Friday, 27 May 2022

Vs Shonan Bellmare (home) 25/5/22 J League match 15

Kawasaki Frontale 0 - 4 Shonan Bellmare

In 270 minutes of football, including games against the bottom two teams in the league, we’ve managed to score one goal. But that’s not a surprise really as we’ve only managed to hit the target 13 times. But we’ve kept things tight at the back, haven’t we? Well, until this game we had. But conceding four against a team who’d only previously scored 9 times in 14 games has kind of undermined that point too. Over the course of the last few match days we’ve been very lucky with other teams managing to help us even as we weren’t quite doing the job. In this game though we were beyond help and even a last minute equaliser from Sagan Tosu to make it 4-4 against Kashima wasn’t enough to help us desperately cling on to what was undoubtedly an absolutely ridiculous top spot in the league. I don’t want to come on like a know it all, but in this game, all of the problems I have consistently been moaning about came home to roost. And thanks to me watching the DAZN feed afterwards to check how bad we were for the goals, all I am now left it is an image of Oniki studying his magnet board apparently unaware that we are losing 4-0 at home to the second bottom team in the league. If I hadn’t left immediately on the final whistle I would have felt very bad for the players who had to present themselves to the fans after the game. Some of them had nothing to do with the shocking loss. Bizarrely though, some of our fans were still applauding them. I’m not going to boo players after a game, and even if I’d wanted to, we’re not allowed to at the moment, but to applaud anyone after a totally gutless, pointless and frustrating performance is baffling. I guess some of the players may feel the same way too. At half time in this match, after we’d had a few long range back pass style ’shots’ and had had a few let-offs I said that the only way was up from here. How wrong I was. Don’t expect anything positive in this post and there probably won’t be any laughs either. But there will be plenty of moans, all wrapped up in the form of a couple of bullet points hopefully explaining why this kind of result was long overdue and pointing the finger firmly in one direction.

Ridiculous lack of reinforcement -

I’m not sure how many years it is that I’ve been moaning about us not bothering to buy any defenders. It’s bitten us a few times already but clearly the chickens are home to roost this year. Jesiel’s injury was unfortunate of course. But not reinforcing at all when we were aware that he would be out for months of the next season is stupid. Tanguchi’s red was unfortunate too. But remember the last time we shipped a load of goals at home in a wake-up call defeat (three home games ago…), and recall that he was at fault for most of the goals. Perhaps it doesn’t help that our two central defenders in this game were a midfielder and a left back. And the fact that one of our left backs is playing in central defence means that we’ve had a young player in his first season playing game after game for us. Sasaki had a rotten first half but I feel like that’s fair enough as he’s been overused without a break. What’s bizarre is that Oniki kept him on for the start of the second half. Ah, but that’s because we had no cover in that position! So after we went 2-0 down Oniki made a quick change put on our right footed central midfielder Seko there. And then we conceded two more. And then Oniki switched to a back three putting Yamane in the three and for some reason giving him the captain’s armband, presumably as a reward for looking like he absolutely doesn’t give a shit for the last however many games. At least that put some slight brakes on his attacking. Yamane in 2022 doesn’t want to defend. When it comes to attacking he always has enough energy. When it comes to the opposition attacking, Yamane is usually strolling back from the left sided attacking position, watching from a distance as his teammates try to cover for his absence. He too is probably tired as he hasn’t had a break for ages, so maybe I should cut him some slack. But he never looks tired when he has a chance to attack. And this points to my second and main moan…

