Tuesday, 4 January 2022

2021 Season Player Round-Up Part 2

Part two of the 2021 season round up. Today it goes from Yamane to Miyagi. Part 3 tomorrow.

13. Miki YAMANE (DF)

Another great season for Yamane with plenty of international recognition and unlike some of our other players who were called up, he actually played a few times! Again included in the J League team of the year and this year also got the fair play award as he didn’t get a single yellow card in 47 appearances, which is pretty amazing for a defender. The fact that he played 47 times is a bit of a problem for us though I’d say. The only occasions he dropped out of the squad were when he was on international duty or for a couple of ACL group games against very weak teams. So to be honest, he hasn’t had a break at all. We definitely need to give him a bit more rest next year. Hopefully he will still be with us, as people have talked about him possibly catching the eye of other clubs. Only two goals this year suggests that he’s been defending a bit more than in previous seasons, but he does still turn up as our player who is furthest forward on numerous occasions which is always quite amusing but also a little scary. 14 assists too! Great season.

15. Zain ISSAKA (MF)

Yamane’s international call ups were Zain’s big chance this year. It didn’t quite work out though. I thought he did pretty well in his first start against Yokohama FC but perhaps Oniki didn’t agree as the only times he was involved after that when Yamane was available pretty much only came in the ACL group games. I guess it’s tough when you have a J League Best 11 player ahead of you and a manager who doesn’t like to change things much. Don’t think he really got all the opportunities he might have been able to get but to be honest, there were quite a few occasions when we left it pretty late to get the job done in 2021 so didn't have the option to bring on some youngsters for some experience. Going on loan to Yokohama FC next season so hopefully will get some game time under his belt as I feel what he really needs is experience. Good luck to him and hope he comes back stronger and better!

16. Tatsuya HASEGAWA (MF)

Another victim of the ACL penalty curse, never even being slightly involved after the ground moved beneath his feet as he went to take his spot kick. And now won’t be involved again as he too is moving to Yokohama FC, but for him it's a permanent transfer. Feel a bit bad for him as his Frontale career was irreparably damaged by an injury last year and the emergence of Mitoma. Even after Mitoma left and on the occasions he was involved this year, he could never quite recapture the great form he was in at the start of 2020. With Miyagi and Marcinho ahead of him in the pecking order it makes sense for him to move. I hope he tears it up at YFC and can get back to J1 as soon as possible. Not sure if I am to blame for his decline as I have a Hasegawa towel and most towels or shirts I buy seem to cause the related player to have some misfortune and/or leave us. That was a while ago though. Good luck to him!

17. Kazuki KOZUKA (MF)

Bit like Tsukagawa, Kozuka didn’t really get much of a crack at this season. Signed with some expectation from Oita he came into a packed midfield and never quite found his spot. Feel like he could have been played a bit further forward, maybe in Ienaga’s spot as he seemed much better when attacking. He made five starts but was never really able to get a run of appearances and get into his rhythm. Got a goal in the ACL group stage and what looked like it might be an important assist in the Emperor’s Cup semi final against Oita. Hopefully 2021 was, for both him and Tsukagawa, a stepping stone to getting a bit more involved in 2022.

18. Kaoru MITOMA (FW)

There’s not much to say about Mitoma that hasn’t already been said. The fact that he finished up as our third top scorer even though he left half way through the season says a lot. He’s going to be difficult to replace but hopefully Miyagi and Marcinho can get somewhere close to Mitoma’s level. He seems to be doing reasonably well in Belgium and presumably will get enough games to be able to join Brighton properly next year. Brighton is a team I don’t like so I’m not exactly ecstatic about that but good luck to him. I wonder if he might have another loan spell to a Championship side before he gets a proper go at Brighton through.

19. Daiya TONO (FW)

A decent first season with us and showed a lot of promise I think. Feel like his effectiveness is dulled a little when he’s put in midfield but if there’s one thing Oniki likes, then that’s versatility it seems, so I’m sure Tono will be involved a decent amount in 2022. As we expected he seems to have a good eye for goal. However, along with his seven goals he also got seven assists though, which I think shows how useful he’s going to be. Nice work!

20. Kei CHINEN (FW)

After returning from a loan spell at Oita in 2020 where he was in and out of the team, Chinen came back and the same happened to him at Frontale. But at least he won the league this time round. Probably needed an injury to Damiao to get a run in the side but even then would find himself up against Kobayashi for the middle striker spot. When it came to replacing Damiao, Chinen seemed at times to be preferred to Kobayashi though as maybe he’s more of a like for like change. There is some talk of him moving to JEF. I don’t know if that would be on loan or a permanent transfer. That would certainly leave us a bit light up front, considering Miyashiro has gone on another loan, this time to Sagan Tosu, but you can’t help but feel that it might be better for him in the long run. I like him though and feel that if he’s happy with his cameo appearances and if Oniki maybe rotates a bit more he would be very useful for us. Eight goals from six starts and 26 sub appearances is a pretty decent return. But I can understand if he feels he could play a bit more elsewhere.

21. Shunsuke ANDO (GK)

A pretty regular season for Ando, who never seems to get the chance to be involved. A clear third in the pecking order of keepers and given that Oniki very rarely changes things and very, very rarely changes the keeper unless he has to, you’ve got to think that his best chance to get involved would be an injury to one of the two ahead of him. Sat on the bench seven times and probably traveled with the squad as an emergency back-up on many more times, Ando’s position shows how tough it is when there is only one player in your position that plays each game. Think he is well liked by the fans though if that is any consolation to him.


Maybe the break out success of the season. Was in the squad last year but never made it to the match day squad, but this year has been involved in about 2/3 of our matches and towards the end of the season was an automatic selection in the anchor role. It does seem that we have a player break through like this each year which is a very welcome thing. Much like one of his predecessors Morita, he’s been experimented with at right back on occasion but has really come into his own in the defensive midfield spot. Also like Morita seems to be great at tackling and passing. I wonder how long we can hang on to him. Scored a hattrick in the ACL and got a couple of other goals and a couple of MOTM awards from me, and to be honest, probably deserved more. Can’t wait to see how he does in 2022.


A late addition to the team, coming in to replace Mitoma after it seemed that Hasegawa’s time with us was up. Took a little while to settle in to our style but by the end of the season was playing great. His dribbling and speed work well and he seems stronger than his stature might suggest. Once he worked out where people were going to be he just got better and better. Only involved in 13 games but scored once and got three assists which is a decent return for someone in a new country, a new team and a new system. Has signed a new contact for next year. Lovely!

24. Ten MIYAGI (FW)

Much like Marcinho, Miyagi’s job seemed to be to replace Mitoma and fill some big shoes. Perhaps his age and potential put him ahead of Hasegawa but he did at times suffer from the same issues as him when it came to dribbling perhaps too far and not being able to get a good pass in. But he’s very young. Seems to be very willing to shoot and also seems to be very good at it, which is very welcome! Great winning goal against Kashima saw his standing sky rocket, but probably needs a little more time till he’s hitting the heights we hope from him. Great prospect though! Only seven starts and 13 sub appearances but got three goals and two assists in his debut season. Nice work, and very promising!

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