Gamba Osaka 2 - 0 Kawasaki Frontale
Let’s start positive! This was not the worst match of the last ten years. That was Niigata away I reckon. But from the point of view of us offering nothing and getting a well deserved beating with added injuries and red card bans, this was a pretty awful day again. I’m not sure how many times I can write ‘we start with 4-3-3 and achieve nothing till we change formation around 70 minutes’ or ‘we pass the ball around loads but never bother shooting’ or ‘Yamane was absolutely shit in this game’ or ‘the tactics are all over the place, the manager is floundering and is really being found out.’ Not sure how many times, but it seems appropriate again. 90 minutes of football, 2 shots on target. This was utterly shit and we got exactly what we deserved. Gamba clearly aren’t word beaters but were streets ahead of us when it came to making and taking chances. They easily scored from a corner which came from what was probably their first decent attack. We had plenty of decent attacks but I don’t really remember any real chances. Because Oniki Frontale 2023 is all about passing in defence and moving to midfield and then passing back to the defence. In a player post match interview someone said Oniki had encouraged them to shoot more. I feel like this must be a translation error as we definitely weren’t doing it. For Oniki it’s all about drawing out the opposition with passing around our back four. And then losing the ball. We’re a total mess right now. I have no real desire to even watch the next match on DAZN, let alone go to the stadium to watch it. Of course I will be there though, but we seem to be in a situation where there’s no confidence, no ideas and absolutely no luck.
So let’s moan a bit more specifically about us. Tanabe must now be regretting coming back to us. Used for a a few games, in most of which he did really well and then dropped at the first time of asking. Them brought in to take the place of his replacement in defence Kurumaya who’d been sent off. And then getting injured. We’re heading towards the next match with another defensive crisis on our hands with Kurumaya banned and Tanabe apparently injured. Although this time I guess we have Takai available. And Sasaki might be back from his exile period. Now Jesiel, Yamamura and Kurumaya have all been red carded and have all got crocked this year. Perhaps something to do with the fact that Yamane is strolling round the pitch, slowly jogging backwards and forwards as the ball pings around him looking a bit confused but more ‘can’t be arsed’ if I’m being honest. The only time he can be bothered is when he has someone to shout at for making a mistake when we concede a goal. It’s notable that he hasn’t been able to do that too much this year. The reason being that more often than not, he’s the one fucking up. Please Taniguchi, give him a call. I’m sure there’s a team in the Qatar league who want him. For once I wouldn’t even moan about us getting peanuts for a player transfer. It wasn’t all Yamane though, (although it was mostly Yamane as far as I’m concerned). Oniki’s starting line-ups are almost exclusively uninspiring. 4-3-3 is a failure this year and should be ditched. But Oniki is wed to at least 65 minutes of it every week. How many times do we have to get to midway through the second half before he realises, ‘hmmm, this isn’t working’. Many more times it seems as we do it every week. Now he’s also got to the random midfield stage where he just picks three players and plays them in the position they are weakest. Of course, I’m exaggerating a bit but it does seem to be a recurring incident. Add to this Ienaga playing every game. Clearly time is catching up with him slightly, but he’s still a good player. I don’t think it’s essential to play him for the majority of every game though. Or even for him to be involved in every game. He was well off the pace in this match but was the last player to be replaced. Give him a rest! We’ve got lots of players who can play there and they might not take up the same roving role as Ienaga does, so it might offer something a bit different. Einaga could have another go, but to be honest, we didn’t score when he played either. Oniki seems to think he’s making some big calls by leaving out Wakizaka and playing Miyashiro or Yamada over Kobayashi or Damiao but the one glaring fuck up is that he picks Yamane and Ienaga every week. But then again, who wants to win games and score goals, eh? Much better to travel hundreds of kilometres and see two shots on target in 90 minutes and plenty ‘drawing out’ of the opponent. As I said above, the players change, the formation changes and the results generally stay the same. Well actually it was worse than usual today. The one constant is Oniki’s useless safety first approach. Could we just once take a free kick in midfield and play it into the box, rather than constantly playing it short, especially if there’s an opposition player standing very close waiting to take the ball. We need an overhaul, Oniki’s not going to do it, and he apparently isn’t under any pressure, (which to be honest I agree with, but I do wish he’d feel a bit worse about the shit he’s serving up), so clearly it’s going to be a long year.