Super conservative Oniki -

Oniki is apparently so worried about the possibility of not winning that he’ll run his best players into the ground, apparently under the illusion that even if a player is knackered, starting them will be better than taking a chance with another squad member. We actually do have other defenders in the squad but they’re young and Oniki won’t ever give them a chance. Seko, a player who was captain of Yokohama FC last year, has only recently made his way into the team after having to undergo Oniki’s usually one year long ‘I’m not sure I know you, so I’m not going to use you unless I really really have to’ treatment. He apparently can play at right back. Not that we’d know though as Yamane can only be dislodged by being physically distant from the stadium, (rather than mentally distant as he appears to be in most games). But still, we don’t really have another right back. Again it’s a midfielder being played out of position there. Tanabe who can play there and is actually a defender is in the squad, but even Takai seems to have gone ahead of him in the pecking order. But let’s be honest, for the most part, even when a youngster makes the bench they are there strictly in an unused sub capacity. It’s not just with selections though that Oniki is so conservative. He has long lacked a plan B, persevering with plan A relentlessly, occasionally moving players around and squeezing them into positions that don’t suit them. Perhaps this is due to our horrendously unbalanced squad. Every time I see Kobayashi on the right I feel for him. He does his best, but it doesn’t really work. You can multiply this feeling by a hundred when he’s on the left. Perhaps at stages of 2022 we have seen the emergence of a plan B, but more often than not it looks like the tactical change is the result of Oniki dropping his magnet board on the floor and just going with the mess that remains. We ended up with a 3-4-3 in this game, but still somehow Damiao seemed isolated in the middle. I feel for him too. He’s not scoring, but to be honest, I can really remember him actually getting many opportunities. His job seems to to be more winning headers, the ball then rolling through for the opposition keeper as there’s no-one there with him. I guess though we didn’t concede after going 3-4-3. But that probably more to do with Shonan giving up. Honestly, I don’t know why they were bothering with all the time wasting. They could have got double figures against us if they’d wanted. Apparently there have been some kind of talks between Oniki and Taniguchi after this game to refresh things and clear the air. I hope this works as the air was getting pretty stinky and that’s not just because summer is coming and the temperature is going up. If one player is playing badly in one game, well, that’s unfortunate, but it happens. If all of the players are playing badly for the whole of the season, then you’ve probably got to look elsewhere. I don’t think Oniki has any ideas to get us out of this mess and if we hadn’t squeaked all those late goals and were in a more realistic league position for the way we’ve been playing, I think the pressure would be mounting. I reckon that he was probably going to leave us at the end of the season, the third consecutive league title in the bag and go out on a high, perhaps going into the Japan job after Moriyasu fucks up the World Cup. Now I’m almost certain that he won’t have the three-peat, and that his reputation will be so tarnished that he won’t have a job lined up so might continue. It would be tough to sack him after all he’s achieved, but can you imagine what we might have achieved if we’d had someone in charge who could actually do the job instead of a very lucky Oniki?

Isn’t it fun this year? Can you actually remember the last time we played well? I can’t. We haven’t scored more than two goals in a game this year and have conceded four or more on three occasions. It’s fair to say that when we lose, we lose big! When we win, we squeak it. Perhaps Kashima away was the last feel-good game. But you’ve got to remember than aside from the first 15 minutes when we went 2-0 up we spent the rest of the game hanging on and playing the same old shit as we’ve been playing the rest of the season. We can’t shoot, we have games where we can’t defend, the players look a mix of bored, disheartened, out of form, some of them managing all three. And what’s more now we have rumours that Tachibanada might be leaving in the summer. Which I don’t want to believe and indeed would find hard to believe judging by some of his recent performances, but which seems likely when you consider that Joao Schmidt was pretty much frozen out but is now being slowly reintroduced. And also perhaps an awareness of his impending departure might be making some players feel a little pessimistic about our chances of pulling ourselves together. Of course we have plenty of players to take people’s places, but the fact is, none of them get much of a chance due to Oniki’s conservatism and lack of ideas. Add to this, the news that we’re going to play PSG in a friendly at the national stadium in July. We’ve just conceded four at home to Shonan… The cheapest ticket for this game comes in at ¥7000 and when you consider that the national stadium is one that isn’t really suited to football, this just looks like a massive cash grab. Presumably given our willingness to let our players leave for not much, we’ll let PSG keep all the money and also have a few free picks from our squad too. All this adds up to me feeling pretty uninterested in us at the moment. Not just because we’re not doing so well, but because there’s a grinding predictability to us and it’s also a surprisingly ineffective predictability too. I said it before but the best bits of match days are all the hours when we’re not at the stadium. Frontale in 2022 is like one of those films intended to stop kids taking drugs. All we’re seeing is the miserable side of matters with the intention of scaring/boring kids into never wanting to watch football again. I wonder if we’re taking some backhanders from the Japanese baseball league who are worried about young people being more interested in football than baseball and want to get some young fans back. Watching us play PSG in a friendly for ¥7000 a ticket would be rotten I think. When we play Vissel and Iniesta trips over the ball we get gasps of adoration and ripples of applause and glowing praise from our fans. The already horrendous view from behind the goal at the national stadium would be further ruined by a wall of phones taking videos of basically some of the financially greediest players in the football world. I’m not interested. Let’s finish up this downer post on a massive downer by saying that the comparisons to 2019 can’t be avoided now. After two good seasons we are again incomprehensibly shitting the bed, have a manager who instead of changing the sheets and looking onto our eating habits and pre-bedtime routine is just pushing the shit around the bed sheets, imagining that he’ll be able to wipe it off, but is instead perfectly smearing steaming poo around to cover exactly 100% of the bed clothes. And sadly we have to sleep in that bed for the next 19 league games…

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki (Yellow card 90+4')
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
DF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya
DF 15. SASAKI Asahi
MF 19. TONO Daiya
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT (on for TONO 57')
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for WAKIZAKA 66')
MF 16. SEKO Tatsuki (on for SASAKI 57')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (Yellow card 90') (on for IENAGA 66')
FW 24. MIYAGI Ten (on for MARCINHO 66')
DF 29. TAKAI Kota

My Frontale Man Of The Match

Oh come on!

MACHINO (Shonan) 50' 0-1
IKEDA (Shonan) 54' 0-2 
MACHINO (Shonan) 60' 0-3 
ELYOUNOUSSI (Shonan) 61' 0-4 


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