Football is back! J League is back! Busy work schedule is back!! With three games in eight days and a lot more classes than usual, something has to give, and that something is the length of these blog posts. Some might welcome the brevity though I guess. Not sure how I would approach this post if I was going the usual flabby way though, as this game was a real mess of contradictions. So I’ll keep it brief and be done with it. We scored five for the second time in a row! But once again it was mainly due to the opposition’s shortcomings rather than anything from us. We won in spite of Oniki not thanks to him. The long international break gave him plenty of time to think about our last two awful league defeats. And what did he come up with? Playing a midfielder way out of position at left back and put Chanathip back in the position in which he was totally ineffective in at the start of the season. The line up looked like we might be going with three at the back, but of course, super conservative Oniki wouldn’t actually try something new, would he? It’s telling that every dangerous Consadole attack and both of their goals came from moves down our left. It’s almost as if we were trying to give ourselves a handicap. And who knows what the tactics were supposed to be? But whatever they were, they resulted in some possession for us in our own penalty box and lots of lovely passing around the defence. Don’t be under any illusions. If we hadn’t been playing a team who are also a bit of a shambles at the moment, we would have lost. All three of the goals that won us the game came gift wrapped from Hokkaido defenders with a card expressing their desire for Oniki not to resign or get fired. Of course, some credit should go to the players who nicked the ball after some sloppiness at the back from Consadole. It should also be noted that most of those players didn’t start the game. Marcinho, the only player who has looked even slightly threatening for us recently got dropped to the bench. If Chinen hadn’t got injured we probably wouldn’t have seen Kobayashi till the 85th minute. At the start of the second half, Tono played better than Chanathip on the left, which is something anyone who had seen any of our games this year would have known but is something that has eluded Oniki’s attention. Perhaps he felt he needed to try something new to get us out of our dodgy run, but the fact is that all he did was play some different players out of position which caused us problems and created nothing for us. Nice work Oniki! At half time with us just about hanging on against a team who most managers love playing because their tactics are so wild and often insane, we were facing the reality that once again Oniki had been tactically outwitted. We shouldn’t have been surprised though as Oniki has only one set of tactics and all he does is try random combinations of players in the same shape with the same instructions to pass it backwards at every opportunity. Oniki is like a chef who tries to include all of his favourite ingredients into his dinner regardless of the outcome and serves up a steak with ice cream and natto, with a refreshing orange juice and mint drink on the side. Although I suppose at least those combinations might be unpredictable and slightly interesting in their originality whereas we’re just left with the same results from every apparently random option. If we’d lost, I don’t think we would have sacked Oniki and I don’t think he would have resigned. But with every passing week he further tarnishes his reputation and him getting another job offer becomes increasingly unlikely. I guess though that the JFL in its support for Moriyasu has form for doing absolutely stupid things so maybe he’ll still be able to get the national team job. Fingers crossed. If they could give it to him sooner rather than later that would be lovely thanks. The title is gone. We’re only one point behind but there’s no way this mess will consistently get results and there’s no way both YFM and Kashima will mess up enough to let us get past them.
This all seems a bit contrary considering we won 5-2, but if you’d watched the whole game I think you’d understand what I’m saying. Yeah, the goals were nice, but don’t kid yourself to say that we made them and weren’t gifted them. And don’t forget the fact that three weeks of contemplation and some important players finally coming back from injury and available brought Oniki to this starting line up and tactics. With Kazama in charge we were exciting. With Oniki in charge we become duller with every passing week. I’m not a tactician so I can’t tell you why we’re so boring but I am in the stadium watching the tedium so I can vouch for its intensity. We were so bad in this match that it even took the spotlight off Kasahara, a ref who is consistently awful, but who looked like a paragon of officiating in comparison with our tactical competence. I can’t remember a single time this year where we’ve played well and been unlucky. Actually some might say I could have stopped that previous sentence at ‘well’. I can remember countless times when we’ve played awfully and got very lucky. And a few times where we played terribly and got what we deserved. I can’t see it changing either, if even on the back of our worst run for years this is all he can come up with. And given that we fluked another win, (ignoring the fact that Oniki’s original plan for the game was so disastrously wrong but somehow a win was presented to him), he’ll probably take it as some kind of ringing endorsement of his master plan. People will probably find this post intensely annoying. Our biggest win of the season and perhaps my biggest moan. I know. But this performance was utterly shite for the most part. Some nice goals though, eh? That should help kick the can down the road for another week or so until the next time we fail to get extremely lucky. Maybe Wednesday? If not, next Saturday.
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
My Frontale Man Of The Match
I feel like this probably should go to one person, but given that another proved his point well I’m going to predictably split it two ways…
IENAGA Akihiro and KOBAYASHI Yu - Ienaga was really enjoyable in this game doing his usual swat the opposition away thing. He'd obviously really benefited from a bit of a rest. And Kobayashi, who has tried his best to take advantage of his limited opportunities, mainly on the wing, showed that if he’s given a bit of time in the middle he’ll score. Which we probably all knew, but Oniki apparently didn’t.