Monday, 4 April 2022

Vs Cerezo Osaka (home) 2/4/22 J League match 6

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 4 Cerezo Osaka

Well, that wasn’t much fun. The shitty performances just keep on coming this year, and for once we actually got the beating we have probably deserved on a few occasions. Losing this game means that we have equalled our 2021 season total of defeats after having played only eight times. We’ve conceded four goals twice in these eight games, and our total goals conceded after eight games is two fifths of the total we conceded in thirty eight games last year. Plenty of people went to this game in their new 2022 season shirts which got delivered shortly after our last game. I imagine I can’t be alone in thinking that my new shirt is now unlucky. But we probably shouldn’t hold our shirts responsible. This was just a tired and unimaginative performance which is starting to become a bit of a feature of 2022. I feel quite sorry for half of the players who were on the pitch for the second half as they had nothing to do with the awful first half performance that had lost us the game. Weirdly though, most of the players who’d had the most to do with our poor first half performance had remained on the pitch after the quadruple half time change. But I’ll come on to that later (and probably bore on about it for quite a while). Cerezo are a bit of a bogey team for us. At least intermittently. We have hammered them a few times recently, but they normally seem to frustrate us when we play against them. I wouldn’t say that was the case in this game though. We basically gave them a goal which gave them something to hang on to and allowed them to move into what was more of a 9-0-1 formation. Then we gave them another goal. And another one. Then had a little break before giving them another. Before this game they’d only won once this season. And they’ve scored one third of their total season’s goals against us in this one game. I mean, I know it’s still a bit early in the season to be talking about these kind of stats. Particularly for Cerezo who have only played six games. Of course, we have played two more, and even after suffering another rotten defeat we still somehow remain ahead of YFM in the table (small consolation). However both Kashima and Kashiwa can both overtake us by taking something from their games in hand. Kashima, who everyone was saying this year would score a lot but struggle in defence have won all of their games apart from when we beat them and have only conceded five times in six games. Kashiwa who were most people’s favourites to go down and who lost the player who most people considered to be their best to Nagasaki before the season started have won four out of six and have only conceded three times! So you could say it’s a bit of a weird and surprising season so far. And although it seems slightly strange to say, it’s probably also surprising that our usual failure to have any defenders has finally caught up with us this year. It’s been a bit of miracle that we’ve dodged that bullet year after year but it’s definitely come home to roost now. Oh well, I’d better get on with the Frontale moaning.

As I said above we looked tired in this game. Which is a bit weird as all but two of the starting line up hadn’t played a match for two weeks. Perhaps the biggest issue is that the two who had played and had also traveled to Australia both started this game. Yamane, who hasn’t exactly been sparkling this year, played 180 minutes for Japan but still came back straight into the starting line up. Taniguchi played 90 minutes and sat on the bench for 90 minutes but also made the flight to Australia also started. But this isn’t really a surprise. We have been a little unlucky with injuries at the back. Maybe… I mean we knew that Jesiel wouldn’t be available for a while this year but we still didn’t sign any reinforcements (or try out any of the players we have in the squad that are actually defenders). Kurumaya coming back from injury and then getting injured again is unfortunate and has left us in the position where we have Yamamura, a midfielder, starting game after game at centre back. And with no cover on the bench. Well, maybe no cover, as it now seems that Tsukagawa is being groomed to be the new Yamamura in that he’ll be on the bench as someone who can be put anywhere on the pitch but with centre back high up on that list. Of course I would say this, but I thought he did ok at centre back in this game. Certainly better than his centre back partner. He made a few mistakes but more often than not made up for them by recovering and winning the ball back. In recent years we’ve have had a succession of players in our team who have been signed to cover the right back spot and none of them have ever really been given much of a chance. Diogo Mateus played only three games in his year with us, (playing 90 minutes each time with us not conceding and winning every game). He didn’t even make the bench for any other game. In the league, Zain made the bench and was an unused sub twice in two years and started one league game which we won and kept a clean sheet in. Yamane has played pretty much every other league game, basically 76 out of 80 games. Think Tachibanada was the other player who played right back for one game. This year we were perhaps encouraged that we’d have someone who could take some of the strain off Yamane as Seko was able to play there. I wonder what’s happened to him? I suppose the issue is that we have some players who could cover these spots but never get the chance to do so. For that, you’ve got to blame Oniki. There’s no way Yamane should have started this game given his exertions and his general flatness this year so far. You could say the same about Taniguchi, but I think that, unlike Yamane, until this game he’s had a pretty good season. And there is no-one who could take his place anyway. Blame Oniki for that again. It’s undeniable that Tanigchui didn’t do ‘pretty good’ in this game though. I tweeted during the match that Taniguchi had got a hat trick (of fuck ups leading to Cerezo goals). It was a bit unfair as the second one didn’t seem to be wholly his fault but I think it was a fair point anyway and he did mess up a bit for the fourth goal too so maybe I was being prescient. Yamane looked knackered every time he had to defend but somehow found a burst of energy when he could run forwards which is a little worrying. Please give him a rest for the next game.

