Sunday, 8 May 2022

Vs Shimizu S Pulse (away) 7/5/22 J League match 12

Shimizu S Pulse 0 - 2 Kawasaki Frontale

It’s often said that it’s better to have a lucky manager rather than a good manager. We can probably say that over the last few years luck has quite often gone our way. Well, aside from the ACL that is, where luck remains ever elusive for us. They also say that you make your own luck, and with that in mind, you probably have to give Oniki some credit in that department. We’re lucky because we have good players that we’ve developed and have been playing with a successful system which has also been worked on and honed for a long time. This year we’ve had quite a bit of luck already getting wins that should have been draws and draws that should have been losses, and haven’t been hammered as often as we probably have deserved to be. After a pretty mediocre and at some times hideous ACL campaign we’re back to league action and back to getting lucky again. On this occasion though, rather than in this game itself,  the luck was more to do with Sanfrecce hammering Kashima who had taken the lead in the league and were starting to look pretty dangerous. It’s fair to say that Sanfrecce have been quite inconsistent so far this year, with them bedding in a new manager and some new thinking. They have done us a massive favour this weekend though. We still sit in second place in the league, two points behind Kashima but with a game in hand. So theoretically things are back under our own control again. Whether we are able to control those things is another matter. At times in this game it looked like we were back and banging, but you definitely wouldn’t say about the 90 minutes as a whole that we’re playing great and looking difficult to beat. We had a couple of big let-offs in this game and in the second half only managed four shots, all of them off target. On Saturday, the top tier of the away stand at Nihondaira was a pretty hot place to be, in direct sunlight, protected only by liberal applications of sun cream, a 2020 ’26 KAMIYA’ towel and a bottle of water. I managed to survive but my phone was getting so hot that I kept the photos and notes to a minimum. So, basically this is the usual ‘I can’t remember much, so don’t expect much from this post’ disclaimer, but with slightly different circumstances than normal. Let’s get this over and done with. I’ve got a busy week of work coming up.

As I said above, this was a decent performance for the first 45 minutes. We looked quite dangerous, made a few chances and ! shock ! horror ! actually took a couple of them. I don’t know if there was some kind of rocket put up the players arses after our ACL exit. If there was, I certainly hope Oniki fired one up his own rear too as he was also far from blameless. Our players came out of the traps looking quite driven, perhaps wanting to make up for what had recently occurred in Malaysia. Wakizaka was noticeably better than he has been recently. He seemed to be playing with the confidence that we used to expect from him but which since he took over Kengo’s 14 shirt number seemed to have deserted him. It was weird to see him score a goal and run back down the pitch away from his teammates’ celebrations in order to do his goal celebration in front of the fans. There was a significant ‘two fingered up yours’ component to it which I think will maybe be lost on most fans but was very much enjoyed by at least three people in the stadium. I’m looking forward to being able to enjoy this many more times this season. Our starting line-up was utterly predictable. Well I say predictable but I couldn’t be sure that Oniki wouldn’t stick with the dull as ditchwater when it comes to scoring goals, about as effective as ditch water would be for cleaning your bathroom, double defensive midfield formation. Thankfully he didn’t so we got what we probably expected, regardless of how badly this first choice eleven have been playing this year. But, as I said, they did alright and it was actually quite fun to watch us play for the first time in a while. Certainly some of this was to do with us being back in the stadium. And there has been some hinting from the J League about the potential return of singing coming some time soon. Because of this the Kazoku were trying out some of the old songs, but obviously instrumental versions. It made for quite a confused support. I had a lot of trouble working out what songs we were clapping and continued to do so until a helpful person behind me, started quietly humming the tunes so people could work out what they were and where we were in the song. I do miss singing and the atmosphere it creates but I’m not going to demand it is reinstated immediately. When it comes to most things, I think I’m usually closer to the more progressive end of the scale, but in matters of public health and getting on with others in day to day life, I’m happy to be conservative. With a small c. Definitely not a big c. Other things of note when it comes to us doing well would be a burgeoning relationship between Sasaki and Marcinho. They really seemed to be clicking in the first half of this game. And they also were combining well with Damiao, who right now seems to be putting in lots of hard work, but not really getting any luck in front of goal. I hope he knows his efforts are appreciated. This is all quite optimistic isn’t it, so maybe let’s change the tone a bit and talk about the second half.