A few words on Gamba and the ref. Gamba were quite physical and the ref seemed determined to let the game flow. No complaints about Kurumaya’s red, but plenty of complaints about Gamba’s time wasting. Although I don’t know why they bothered though as we seemed increasingly unlikely to score the longer the game went on, as we hobbled ourselves to increasing levels. Kwon was on the floor twice apparently injured and both times the stretcher was called on and then dismissed. When Tanabe was injured he made him leave the pitch to get treatment, reducing us to nine men. Oniki had blown all of our subs already by that stage on micro tinkering his way around the same tactics and formation so it was all immaterial anyway. But it did irritate me. Also it seems that neither the ref or the linesmen fully understood the offside rule, as until Damiao rolled the ball back to Sung-Ryong after Gamba’s third, neither of them had realised that when the goalie is ahead of the ball you need two other players there to be onside. But what do you expect in the J League? It’s a good thing they allow a bit of negotiation from the players when it comes to VAR. (This is a joke obviously, but in this case it was actually necessary). Might as well have just let them have another goal anyway as what’s the real difference between hopelessly losing 2-0 and hopelessly losing 3-0? I would love to write something about how dodgy Tani is, but I don’t think he had to make a save in the whole game. He always seems to do well against us and we were so toothless in attack this time, he could have done equally well playing the whole 90 minutes in a deckchair behind the goal. We’re so crap. We’re so, so crap. I was disappointed to not see the new much maligned Gamba mascot in person. The slightly freakish Gamba Boy was still around but the new Cookie Monster one only made it on to the video screen as a drawing. At least that would have given us something new to enjoy. As it was, there was nothing new in this game, just the same old shit, equally ineffective and equally unentertaining. Away trips are ruined by the football game recently. Maybe next time we should just skip the game and just enjoy the local delights instead.
Next up, a defeat to Grampus at home in the league, with a makeshift defence doing ok but with us losing due to us not taking any fucking shots. Oniki will say how some of the build up play was nice but we need to be more decisive in the final third even though his tactics and team selection have instilled deep dithering and conservatism in the team. Watching this team right now is less fun than enduring a 90 minute rush hour commute on the busiest of train lines in the summer with the aircon not working. Presumably the response in that situation would be something better than ‘we’re really working on thinking about fixing and tuning on the aircon, but we need to be more decisive and proactive when it comes to actually getting the tools out and pushing the on switch’. I’m pleased that Oniki can always find some thing to be positive about in his post match interviews, but to be honest, a decent first half where we control the game but fail to mark any chances is an utter waste of time. Particularly when during that first half you conceded at almost the first time of asking. Last year, we played like shit for most of the season and got unbelievably good luck on many occasions. Oniki didn’t seem to notice that and now we’re again playing like shit and getting exactly what we deserve. We escaped in this game last year with Kobayashi nicking the ball of the Gamba keeper but this year were so far off the pace that it would have been a miracle if we even managed a draw. To finish, some 2023 stats. Played 10 games, won two, drawn four, lost four. 10 goals scored, 13 goals conceded. Take out the Shimizu Levain game and the Consadole game and that’s four goals scored in eight matches. But at least we’re drawing out the opponent often in our 4-3-3, right?
GK 1. JUNG Sung-RyongDF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 3. OMINAMI Takuma
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (Yellow card 52', second yellow card 60')
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyoehi
MF 8. TACHIBANADA Kento
MF 16. SEKO Tatsuki
MF 18. CHANATHIP
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 33. MIYASHIRO Taisei
FW 17. TONO Daiya
GK 99. KAMIFUKUMOTO Naoto
MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT (on for SEKO 63')
MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT (on for SEKO 63')
DF 15. TANABE Shuto (on for CHANATHIP 63')
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO (on for IENAGA 77')
FW 20. YAMADA Shin (on for MIYASHIRO 71')
FW 30. SEGAWA Yusuke (on for TONO 71')MF 49. KOZUKA Kazuki
My Frontale Man Of The MatchProbably not anyone really but definitely not Yamane
DAWHAN (Gamba) 29' 1-0
JUAN ALANO (Gamba) 50' 2-0