Monday 20 March 2023

Vs Cerezo Osaka (home) 18/3/23 J League match 5


Kawasaki Frontale 0 - 0 Cerezo Osaka

Hmmmm. Well this was quite a confusing game. I came away feeling surprisingly positive given that we’d just drawn 0-0 and had only managed three shots on target in 90 minutes. But there were some things to be happy about. Since the end of the game and after the post match beverages wore off, a less positive mist has started to consume me. Sitting here writing this almost 24 hours after the game, perhaps I’m finding some balance. Which to be honest is quite a rare thing for a post on this blog. In the interest of keeping things fresh and doubling down on this new found balance, I’m going to mix up the usual paragraph headings this time. Don’t say I never try new things. Whether these new headings will be as unsuccessful as and go the same way as our new tactics, I’m not sure. Only time will tell I guess.


Let’s start positive! Tanabe was back at the club having his loan cut short due to our defensive crisis. And he went straight in at centre back! I think he had a pretty good game to be honest. Perhaps there’s not a big difference in standard between mid table J2 and bottom of the table J1. Even though this is the positivity section it really would be remiss of me not to refer to this game as a relegation scrap. (Note to anyone who doesn’t realise that this blog is mainly about jokes, these are jokes). It’s kind of weird that if it hadn’t been for this utterly self inflicted defensive hole we’re in, Tanabe would probably have seen out the year at JEF and then perhaps left us at the end of the season. After all, that’s what has happened to quite a few of our players who have gone out on loan. Now the chance to stake a claim has dropped in his lap and I hope he makes the most of it. The partnership between him and Ominami was a good one I thought, and we only looked like we were in trouble on a few occasions. Thankfully Sung-Ryong was on hand on those occasions to bail us out. He had another great game I thought. And wow, we didn’t concede in this game! The first time this has happened all year! It’s amazing what can happen if you actually play defenders in defence! The defence was probably also helped by the surprise return of Nobori which came out of nowhere. And Kobayashi was back too! So perhaps there’s some light at the end of the injury tunnel. I was also pleased that Oniki shook things up a bit with the starting line up. Plenty of players have been pretty dreadful so far this year so it was good to see some changes. Wakizaka and Sasaki dropped out of the squad completely, which was a bit of a surprise. I feel like it was a bit harsh on Sasaki as he’s been doing pretty well I think, but perhaps he was being rested when we had an opportunity to do so, as he’s played a lot more minutes so far this year than we might have expected. With Oshima injured we went for a new midfield combination of Joao, Tachibanada and Chanathip. I think all three had decent games. Well actually I think Joao had a really good game. Up front Yamada got a start and as expected for a starting striker for us, failed to score. But I’m not moaning about that. Marcinho still seems to be slightly off the boil, but Ienaga, after his and Yamane’s total cock up for the goal last week seemed like a changed man and had a really good game. We started the game quite brightly and didn’t drop off too much. We didn’t concede!! We rode our luck when Cerezo had some good chances which is something we haven’t done before this year. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this was a great game and a great result, but it does seem like we are taking the first baby steps back towards not being absolutely shite. Our support was quite good too, but the whole thing of continuing to sing the same song through the final whistle and for the whole time the players did their ‘say thank you’ lap and then still continuing to sing on was quite strange. I think it’s good that even though we didn’t win we could still show that we are behind the team. It must be a bit weird though as a player, being disappointed by another failure to get three points and hearing the fans singing, apparently unaware of the result and even of the fact that the game is over. I suspect you know where we’re going now. As sure as autumn follows summer, the negativity section must follow the positivity section, so let’s get moany.


