Thursday, 27 January 2022

2021 season survey results

Here, finally are the results of the Frontale Rabbit Blog 2021 season survey. I have been a bit lax with chasing up answers so it got a bit delayed. But here it is, arriving just after the team went into pre-season training for the 2022 season. Thanks as always to all who took the time to respond. And if you didn’t respond but are reading this, please respond next year and leave any comments you might have about the results here too. Right, let’s get on with this.

1. Game of season

WINNERS - Kashima away (league), YFM home (league), Nagoya away (league)

A three way tie for this, with one outlier. The three games that couldn’t be separated at the top were the away league game at Kashima where we came back from behind and won it late on with a Miyagi goal, the 4-0 away win at Nagoya (‘sent a message to the whole of J1’, ‘Title race over on that day’) and the opening day win against Yokohama F Marinos. I went for this one as I’d got a bit irritated by lots of people saying that YFM were going to win the league pre-season and was delighted when they were absolutely rubbish against us in the very first game. I also had a good view of easily-irritated-but-with-a-crazily-huge-amount-of-self-belief Postecoglou from my seat and it was great to see him watch his revolutionary new tactics that had been raved about get completely dismantled and fail at the first hurdle. It was also probably more fun due to the fact that we weren’t that good. But they were that bad! The only other game mentioned was the AFC game against United City. I presume they meant the 8-0, rather than the 2-0 game and I guess they like goals a lot!

2. Player of the season

WINNER - Leandro Damiao

The clear winner here was unsurprisingly Leandro Damiao. Not much to say about that! Distant runner-ups were Sung-Ryong, who I feel always gets overlooked when it comes to these kind of things, and Tachibanada, who my vote went to. Honestly, I could have given it to quite a few, but I thought that Tachibanada was such a revelation that I gave him the nod.

3. Goal of the season

WINNER - Miyagi vs Kashima away (league)

A clear winner again in this category and it was Miyagi’s goal away at Kashima (‘Ten out of ten’ nice pun!). It was a lovely strike and a very important goal too, rounding off a complete come back from being behind to winning. And also was against a horrible team. 

Also mentioned were Oshima’s goal against Shimizu. I suspect there was some sentimentality about this selection. 


Damiao’s goal against United FC was mentioned, but I’m not sure why. It is nice when they go in off the post though.

A goal of the season poll wouldn’t be complete without a Damiao overhead. So I picked his one against Shonan, which was particularly nice after he had a goal ridiculously ruled out by an Iemoto decision after some Tani moaning. I really enjoyed this one, particularly as it was at the end where we were sitting.

As it’s my blog I’m also going to mention the Ienaga volley against YFM in the first game of the season, with the lovely Yamane assist. I couldn't really decide between this or the Damiao overhead and as it won’t make any difference to the overall result, I’ll choose both.

4. Disappointment of the season

WINNER (?) - ACL campaign

Unsurprisingly the winner of this category was another disappointing ACL campaign. I’m a bit torn though as we were so messed up by injuries when it came to the knockout stage and we’d been so screwed by the draw that I felt that we were destined to go out. So it wasn’t a great shock. Running the ACL close was COVID, which I suspect might cast a shadow over the 2022 season too. My vote is kind of COVID related as it's having to miss some good away trips due to state of emergencies banning away fans. We had a lovely Avispa and Consadole double header arranged with some tourism in between which had to be canceled and I was also denied the opportunity to tick off a new ground and a new prefecture (with good beer...) for the same reason when we couldn’t go to Tokushima. I’d also say that it’s a shame that we still can’t sing, as the atmosphere has taken a bit of a hit without it. But that’s COVID times I guess. Other things mentioned were ‘When Damiao misses a bicycle kick’, losing players to Europe (‘Half the team fucking off!’) and the away performance at Fukuoka which was so bad that when I watched it I was kind of pleased we hadn’t been able to go after all.

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


Quite a few different answers here and I’ll just list them with some quotes. 