So with us trailing 3-0 at half time and people having mares all over the pitch we knew changes were going to come. But wow, what changes they were. We’d named a bench with a keeper, three midfielders and three attackers on it, so immediately our options were somewhat hamstrung. Almost everyone had had a bit of a dodgy first half (one exception who’ll be mentioned later), but notably bad first halves were put in by the aforementioned Taniguchi and Yamane, along with the classic 2022 season ‘not-doing-much-ers’ Wakizaka and Ienaga. Astonishingly all of them remained on the pitch for the second half in spite of Oniki doing a quadruple substitution. Wakizaka still seems to be struggling to deal with the pressure of inheriting Kengo’s number 14 shirt. I feel like he needs to just relax a bit. He had some good touches and moves in this game but they were massively outnumbered by sloppy and costly mistakes. I think it’s a confidence thing. Ienaga got my goat a little in the last home game when he refused to be subbed in the last minute of the match. It wasn’t a good look. With us three goals down with 30 minutes left in this match his number went up, with us using our final sub, and he strolled off the pitch as if the scoreline were reversed and he was simultaneously soaking up his applause and running the clock down. This too was not a good look at all. So four early changes. But no possibility of really changing the centre backs as even though Taniguchi was having a mare, we had no-one on the bench. No, apparently we could change the centre backs as Oniki made the absolutely mind-blowing decision to take off Yamamura and leave Taniguchi on the pitch. Yamane also survived. We didn’t have anyone on the bench to play in his position, but I guess we could have moved Tachibanada there. Oh, no we couldn’t as he was also taken off and replaced with Kozuka, who seems to be one of our more attacking midfielders who was instead played in the anchor role. Tsukagawa went in at centre back, Tono came on for Chanathip and Chinen on for Damiao, who celebrated his 100th league game by being subbed off at half time. I know it’s all too easy to complain without having any suggestions so maybe I should suggest something with the big caveat that I don’t know anything. For the second half I’d have gone with a back four of Tachibanada, Yamamura, Taniguchi and Sasaki (I know Taniguchi was having a mare, but as I’ve said plenty of times, we didn’t have any other options), stick Tsukagawa in the anchor role, play Kozuka and Chanathip in front of him and then put Tono or Kobayashi in on the right, leave Damiao up front or put Chinen in, and leave Marcinho on the left. Maybe my team wouldn’t have done any better but I think it would have made more sense. But Oniki seems scared of changing Ienaga or Yamane or Taniguchi. It’s a bit of a worry. Honestly, Wakizaka, Yamane and Ienaga really shouldn’t start the next game. But I guess they probably all will. At least it will be a fun trip I suppose. Given that Iwata aren’t the strongest team we’ll be facing this year, we could probably change things around a bit. Equally though, Oniki might see this as an opportunity to get some confidence back with the same old starting lien up. If he does, I predict that confidence were be even further damaged by another horrible defeat. Don’t forget the fact that even with all these substitutions being made and with us really needing a goal we left Miyagi, probably the player most likely to actually fucking have a fucking shot on the bench as an unused sub. I guess he was somewhat scuppered by Marcinho playing in his spot and being the one player who was actually having a decent game though. I’m sure we could have accommodated both in the team somehow couldn’t we? Oh no, sorry, that would have required some kind of change of tactics or focus or even a plan B and that was never going to happen was it?

A few quick words about the ref. I’d never seen him in charge before I think. The only record of him taking charge of one of our games that I had was a game that I missed when I was on my summer holiday (call yourself a real fan etc…). I didn’t have much to moan about with him to be honest. I thought we could have had a penalty in the 17th minute but maybe I was grasping for some kind of lifeline. One thing that slightly annoyed me was that he was constantly telling Cerezo to stop wasting time (which they did pretty much from the off, even before they were leading), doing that ‘hold up your arm and point to your watch’ thing but then in spite of that and three goals having been scored only added 2 minutes at the end of the first half. To be honest though, it would only have given Cerezo more time to score more goals, so in the end he was probably doing us a favour. It was nice to see a few more people back in the stadium. We didn’t manage to break the 20000 barrier though which was a shame, but given the distinct lack of fun that we’ve had at matches so far this year isn’t a great surprise. Maybe as the weather warms up a little and, who knows, maybe we might even start playing a bit better, we might see a few more people back. There has been talk of the J League thinking about the possibility of allowing singing again. In spite of what Urawa fans might think, it’s still not allowed (oooooooh, those bad boys! They’re sooooo dangerous and ooooooooh wild). That would definitely make the experience a bit more fun and as someone who attends matches to have a nice time rather than someone who pours over the footage online searching for details to make ‘smart’ comments on Twitter, that would be a very welcome thing.

Next up, as mentioned above, Jubilo Iwata away on Wednesday. We have plans to visit two brewpubs before the game and then another two afterwards, so to be honest, the match might actually not be very clear or remain in the memory for long. How nice it would be if we could actually have a bit of a shake up of line-up and maybe we could even play some nice football for once this year. It will probably be more sideways and backwards passing against a ten man defence after Ralph has got them an early lead though. Come on Oniki, do the right thing and change things up a bit. The players need it and we need it too!

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya
DF 15. SASAKI Asahi
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 3. TSUKAGAWA Koki (on for YAMAMURA 46')
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for IENAGA 65')
MF 17. KOZUKA Kazuki (on for TACHIBANADA 46')
FW 19. TONO Daiya (on for CHANATHIP 46')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 46')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

You'd probably normally expect me to skip this in a hissy fit but I think there was actually, unbelievably, someone who deserved it. So, it goes to...

MARCINHO - was having a lot of joy down the left in the first half and throughout the game looked like our only real goal threat. The fact that he was still running and scored in the 86th minute with the game already well lost says a lot. Well done to him!

INUI (Cerezo) 13' 0-1
INUI (Cerezo) 28' 0-2
YAMADA (Cerezo) 36' 0-3
YAMADA (Cerezo) 68' 0-4
MARCINHO (Frontale) 86' 1-4


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