team of the year. I dunno, perhaps clutching at straws a bit here, but let’s add the congratulations you won something hangover to the Kyushu curse and I think we’re really on to something. You can’t really say that we’ve pulled up many trees in this tournament this year really though as we’ve struggled through on penalties against both Nagano of J3 and JEF of J2 before we finally fell to Oita of J1 on the dreaded kicks. (Damn, we’ve gone to penalties fours times in one season and lost twice if you include the ACL game). Admittedly, we did beat two J1 teams in this competition in between the JEF and Oita games though. And somewhat bizarrely, in spite of us by no means putting out the reserves in any of these games, we played a lot better in the game we lost against the J1 team than we did in the games we won against lower league opposition. It clearly is ‘a funny old game’. Now we have to start thinking about 2022 I guess. It seems inevitable that Hasegawa and Joao Schmidt will be leaving from their complete disappearance from the match day squads after missing penalties in the ACL. It seems very weird that Schmidt had made only one appearance and hasn’t made the bench for any other game considering he was a regular at the start of the season. Hasegawa was also usually involved in some way till he missed his penalty and since then has not been seen since. The same fate didn’t befall Ienaga though. When you look at who missed penalties in this match, I’ve got to day I’m worried for Tsukagawa. Yamane is clearly undroppable for Oniki and Yamamura is probably too versatile to be frozen out. Talking of Yamane, there was a slight strangeness to his answer to a question in the J League awards that suggested to me that he wouldn’t be against an overseas transfer if someone came knocking. And given that he has been in the team of the year in the last two years and is one of our internationals it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise. Whether he will want to extend what has already been a very intense season by transferring to Europe and completely obliterating his end of season break, who knows? Hatate looks set to leave. Please let it not be Celtic. It inevitably will be, but given the horrible manager of that team, it will be hard for me to enjoy him doing well if he does go. He was once again in floods of tears after this game so I think he knows it was his last game for us. By the way, another amazing 1-0 win for Celtic yesterday. Sadly for them, they are still bottom of what is effectively their two team league trailing Rangers by four points. The seriousness of Jesiel’s injury would suggest that we need some back-up in defence but then again, that’s been the case for the last four or five years and it never seems to come. Tanabe probably is the most favoured out of the three young defenders we have who never play, but I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t just a case of play Yamamura or Kurumaya there instead. No news about Kurumaya’s injury and I guess we won’t get it now the season is over. You can probably add Tono to that potentially serious injury list too now. Whether any of the other bright talents get picked off I don’t know. You’ve got to imagine Tachibanada will be catching some teams’ eyes. In 2022 we’ll be going for the three-peat in the league for the second time whilst trying to prioritise the ACL again. It didn’t work very well in 2019, did it? I dread another season like that. So definitely some work to be done.

Next up, nothing for the team apart from a big rest and they deserve it. I don’t think we can be too upset about how we’ve done in any of the competitions this year. We were totally dead on our feet and suffering from a defensive injury crisis when we flopped out of the Levain and the ACL, and in the Emperor’s Cup, well you know, as this blog post is about that. Next up for this blog, some end of season posts going into more detail about all the end of season things and the usual end of season survey. As we’ve finished a little earlier this year, there’s still plenty of time to do those I guess. Right now though, I’m going to have a little break from blogging and try to enjoy the festive period as much as I can. Not sure I particularly deserve it, but I’ll give it a go anyway. Cheers and Merry Frontale Christmas and hopefully a Happy Frontale New Year to you all.

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 3. TSUKAGAWA Koki (on for WAKIZAKA 109')
MF 17. KOZUKA Kazuki (on for TACHIBANADA 109')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for HATATE 82')
FW 19. TONO Daiya (on for IENAGA 109')
FW 23. MARCINHO (on for OSHIMA 65')


My Frontale Man Of The Match

Let's skip this on this occasion.


KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 114' 1-10
HENRIQUE (Oita) 120+1' 1-1
SHIMODA (Oita) 0-1

CHINEN (Frontale) 1-1
NAGASAWA (Oita) 1-1 (missed)
YAMAMURA (Frontale) 1-1
MATSUMOTO (Oita) 1-2
KOZUKA (Frontale) 2-2

HENRIQUE (Oita) 2-3

TSUKAGAWA (Frontale) 2-3
KOBAYASHI (Oita) 2-3 (saved)

KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 3-3

MISAO (Oita) 3-4

TANIGUCHI (Frontale) 4-4

MACHIDA (Oita) 4-5

YAMANE (Frontale) 4-5 (saved)

Tuesday, 7 December 2021

Vs Yokohama F Marinos (away) 4/12/21 J League match 38

Yokohama F Marinos 1 - 1 Kawasaki Frontale

So the league campaign is over for 2021 and you’ve got to say it has been a bit of a success again. Sadly we weren’t able to get what I think I termed a few years ago, the ‘super title’. Sure we won the league, and conceded the least goals but were pipped to the post in the goals scored column by our noisy neighbours and opponents on this occasion YFM. Thanks a lot FC Tokyo for ruining that part for us when you shipped eight against them a few weeks ago. They also almost ruined Damiao’s chance of taking the Golden Boot just for himself by allowing old-before-his-years (in this case from the point of view of looks rather than wisdom), very speedy slaphead Daizen Maeda to score three against them. Before the game I said it didn’t seem right that if two players finished level it would be given to the one with most assists (quite generous considering Damiao was miles ahead in that respect). After the game, on finding out I was wrong and it could be shared I decided that it definitely should go on assists in the event of a tie-break. Coming into this game, I was naturally quite up for us winning comfortably and securing the ‘super title’ and Damiao’s Golden Boot. At the same time, I did think that it probably would be a draw. I suppose many people thought this might be a high scoring exciting game showing the best that the J League had to offer from an attacking point of view. Always looking to surprise, ‘chaos energy J League’ had other ideas and it was instead a wonderful display of not really being able to hit the target very often with both sides only managing four shots on target each. But it was quite exciting though. Well, exciting in the way that I had to run to the bar a touch early before half time for something to steady my nerves. The second half wasn’t as nerve shredding as the first, perhaps due to the half time alcoholic refreshment or perhaps due to us actually trying to play some football and succeeding at times. But anyway, we’ll deal with that kind of analysis later on (perhaps…). I can probably find some space for it between some cheap shots at the opposition and poor attempts at humour. Ok, here we go with the classic three bullet points.

Us -

Surprise, surprise, the same team and bench again! Although maybe that will be changing for the next match as Kurumaya has been the latest victim of the centre back injury curse. Looks like it might be a knee injury, and perhaps something similar to Jesiel’s as he seemed to land on his knee and at the same time jerk it. He gingerly continued for a couple of minutes (so perhaps it isn’t so bad), before having to go off (so perhaps it is so bad). We hadn’t started particularly well before this early enforced change and it certainly didn’t help settle us down. I should say though that Yamamura stepped up in fine fashion. The first half was a bit of a disaster for us. I would say the midfield were bad, but I don’t think they got a chance to show they were bad as they seemed to be wholly absent. I’d like to think that Hatate was trying to downplay his attractiveness and get any proposed transfer to a team that basically is second in a two team league taken off the table. I really hope for Frontale’s sake that the people who wanted to sign him were watching him for the first time in the first half. From his point of view, I guess I grudgingly hope he can get a transfer if he wants one. Would definitely rather it wasn’t to a team run by a certain ex YFM manager though. We did however manage to prevent them from scoring in a very dodgy first half which is something to be pleased about. But it was a very tired, end of season performance which we can’t afford to repeat in our Emperor’s Cup game. The introduction of Oshima at half time sorted things out a bit and was very welcome. Slightly confused as to why it was Marcinho that gave way though as I thought he’d done alright. Guess Oniki is trying to keep things interesting and if he is going to have the same players starting and the same ones on the bench every week he has to shake things up with some shuffling around of positions and weird subs. Slightly bizarrely the stats weren’t so different between the two halves though. Both teams having a magnificent two shots on target each per half and YFM bossing possession and shots off target. I guess YFM knew this was going to be their last game of the season, and one against their rivals who’d won the league at a canter, so perhaps were playing with less inhibition than we were and perhaps with a bit of anger. It was great to see Damiao get a goal and go ahead in the Golden Boot race and it was a nice finish from a nice cross from Ienaga, who to be honest, hadn’t really done much till that point. Inevitably the interestingly facial-haired yet possibly follically challenged Maeda got one back and it was all square again, prompting Oniki to again spin the random substitution wheel and replace Wakizaka with Chinen. Chinen seemed to be playing on the left wing, which was a surprise. As was the fact that he seemed pretty good at doing so. Hatate had previously moved from the midfield to the left wing and then moved back to the midfield. Another Oniki attempt to confuse anyone watching with a view to signing him by constantly shifting him and making him difficult to locate. The logical next step was clearly to bring on Kobayashi for Hatate. Honestly, with regards to where anyone was playing, your guess is as good as mine at this stage. And then follow this up with Tono coming on for Tachibanada. Leaving Oshima as the only real midfield player on the pitch probably wasn’t going to help us get more possession but we did have a decent crack at scoring a second. Thankfully Sung-Ryong was on hand to stop YFM who had similar ideas and more opportunities. It was all quite exciting and quite nerve wracking. We definitely dodged a bullet in this game as we were horrible for long periods. At the same time, YFM did ride their luck at times and if we hadn’t been so wasteful we could have grabbed a delightfully undeserved win. I’m going to say a draw was a fair result, mainly to attempt to irritate opposition fans. But it did seem to suit both sets of fans to a certain extent I suppose. And the fact that YFM had their end of season ceremony after the game suited us perfectly as we could give our players a clap and then make our leisurely way to the station knowing that we weren’t going to have to endure a really busy station and a really busy train. Cheers!