We didn’t win again. We had three shots on target in 90 minutes which goes nicely with our three shots on target in 90 minutes against Kashima, our two shots on target in 90 minutes against Shonan, our three shots on target in 90 minutes against Shimizu and our our two shots on target in 90 minutes against Albirex. Clearly we’ve got some problems going forward. And it’s not just putting the chances away, it’s also making the chances. Passing, no problems there. We can pass till the cows come home. Mainly sideways or backwards and short, but who cares when we can rack up those lovely pass stats? We were trundling along at such a great pass pace in this game that I thought we might make four figures. We’re back to the old ‘pass it all the way into the net’ style. I just wish sometimes that someone would have a shot. Any teams that had done their homework on us would be bewildered, as it would be so out of character. There was a period for about 5 minutes in the middle of the first half where Cerezo just passed the ball around to each other going nowhere, then gave us the ball to do the same thing. Five minutes of completely pointless passing, shared between the two teams. It was almost like a performance art piece, making the spectator question the futility of existence. A Samuel Beckett like commentary on the inevitable passing of time through the inevitable and ultimately pointless passing of a football backwards and sideways. If the crowd are not present to see the sideways passing, can we ever say that it has truly happened? Does the presence of people in the stands give the sideways passing meaning? Or could we instead all have just sat down and closed our eyes for five minutes, essentially stopping the game, but with the clock still ticking. I’m sure if all the players had just sat down on the pitch and had a little think the ref would have still found some way to award Cerezo a free kick and make an officiating blunder though. But more on him and them in the next part. It’s good that we’ve regained some kind of slight solidity at the back, but it’s a bit of a shame that it has blunted our attack again. Well I say blunted, but as the stats above show, it was pretty blunt before anyway. I think when things were going off the rails last season Oniki reverted to the double defensive midfield of Joao and Tachibanada to sure things up. Anyone who went to the Nagoya away game will know quite how dull that made us. I often say that I want one or the other of them playing and not both of them. But I understand that something had to be done to stem the flow of horrible goals being conceded. So, I’ll take it as the first step towards perhaps something a little more positive. Perhaps… Hope we don’t stick with it too long though. I think in the last post I speculated that maybe we should ditch the 4-3-3 that has become so stale. In this match, perhaps the midfield three’s shape was changed a bit, but it wasn’t until we started playing with two up front that we actually looked like making some chances. The problem with that formation though is that we’ve got way too many midfielders in our squad. (Just get the feeling that I’m typing the same things every week recently…). And a 4-4-2 with Ienaga on the right is quite unbalanced as Ienaga quite rightly does what he wants most of the time. But you know, baby steps towards something not shit. Reflection is a bit of a bummer really. After the game I was quite pleased but it’s quite easy to find negatives if you really start thinking about this match. Especially when you consider that people are saying that Yokohama FC are pretty much dead certs for relegation already and they are only four points behind us and have even scored more goals than us! Five games played, five points gained, five goals conceded and only four scored. But I dunno, the only way is up… perhaps.

Ref, VAR and opposition

Let’s deal with those delicate pink blossoms first. I’ve never seen a team dive as much as Cerezo did. Every few minutes a player in a pink shirt with a blonde dye job was rolling around on the pitch whilst simultaneously appealing to the ref and then making an amazing recovery when they got their free kick. Sakura is truly a transitory thing. An ill timed rain shower and gusty day can ruin people’s hanami chances for the year. And it seems that Cerezo’s players are similarly blown over by the waft of a player moving past them from a few metres away. Other than their diving, there’s not much to say about Cerezo, as like us, they didn’t do much. When it comes to the ref though, there’s plenty to say. I can’t remember exactly what Okabe did but I have a vague memory that he was responsible for one of the more famous major cock ups that has blighted the league in the past. In this match, he managed to add another clanger to his CV. He’s not completely to blame as he had help from his fantasist of a linesman who managed to conjure up an offside from a clearly onside situation. As the ball went into the net, I was fuming as I said it was never offside (for once, I was actually right!). But linesmen make mistakes sometimes so that’s why we let the play continue so VAR can sort out the mess if necessary. Step forward Okabe, who seemed to be so keen to finish things up quickly (presumably he was going out in Musashi Kosugi that evening) that he didn’t need to get VAR involved and blew the whistle halting the play before the attack had finished and therefore preventing VAR from getting involved. It was a horrendous error from a ref who is just absolutely shit. In additional time the Cerezo keeper clattered into his own defender who rolled around on the floor probably trying to get the ref to give a card, not realising he’d been taken out by his own teammate and Okabe gave Cerezo a free kick. We should have noticed this and got Kobayashi to foul Miyashiro in the Cerezo box as that presumably would have got us a penalty. If we had won, it would have been great, but probably underserved. A game with as little quality as this one deserved to be a 0-0. So I don’t feel cheated, but in fact we were definitely cheated. Maybe we’ll get an apology letter from the J League and Okabe can do some kids games for a couple of years. Poor kids!

Next up, we again face the immovable object that is Shonan Bellmare. Once again it’s at home but this time it’s in the Levain Cup. Another defeat in what is only our second group stage game would probably do the job of effectively eliminating us from the competition at the earliest stage possible. I guess we’ll see some more rotation. In the pub after the game a fan was saying about how much they are looking forward to seeing the game as there will be some different faces playing. I’m guessing they didn’t watch the Shimizu game as we saw some different faces in that game and we were awful. But you know, this game did feel like a step in the right direction, so hopefully we can continue along that route next Sunday.

GK 1. JUNG Sung-Ryong
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 15. TANABE Shuto
DF 3. OMINAMI Takuma
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 20. YAMADA Shin

FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for CHANATHIP 76')
MF 17. TONO Daiya
FW 30. SEGAWA Yusuke (on for MARCINHO 86')
FW 33. MIYASHIRO Taisei (on for YAMADA 76')
MF 49. KOZUKA Kazuki

My Frontale Man Of The Match
For once I have some options. Joao had a good game I thought, Sung-Ryong saved us again with an amazing stop, Ominami looks like he’s getting better every game but for the sake of the story arc I’ll give it to….

TANABE Shuto - back with us and straight into the team. Did a better job of defending than many others have done this year. Just hope he doesn’t end up getting pushed out of the team and the squad and regret having come back to us.


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