Friday 24 June 2022

Vs Tokyo Verdy (home) 22/6/22 Emperor's Cup 3rd round

Kawasaki Frontale 0 - 1 Tokyo Verdy 

Another game, another truly awful performance. Some are saying this was a shock, but if that’s the case I’d say it was one of the most predictable shocks you could imagine. I certainly thought we were going to lose and Oniki still being in charge of the team increased that likelihood massively. There were a few giant killings in this round of the cup but I don’t think you can all this a giant killing. It’s more like something that would take place in a Swiss clinic, and we’re hardly giants this year. So perhaps more like a slightly taller than average man self-euthanisation. To be honest, whoever Oniki started with I think we would have struggled given his apparent complete lack of tactical inventiveness and dearth of inspirational qualities. He’s running us into the ground. At least we know that whoever takes over when he leaves at the end of the season won’t have an ACL campaign to trouble them and instead will be able to use the Levain group games to work on some things. Maybe that’s why Oniki has been struggling recently. He’s a victim of his own success! Constantly qualifying for the ACL has meant that he only has Emperor’s Cup games available to tinker with things. Oh… but he pretty much usually plays a full strength team in those games too… On this occasion he rotated slightly but I don’t think that was necessarily completely to do with giving people a chance. More to do with his sincere belief that the best rotation involves the same limited group of players with at least two out of position and no changes in tactics. We’re on a horrible run. The only teams we seem to be able to beat are ones who are students or have a pathological desire to self harm. I really feel for Seko and Matsui who messed up for the goal, but Matsui was playing out of position in one of his first games for us. Seko has shown some kind of sensitivity over his position in the squad and his performances but I hope he’s not being too hard on himself. Idiots online going for them certainly isn’t going to help matters. Especially when it seems that Oniki is not going to be held to the same standards. A tweet by a well followed Japanese language Frontale blog stated that the defeat was making them keener than ever to get back to the stadium on Saturday and get back to winning ways. Personally, it has had the absolute opposite effect on me. I don’t particularly want to go, (but I will), and I think we’ll almost certainly lose. We had a change in personnel for this game but no change in approach. It was still horribly ponderous and utterly predictable. I think it took us 32 minutes to have our first shot. Players seem scared to shoot or take chances and this can only come from pressure from above. Sasaki looked like a shell of his former self, perhaps noticing that he was dropped in favour of a midfielder playing way out of position for what was probably the preferred first choice line up against Consadole last week (don’t forget how useless we were in that game!). With that in mind, you’ve got to think that Damiao is now also not a first choice. So we had players starting who really had nothing much to gain and everything to lose. But the players haven’t all turned into bad players in the course of a month or two. It has to be the tactics. It’s all safe, safe, safe… oh we’ve conceded, better carry on doing the same thing… oh we’ve lost. Loads of possession playing triangles of passes around the back. A midfielder at right back, a midfielder in central defence, a left back in central defence, a left winger playing on the right. All wonderful stuff isn’t it? I guess Oniki thinks he eventually come up with the dream combination of players out of position to make his dull tactics work. I don’t have the same confidence. And if he does finally solve the problem, it will no doubt be too late by then. I think it probably already is too late actually. Verdy defended solidly in numbers and then hit us on the counter attack. The same thing that every team Oniki has struggled against has done. Every team for the last three or four years. But still he hasn’t even hinted that he’s noticed it happening, let alone found a solution. Instead, it’s those triangles and lots of lovely possession and none of those horrible goals scored.

I appreciate that I’m in the minority when it comes to these kind of things. Plenty of people have confidence in him and think he can turn things round. I don’t particularly want him to be fired. Ideally, I’d like him to come to his senses and come up with some kind of route to us regaining some kind of form. If he doesn’t do that, and I don’t think he can, I think he should have a look at what might be the real reason for our slump, recognise that it’s pretty much down to him and that he has no solution and then do the honorable thing and resign. I don’t think the fact that we have no-one ready to take over is a problem. I think that he has come up with nothing original to get us out of the slump is a far bigger problem than getting someone in urgently to shake things up a bit. Terada could probably do a better job right now. I base this on nothing other than there’s not much chance of anyone doing a worse job than Oniki at the moment. Our squad is monstrously unbalanced and as he’s been in charge for years during which time that unbalance has worsened he has to be blamed for that. Perhaps it’s unbalanced because Oniki has a belief that midfielders can play anywhere. Recent performances suggest that this might not be true. I don’t know why our once pin point destructive strike attack has been turned into a foam hammer. Yes, I know we have lost some good players, but we still have about three quarters of the same starting members that we had last year. Definitely lots of people are out of form and as I always say, this does happen sometimes, but when it happens to so many players at the same time, you’ve got to think that there might be some other reason for it to be happening.

Next up Jubilo at home on Saturday. Remember that away game, where we were utterly shite and struggled to make any decent chances till we had conceded and then just about managed to fluke a goal and a draw? They knew how to play against us on that occasion and you’ve got to imagine that they will know how to do it again. Oniki is being tactually outthought by pretty much everyone he comes up against at the moment. And then occasionally gets a result to slightly ease the pressure on him, even if that result when examined looks very, very lucky and highly undeserved. He’s always been a lucky manager but now it seems that the luck when it comes to the team has run out and it’s only working when it comes to saving his own skin. We looked awful at the start of the season but compared to how we’re playing now, we can look back on those games with some kind of beautiful nostalgic joy. Sure we were shite then, but now we’re really shite. On Saturday we’ll probably go with the same system and tactics, Tachibanada at left back again, will not do much, then concede from a fast break from a Jubilo attack who will have been sitting back in numbers. Then Oniki will make lots of subs, nothing will change and we’ll concede again late on in the game for another utterly frustrating defeat. Oniki will say he takes responsibility for the defeat, but stop short of actually taking any responsibility, another midfielder will start getting trained up to play in goal or at centre back and we’ll move on to our next defeat in Osaka next weekend. At the end of the season, we’ll call it a transition season and use that to explain why we’ve finished seventh. Oniki will have tarnished his reputation so much that he won’t have any job offers so will sign a new contract for a fresh period of demolition of our team, reputation and my sanity. Blimey, this has all turned a bit bleak. But I suppose that’s not a great surprise, is it? At least by the time I arrive at the game on Saturday, I should be have consumed quite a lot of drinks on the way as I have an event to go to first. Therefore, the crushing disappointment will be dulled slightly. Cheers! 

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 25. MATSUI Renji
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
DF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya
DF 15. SASAKI Asahi
MF 17. KOZUKA Kazuki
MF 16. SEKO Tatsuki

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 8. TACHIBANADA Kento (on for SEKO 46')
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for MARCINHO 71')
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto (on for KOZUKA 46')
FW 19. TONO Daiya (on for MIYAGI 46')
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro (on for JOAO SCHMIDT 60')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

You've got to be kidding!

SATO (Verdy) 39' 0-1


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