Sagan Tosu 0 - 0 Kawasaki Frontale
After a round trip of around 2200km, a lot of drinking, and a lot of fun, our little away odyssey is over. I should make it clear that the above description refers to us rather than our players who probably had less fun and almost certainly didn’t drink as much. Fukuoka home, Kobe away and Tosu away looked like a very tricky run of games and to come away from them with 7 points out of 9 and to have had Kashima slip up once and YFM slip up twice in the same period is extremely rewarding. Definitely it was a little more difficult to be so optimistic/realistic immediately after this game, a match in which it felt like we might actually be about to get something away at Tosu until another Taniguchi DOGSO red card. More on that later. Not saying we were all over Sagan Tosu. Far from it and they had some good opportunities. But just as we were building some momentum and some pressure and actually making some good chances we got hobbled. Actually though, we continued to attack after the red card and it would have been lovely to have grabbed a win. But we probably wouldn’t completely have deserved it and it would have been harsh on Tosu. Perhaps we as a club and as fans are becoming more aware that we’re not as good as we used to be. Coming away from Tosu (and more generally a Kyushu away game) with a point is something of a victory and should maybe be celebrated compared to recent season’s results. But we have been somewhat spoilt in recent years with exciting and effective football and we now only seem to be able to get one of those at the most and sometimes neither. Whilst Tosu and Fukuoka flip from doing great and doing terribly seemingly at random, you can always rely on them to give us a beating, perhaps justifiably, or perhaps unfairly. Whichever way, we usually lose. And we didn’t this time! And the booze at the stadium is still great! And it was a nice day and our area was in the shade! So many things to be positive about. But I probably should moan a bit too, right? And I should definitely get this post out of the way quickly, right? Ok!
So, some moans. Oniki shuffled the pack a little but we are still suffering from the same lack of excitement in front of goal. In the last three games we haven’t managed more than five shots on target in a match. We still break quickly and then stop and play the ball backwards. In spite of us scoring a few goals from corners, we still play pretty much every free kick that isn’t just outside the box short, basically surrendering any advantage we might have got from getting it and any chance that we might have of getting someone on the end of it. In the first half of this game we had three shots, all of which missed the target. We picked things up a bit in the second half as we tend to do, but it’s not exactly promising that whoever starts the match struggles to do anything. If manage to win the game it’s not so much of a problem I guess, but we’ve really squeaked our way to some wins this year and could very easily be significantly lower down in the table if we hadn’t been lucky. We certainly have good players, but it seems that we don’t have a good game plan at the moment. For once though, I’m going to resist giving out advice from my position of zero knowledge. I haven’t got a clue what’s going wrong. Or more accurately what’s going OK if you judge us on results rather than performances. In the past we could perhaps say that a few teams or managers had us worked out. Now it seems more like only a few haven’t worked us out. So maybe a change needs to be made. And we now have to make a change at the back as Taniguchi is banned for the next game. In a way it’s a shame that Yamane wasn’t sent off instead, as he’s the one who really needs a rest. On that red card, well I dunno… When the challenge went in, I said he’s taken one for the team as I knew the yellow was coming. To have it upgraded to a red was pretty annoying but quite predictable when you consider that Araki has sent off Taniguchi before for a DOGSO, (which he also initially gave as a yellow I think, but was a clear red in my eyes at the time), and that Kasahara, who constantly seems to ruin things for us has also sent off Taniguchi and gave a penalty at the same time away at Oita a few years ago, was the VAR guy. With these two things in mind it seemed inevitable that any slight mis-step from Taniguchi was going to end up with a red. I’ve done a little research on the DOGSO rule and will bore you with some probably factually inaccurate moaning shortly. But DOGSO just seems to be another one of those new rules that has been created just to justify the existence of VAR. In the past a ref could be fairly sure from weighing up the situation and general feel whether an offence was a red card or not. But now he has to go through an immediate mental check list to decide if all the criteria have been met. Just seems a bit like the people who run football might want, for some unfathomable reason, to make VAR exciting and necessary, and in order to get it rolled out for use a few times in each match, have made the job of the on field ref so difficult that he needs back up from some jumped up prick in the VAR room who doesn’t have to justify the decision in person. I don’t even really understand why it’s used sometimes. We hear a lot that it’s for situations when a clear and obvious error has been made. If it takes a ref going to the pitch side monitor and repeatedly watching a replay, I’d say that the error isn’t so clear and obvious. Anyway, apparently there’s a SPA and a DOGSO which is good news for those of you who like acronyms.
A SPA is ‘stopping a promising attack’ and is a yellow apparently, but gets upgraded to a red if it meets the four DOSGO requirements, which are something like distance from the goal, lack of covering defenders, distance from the ball, and direction of the player’s run. These four requirements seem to be set out in lots of places but I can’t really find anywhere that goes into them in much detail. However, apparently the direction one has the clarification that the attacker needs to be running directly towards the goal and not the goal line which I’d say probably rules a DOGSO out on this occasion. But who knows? Anyway, I’m not denying it was a foul or a yellow and I don’t know if the red was right under the rules as I suspect the real guidelines are kept under lock and key along with the bungs that various football associations have received from the companies who make the VAR equipment. I don’t just hate VAR when it goes against us. I constantly hate it and despair when people say that it’s necessary as it brings accuracy. I dunno, do we need 100% accuracy? It’s not like we’re launching a rocket or something. It’s more like VAR introduces another layer of interpretation which almost certainly leads to frustration at not being able to celebrate goals. Perhaps though the celebration hasn’t been destroyed, it’s just been shifted on to the defending team in the occasion of a goal being ruled out. So yeah, great! VAR is so good that now we can celebrate when something negative happens to the opposition, rather than something good happening to your own team. What joy! Anyway there was no guarantee that we were going to win anyway. And we probably could easily have lost. So not sure why I have gone on for so long about this and about nothing much else. Perhaps it was the shochu, but in my mind there was a general feeling of this being another game where we didn’t do much until it was a bit too late so if that’s true, there’s probably not much else to write about. I do love a moan about a ref though, and also a moan about VAR, so I guess it’s not a big surprise that I’ve spent so much time going on about it.
Next up Shonan at home on Wednesday. Not as much of a bogey team as our previous three opponents and not so much of a bogey team at home compared to away, but I don’t expect it to be an easy game, in spite of their league position. I mean, our league position is pretty false I think, so perhaps their’s is too. And they did beat Vessel Kobe a bit easier than we did. After that we’re away at Kyoto on Sunday, an away fixture which has apparently proved to be very popular with our fans and has sold out. So perhaps a full away end to watch a potential bed-shitting on the horizon. I wonder if they have shochu in their stadium? Go SHOCHU! And in a more desperate and fearful way, go Frontale!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
DF 15. SASAKI Asahi
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo (Red Card 82')
MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT
MF 17. KOZUKA Kazuki
MF 16. SEKO TatsukiFW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 20. CHINEN Kei
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 8. TACHIBANADA Kento (on for IENAGA 62')
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO (on for CHINEN 62')
MF 19. TONO Daiya (on for KOBAYASHI 76')
FW 23. MARCINHO (on for KOZUKA 46')
DF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for SEKO 83')
My Frontale Man Of The Match
Once again, can't really be bothered to do this. Sorry!