Sunday, 25 December 2022

2022 season player round up part 3

This is the third and final part of the Frontale Rabbit 2022 season player round up posts. Today we're going from Miyagi to Oniki, who I realise isn't a player but who I always add to these posts. This will be the last post of the year but I'm still collecting responses for the season survey. I say collecting responses but only one person has bothered so far so please have a look at the questions here and send me some answers. So, yeah, this is it for 2022 and given that Oniki is the last person mentioned I guess I'm finishing 2022 perfectly ie. with a massive dose of negativity. Wonderful!

24. Ten MIYAGI (FW)

As mentioned in the Marcinho section, will be going out on loan next year and it’s understandable. Marcinho has really limited his opportunities but at the same time Ten hasn’t exactly grabbed his chance when given it. Perhaps didn’t get enough time to play himself into some form. Feel like he dribbles too far sometimes. He’s really good at it, but sometimes it’s good to pass before you lose the ball. Hopefully a season on loan playing regularly should really sharpen him up as we know he has a lot of talent. Good luck to him.

25. Renji MATSUI (MF)

Poor guy. Defensive midfielder who has almost exclusively been played out of position at right back when Yamane hasn’t been available. That wasn’t really that often even but it’s a bit of a bummer when you wait patiently for an opportunity and then when you get it you’re asked to do something unnatural. Looks pretty good on the ball as you’d expect knowing he’s played for Japan U23. Would love him to get a go at playing where he wants to next year, instead of being forced to play out of position. Had a few dicey moments when playing at right back and I don’t want them to affect his confidence. Think we’ll see a bit more of him next year.

26. Takatora EINAGA (FW)

Had a great debut, coming on as a sub and scoring but that was about it. Made it on to the bench a couple of times but only on to the pitch once, (I don’t acknowledge the existence of the PSG game). Looked dangerous when he played a half against Sapporo University in the Emperor’s Cup. Good on the ball and very attack minded. I won’t say he’ll be next year’s Mitoma, but if he did manage to get into the team, he could be very difficult to dislodge. I hope!

27. Kenta TANNO (MF)

Another season of sitting on the bench for Tanno and I can understand why he decided to leave. Delighted that he managed to remain unbeaten (results wise) in his time with us. But was a bit sad that even when he played really well more often than not he ended up conceding, and it was usually not his fault. Was definitely not as comfortable on the ball as Sung-Ryong and I think this is why he didn’t get more opportunities. But hope he’s enjoyed his time with us and wish him all the best.

28. Taiyo IGARASHI (FW)

Hardly any involvement aside from 45 minutes in the ACL but managed to get himself an assist. Makes sense that he’s going out on loan next year as he needs time on the pitch so I hope he’ll do well at Renofa, and perhaps follow in the footsteps of Miyashiro, who we’ll be seeing back next with us next year!

29. Kouta TAKAI (DF)

Good year for him but not really any involvement. Sounds a bit weird, but was still a member of the U18 team as well as having a squad number and they won their league and only just lost the final game at the national stadium. Also had some involvement with the Japan U20 team and was due to go to the world cup to train with the main Japan team. (Sadly that chance was messed up by COVID). We’re definitely short of defenders next year, so maybe he’ll be involved in some way in 2023.

30. Shuto TANABE (DF)

Few minutes in the Emperor’s Cup and a half against Guangzhou’s kids in the ACL and that was about it… until he went to JEF on loan and did really well. Has extended the loan for next year too. Was always a bit confused why he wasn’t a bit more involved as he is quite versatile, being able to play all the way across the back. Still young though, so perhaps there is a chance that he will be back at some stage and will play for us again.

31. Kazuya YAMAMURA (MF)

Yamamura always seems to suffer from being too versatile. Given that he can cover so many spots he inevitably ends up on the bench to cover for multiple possible emergencies. But thanks to our defensive crisis this year he played a decent amount of games at centre back. And at one stage seemed to be actually getting to play in midfield and up front. Pretty useful for those situations when we need to throw someone extra forward and lump it up to the big man ,which happened quite a lot in 2022. I hope he’s happy with his position with us as I think lots of people really like him. And his goal ‘celebration’ is always great. Hope to see it a lot more next year.

32. Shin YAMADA (FW)

Surprisingly started a game during our nightmare COVID crisis. Unfortunately I was traveling at the time and therefore didn’t see even a minute of the game, so I can’t and won’t comment.

41. Akihiro IENAGA (MF)

Many people’s player of the season and involved an insane amount given his advancing years. Most appearances, joint top league goalscorer and most significantly won the most Frontale Rabbit Man Of The Match awards,
he seems to be rolling back the years. In recent seasons has had spells where he seemed to really go off the boil and have some dodgy games but that didn’t happen to the same extent this year. Feel like he’ll probably need to be rested a bit more often next year but not sure how he’ll feel about that. I’m sure most fans will be delighted to see him putting away penalties and shrugging off opposition players for as long as possible.

Manager - Toru ONIKI

Not sure what to say really. I was really hoping he’d quit mid-season in our massive slump. I was really hoping he’d quit at the end of the season after we won nothing. I was really hoping Moriyasu would mess things up and Oniki would take his job. But none of these things happened. I was criticised a lot on Twitter for saying these things but suspect that I might know more about the state of the club and our performances than many people who had a go at me. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate what he’s done for us and I fully appreciate that he’s our most successful manager. But I think many people are letting his past achievements cloud what he’s done this year. I would love him to turn things round, but I feel that the only way he might do that would be by just carrying on doing the same things and waiting for our bad play to eventually change. And obviously that would mean a lot of bad games before we started doing a bit better which is clearly not a good thing. He’s been in this position before after the 2019 complete total failure season, (which was actually more successful than 2022), and he bounced back in style. Whether he is able to do so again in 2023, I’m not so sure. Our off-season recruitment doesn’t suggest that he thinks there’s anything much we need to change, but the total tedium of our 2022 performances suggest to me that there is a lot we need to do. Hopefully he can come up with some new ideas during his New Year break. I appreciate that when things go wrong he says he takes responsibility. But unfortunately that responsibility doesn’t seem to change anything on the pitch. I don’t enjoy moaning about him so would be delighted to see him back with a new plan and more success next year. And I’d also be delighted with a Christmas lottery win for me. I’m not sure which his more likely.

Friday, 23 December 2022

2022 season player round up part 2

This is the second of three parts of my 2022 player round up post. Today we're going from Yamane to Marcinho.

13. Miki YAMANE (DF)

I feel like it’s been a bit of a difficult second album of a season for Yamane. Admittedly this metaphor is let down by it not being his second season, but hopefully you get the point. To many though he’s had a great season it seems. I suspect that they haven’t been watching very closely. Much like everyone else he hasn’t scored or created as much as in previous seasons. And he’s been caught out with his defending a lot more often. I say with his defending but it’s felt more like he doesn’t really consider that part of his job anymore. There’s also the very justifiable distraction that his national team call ups have given him. Completely understandable, but for me, someone who isn’t that bothered about international football, it did feel like he didn’t care much about Frontale at times. I’m sure though that this has at least something to do with the fact that he’s been mercilessly overplayed by Oniki. Give the guy a break from time to time! The only time it hasn’t been him playing at right back for us the reason was that he was on international duty. So basically he hasn’t had a rest for ages. I hope (but I’m not holding my breath…) that we’ll have someone who can step in to give him a rest from time to time next year. I suspect that even if we do, it will still be Yamane starting unless we get a radical change of direction from Oniki.

14. Yasuto WAKIZAKA (MF)

Wakizaka has stepped in the shoes/shirt of Kengo this year and at times it did look like the pressure was weighing on him. However, I think that on the whole he’s had a pretty good year. Second most appearances, joint fifth most goals and highest number of assists means that he’s been a crucial player for us this year. Feel like Oniki hasn’t quite worked out who to play him with in midfield yet though. And perhaps maybe that we need a bit of a rethink tactically to get the most out of him and our midfield as a whole. But credit to Wakizaka, who is something of an unsung hero for me. I often don’t notice what he’s doing but when I make a conscious effort to watch him he looks great most of the time.