- Someone who talked about Chanatip's transfer before the official announcement.
- Oshima’s calf
- Ienaga’s hairdresser. I cannot believe J League’s coolest man went to the barbers and asked to look like Lloyd Christmas.
- Makino
- Pitbull (YFM’s Marcos Junior)

Personally I’d be inclined to give it to the ref Iemoto, who thankfully won’t be able to mess us up with any more stupid decisions in the interest of evening things up. It would also be remiss of me to not mention Postecoglou or Muscat. The former for leaving the J League as if he’d stayed YFM would have been much worse and the latter for his whistling.

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

WINNER - Cerezo Osaka away

This was a category that was kind of ruined by COVID, as were most things in 2021. There weren’t many votes as not many people were able to travel. I’d normally say Sagan Tosu but even the alcoholic delights couldn’t make up for the rotten performance we put in. One person went for the Emperor’s Cup final which was in 2021 I guess, if not actually the 2021 season so I’ll let it in. There was clear winner, although it only got three votes (which included mine) and it was the away game at Cerezo Osaka in their new stadium. It’s nice that we are a bit closer to the pitch in the new stadium (even if the stand seemed excessively flat) and they now have lots of different beers available outside the stadium. It also helps that we played well and got a good result and also had the Okubo ceremony at the end.
7. Best stadium in the J League

WINNER - Todoroki...

Racing clear this year was…. Todoroki. I think there’s always quite a lot of bias involved in this but I’d agree with the respondent who specified that it should be Todoroki when the stadium upgrade is finished. So, an answer from about at least 5 years in the future but one we can probably all get on board with. You can’t deny the Todoroki match day experience is a good one though, so I understand the answers from that point of view. But really looking forward to getting a bit closer to the pitch. Other stadiums mentioned were Kashiwa Reysol’s, Gamba Osaka’s, Kyoto Sanga’s new stadium (I’ll be able to comment on that one next year I hope!) and Shimizu S Pulse’s. My vote goes to Sagan Tosu’s for the great concrete terrace, lovely colour scheme, proximity to the station and the abundance of alcohol. Made even a terrible game seem somehow fun.

8. Opposition J1 team you like the most

WINNER - Vegalta Sendai

Sendai win this again this year and they got my vote too. I’m sad that I won’t be able to vote for them next year but hope they can get back to J1 soon. Other teams mentioned were Sagan Tosu, Consadole Sapporo, Nagoya Grampus and Shimizu S Pulse. So basically we like a quarter of the league which fits in nicely with our reputation for friendliness. However, one respondent sadly said ‘Finding it very hard to answer this one this year.’

9. Opposition J1 team you like the least

WINNERS - Urawa Reds & Yokohama F Marinos

My favourite question! It was dead heat between Yokohama F Marinos (unsurprisingly) and Urawa Reds (also unsurprisingly, for both traditional reasons and given the way we went out of the Emperor’s Cup to them). I voted for YFM. There were two other teams picking up a single vote and they were the just plain unlikeable Sanfrecce Hiroshima and our Tamagawa rivals FC Chofu (‘FC Tokyo are berks. Their free kick in the last minute against us was hilarious.’) Perhaps FC Tokyo fans might be a bit upset about us not disliking them more, but I think YFM were more dangerous to us so perhaps got the hackles up a bit more. I was quite annoyed with our Chofu rivals conceding eight to YFM though and therefore giving them the scant consolation of scoring more goals than us in the league. But for me it’s just impossible to look past YFM and their obnoxious managers and players (hehe).

10. Team you're pleased to see come up

WINNER - Kyoto Sanga

Only two teams coming up and Kyoto got a few more votes than Jubilo (‘I like Endo and Germain’).  I’m looking forward to going to both away games next season but I couldn’t really answer this as I think I would have preferred any of the other teams in the J2 promotion race to have come up if I’m being honest. Not sure why exactly.

11. Best thing about the J League

I’ll list these as they were mentioned. This question always makes me feel warm inside. Not sure what I’d add really.

