Saturday 16 September 2023

Vs FC Tokyo (home) 15/9/23 J League match 27

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 0 FC Tokyo 

At the end of this year, when we potentially could be looking at another wholly unsuccessful season, some fans might look back and be relieved that we at least managed to beat our local rivals YFM and FC Tokyo in a couple of games. Of course any delight in this is more than slightly undermined by the fact that both of those teams beat us easily in the return fixtures. But, you know, it’s nice to have something to cling on to.  As I’m saying this will be an unsuccessful season, some might be questioning why I’m being quite so pessimistic about our chances in both the Emperor’s Cup and ACL, particularly given that our new 38 year old striker is now finally in the frame for some pitch time. More on his impact in this game and some initial thoughts about him later on. The day after this game, the players headed off to the airport to go to Johor for our game on Tuesday. It’s a pretty fast turn around when you consider the traveling involved, so I wonder if we’ll see a similar team to the one we saw in this game or Oniki will change things up. Hehehehehe, had you going for a while there, didn’t I? Of course we’ll see a similar team! This is Oniki Frontale! At least we’ll have a bit of positivity to hang on to going into our opening ACL game. Well, positivity if we look only at the result of this game. Perhaps not so positive if we think about how the game went. This match was a pretty dull affair, with us having a lot of shots but not looking like coming very close to scoring, even in the absolute goal on a plate occasions, aside from the one time we crucially did. Also, don’t get too carried away about any positives you might want to take from this match. Some FC Tokyo fans are pretty despondent about the way that their new manager’s results have dipped after an initial bright start. They are a team who, like us, are very much mired in mid table, seemingly quite justifiably on this showing. However, their fans seem to be more upset about their position than some of ours are. Who cares about results, style of football or excitement anyway, when you have a new singing to get excited about! I really want to make a joke about our new signing being Oniki’s ‘Gomis out of jail free’ card, or ‘get out of Gomis free’ card, but I’m pretty dissatisfied about both of those turns of phrase. Clearly not dissatisfied enough to not include them though… By the way, if you’re ever confused about one of these increasingly oblique references I make in these posts, please ask for an explanation. I’d be happy to give one. I think my favourite and perhaps most oblique ever was the Pituca / CJ from Eggheads comparison. Still makes me, and I should stress that is ONLY me, giggle when I think about it. I’m surprised Pituca didn’t get investigated after saying he pushed a man into a canal and shocked that CJ isn’t criticised more for booting a water bottle into the studio audience at the Eggheads filming. Anyway, let’s have a bit of game chat under the old bullet points as that is what this post is supposed to be about.
Us -

Gomis started! Something exciting! Something that was probably slightly let down by the fact that plenty of other players who haven’t been doing very well also started. But no, this was going to be a brave new world of plenty of chances, loads of goals and would represent us starting an unlikely and late charge for the J1 title. Gomis would steal the headlines and other teams would be a little sick in their mouth, worried about the prospect of the great Kawasaki sleeping giant stirring, ready to take the league by the scruff of its neck and start smashing things. Oh… actually the introduction of Gomis showed that Frontale Rabbit was right all along, and it doesn’t matter who plays up front for us, we’ll forever struggle to score goals. I think I’ve been saying for a long time that the reason for our travails in the last few years is not the players, but is instead the system and the tactics. Apparently we had 19 shots in this game, but aside from the goal and a couple of very bad misses, I can’t really remember much. We’ve got a star striker up front!! But still the only way we can make any kind of chance is by giving the ball to Marcinho to dribble and run at the opposition defence. Thankfully he managed to score on this occasion, (think this was the first goal by a foreign player for us this year). On the other side of the pitch it was all lovely ponderous triangles. Anything that went through the middle was met with a wall of bodies and was blocked before the ball even made it into the box. This has happened in every single game this year as far as I can remember. We are woefully predictable and everyone has spotted it. Whoever plays up front will be crowded out and will struggle to do anything. So it’s a bit of a surprise that we’re (probably) spending so much money on someone who if we continue to play the same way, will basically be being used as a decoy. As I’m trying to be a bit more positive about everything, (yes, I know someone people will find me saying that after the preceding few hundred words deeply ironic), I don’t want to dwell on individual players deficiencies too much, but I will say that Ienaga really looks like he can’t be bothered at the start of most games and it takes him a really long while to get into the game. Usually this comes about due to us conceding, scoring, or a red card for us or the opposition and then Ienaga becomes possessed with the kind of exciting energy that we were so used to him having in the past. But he never seems to have it from the start of games anymore. He was pretty anonymous for the first 60 minutes of this game. I hope he can get his mojo back as it doesn’t seem like he’s lost his talent, but has instead just lost a bit enthusiasm. It seems like Oniki is always going to play him though. Plenty of others had mediocre games, but the whole atmosphere of the match was pretty lacklustre, so I guess it’s not a surprise that no-one particularly came out smelling of roses. We weren’t exactly bad in this game, we were just boring. Thankfully our opponents were equally boring and a little worse than us. One last point is that, as expected, after our shellacking by Cerezo, all hopes of any experimentation from Oniki are gone. We’re back to the same formation and the same leaden style again. Expect a lot more dullness before this year is over. Even though in the league, all we have left is basically trying to avoid our worst finish for a few years, we’re apparently still going to stick with the dullness that got us into the position where it looks like were going to have our worst finish for years. Oh and just change one isolated to the point of ineffectuality striker for another. Still, at least we stopped our six game winless run in the league. Thank you FC Tokyo!