15. Asahi SASAKI (DF)

Rollercoaster season for Sasaki. Scored a great goal away at Kashima 17 minutes into his first start. Probably wouldn’t have got the chance if it wasn’t for injuries though. The low of his season was probably his own gaol away at Kyoto. But given that he’d come from nowhere and then was playing 90 minutes every game it’s no surprise that something had to give at some stage. As usual it’s probably a matter of us not having enough defensive cover. And our losses to Shonan and Kyoto were far from his fault. All of our players were in awful form at that stage of the year. Perhaps more damaging to his morale than the own goal was him being dropped and replaced by a midfielder for eight games in classic Oniki style. I think he’s got great potential, I hope he doesn’t suffer too much from his slight set backs in 2022 and has a great 2023.

16. Tatsuki SEKO (MF)

Classic first season under Oniki for Seko (come into the squad as an exciting transfer, but then don’t get involved much at all until the second season). Scored one amazing goal and looks good taking set pieces. His confidence took a real bashing midway through the year when he started commenting that he was on his last chance to succeed which is horrible to hear. I hope he doesn’t think that anymore. Our midfield is massively crowded so it’s difficult to break in, but I hope he gets more opportunities next year.

17. Kazuki KOZUKA (MF)

After mentioning the classic first season thing for Seko, perhaps Kozuka is having an atypical second season. Usually second season players get involved a bit more but Kozuka still seemed to be struggling for opportunities again in 2022. Like Seko, suffers from our glut of midfielders (I feel like I write this every year…). Feel like he’s never really been played in his best position and allowed to attack a bit more, but this is just a bit of a hunch as I’m not really sure where his best position is. Feel slightly worried that the writing is on the wall for him, if not before the start of next year, then maybe halfway through next season. But we haven’t got any big name midfielders in yet, so maybe he’ll be safe.

18. Chanathip SONGKRASIN (FW)

The big transfer coming into the start of last season but has had a bit of a mixed experience this year. Seems desperate to do well and I wonder sometimes if that isn’t helping him. Played well out of position a lot at the start of the season, then played in a better position and unsurprisingly did better. Then got injured just when things seem to be starting to click. Really like the look of some of the passes he was trying and maybe the more he gets to know his team mates, the better things will get. Feels a bit like a lost year for him, but hopefully he should be able to hit the ground running next year.

19. Daiya TONO (FW)

Seems to have been played more in midfield than up front this year which I would have thought wouldn’t suit him so well, but what do I know? Would have loved to see him play in the Ienaga role a bit more often, but then again Ienaga had a pretty good year, so it’s probably not a surprise. He can really shoot but the further back he plays, the fewer opportunities he gets to hit it. Was involved on 40 occasions this year, but the majority of them were from the bench. Just wish we could rotate a bit more and give him some more chances further up the pitch. Fingers crossed for 2023

20. Kei CHINEN (FW)

Our most effective central striker in 2022 much to the surprise of some. Probably made more sense as a replacement for Damiao than Kobayashi for the whole winning headers thing and did take his chances more than others. Never looked like a totally natural finisher but did have a habit of putting the ball in the net. Bit of a surprise to see him going to Kashima, but maybe fancied a new challenge and perhaps decided to move after hearing Damiao was staying, (if he is, I don’t think it has been confirmed), and Miyashiro was coming back. Good luck to him except when he’s playing us and extra good luck to him for having to spend time with Yuma Suzuki.

21. Shunsuke ANDO (GK)

A classic Ando season. Hardly any involvement but made it onto the bench a few times. Weirdly didn’t even get a chance against the Guangzhou kids in the ACL. As I always say, I hope he’s happy with his position with us as he seems like a nice guy. With the arrival of Kamifukumoto, presumably he will remain third choice keeper next year despite Tanno leaving. Highlight of the year as far as I’m concerned was him playing the drums at the fan event. Good on him!

22. Yuki HAYASAKA (GK)

One for the future with hardly no involvement at all this year until the post season Asian tour. Seem to remember him looking pretty good in that game, but it wasn’t exactly a real fixture. Was a member of the classic three keeper benches against Urawa and Cerezo. Would have loved to see him make his debut as an outfield player but it wasn’t to be. We’ll see if next year he gets a go, even just to sit on the bench. 


Definitely an option for our player of the season as for long periods he was our most potent/only attacking threat. Feel like he’s really made the left attacking spot his own now after a start where things went well but not perfectly for him. Most goals, second most assists, we would have been in a lot of trouble without him. Was very happy when he turned down a big money move to Egypt to stay with us but slightly worried that might not have been completely his decision and that the story might not be finished. With Miyagi going out on loan, you’ve got to think that we are confident that he’ll be with us next year. Check out his Instagram to see his awesome outfits. I’m not a fashion lover but I can still appreciate someone with some style!

Thursday, 22 December 2022

2022 season player round up part 1

This is the first of three parts of my 2022 player round up post. Today we're going from Sung-Ryong to Kobayashi. I'm sorry that there is quite a bit of negativity in these comments but it wasn't a great year, was it? There is a fair bit of Oniki moaning in here too which should irritate plenty of people. Part 3 will contain my Oniki season round up so that should be interesting. Anyway, here's part 1. Parts 2 and 3 should be following tomorrow and the day after.

1. Sung-Ryong JUNG (GK)

Another good season for the player who seems to be our perpetual number 1. Actually Sung-Ryong was one of my picks for our top player of the season when I got asked to nominate three. We conceded a lot more goals this year, but I don’t think this was in any way due to our keeper. He always gives our defence confidence and I’m worried for us when we don’t have him in goal. Particularly as Oniki seems reluctant to give any of our other options a go unless it’s absolutely necessary. Perhaps this will change with the arrival of Kamifukumoto and we could see some rotation. But that’s not really that Oniki like is it?


Injury plagued season for Nobori but he showed his worth when he was available. With Kurumaya increasingly being used as a centre back it will be Nobori who will be showing our young left backs the way. Let’s hope he can stay fit next year. Definite mood-maker in the camp too, which when we’re not doing well is a pretty important thing, I think.


My shirt for the 2022 season and transferred to rivals FC Tokyo a few games after the shirt finally arrived. Can’t feel angry at him though as like many others, he never really had much of a chance with us. Did an amazing job when he had to fill in at left back for most of a game due to injuries. Always gave 100% but did seem to lack the polish that other players have. At FC Tokyo almost helped us take one step closet to the title due to his two goals against YFM. But we messed it up on the same day, and then also on many further occasions. Good luck to Tsukagawa at FC Tokyo where he seems like he’s really valued and appreciated.


Injured for most of the season and sorely missed. Why we didn’t sign any cover I’ll never know. Well actually I probably should have expected it as we never do that, do we? The change to the team when he did return and we could play two centre backs at centre back was extreme. He’s clearly one of the best players in our squad and I am in no doubt that we would have won the league if he hadn’t been injured for so long. The fact that we knew he would be and did nothing still irritates me. Which is obvious as I’ve mentioned it twice already in this paragraph. His highlight of the season for us is undeniably his winner against YFM. Hopefully he can stay injury free next year.


Pretty good season for him. In the past I’ve been perhaps a little harsh on him but this was more to do with the fact that it seemed that he wasn’t treated the same way as other centre backs. (Definitely seemed to get preferential treatment as far as I could see). He was clearly an important player for us. The past tense in that sentence is because he is set to leave, probably for the dizzy heights of the Qatar league. Bit of a weird transfer as far as I’m concerned and I thought the rumours were just a ploy by his agent to get him a nice pay rise. But it seems he’s going. Always has a clanger in him but largely avoided them this year. Apart from Cerezo at home where he directly contributed to their first three goals. But otherwise looked really solid I thought. We’ll miss him, and I can’t help but feel that perhaps his exit will leave a little bit of a bad taste in the mouth. Well, depending on where he goes anyway. But good luck to him anyway.