Them -

Of course I’m not going to praise YFM in this or any blog post so any rival fans reading this, don’t get your hopes up. I guess though rival fans would be reading this mainly for fuel for their irritation fire so hopefully I won’t fail to provide on that account. If we win it’s because we’re great and they’re shit. If they win, it’s because we’re shit. If it’s a draw everyone is shit. I must admit I have some sympathy for their fans who, after losing the admittedly quite Marmite-y (or should that be Vegemite-y? Actually I don’t even know if they use Vegemite in the same linguistic way that Brits use Marmite. And actually is he Marmite-y anyway? Perhaps it’s just me who finds him really annoying… This is a long bracketed section. Had better stop it here otherwise the flow of the sentence will be ruined. Oh, but maybe it is already) Ange Postecoglou who was an absolute god to them, have ended up with Kevin Muscat, who for many seems to be quite an unpopular choice of manager and seems determined to do things his own way, breaking down anything that his predecessor might have built. So what is his own way then? What is Muscatball? From watching this game it seems to be quite a physical approach to football with plenty of kicking and pushing but still retains the whinging arsehole aspects that Postecoglou managed to exude and instill in his charges. Marcos Junior has grown his hair a bit but still seems like he is up for the pub car park fight that his old hairdo and demeanour used to scream. I was disappointed his usually super aggro teammate Theeraton didn’t lose his rag in this game. I had a feeling he would get sent off as he always seems to get mardy when things aren’t going his way. To be honest though, things weren’t not going his way, so maybe that explains it. As I kind of said before, in the way that people often say a game is one that shows the quality of the J League, this was probably a game that perfectly demonstrated that neither team was quite as good as they thought they were. There were numerous fancy flicks and attempted tricks that didn’t come off. I would blame the pitch, but it was so far away that I couldn’t really see if it was bad. We know there’s a running track hidden under that green fake turf. Behind the goal at our end there was a small monument to something, a solitary bare orange traffic cone, denuded even of its reflective stripes, boldly poking up in the spot where four bits of fake green turf met. I should probably spend some time thinking up an amusing reason for this which is better than what I am going to write. But as this is a Frontale Rabbit post and we’re talking about YFM, I’ll plump for the lowest common denominator and say that it is a cheap plastic version of a toba (thing poking out of a Japanese gravestone. I had to look this up. Obviously I didn’t know that word before. I’m probably misusing it), marking the resting place of YFM’s 2021 season hopes which were cremated over a month ago by Gamba Osaka who put YFM out of their misery after a long and painful decline. But I guess they do have the most goals scored thing to cling on to. Once again, thanks a lot FC Tokyo! And the joint Golden Boot winner, who according to YFM fans on Twitter is ‘hard working’. Perhaps he does work hard but that is probably mainly due to him having to do so, in order to make up for giving the ball away time and time again in promising attacks. But he can run fast though. My ‘banter’ is a bit more forthright than usual as the league season is now over, so I don’t have to worry about any jinxes biting me as there is no chance that YFM will have any effect on the rest of our season. Also it is our rivals isn’t it?

