Friday, 8 April 2022

Vs Jubilo Iwata (away) 6/4/22 J League match 7

Jubilo Iwata 1 - 1 Kawasaki Frontale

As a rule, I quite like repetition. I really like repetitive music. The first release on my micro record label was a 45 minute one song album by a French hurdy-gurdy, bass and drums trio where they basically play the same riff for the entire duration. I like routines, and enjoy going to the same places repeatedly. My job has lot of repetition in it too. Even so, you can probably take repetition a bit too far sometimes and I think we’re really reaching that point with Frontale this season now. After bumbling through the second half of last season and somehow still managing to win the league at a canter we’ve started 2022 with the same kind of useless and pointless late 2021 performances, but results seem to be finally catching up with us. You can’t deny it’s been long overdue. Nobody likes to hear me moaning about how badly we’re playing, particularly when we were top of the league and winning it like we were last year, but it was more than clear that we were getting found out then and you can firmly change that to ‘have totally been found out’ when you talk about this year. I don’t like to blow my own trumpet particularly, (well, maybe I like to do it a little bit), but I did start this year cautioning fans of any teams that played well against us and thought they had made great strides in their progress. It’s clear that we have got much worse rather than other teams getting much better. Well, at least it seems clear to me. Our victory over Kashima looks a bit weird now as they seem to be flying and we had pretty much dispatched them within the first 20 minutes. But looking closer, they did give us a goal and then we scored from a set piece, and after that just hung on for 70 minutes. Aside from those first 20 minutes, I don’t think there have really been any positive moments this season. We’ve just about scraped through on more than a few occasions. Attendances for our matches are maybe reflecting this. Perhaps we had a lot of glory hunter fans who have now seen the light and can’t be bothered to put themselves through these 90 minute assemblages of crap. Personally, the parts of the games I’m looking forward to most at the moment are the things before and afterwards. This game away at Jubilo perfectly illustrates that. It was a great day of having some nice beers and doing some tourism that was only let down by the couple of hours of the football match that was the reason for the trip. As I said at the start, I like repetition, but am fully aware that my readers might not feel the same way so I’ll keep this brief as I really don’t have anything much new to say. Ok, here goes…

We saw a few changes in the starting line up but Oniki avoided the biggest issue again and again I can’t say Yamane did much to remember. Likewise Wakizaka. Ienaga dropped to the bench which I thought was probably the right idea but I can’t say I’m sold on Kobayashi on the right. I think he is wasted there. I’d love to see him get a chance in the middle but given that it seems to be forbidden for us to change our formation he’s always going to struggle to start there with both our current top scorer Chinen and last season’s MVP Damiao being ahead of him in the pecking order. Oniki doesn’t like to change things at the best of times so the thought that he might at some stage use his apparent third choice striker up front seems to be nigh on an impossibility. I’m not going to moan about Chinen getting the nod though as I think he’s doing really well. There was one moment in this game where he looked like he was about to score an amazing goal after a lovely drag back but the shot didn’t live up to the drag back. He did save us though as we pluckily snatched a point with a 94th minute equaliser against a team who’d conceded 11 times in six games and had an aged and immobile defence who were going to be the main reason for what people consider to be their inevitable relegation. The match stats are slightly misleading as the loads of shots we had mainly came in the last ten minutes after we’d conceded. The first half stats feel more accurate for the game as a whole. Six shots from us and none on target. Apparently after last weekend’s disaster Oniki said we would be focusing on being more aggressive in defence and attack. This seemed to only manifest itself through some perhaps ‘extremely aggressive’ sideways and backwards passing. So basically no change. This game would have seemed more likely to have occurred before the Cerezo game, showing the stage where the wheels were wobbling but hadn’t quite come off. Some might have expected a spirited response to that awful performance against Cerezo with us getting hammered at home but let’s be honest, we haven’t played in a spirited way for quite a while now. The big concern is that I don’t think Oniki is willing to or maybe not capable of doing anything rather than change a player or two and carry on with the same system and style (although calling it style seems to be aggrandising the manner in which we are treading water). There is a certain irony in the way that the day of the game had been one of us watching the clock, rushing to our next exciting plan feeling like time was racing, whereas the majority of the game felt more like being at work with nothing to do apart from a very unappealing and difficult mind-numbing task. Or maybe sitting at a station with almost no charge left on your phone trying to occupy yourself during a two hour wait for a connecting train. If only they’d had a selection of leaflets available advertising the local textile or pottery museum available in the stand at Jubilo. I might have at least been able to learn something. Watching this game taught me nothing I didn’t already know, We’re suffering the three-peat wobbles again, where Oniki just does the same few things over and over again and occasionally, very occasionally, something not completely negative happens. 