Spent the start of the season looking like he was about to be scapegoated unfairly and sent into the wilderness again. But this time he came back. When we had a total lack of left backs and Oniki started playing Tachibanada there Joao came back into the team and made himself undroppable. I thought he was clearly one of our best performers in the second half of the season. But we now have the problem that he and Tachibandada both play best in the same position. Oniki trying to play both of them together really seemed to blunt our attack and given that Oniki doesn’t seem to want to play any other way, I’m not sure what will happen next year. We’ll see I guess.

7. Shintaro KURUMAYA (DF)

Apparently wants to play at centre back now, which is fortunate as Oniki seems to be in agreement. I think I’d rather have him at left back though. But has done a decent job wherever he played so well done to him. Saved us against Ulsan in the first ACL game. Will be an important player next year as we’re starting the season without one of our first choice CBs. Let’s hope he can grow into the centre back spot and occasionally do his thing at left back too when required.


Did amazingly in 2021 and did well again this year. Thought he would be the next player to leave but was maybe scuppered slightly by Oniki shifting him out of position all the time. I think he plays best in the defensive midfield spot and I don’t really want him playing anywhere else. But we do seem to pick the players first and then squeeze them into the usual formation, so I suspect his ‘versatility’ might mean he is shifted elsewhere at times in 2023. Presuming things stay the same tactically, as they almost certainly will.


Tough season for him. Was playing pretty well I thought, but not really scoring goals which I think was affecting his morale. That just seems to be the case with whoever starts for us up front though so I hope he doesn’t feel bad about it. His injury was a bad one, and I missed it as I was rushing to the toilet at the time. There was a feeling that he would be leaving us at the end of the season but this seems to have disappeared recently. Perhaps due to the injury. So I guess he’ll be back in 2023, and I hope for his and our sakes that it will be more like 2021 than 2022 for him.

10. Ryota OSHIMA (MF)

Another season wrecked by injury. There was a rumour that he was considering retiring at one stage this year which would have been a massive shock. When he came back he showed what he could do. But it was all a bit too late for us. There’s not much else to say as he was absent for so long. Fingers crossed for 2023.


Another weird season for Kobayashi. In 2021 I’m sure he felt quite disheartened by his relative lack of success compared to Damiao who couldn’t stop scoring. In 2022, Damiao also couldn’t score and then got injured so Kobayashi had his chance but couldn’t really take it again. When you have both Damiao and Kobayashi not being able to score you’ve got to think there’s something wrong with the tactics perhaps. But don’t ask me what that is. I would say that our tactics don’t help the central striker score a lot of goals, but we used the same tactics in 2021 and it wasn’t a problem then. Although I guess it started being a problem towards the end of the year after Mitoma left. But then we replaced Mitoma with Marcinho who was our main attacking threat in 2022, being our top scorer and second top assist maker. So I dunno basically. Every time Kobayashi plays you can see how hard he’s trying and how much he wants to score but things just don’t work out for him. Even though he managed nine goals in 2022 you’ve got to imagine that he wouldn’t have been satisfied with that. Let’s just hope we can play a little differently in 2023 and that will suit him and will get him back into form.

Wednesday, 21 December 2022

2022 season round up

Normally this is a lengthy in-depth blog post but honestly, I can’t really be bothered to go onto much detail when talking about 2022. Since Oniki started our lovely run of titles in 2017, this was the first year in which we won absolutely nothing. I kind of knew it would happen when at the start of the season we slightly irritatingly added the sixth star on our shirt as the first of a second line, suggesting that it would be only a matter of time till we’d be getting more. But that wasn’t to be, and it wasn’t really a case of ‘close but no cigar’, but more of a bit of a disaster on all fronts. Of course it’s ridiculous to call us finishing two points behind YFM in the league a disaster. (But that’s the kind of thing you come here for, right?). However, there were so many awful results on the way to that second place finish that looking back, 2022 just feels like a massive run of missed opportunities. Of course we lost important players before the start of the season, but we still had enough in the squad to get the job done. At least as far as I’m concerned anyway. I had something of a mid-season meltdown when I got totally fed up with Oniki’s inflexibility and constant poor choices (as far as I’m concerned). After that came to a head, the second half of the season was quite a relaxed one for me. I knew we weren’t going to win the title. We did come annoyingly close in the end though and YFM being as inconsistent as we were meant that they left it very late to completely extinguish our hope. I’m going to write a bit about each competition below, but before that let’s think about some positives we can take from the 2022 season. Erm…. errr… There aren’t any, I think. Let’s hope 2023 is a bit better. 

Super Cup

The season kicked off with a game against Urawa for the Super Cup. We lost and were absolutely clueless and awful. So pretty much a good introduction to 2022. If you win this game you’re pleased. If you lose it, you just say it’s a meaningless competition and basically a glorified pre-season friendly. We were so bad though that I could only feel more worried about what might be coming rather than happy to write it off as meaningless. This game saw Chanathip being played out of position and being ineffective, something which was utterly obvious to many, but apparently not Oniki as he persevered with it for quite a few more games afterwards. Terrible game, terrible start to a terrible season. So utterly fitting, I guess. 

Levain Cup

As we were in the ACL we were parachuted into the competition at the quarter final stage. Even so, we didn’t make it any further and bowed out at the first time of asking. We took the lead in both legs, and gave it away very late on in both legs too. Particularly shocking was the second leg where we were winning 2-0 as the board went up for injury time in the second half and then conceded twice to go out on away goals. You’ve probably got to say too that we had what Oniki considered to be our best team (or at least best available team) out in the second leg. Looking back at my blog post, it seems that we didn’t take our chances which is something of a theme for 2022. 

Emperor’s Cup

Compared to other competitions in 2022 we had a great run in the Emperor’s Cup this year. Well, we didn’t go out at the first opportunity. We smashed a team of university students 5-0 at home but when it came to playing a team with professionals in it we lost. Tokyo Verdy didn’t have a great 2022 but they were good enough to beat us and our dull football. This game came at the height of my Oniki despair. I’ve managed to blank out most of the experience but my blog post said that even though some might blame the result on us playing some reserves, my take on it was that whoever we selected we would have struggled with our awful tactics. But I would say that, wouldn’t I?


We were targeting the ACL in 2022 apparently. But we did still start with one of our usual total failures to play in a game against Ulsan, only managing to scrape a draw with a goal from Kurumaya which was gifted to us in the 94th minute. A bad game about which I said ‘total lack of ideas’, ‘a dull, dull game’. We followed it up with a walloping of Guangzhou’s U18 team from which we could take a bit of positivity. And then were brought crashing back to earth by a 0-0 against Johor. We didn’t even have a shot on target. Quite how we went from that 0-0 to beating Johor 5-0 in the same stadium three days later, I don’t know. But then we messed it up again in the following game against our Kryptonite team Ulsan which we dominated but failed to take our chances in. This put us in a bad position going into the final game but we should have been ok as other results had gone our way somewhat. But then Ulsan scored an own goal in the 94th minute handing Johor a surprise win, allowing them to top the group and leaving us in second. Which in any normal year would have been fine but due to the different format of the competition in 2022 meant that we went out as we weren’t one of the better second place finishers. But we got what we deserved anyway, as we were rubbish. Something which was exemplified by our final game where we totally dominated against the Chinese kids team and only managed to score once even though we had 81% possession and 23 shots (nine on target). We didn’t take our chances. Again.


It’s a miracle that we finished second, only two points behind YFM. 2022 was a season of some truly horrible results but many more truly horrible performances where we squeaked something. Looking back, the league season kicked off in perfectly typical style for 2022. We didn’t deserve to beat FC Tokyo and we squeaked a truly unfair but utterly delightful win late on. This was the case in many games in 2022. But not the case in the following game where we were rubbish against YFM and lost. My post said ‘Somehow now we can’t pass, tackle or keep the ball. And all of our players have forgotten how to play.’ I could go through the whole year just quoting myself moaning about every game but that would be pretty tough I think. So instead let’s just look at some lowlights. Shonan home and away. Jubilo home and away. Kyoto away. Urawa away where we had to put three goalkeepers on the bench. But of course all teams have bad games over the course of a season. My problem is more that we were so lifeless, dull and blunt pretty much all year. As I said, even when we won, on many occasions we had played very badly and got lucky. It wasn’t much fun to watch and I’m glad it’s over. But I’m a bit worried we might just carry on in the same way in 2023.