Damn, it went a bit crap, didn’t it? I seem to recently have discovered a previously untapped seam of sympathy for Oniki. I’ve spent so long moaning about him not having a plan B and when he finally came up with one and used it, I moaned about him not using it at the right times, or it not really working. In this game we were doing alright until he made his first changes and (maybe) reinstated the double defensive midfield by bringing on Joao Schmidt. I say maybe as, once again, I couldn’t really work out if Joao and Tachibanada were both playing in that position. From an attacking effectiveness point of view, it definitely seemed like it. I’m never sure if we are playing them both at the base of the midfield to protect what we’ve got or whether Tachibanada is actually playing further forward. If he is, he’s not really that much further forward and I think perhaps that his usual game plan is stuck in his head. Basically, after these first two subs, our supporters might as well have gone home really, as there wasn’t much to write home about happening. So yeah, I feel some sympathy for Oniki as his proactiveness which I've been calling for actually seemed to destroy our play. Well, maybe that’s a touch harsh as we didn’t concede, but it definitely wasn’t much fun. So basically, he's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. The usual shuffling of the front players followed around 10 minutes afterwards but nothing much changed. It just felt a bit like someone getting into the rowing boat, snapping the oars in half and launching the broken remains as far away as possible in different directions from the boat. The wind and the tide is in control. You might get closer to where you want to go, but at the same time would probably settle for not getting blown back to where you came from or sinking. Perhaps I should also have some sympathy for Yamane, who unlike some of the other squad members who have got a kick up the backside from our woeful Malaysian adventure, seems to still be knackered and out of form. I’m slightly worried that he can’t be arsed recently. He drifts in and out of games, somewhat in tandem with when we are attacking and defending. I don’t know if he needs a rest or he needs some competition for his place. I very much doubt he’ll get either.

I’ll quickly round this up by mentioned the truly shocking royalty free version of Europe’s ‘Final Countdown’ that Shimizu played as the players entered the pitch. I say version, but the truth is probably more that it’s one of those songs that are designed to be just different enough to avoid a lawsuit. Change the keyboard sound a tiny bit, slow it down a touch, add some notes to some phrases and remove some from other phrases. It’s really worth checking DAZN to hear it. And also feel like I should say that the ref in this game was Koya and I don’t think I have anything to moan about with him! Shocking! For some reason he was always listed as K.Hut on Flashscore, which is a bit strange as I have never seen them translate anyone else’s name. As that’s something that no-one really does… ever. Clearly Flashscore got wind of their mistake and he’s now listed as K.Koei, so some progress I guess, but still not right. Maybe we should get our manager O.Toru to have a word. Or maybe our captain T.Shogo. Next up we have Avispa Fukuoka at home next weekend. This time they definitely won’t be the first team to beat us this year as they were in 2021. Plenty of teams have done that already. They always seem to frustrate us though, so I’m not expecting it to be much fun. But fingers crossed! Go Frontale!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki (Yellow card 55')
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
DF 15. SASAKI Asahi
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
MF 19. TONO Daiya
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT (on for TONO 61')
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for MARCINHO 71')
MF 17. KOZUKA Kazuki (on for IENAGA 89')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 61')
FW 24. MIYAGI Ten (on for WAKIZAKA 71')
DF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya

My Frontale Man Of The Match

Hmmm. Dunno really. The first half was good but the second wasn't really. I can't think of anyone who particularly stood out so let's leave it for this game.


WAKIZAKA (Frontale) 14' 0-1
MARCINHO (Frontale) 32' 0-2


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