Quick bit of ref talk. Ueda is a ref that I thought we hadn’t had many encounters with but my blog seems to think otherwise. He’s clearly from the ‘give nothing’ group of refs. It would be nice if there were a few more who didn’t fall into the ‘give nothing’ or ‘give everything’ camp and instead just gave some stuff. To be honest though, the only complaint I have about Ueda in this game is that I reckon he could have sent off Jubilo’s Ito for a second yellow on at least two occasions in the second half. But that was it really, so this isn’t a big moan really. I can’t blame the ref for us starting slowly and remaining slow for the whole of the first half. When we finally did start to get something going at the start of the second half, Oniki made a double substitution and we were back to square one. I thought Tono did really well in this game. He was of course changed in this first lot of subs. I feel sorry for Kozuka who gave the ball away trying to run out of our own box as they scored from the chance. It seems a bit unfair that a sub should get the blame for a mistake which only highlighted the starters absolute failure to do anything in the first half. I don’t know if we have a lot of injuries or illnesses at the moment but the bench did seem a bit weird with Tsukagawa and Joao Schmidt on there. We probably wouldn’t have had to change the defensive midfielder position twice in the game. No sign of Oshima anywhere which is a bit weird. Chanathip was absent too. Many people seemed to think Matsui might be this year’s breakout star and he hasn’t even made the bench. As for Seko… Well actually I have a theory about Seko. I wonder if he is considered by Oniki to be this year’s right back cover. Oniki rarely likes to put a right or left back on the bench unless they are able to play somewhere else like Kurumaya is. So perhaps Seko is waiting for a chance to play right back when Yamane is away on international duty. After which he’ll recede into the shadows again. This point is slightly undermined by the fact that Seko clearly can play elsewhere… I wish Oniki would rest Yamane (more repetition from me here…). He looks tired and also more worryingly disinterested. If he were to get an offer from overseas I think he’d have no hesitation in going. I don’t know if Oniki is worried about upsetting him by not playing him. Or whether he just has no confidence in anyone else playing there. But to be honest, I can’t really see why anyone has much confidence in any of our team at the moment. And it also looks like the team have no confidence in themselves either. Things just really aren’t going for us right now and we need either some kind of stirring motivational words from Oniki to the team, or alternatively a change of ideas. I think the former is more likely but maybe wouldn’t be as effective as the latter. Certainly Oniki and the players have achieved so much in the last few seasons that they have earned the right to have a dodgy period. And perhaps the results we’ve got this year might have covered up the fact that we’ve have about 10 dodgy games so far this year. I just really hope we could not be quite so shit going forwards. Watching us has got very boring and it’s very frustrating considering the talent we have in the squad.

Next up, another pre-season relegation cert, Kashiwa Reysol, who have only one less point than us having played two games less. They have only conceded three times in their seven games. Combine this with the fact that we seem to be incapable of scoring at the moment, and it looks like it might not be too much fun again on Saturday. After that game we head off to the ACL, so who know what kind of trouble we might be in when we arrive back. Certainly this unrelenting misery isn’t ideal preparation for a competition that we do tend to cock up quite often. Oh, it’s all hearts and flowers and optimism from me, isn’t it? In an attempt to snatch back some lucky rituals, I’m going to go back to my old sign off on these blog posts and see if that works as most of my other pre-match customs seem to have failed now. So fingers crossed this will shift things back to being a bit more positive. Go Frontale! 

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya
DF 15. SASAKI Asahi
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
MF 19. TONO Daiya

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 17. KOZUKA Kazuki (on for WAKIZAKA 66')
FW 24. MIYAGI Ten (on for MARCINHO 77')
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro (on for TONO 66')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

OMORI (Jubilo) 78' 1-0
CHINEN (Frontale) 90+4' 1-1


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