So in brief, we had possession, we had shots, we couldn’t score and we couldn’t defend. You can’t really blame Oniki for our strikers not being able to score. You probably can blame him for a complete inability to come up with any kind of plan B when things weren’t working. We overplayed it often, apparently wanting to walk the ball into the net. Confidence was low on many occasions. Our play and our manager drove me nuts but eventually I got over it and just didn’t care much. Which isn’t great, but was a lot less stressful. I guess plenty of people will disagree with me on my interpretation of 2022, but however you feel about it, we can all agree that we came out of it with nothing. Well apart from a lot of disappointment. I think we’re not particularly going to do any better next year but at least we can look forward to Albirex Niigata away. Yokohama FC away is not as exciting from an away travel point of view. We haven’t had to follow up a complete failure season for a while, (2019 was the last one and we managed at least the Levain Cup), so it’s an interesting way to be going in to a new season. Hopefully we can bounce back like we did in 2020, rather than 2022 being the second step is a long decline. I guess it has to happen sooner or later, but if we could avoid it next year, that would be nice.

Tuesday, 20 December 2022

2022 season player stats

Here are this year’s player stats. They’re a bit flakier than usual as I have put them together in a bit of a rush. Next year, I’ll note them down as I go. Last year I had the appearances as starts, used subs and unused subs but the thought of going back through all of my blog posts over this rotten season wasn’t that appealing. So this year we have all appearances lumped together which I guess loses a bit of the nuance of people coming on only for five minutes as subs and stuff like that. Top performer charts are at the bottom and I’ll put a few thoughts on those stats beneath each chart.

AP = appearances
Y = yellow cards
R = red cards
G = goals
A = assists
MM = man of the match (according to me)

1. Sung-Ryong JUNG (GK)

AP 41 Y 0 R 1 G 0 A 0 MM 1


AP 14 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

AP 13 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 2


AP 14 Y 2 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 2


AP 41 Y 3 R 1 G 3 A 3 MM 1


AP 30 Y 6 R 0 G 2 A 0 MM 3

7. Shintaro KURUMAYA (DF)

AP 28 Y 3 R 0 G 4 A 0 MM 0


AP 41 Y 2 R 1 G 2 A 2 MM 0


AP 29 Y 1 R 0 G 7 A 1 MM 1

10. Ryota OSHIMA (MF)

AP 12 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 0


AP 39 Y 1 R 0 G 9 A 5 MM 2

13. Miki YAMANE (DF)

AP 38 Y 5 R 0 G 3 A 6 MM 0

14. Yasuto WAKIZAKA (MF)

AP 42 Y 1 R 0 G 7 A 10 MM 0

15. Asahi SASAKI (DF)
AP 27 Y 4 R 0 G 1 A 2 MM 2

16. Tatsuki SEKO (MF)

AP 19 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 0

17. Kazuki KOZUKA (MF)

AP 17 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 3 MM 1


AP 21 Y 4 R 0 G 2 A 3 MM 0

19. Daiya TONO (FW)

AP 40 Y 1 R 0 G 2 A 1 MM 2

20. Kei CHINEN (FW)

AP 36 Y 3 R 0 G 11 A 2 MM 1

21. Shunsuke ANDO (GK)
AP 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

22. Yuki HAYASAKA (GK)
AP 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0


AP 40 Y 2 R 0 G 15 A 7 MM 2

24. Ten MIYAGI (FW)

AP 28 Y 0 R 0 G 2 A 2 MM 1

25. Renji MATSUI (MF)

AP 4 Y 1 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

26. Takatora EINAGA (MF)

AP 1 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 0

27. Kenta TANNO (MF)

AP 5 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 1

28. Taiyo IGARASHI (FW)

AP 1 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 0

29. Kota TAKAI (DF)
AP 1 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

30. Shuto TANABE (DF)

AP 2 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

31. Kazuya YAMAMURA (MF)

AP 32 Y 2 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 2

32. Shin YAMADA
AP 1  Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

41. Akihiro IENAGA (MF)

AP 43 Y 3 R 0 G 12 A 5 MM 5

Most appearances

1. Akihiro IENAGA - 43
2. Yasuto WAKIZAKA - 42
3. Kento TACHIBANADA - 41

3. Sung-Ryong JUNG - 41
3. Shogo TANIGUCHI - 41

It’s kind of shocking that the player with the most appearances was Ienaga, who is 36 years old. He was definitely one of the best performers though so obviously the hard work didn’t blunt his performances too much! Slightly shockingly he was involved in every single league game. And even more shockingly, he made it on to the pitch in every game we played this year apart from one. There were quite a lot of high numbers in this category which I guess isn’t surprising as Oniki doesn’t like to rotate much.

Most yellows

2. Miki YAMANE - 5
3. Asahi SASAKI - 4
5. Akihiro IENAGA - 3
5. Kei CHINEN - 3
5. Shintaro KURUMAYA - 3
5. Shogo TANIGUCHI - 3

Nothing much to see in the yellow card stats really. I’m not sure how fair it is to say this, but I think Joao Schmidt and Chanathip probably got yellows they might not have done if they were Japanese. It definitely seems to be the case that foreign players get booked for stuff that Japanese players don’t. I would also say that maybe Chanathip was desperate to do well and perhaps that’s why he got stuck in a bit too much at times. Maybe. A lot of yellows for Yamane too, probably because, (in my opinion), he couldn’t really be bothered for most of the season, got caught out and had to make some dodgy fouls to make up for his mistakes. But then again I would say that.

Most reds

1. Kento TACHIBANADA - 1
2. Sung-Ryong JUNG - 1
3. Shogo TANIGUCHI - 1

Three reds only. Of course all the opposition players cheated in all of those situations, right?

Most goals

1. MARCINHO - 15
2. Akihiro IENAGA - 12
3. Kei CHINEN - 11
5. Yasuto WAKIZAKA - 7

Ienaga and Marcinho scored the joint most goals in the league, but Marcinho topped the charts with his goals in cup games. Damiao was number one last year with 31 goals! Over twice as many as the winner got this year. Perfectly in keeping with how this season felt, I guess. The top five had 74 goals combined last year. The top six this year got 61 goals. But there were more games last year.

Most assists

1. Yasuto WAKIZAKA - 10
3. Miki YAMANE - 6
4. Akihiro IENAGA - 5

Last year’s assist king Yamane dropped into third place this year. I won’t moan about him again though. Wakizaka stepped up to take his place. There’s probably not much to say about assists other than that.

Most Frontale Rabbit ‘Man Of The Match’ awards

1. No-one - 10
2. Akihiro IENAGA - 5
4. Kazuya YAMAMURA - 2
4. JESIEL - 2
4. Daiya TONO - 2
4. Koki TSUKAGAWA - 2
4. Asahi SASAKI - 2

The runaway winner here was my grumpy ‘absolutely no-one deserved it’ awards. I should add that I don’t give these for games I don’t attend and those occasions aren’t included in the winning total. Neither was when I couldn’t really pick someone as no-one stood out. I should make it absolutely clear that on ten occasions this year I thought we were so useless that it pissed me off. Other than that, it’s no surprise that Ienaga got the most awards. I totally accept that my man of the match awards are often a little different from other people’s opinions, but that’s the benefit of writing a blog, I guess. Nice work Tsukagawa for getting it on two occasions, one of which was after he’d transferred to FC Tokyo.