- ‘Every player, staff, supporter did their best to play and watch football safely in this COVID era.  There were very few exceptions.’
- ‘Having every game live on DAZN, that’s been useful these past two seasons.’
- ‘Peaceful’
- ‘All of the 20 teams finished 38 games during Covid era.’
- ‘Kawasaki Frontale - in general’
- ‘Cheap tickets, cheap alcohol, open seating typically’
- ‘Homegrown talent, connection to the community, the Halloween costumes on Frontale guys in the October games’’
- ‘I love the energy of the supporters and generally good nature of the players.’
- ‘Welcoming locals’
- 'The multitude of matchday food options'

12. Worst thing about the J League

Again I’ll list them. I think I’d have to agree with the referees answer to be honest. But would agree that players leaving to play ‘at a higher level’ and actually playing at a lower level is quite annoying.

- ‘Losing players to Europe’
- ‘Nothing’
- ‘Most of the J League clubs do not disclose the term of contracts.’
- ‘Referees’
- ‘Tracks at stadiums’
- ‘Pitbull’

- ‘That it's going to be a bastard to follow from England.’
- 'The horde of smartasses who make a living out of ridiculing the league'

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


Was an exact split again, this time between the ACL and the league but one late vote tipped it towards the ACL. We have unfinished business in the former and have a three-peat to chase in the latter. I’ve gone for the latter. But we definitely will have something hanging over us till we do well in the ACL. There were two other answers, one of which was ‘All of them’, which I can certainly get on board with, and the other was the Club World Cup, which I don’t think it’s possible for us to play in till 2023 at the earliest. But hell, it would be nice if we could somehow win it anyway.

14. What’s your view of Oniki?

Every year my criticisms of Oniki get increasingly ridiculous as he continues to win things. I would say though that I think he’s still very lucky and I can’t believe we got away with our lack of defenders again this year. I also think that in spite of what people say, I still don’t feel like he’s got the hang of rotation. With more big name players in our squad next year, (in the attacking areas naturally, not at the back…again…), I think he’s going to have to get a bit better at it, or there are going to be some upset players. Apparently though, everyone loves him. Not sure how that could 100% be the case though after the total isolation of Hasegawa and Joao Schmidt after they missed ACL penalties on the Ulsan farmer’s field of a pitch. Here are other people’s answers quoted as they were given. The final answer was given by a man in case you were wondering.

- ‘I think he's a great motivator.  I want him to try using more players though.’
- ‘On a par with Pep Guardiola’
- ‘He is our good brother’
- ‘The best of the best’
- ‘Football was not as sparkling as as last year, but somehow he managed to still win J1, without Kengo, the departures of our 2 stars mid-season, and Oshima injured. He impressed me. Now build us a team for the Asia.’
- ‘Awesome’
- ‘Good but still psychopathic elements’
- ‘I’d let him sign my bare breasts.’
- 'A promising early-career manager and a work in progress, as he would tell it'

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

I always like this question but at the same time struggle to answer it as I usually feel we have plenty of players who already don’t get a fair crack of the whip. Given that I always talk about how short we are in defence you’d imagine I’d go for a defender. But for some reason instead I’m saying Ayase Ueda, as he just seems to be too much of a nice person to have to be imprisoned in the middle of nowhere at a horrible club. Here are the other players mentioned.

- Esaka Ataru ‘I love his passes’
- King Kazu
- Honma Shion
- Mateus
- Iniesta ‘(after Rakuten go bankrupt and his family want to stay in Japan)’
- Cristiano Ronaldo (?!)
- Elsinho
- Araki

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

WINNER - Kaoru Mitoma

The runaway winner was some guy called Mitoma, who let’s be honest, probably isn’t thinking of coming back to Japan just yet. There were a couple of votes for Nara, which I’m obviously delighted about and would be great I think, but I don’t think I could put him through it. Also mentioned were Ao, Miyoshi and Elsinho and a late vote for Itakura. Personally speaking, I honestly don’t know. I guess it’s a good thing that we have plenty of choice now. Well, at least if you are in favour of our players leaving for other shores. I’m a bit torn about that though.  