Ref -

This was Iemoto’s last game before retiring. We’ve had trouble with him ever since (oh, this will be the last time I have to write this, and it was becoming a regular sentence in every blog post I wrote when he was in charge) some of our fans applauded his announcement away at FC Tokyo. Since then, and full credit to him for consistently being able to do so right to the end of his career, he has been on a mission to even things up and has given us absolutely nothing. He became something of a bête noire for me, the more I worried about him being in charge of a game and giving us nothing, the more it happened. Even so, I did manage a brief clap at the end of the game when he was having his farewell ceremony. I like to think after a run of calamitous English ‘lessons’ leading to my ‘retirement’ my students would do the same. I mean, no one in their right mind wants to be a ref, do they? Perhaps it’s a case a little like that of politicians, in that the best people to do the job don’t want to do it, and the absolute worst people to do the job are attracted to it. Judging by the political situation all over the world right now, I think I’m actually being a bit hard on refs. They are nowhere near as bad as the current bunch of crooks in charge in the UK. But anyway, what I am basically trying to say is that it’s a thankless task really, so well done to refs for giving it a go, but I just wish they didn’t have to be so shit at it. It would be remiss of me not to say that there was no need for YFM to give him one of their shirts at the end of the game as he’d been wearing one all through the match under his his ref uniform. This point is only slightly undermined by us also giving him a shirt, but why let the facts get in the way of a ‘good’ ‘joke’? To be honest, I can’t remember why I have numerous notes on the match on … how can I say this… Iemoto’s parentage and his self love habits. I don’t remember any big incidents to be honest. He did let YFM get away with booting us all over the pitch in the first half though. I think fans of both sides were horrified to see him in charge of the game but in the end, on this occasion, probably neither set of fans had anything much to get too upset about. So I guess this is some kind of nice farewell ‘ref’ section for him. You didn’t imagine it would be more positive than that did you? Guess Iemoto and Murakami both retiring means that two new refs will be getting their chance next year. Blimey… I don’t know what Iemoto is going to do after this, but you can be sure that Murakami will be putting on those leather trousers and animal print shirts, slapping on the fake tan and belting out Maggie May every weekend at tribute nights at ‘live houses’ all over Japan. Ganbatte 'Rod'!

Next up, we have Oita at home next weekend in the Emperor’s Cup semi-final. If we win that, the final is the following weekend. Actually, the final is the following weekend regardless of whether we win or lose! Next up for this blog after that will be some season round-up posts. Given that Oniki has found his side and will change only if he really has to, we can be pretty sure what the majority of the line up will be for next Sunday. So sure in fact that there are numerous squad members who could probably transfer to their new clubs already and others who could start to get on the Bonenkai party bus! Hell could freeze over before quite a few of the squad could even get on the bench. The only question is probably whether Kurumaya will be fit or not. And if he isn’t, who will be the next to be converted to a centre back to take the spot on the bench that Yamamura will probably vacate. We’ll see I guess. Go Frontale!

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for HATATE 87')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for MARCINHO 46')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for WAKIZAKA 80')
FW 19. TONO Daiya (on for TACHIBANADA 87')
DF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for KURUMAYA 11')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

Was a pretty average, if I'm being generous, performance from most and we were up against it. Therefore I have to give it to...
YAMAMURA Kazuya - With out best centre back injured and in Brazil and our left back stand-in centre back getting injured after five minutes it was a big ask for Yamamura to come in and defend our goal against the highest scoring team in the league. He was awesome though! The best I've ever seen him at centre back. Bravo!


LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 67' 0-1
MAEDA (Yokohama) 74' 1-1