Monday, 5 December 2022

2022 season ref stats

Here we go with the first of my 2022 season round up posts and as always I'll start with the easiest one to do, the ref stats. I think I always say that these stats are kind of pointless as obviously every game is different and has different card worthy incidents. Therefore, if you believe that all refs apply the same rules, (and of course we always are talking about the consistency of refs in the J League, aren't we?), comparing how many cards they've given doesn't really make sense. I do think it gives us a bit of an idea though of how we should feel about various refs. I've added the 2021 totals at the bottom, not just to rub in how awful we were this year compared to last year, but also to show how many more cards we picked up in 2022. I guess this comes with the territory when you're struggling a bit. In 2021 we had four more league games as there were two extra teams in the league. We had four extra cup games too. That was because we were awful in the cups this year. Even with eight less games, we still picked up 17 more yellows and three more reds this year. It hasn't been much fun, has it? To focus a little on the refs, and ignoring those who we've only had a single game with as we should probably consider more than one game to make these kind of sweeping generalisations, our big ref buddies this year were Fukushima, Kimura, Sato and Shimizu from a points gained point of view. Conversely we should be moaning about how few points we've gained in Araki's and Matsuo's games. The most card happy refs to us were Araki and Ikeuchi. Shockingly Kasahara didn't send off any of our players this year (at least not directly, think he was involved in one VAR decision). In conclusion, Fukushima was the best and Araki was the worst (the second part of which I guess I suspected before compiling these stats, but I had some others in mind too). Let's hope Fukushima refs all of our games next year and then we'll come away with a perfect points haul and no cards all year. But let's not cheer his announcement like some did with Iemoto a few years ago turning him against us for the rest of his career. Yes, I'm still bitter.

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 0 D 2 L 2 Y 7 R 1 
AVC 2.5 AVP 0.5

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

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

G 3 W 2 D 0 L 1 Y 2 R 0
AVC 0.66 AVP 2

G 2 W 1 D 0 L 1 Y 7 R 0
AVC 3.5 AVP 1.5

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 2 W 2 D 0 L 0 Y 3 R 0
AVC 1.5 AVP 3

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

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

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

G 2 W 1 D 0 L 1 Y 0 R 0
AVC 0 AVP1.5

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

G 3 W 1 D 1 L 1 Y 3 R 1
AVC 2 AVP 1.33

G 3 W 3 D 0 L 0 Y 6 R 0

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

G 2 W 1 D 0 L 1 Y 2 R 0
AVC 1 AVP1.5

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

G 3 W 2 D 1 L 0 Y 1 R 1
AVC 1.33 AVP 2.33 

G 38 W 21 D 8 L 9 Y 38 R 3
AVC 1.23 AVP 1.86

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

Sunday, 4 December 2022

2022 Season survey questions

Here is the 6th annual Frontale Rabbit Blog survey. Totally cut and pasted from last year's one. Maybe the answers will be a bit depressing this year though... 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

Sunday, 6 November 2022

Vs FC Tokyo (away) 5/11/22 J League match 34

FC Tokyo 2 - 3 Kawasaki Frontale

After months of saying the title is gone I can now confirm that the title has officially gone. It’s something of a miracle that it has taken so long for it to become an undeniable fact. We’ve dawdled and stumbled all year, but somehow have eked out enough results to stay in contention. When you consider some of the results we’ve got against teams near and at the bottom, it’s quite frustrating to have ended up only two points behind at the end of the season. But if we had won the league the exhilaration would have mainly come from the fact that we would not deserved it at all. As this post is supposed to be about the final game of the season, I’ll save my ‘high quality analysis’ as to where things went wrong for my season round-up posts. And as it’s no fun to think about our neighbours winning the league, let’s get this out of the way quickly and then not think about football for a while. Well apart from that Thai tour. But friendlies aren’t really that important, are they?

No real surprises in the starting line-up. Jesiel started instead of Kurumaya, presumably being completely healed after his injury and being on the bench last week. Aside from that one change, it was the same team who’d squeaked past Vissel last weekend. So again we had Tachibanada and Joao Schmidt both playing. See last week’s post and probably loads of previous ones to find out why I don’t think that’s a good thing. But it is Oniki who is in charge, so the best players/his favourite players will be squeezed into the same formation wherever he can fit them, rather than playing people in their favoured positions. It’s difficult to comment on whether it worked in this game or not, as the game as a normal contest was over after 29 minutes when Sung-Ryong got sent off. We were right behind it and to me it looked like he hadn’t even made contact and instead had kicked the ground. Definitely Adailton was looking for the foul as he was heading away from the goal. But I’m not going to say it wasn’t a red. It got referred to VAR so I’m sure they closely checked it. Don’t think the replay from the one angle on DAZN is particularly conclusive either way though if you go in with a ‘no contact’ mindset. I’m sure I’d be saying it was a definite if it was our attacker though. As I said, the red pretty much killed the game for us as an attacking force, except for giving the ball to Marcinho and getting him to run at the FC Tokyo defence and get fouled (no free kicks though, wink emoji here). Astonishingly though we scored three times. Wakizaka’s first was a lovely strike and went in whilst it was still 11 vs 11. (Or should I say 12 vs 11 as it would be stupid of me to not bore on about the ref Yamamoto being totally biased against us as is my wont. Anyway, more on him later). Our other two goals were kind of gifted to us. Morishige shepherding the ball out of play and then thinking he was much too skillful to do that and losing the ball to Tachibanada was a moment of real joy. Marcinho scuffing the finish and it looping over Slowik was either absolute genius or another big slice of fortune. The third was even better, FC Tokyo’s striker knee-ing the ball into his own net under no pressure at all. Lovely! Without these two uplifting moments in a game where we only had four shots because we spent most of it desperately defending it would have been a long afternoon and would have made useless Vissel Kobe’s failure to hand us the title extremely annoying. As it was, we had something to hang some slight happiness on to and got a little lift at the end of what has been a thoroughly underwhelming season bookended by two flukey wins against FC Tokyo. Joy!

A few words on FC Tokyo. I didn’t notice during the game, but looking at highlights I was dazzled by Adailton’s perfect and brilliant teeth. Perhaps this explains the weird face he pulls when he celebrates goals. If you’ve spent decent money at the dentist, you want to show them off with a gurn. Sadly we saw this celebration twice. Mercifully it wasn’t more than twice. Sure, they had an extra player, but they caused us a lot of problems, and if it wasn’t for that apparent innate FC Tokyo desire to shoot themselves in the foot, they probably would have had a better season. I suspect once Puig has got rid of some of the dead wood at the end of the season they’ll be in a position to make a much sterner challenge next year. He seems like a nice guy too, coming over to commiserate with us over our total title failure. At least that’s what I heard. I didn’t hang around after we’d said goodbye and kind of well done to our players at the end of the game. Tsukagawa seems like a changed man. He was at the heart of a lot of what FC Tokyo did in this game. Just shows what happens when you give a player a chance I guess. I think lots of players sink and disappear with us because they never get more than a minute or two played well out of position. But this is supposed to be the FC Tokyo section so I’ll save that talk for a later post. Tsukagawa also made the highlights reel for some extremely high and wide blasts into the stands. It’s a good thing he wasn’t on the goal scoring form that he was against YFM that saved us losing another one of our title race nine lives when we lost to Shonan. Slowik is still not good at all with the ball at his feet. We probably would have made more use of that if we hadn’t played 2/3 of the game with 10 men. The queues were horrible at this game. When looking at the make up of the crowd, which seemed to be about at least one third Frontale fans, you’ve got to imagine that they aren’t used to getting such crowds at Ajista. I met up with the FC Tokyo Kai Guys and had a nice chat in the line for the official FC Tokyo beer, which seemed to be being served at about one customer every couple of minutes, (I dunno, perhaps they were hand-squeezing the beer direct from the beer tree, rather than pouring it in the normal way so it took a bit longer?), and then had to give up on both the beer and the chat to join another really long and slow moving queue to get into the stadium before kick off. Perhaps the fact that our seats were all reserved meant that Frontale fans were all turning up at the same time to enter. But I know that other fans who were entering about an hour before had the same issues too. Oh and of course no post about a Tamagawa Classico in Chofu would be complete without the usual laughing at ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ which was being blasted through the speakers in order to make up for the fact that no-one was singing it. Perhaps they only know the words to the chorus. Or perhaps it all feels a bit weird to them. I guess the Kai Guys don’t really want to sing it considering the team it is associated with in England and the teams they support in England. I think we were a bit rude to start singing our song whilst it was playing, but it is a derby and I think it was quite funny to drown their prerecorded song out.