Them -

First of all, I should say that FC Tokyo seemed to come with a game plan suited to winning a game against us a few years ago. That was a time when we were a team of delicate flowers who moved the ball around in a lovely and dangerous manner but wilted when we came up against a team who roughed us up a bit and were prepared to sit and wait for counter attacking chances. Although we still can’t play against teams who defend in numbers, the same is also true against teams who play a myriad of other ways. The way a team plays against us will affect how many goals they score, but probably won’t have that much of an effect on how many we score, as no matter how packed the defence is, we’ll still dither our way to losing possession or overplay it before finally blasting a shot into the legs of a defender at point blank range. Tokyo’s aggressive approach got them six yellow cards in this game, and I thought they could have had more. To focus on (bitch about) some players individually, Higashi is that most dislikable type of footballer, who is very keen to dish out the fouls but falls to the floor at the slightest suggestion of someone even approaching him. Nakagawa is still a wanker, (on the pitch, maybe he’s nice guy, etc. etc. but come on Frontale fans who still clap him, he may have come from our youth team, but he’s played for both YFM and FC Tokyo and always celebrates anything they do like he holds Frontale personally responsible for his lack of height and horrific hairdo). Was very happy to see him get booked. He seems to increasingly resemble, (from my vantage point), a male stripper, who couldn’t make it to the higher levels of the business due to his size. (Interpret that how you want, but I meant height as that’s the extent of my knowledge). He’s got an increasingly weird blonde bombshell haircut which every year becomes more of a mullet. But there’s also definitely a whiff of 1990’s League 2 player for a Greater Manchester area football team, who is more exotic to the locals than anyone else who’s ever set foot in their town. As he ages, his height decreases, his weight increases, the old clothes don’t fit like they used to, but he’s still persevering with them. Nakagawa has always been a diver, but 2023 Nakagawa would end up falling off the sofa and rolling around on the floor just reaching for his credit card trying to place an order for the latest hair care product mentioned on TikTok. I was quite happy to see Slowik in goal. His distribution is still awful. Can’t say anything much else about his keeping as most of our shots on target were just dollied up for him. Their fans were silent before the match and only broke that silence to boo Ienaga, Gomis and Oniki in the team announcement. I’m sure they have their reasons. Their silence was so noticeable that I thought they must have been either making some kind of silent protest or paying their respects for the anniversary of something terrible happening. Their rendition of their plenty of other team’s classic anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone was a lot quieter as it didn’t have the singing being boosted by their own PA as it does at their home matches. It’s a bit of a cliche to say their fans are terrible, but before the game they were. During the game though, they were making a bit of noise, which was more noticeable as recently we seem even more reluctant than normal to sing when we’re not in possession. I find this quite irritating, but can totally understand it this year, as there has not been much to sing about if we’re being honest. So for once, my criticism of FC Tokyo fans is tempered with me recognising that our support isn’t that great recently either, and that both sets of fans have perfectly good reasons for not being that bothered when it comes to getting over-excited. Oh, one last observation, it seems that Nagatomo is another convert to the cause of autonepiophilia. It seems to be rampant amongst players who’ve played overseas and then come back to the J League. I wonder if they should start screening for it when people arrive back in Japan. There are probably vaccines that could be given too.

Ref and VAR -

Ikeuchi has a shocking reputation and deservedly so, but I didn’t find much if anything to get irritated about on this occasion. And although the one VAR decision (which was being made by Nishimura of all people) did take a while and didn’t allow us a goal, I’ve heard (not having bothered to watch it back), that it was correct. So… ermmmm…. nothing much to see here.

And nothing much to see here in the conclusion either. We weren’t that good but we did the job. I’m not going to bother with a man of the match as there wasn’t really one. Don't get me wrong, it was by no means a disaster. I'm trying not to moan too much about things that don't merit moaning about.
And we actually won! And our time-wasting for the last ten minutes of the game was absolutely top notch stuff! Next up, Johor away on Tuesday and then back to the national stadium next Sunday for Shonan away in the league. It’s perhaps slightly amusing that Shonan fans will have to travel through Kawasaki to get to their home game. It’s not amusing that we’ll have another game in that rotten stadium. Fingers crossed we can get the job done on Tuesday. Well, actually maybe I mean fingers crossed that we don’t cock up too badly on Tuesday. A win would be lovely, but this is Frontale 2023, so avoiding defeat is the first and toughest hurdle!


GK 1. JUNG Sung-Ryong
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
DF 3. OMINAMI Takuma
MF 16. SEKO Tatsuki
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro (Yellow card 44')
FW 18. Bafetimbi GOMIS
FW 17. TONO Daiya (on for SEKO 87')
FW 30. SEGAWA Yusuke (on for MARCINHO 80')
DF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for KURUMAYA 87')
FW 33. MIYASHIRO Taisei (on for IENAGA 87')

MARCINHO (Frontale) 52' 1-0


No comments:

Post a Comment