17. What’s your prediction for next season?

Generally speaking, there seems to be some confidence that we’ll win the league. I never make predictions so I’m not going to get involved. There were some doubters though with a couple of people thinking the league will be tough. Notable comments are listed below which include some more general stuff too.

- ‘We will win the league title, and another one maybe.’
- ‘Probably 1st but I think it’s gonna be tougher.’
- ‘Chanathip will play an active part!’
- ‘Difficult to win the J League title’
- ‘J1 champion again / fingers crossed for the ACL’
- ‘Strong start to the season, leveling off in the last quarter and then a strong push to the championship’
- ‘I think we might be fucked by the player turnover finally catching up, but I've said this before and obviously don't know what I'm talking about.’
- 'Coast to the league title before recharging for the ACL final in Feb 2023!'

18. How do you feel about us having lots of players leaving for Europe?

This is a tough question for me. I don’t think we can or should stop them if they want to go, but I definitely agree with those that say that some of the moves seem at best to be sideways and are probably actually backwards steps. I’m slightly nervous that we now seem to be becoming a team that has a lot of players departing which isn’t going to make things easy in the future. I wish them well though, although in the case of Hatate, I hope he does very well, but his team loses every single game. Here’s what everyone else said:

- ‘I believe they should go if they want to.  It should be good for them (and Japanese football in the future).  But at the same time I hate to see them go.  I miss them so much.’
- ‘I think we should put up more of a fight to keep them, especially during our mid-season.’
- ‘I am in favour of their transfers if European clubs pay us right transfer fees.’
- ‘gambling’
- ‘As inevitable it is, I’d like them to jump in Europe for better teams than random German second tier / random EPL’s Belgian satellite club / 2-teams league’
- ‘They need to play in better leagues. Not Belgium second divisions. And only go if they are going be a superstar’
- ‘Didn't we lose too many at once?’
- ‘Miserable. I suppose it's good for them personally, but a blow for the team. Maybe it helps Japan national team, but I'm also cynical that players on the European teams get preferential treatment when there are solid J league players that could make the cut. Looking forward to seeing Mitoma at Brighton though.’
- ‘Fair enough’
- 'It's part of life as a footballer and I'm personally happy that they are visibly growing on and off the pitch, irrespective of their destination. Would be nice to get more money for them but it's not like the club runs on a gigantic budget in any case.'

19. How was VAR for you?

A surprising split here, with some postivity creeping in but negativity just about winning. I’m still of the opinion that we were much better off without it and if it were up to me, I’d get rid of it entirely immediately and maybe replace it with goal line technology. Here’s what everyone else said.

- ‘I don’t love it at all.’
- ‘Shite, hate it.’
- ‘I hope it will continue’
- ‘Some people complains about VAR, but I think it's necessary.’
- ‘VAR is still killing the football I like.’
- ‘Maybe Getting better???’
- ‘ok’
- ‘Ratfuck’
- 'No major qualms.'

20. Any other comments

This part isn’t for me to answer, but thanks to those who said nice things about the blog. Actually, that was only one person…  😿 (Make that two with the late added answer! 😺)

- ‘Honestly it has been a bit difficult for me to enjoy football in this pandemic era.  Last year I could go to Todoroki only once; I saw almost all games at home. This year I already bought season tickets, and I want to go to Todoroki many times.  I hope the situation will get better, and everyone can feel safe and enjoy the games.’
- ‘Come back to Kawasaki, Nara-chan!!!’
- ‘Let’s pray for Oshima’s leg and general good health’
- ‘Good that all seats were reserved this year’
- ‘Your blog rocks.’
- 'Keep it up! Looking forward to the season and hope we can chat more Frontale, on here, on Spaces or a pod maybe.'

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