Finally, let’s talk about Yamamoto the ref. My game notes are mainly his name and ‘absolute…’, ’total…’, 'unbelievable...' or 'absolute total unbelievable...' followed by four letter expletives. I’ve addressed the red card above so don’t think I’m moaning about that. He gave almost nothing else though. He definitely didn’t give the two fouls that lead directly to the two FC Tokyo goals. He also was quite happy to see us play for as long as possible with nine men when Taniguchi was off the field after treatment and was made to run round to the touchline at centre of the pitch, desperately trying to get back on, while the ref, with the action on the other side of the pitch did his best to not notice him. I had a bad feeling about Yamamoto before the game, which is weird as looking back on our games he’s officiated this year, I didn’t have much to moan about. He’s definitely made my shit list now though. Of course, if we’d won the league, I probably wouldn’t be moaning about the ref so much. But imagine how much I’d be moaning if we had lost this game as well as the title! Moaning at refs is a great way to let off steam, and to also cover up for the inadequacies of your own team’s play. It’s always good if you can blame someone else for your deficiencies. But in this case, well, he was just useless.

So that’s it. Next up, no-one. Ah, actually Thailand. Friendlies aside, the season is over and it’s barely November. We’ve come up short in the league whilst also failing miserably in every other competition we’ve played in this year. So not exactly a vintage year for us. I think I made 2019 comparisons at the start of the season and they have come all too true. Although this year, we came kind of close to winning the league. But could we truly have said we deserved it? I don’t think so. I also don’t think YFM did either though, so maybe we should just cancel this year. What do you reckon? I guess the next few days and weeks will be full of talk about who is leaving and who is staying. Perhaps I’m not just talking about players. I think if we’d won the league perhaps Oniki would have gone. But as we’ve come up short, maybe he’ll be here again next year. And that is apparently what the early rumours are saying. There’s a lot to do before we start next season. Once again, we’ve barely rotated all year and have absolutely no idea when it comes to having a plan B. We still can’t break down teams who just want to defend. Aside from Marcinho and penalties our attack seems to have been totally blunted. And who would have thought that not having any defenders and having one of our best players start the season with a long term injury without getting any cover in would have meant that our defence has got worse too? Anyway, I’m sure we’ll all have a nice break and will come back next year with the usual bordering on deluded optimism and niceness that we start every year with. Good luck to Taniguchi and Yamane at the World Cup (perhaps you might actually notice Yamane in a game. I don’t think I’ve spotted him in a Frontale game for a while. Wink wink, nudge nudge, eh?), and good luck to the rest of us in forgetting this year’s failure on all fronts as quickly as possible!

GK 1. JUNG Sung-Ryong (Red card 29')
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 27. TANNO Kenta (on for NOBORIZATO 33')
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for WAKIZAKA 46')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for JOAO SCHMIDT 59')
MF 17. KOZUKA Kazuki
MF 19. TONO Daiya
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for KOBAYASHI 59')
MF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for MARCINHO 80')
My Frontale Man Of The Match
Backs against the wall stuff and a big old mess of players playing in weird shapes due to the red card means it's a bit difficult to judge people fairly. But one player really stood out for interception after interception and tackle after tackle...

JESIEL - a bit of shame for him to have been associated with such a lacklustre season considering he was injured for so long. Was immense in this game and we would have finished the season on an even bigger downer if it hadn't been for him.
WAKIZAKA (Frontale) 19' 0-1
ADAILTON (FC Tokyo) 47' 1-1
MARCINHO (Frontale) 61' 1-2
ADAILTON (FC Tokyo) 74' 2-2
OWN GOAL (FC Tokyo) 75' 2-3


Sunday, 30 October 2022

Vs Vissel Kobe (home) 29/10/22 J League match 33

Kawasaki Frontale 2 - 1 Vissel Kobe

I know that recently I’ve started every blog post with a disclaimer that I don’t have much time to write it and therefore will have to bash it out quickly. This time I might reach new heights of bashing it out quickly. I’m playing my first concert for three years next week and haven’t practiced anywhere near enough. In order to avoid proper in person embarrassment I’m going to risk online embarrassment by neglecting this post and doing even less ‘research’ than usual. This wasn’t a great performance from us but we did enough to tale the points. I do feel that this is all too little too late though and that two losses against Shonan, two draws against Jubilo and a few other dodgy games will cost us dearly. YFM sadly didn’t continue their awful form and instead gave Urawa a spanking. Now we just have to hope that Vissel Kobe’s desire to not have the trophy given out on their home ground is greater than FC Tokyo’s desire to not have a bit of card given out at their home ground. We need a Vissel win. A draw in that game will necessitate quite a big victory for us in our game. When I say quite big I think we’re talking about all time record big. So, fingers crossed Vissel can do the business. And that we also can. I’m not that confident about either of these things actually happening to be honest. A few quick words about the game before I throw out some facetious comments about the opposition. We were pretty shot shy again. And Tachibanada and Joao Schmidt playing together in the midfield once again stifled our attacking. At least that’s they way I see it. One or the other works best as far as I’m concerned. But what do I know? I was a bit confused why we were putting so many crosses into the box when our attackers aren’t that tall and their defenders were. Plenty of good opportunities were wasted that way. But you know, we won, so best not moan too much.

On to the opposition baiting. Kobe lined up in their pre-match training wear looking like they’d planned a team outing after the game to watch ‘This Is England’ and were going to go in skinhead fancy dress. Osaki complemented this with his ‘sax player in the backing band of an early 80’s white boy soul singer’ haircut. Osako is clearly looking to force his way back into the national team having perhaps heard that Moriyasu is on the lookout for the kind of player who can constantly foul from behind and whinge a lot. Vissel at the end of the 2022 season seem like a team with good footballing brains but without the footballing bodies to pull off their ideas. I guess the body deteriorates before the mind does. Certainly my mind is currently doing its best to catch up with my body. Or perhaps readers might think that both are equally degraded. It seems a little more difficult to poke fun and laugh at Vissel now that  they are trying to assemble the Japan national team of three or four years ago rather than the Barcelona team of about double that time ago. I’ve heard people saying that maybe Iniesta will perhaps be bowing out at the end of the year. Not sure if this is in any way true, but if he is, it seems only right that they go out on a big win, doesn’t it? Good luck to Vissel. We’re all supporting you!

And with this all out of the way mercifully quickly, let’s look ahead to next week at the Ajinomoto Stadium. As I’ve said, we’ve got to win. That’s it really. I’m pleased that it’s a singing game, but I suspect that our singing at the end of the game will be more of the ‘well done, you tried your best but results elsewhere mean that your efforts were in vain’ style than unbridled joy at a miracle coming true. Then after that I can get on with some end of season posts and the usual survey. Lots to look forward to, eh

GK 1. JUNG Sung-Ryong
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT (Yellow card 44')
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 4. JESIEL (on for NOBORIZATO 71')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for JOAO SCHMIDT 62')
MF 17. KOZUKA Kazuki
MF 19. TONO Daiya (on for MARCINHO 87')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for WAKIZAKA 71')
MARCINHO (Frontale) 20' 1-0
KOBAYASHI (Vissel) 51' 1-1
IENAGA (Frontale) PEN 84' 2-1


Friday, 14 October 2022

Vs Kyoto Sanga (home) 12/10/22 J League match 25

Kawasaki Frontale 3 - 1 Kyoto Sanga 

Whoever wins the league this year, one thing is for sure. The winner won’t have won due to them having played the best the most times, but more having for choked a bit less than their rivals on less occasions. Once again this was another match day for us where the more significant action was happening in a different stadium. And actually in the Nissan stadium again. I’ve never particularly been a fan of that stadium but I’m starting to quite enjoy the results that are happening there recently. And a big thank you to Jubilo Iwata. I guess they felt they owed us something as we’d given them a couple of points in two absolutely awful games this year. Looking back, maybe we should have agreed to win one each and then we’d only be one point behind YFM instead of two. All of this is a lot of fun to talk about but we’ve probably got to admit that although lightning usually doesn’t strike twice, it strikes three or four times even less often. Jubilo and Gamba have done us massive favours but now we need Urawa and Vissel to do the same. And we’re playing Vissel next so somehow we need them to be terrible in the next game and then great in the last one. And we have FC Tokyo in the final game who smashed Cerezo 4-0 in their midweek game. That’s Cerezo, a team who we have drawn three times with and lost once to this year. It’s been a weird year and although our season by all rights should have been finished at least a few matches ago, it just keeps limping on. It’s the hope that kills you, I guess. And now we have another big old break till our next game. With my optimist hat on, (a hat I rarely wear), this long break is perfect for Kevin Muscats and YFM to get good and panicky and dwell deeply on their last two defeats, their confidence crumbling, resulting in then finishing the season with four consecutive losses. With more realistic headwear in place, it will probably just give them an opportunity to draw a line under those defeats and get back into some kind of shape to take the title. I’ve been saying for months that the title was gone so surely you weren’t going to expect me to change my mind now, were you? I will say though, the last two matches have been a lot of fun, haven’t they?

Minimal information in this section about the match. The usual quality you’d expect from me. Tachibanada was back and Joao Schmidt was absent due to a yellow card ban, so once again we were spared the double defensive midfielder thing. I hope Oniki has noticed that we’ve won the games where we haven’t played both of them together. It’s a shame as they both play really well in the defensive midfield role. This doesn’t mean that we need to play both of them though. During his red card break it seems that Tachibanada has been talking with Damiao, as before he got his goal in this game, I couldn’t ever have imagined him scoring with an overhead. I may be making the finish sound a bit more dramatic than it actually was, but it was great to see him come back from his disappointment with a goal. Taniguchi saw Yamamura score last weekend and clearly thought he’d like to get in the action too. And it was a lovely finish from Marcinho, who seemed to direct the ball home using his privates. I’m sure no-one cares how they go in at this stage though. We probably could have had more as we were well on top in the first half. At the same time though, even though we won by two goals, the end wasn’t exactly comfortable and Kyoto hit the woodwork a couple of times. They looked terrible in the first half for the most part and I was quite shocked how a few subs really turned things round for them. I thought they had some really good ideas from set pieces, but at the same time didn’t have the players to pull them off. Delighted about that to be honest. Cho has a reputation for being a manager that can get his team out of the relegation scrap but I’m not sure he’ll be able to do it on this occasion if they start their remaining games the way they started this one. There was a big flag with his face on it in the Kyoto end which for some unknown reason seemed to have the word ‘HUNT’ written under it. No idea about that. They also had plenty of those flags that the more racist groups of fans love so much and which go down very badly in the ACL. We did alright I think, but perhaps are running mainly on confidence and form right now. We rode our luck on quite a few occasions, but got away with it. I don’t have anyone to moan about in this game, but I will say that Marcinho and Ienaga have every right to be feeling totally knackered and maybe need a rest. Marcinho kept running for the whole game but like against Shimizu when he had a late chance to put the ball in an empty net from the halfway line, he just seemed to be lacking a bit of power. And Ienaga really slowed down as the game progressed, doing his usual drifting thing but, drifting around the pitch at half speed. Recently they have been undroppable and quite rightly so. But this break has come at exactly the right time. I probably would have subbed Ienaga if I were the manager, but as I’ve said many times, if I were the manager, we’d be in big trouble. And I suspect that Oniki and Ienaga have their eyes on the top goal scorer chart. He couldn’t add to his tally on this occasion though but hopefully he can before the season ends. Marcinho is only one goal behind too though. A quick word on Tanno, who has hardly had any opportunities in his time with is. He made an absolutely amazing save in this game, but once again was denied a clean sheet. I don’t think this was his fault, but he just seems to be unlucky that when he comes in, we gift the opposition some nice and easy chances. Or perhaps the same thing happens to Sung-Ryong but he manages to stop them. Anyway, well done to Tanno. I’m not worried that his kicking isn’t as good. If I know that, I’m sure the team does and probably shouldn’t be putting him in quite so many dubious situations. But yeah, nice work, and I hope you like your new song.

So, yeah, this is all a bit light. But I spent a lot of time at this game checking Flashscore and hoping that YFM were still drawing, and then hoping they were still losing. We didn’t set the world on fire but we did the job, which is more than can be said in plenty of games this year. So, very satisfying. Two games to go and they are Vissel at home and Chofu away. It’s a bit of a shame that we have to wait a few weeks till we can play again but as I said, it should give some players some time to rest a bit. Kobe are usually tricky for us, but we play better against them at home so there’s that to hang on to. And FC Tokyo have a slight shot at the ACL and would no doubt be delighted to deny us if it did come done to the final day of the season. But it’s not in our hands anyway so there’s no point talking about this kind of thing. Keep those fingers crossed and I have no shame in loudly proclaiming that I’m really supporting Urawa in their next match, which will be happening at the same time as ours, so if all goes well, expect me to not be paying much attention for our next game either.
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 21. ANDO Shunsuke
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for NOBORIZATO 79')
DF 15. SASAKI Asahi
MF 17. KOZUKA Kazuki (on for WAKIZAKA 79')
MF 19. TONO Daiya (on for CHANATHIP 62')
FW 24. MIYAGI Ten (on for MARCINHO 79')
FW 26. EINAGA Takatora
My Frontale Man Of The Match
A decent performance from plenty of people so it’s a difficult choice. Chanathip was back and had a good game with a great cross for the first goal. Was nice to see Tachibanada back in a more comfortable position and getting a goal but I think I’ll give it jointly to…

TANUGUCHI Shogo, YAMAMURA Kazuya and TANNO Kenta - bit weird to give it to the two centre backs and the goalie as we did concede, (I haven’t watched the replay so might be dropping a clanger here), but I thought all three of them did their bit when it came to keeping us reasonably solid at the back. And loving those Yamamura runs forward which seem to be rubbing off on Taniguchi too now.
TANIGUCHI (Frontale) 9' 1-0
TACHIBANADA (Frontale) 22' 2-0
MARCINHO (Frontale) 61' 3-0
PAULINHO (Kyoto) 70' 3-1


Monday, 10 October 2022

Vs Shimizu S Pulse (home) 8/10/22 J League match 32

Kawasaki Frontale 3 - 2 Shimizu S Pulse

So we live to fight another day! Possibly YFM want to make me look as stupid as possible as I’ve been saying we have no chance of winning the title for months now. Usually when they slip up, we do the same and fail to take advantage. And then of course there are those days and those games where they win 4-0 (away at Nagoya where we scraped a 1-1) and we either draw or lose. So now we sit here five points behind with three games to go. Of course there’s nothing more I’d like than for them to totally choke and for us to win the league. But that would require us winning our last three games, (at home against Kyoto and Vissel and away to FC Tokyo), and them slipping up twice in their last three games (at home to Jubilo and Urawa and then away at Vissel). So it’s not going to happen. And then I will be able to moan again about our horrendous results in ‘easier’ games that has totally messed us up this year. But we did win this game and it was fun. Two things that can’t be said about any of our last three games. The usual pre-game display of the league table on the big screen was met with the absolute minimum smattering of light applause, perhaps done more from muscle memory rather than actually as a reaction to what was being shown on the screen which didn’t look at all good. Perhaps the clapping might be a bit stronger on Wednesday but it’s still not really very nice viewing. Oniki’s hand was forced when it came to the starting line up as Jesiel, Sung-Ryong and Kurumaya were injured and Tachibanada was banned after his red card against Sapporo. So we were finally rid of the double defensive midfield thing, (or at least two defensive midfielders being played together anyway), which worked against YFM (just about) and has been more certain to happen recently that the inevitability of all of our eventual deaths. In the same way that we all must meet our maker one day, Oniki’s tactics too expire. But much like human beings in ghost stories or the bible but not in real life, I suspect that there will be a resurrection of the Tachibana Joao Schmidt midfield double, probably in the game after next. (Joao Schmidt is banned for the game on Wednesday). I think I always say this but I’m really busy right now and have a hell of a lot of things I need to do before the end of the month, so please excuse this post for lack of detail. And I should probably apologise to both readers and myself for the almost certain excessive length of this post. (Reading back, it doesn’t actually seem that long!) So let’s get on with it.

This was something of a weird game (and that’s not even mentioning the fact that Kozuka was back on the bench and joined there by Einaga! (Guess that really shows how short of numbers we were. I’m in favour of both of those things, but I’m pretty sure Oniki isn’t). Singing was back at Todoroki but it was a weird kind of singing. Given that we get pretty close to filling our stadium most weeks (well about 4/5 full anyway), we were never going to go for the massive revenue reduction that having stadium wide singing involves, (you need spaces between each spectator so obviously can’t get as many people in). There’s also the issue of us having a lot of season ticket holders in reserved seats. Well, we did have anyway, as a short while ago those reserved seats were canceled leading to the reintroduction of the dreaded early morning get your spot in the queue system. Thankfully our seats are on the upper tier and therefore are still reserved allowing us to stroll up as close to kick off as we want, safe in the knowledge that we will be able to get a decent spot. For some reason we still go about an hour before. Not 100% sure why, but I guess spending time at the stadium with nothing to do is an addiction it is difficult to kick. But reserved seats on the upper tier meant no singing for us, and instead we had to just clap along to the singing coming from the lower tier. And what a lot of singing there was! It sounded great to be honest and I wish I could have joined in. But I have done my fair share of singing recently at away games, so it wasn’t quite as much of a wrench as it could have been. The return of sining also brought about something I was calling for in a previous post, a song for Tanno! And as Kengo was in attendance we got a chance to sing his song too and then rolled out a few more for other players who have left without us having one final sing song for them. I think it was the first time we have sung Kozuka’s song too as he’s been invisible for a while now. It’s good that it was Shimizu visiting for a singing game as their drumming and singing is always great. To be honest though, I didn’t hear that much of it in this game. I guess I’m at the other end of the stadium though and I suppose that the limited numbers visually don’t look that different but do in fact sound quite different. The ref for this game was Shimizu so I was anticipating writing that he was biased and should not be allowed to referee his own team (funny observation, eh?), but I don’t recall him being that bad! Certainly he was a bit slow cracking down on some unbelievable time wasting for the 20 minutes Shimizu were ahead. But to be fair to him, he was equally lax when we were time wasting when we were ahead at the end of the game. 

A few words about the game itself. I think Shimizu did a pretty good job in the first half and the game was quite end to end, with a bit of a lack of quality when it came to shooting from both teams. Checking the stats I was quite shocked to see that we dominated them in the first half as it certainly didn’t feel that way. We did seem to be playing some more attacking stuff though, even if we couldn’t quite get through the Shimizu defence. One thing that was abundantly clear was that every dangerous attack for Shimizu came from them going down Yamane’s side. He was usually somewhere else though, which I guess is the reason for them focusing on that side. Yamane is a bit of an enigma for me. Sometimes he’s great, but more often than not recently he really looks like he doesn’t give a shit, particularly when it comes to anything he is supposed to do in his own half. This match was the Halloween game and we were treated to a special team line up video mentioning what the players were scared of. Taniguchi saying ‘DOGSO’ got the biggest laugh but Yamane’s ‘crows’ really should have said ‘defending’. But I suppose he’s not scared of defending, he just has no interest in doing it. I think he was at least partly to blame for both of the Shimizu goals (although I think one of them looked like it came from a foul on one of our players that wasn’t given, at least to me anyway). I haven’t watched them back as the second one in particular felt like a horror show at the time and I don’t want to be reminded of it. But the feeling as it happened was that there was acres of space where Yamane should have been and the man himself was trotting around in the centre circle waiting for someone to give him the ball. I guess this is what can happen when you have a player who is undroppable. Our utter lack of cover in that position, coupled with Oniki’s reluctance to play anyone there unless he really really has to means that Yamane can basically do what he wants. And as he’s playing so much, I guess he’s tired, and if you like scoring goals more than you like defending, I guess you’re going to scrimp when it comes to the latter. It was great to see Tono, Kobayashi and Yamamura score in this game. Of course I like it when any of our players scores, but those three scoring was extra nice. And it was also nice to see us attempting to repeat our game against Sapporo but actually managing to stop conceding after taking the lead for the second time. In order to once again show you how much I know about football, I was castigating Oniki for canceling the triple substitution he had ready to make when we scored our second. My feeling was that we’d scored from a corner but had not been creating much anyway, so just go ahead with the subs. But of course I was wrong as the lift the equaliser gave us propelled us on to score again two minutes later. So yeah, nice work Oniki, and Neil is stupid. At times the game felt like it was going to boil over, particularly when we got back into the game. There were some fruity tackles going in and the Shimizu fans were already annoyed about Taniguchi bumping in to Gonda at the end of the first half and him not returning after half time. I think they might have been clutching at straws though as there clearly wasn’t anything in it. Gonda being withdrawn meant that we once again got to see Okubo, who I have in the past said looks like an estate agent playing at being a footballer. I don’t know if they comparison translates from UK estate agents to Japanese ones, but it really works for me. With this in mind, and with the fact that the J Talk Podcast likes to translate Sagan Tosu’s home ground to ‘The Real Estate Agent In Front Of The Station’ stadium, I’d like Okubo to be referred to hereafter as ‘The Real Estate Agent In Front Of The Goal’. I think it kind of works… It’s weird that Shimizu have two former FC Tokyo keepers. It’s also weird that Okubo aped his teammate and also dropped to the floor following the lightest of contacts, as (I think) Marcinho light brushed the sticky out bit of his slicked back mullet. To be fair to him, he did get up quite quickly and I’m just using this as a way to say rude things about his haircut. Feel free to hit back at me similarly. That’s probably about it, isn’t it? Maybe I could mention that Kobayashi still doesn’t quite seem to be back and banging. He had his usual first few dodgy shots in this game but unlike a few years ago, didn’t follow it up with some top skills and goals. Well, he did score a goal and it wasn’t the easiest of finishes, but it was basically having to angle the ball into an unguarded net. But he put it in, so well done to him. I think he’s a confidence player and just needs to get some minutes and get himself back into a bit of form. It’s a shame that we only have three games left really, isn’t it?

Next up, Kyoto Sanga at home on Wednesday. The away game was one of our most ridiculous performances of the season and a real gift for both Kyoto and YFM. Hopefully we’ll be able to do a bit better in the return fixture. It would be difficult to do any worse to be honest. As I mentioned above, we’ll be spared the double defensive midfield thing for this game so maybe we’ll be attacking a bit more than we have recently. Who knows, it might even be fun! Probably not though. I’ll be keeping an eye on the YFM Jubilo game whilst we’re playing but I can’t really see lightning striking twice in a week. Jubilo probably do need to win to stay up though so hopefully that will motivate them. And then after that we have a seventeen day break before the following game. I know the schedule this season has been totally messed up by moving the World Cup to the end of the year, but we do seem to have been playing an insane amount of matches back to back and then having massive breaks. Perhaps it will be better next year, but I think I heard that everyone including ACL teams will be playing the Levain group games next year, so that probably just means even more fixture congestion and more trouble for people trying to write blog posts between matches. Good luck to us all! I want to say fingers crossed we keep on winning, and I will, but at the same time, double fingers crossed YFM keep on losing. Nice to end on some positivity!

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya
MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT (Yellow card 54')
MF 19. TONO Daiya
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 21. ANDO Shunsuke
DF 15. SASAKI Asahi (on for NOBORIZATO 90+1')
MF 16. SEKO Tatsuki
MF 17. KOZUKA Kazuki (on for CHINEN 90+1')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for TONO 60')
FW 24. MIYAGI Ten (on for KOBAYASHI 87')
FW 26. EINAGA Takatora

My Frontale Man Of The Match

I think that aside from the shocking goals we conceded we generally did alright in this game, but at the same time, no-one in particular stood out, so maybe I’ll skip it again, but this time not for the usual negative reasons.

TONO (Frontale) 28' 1-0
SHIRASAKI (Shimizu) 49' 1-1
CARLINHOS (Shimizu) 57' 1-2
YAMAMURA (Frontale) 76' 2-2
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 78' 3-2