Our defence has improved a lot since Pusnik came to the club. The season before he arrived we were the 2nd worst in the entire division behind only Gainare, but in reality we have nearly the same players (or possibly even worse) since that season.
It is an area of the team which I think needs perhaps the most attention. We have nobody in midfield, but without spending a lot of money are always going to get a similar sort of player there. We already are spending quite a lot of money in defence (primarily in flop Koga) and it is still hemorrhaging goals and giving the team an uphill struggle in almost every match.
While we need to buy a midfield, we need to try to get rid of a poor defence and build a new one.
#2 – Yuta Mishima – Keep. He has quite serious deficiencies in his game. He loses all composure when crossing. He gets caught wrong side of attackers for crosses. He has the physique of a 14 year old. But he also has enough about him that I would keep him at the club. I presume he doesn’t cost too much, and when in attack does have some nice quick feet.
I wonder if the Gareth Bale solution is needed for him (remove all defnce by putting him in midfield), but he would have to spend an hour every day practicing crossing to do that.
#3 – Takumi Abe – Leave Struts around the place like a player who should by all rights be amongst the top teams in J1, but in reality is a podgy, J2 makeweight. Is as small as you’d expect from a Japanese full-back, but is actually not so bad in the air. His problems come from just giving the ball away in stupid places and not seeming to have the intelligence to work in a formation.
FC Tokyo won’t want him, neither will Avispa, he’ll be playing for Mito within 6 months (and probably still thinking he doesn’t need to listen to any advice).
#4 – Lee Kwang Seon – Keep (but only on a transfer) The guy has heart, and a talent for getting his head onto things and attacking the ball. Unfortunately he is Korean which means that Japanese referees are going to book him for being taller than Japanese guys. Leads J2 for yellow cards, and looks at times like he doesn’t know what he is getting booked for. I still rate the guy, and am amazed he hasn’t got injured. Seemed to play better when he had his legs strapped up. Not good enough for Kobe.
#5 – Masahiro Koga – Retire I said it last season, things have only got worse in the 12 months since. Offer the guy a 5 year contract if he wants to stay in Fukuoka, but only if he agrees to a lower deal and to never play for the first team but instead coaches the U-14 team. The most important thing for any team is to make sure a player’s legs go for someone else not you. Koga’s legs went 2 years ago.
#13 – Park Gun – Back to Korea Now this is one which is surprising me as I write it, but I think he should leave the club. I actually like Park Gun, both in dfence, midfield, and increasingly so at corners, but he doesn’t look like someone who is enjoying his time in Japan. He doesn’t contest referees making stupid decisions, he looks a little shy in face of opposition players, and as much as I liked his post-match interview in Japanese against Toyama I just get the impression he’d be better off playing for Seoul FC.
#17 – Kazuki Yamaguchi – Keep If I was surprised by Park Gun, I’m even more surprised to be saying that Kazuki should stay; but the guy has the one attribute which is missing more than anything else among the playing staff at Avispa: heart.
He hasn’t let the team down whenever he has played this season, he tries to gee up the players when others look like they want to be in the ramen shop, and if you cut him open he’d read Avispa. Avispa fans don’t need big wins or promotion, but I’d pay to see Kazuki make me cheer, laugh or cry every week.
#18 – Oh Chang Hyon – Job at Lawsons This guy has now been ostracised by 4 managers at 2 different clubs even though they all had no-one else to play at right-back. The kid is a joke. Has all the gifts needed to play at this level, but just can’t listen and do what it takes to put it together.
#19 – Shunsuke Tsutsumi – Leave A controversial one, but I’ve just had enough now. Another guy who has absolutely all the gifts (Oh If I could put Mishima’s heart in his body…) but doesn’t seem to be able to do a job. Was an absolute joke in 2012 and most supporters wanted him out (There was a standing joke that he took Naruoka’s shirt), but then blossomed as Pusnik gave him more responsibility. Has then thrown it all away in the last 12 months as he has allowed his concentration to drop, and looks like a player who knows he can get a contract elsewhere and just doesn’t care.
#21 – Eijiro Takeda – Keep (but only on a transfer) A player who I heard lived in England and speaks English. I hope he reads this page and does everything he can to stay at the club. Has had an underwhelming career to now, but this season has been allowed to show his versatility, his ability at set-pieces and a long throw. I’d prefer to see him at left-back, but the fact that he will have offers this close season is just because of the opportunities he has been given.
#24 – Yuya Mitsunaga – Keep Has the potential to be the only bright point from this season. Has only played a handful of games, but still got more than he would under a Japanese manager. I think he is the best crosser of the ball from open play, and has the intelligence within a game to spot the cross he should make.
Who would I bring in?
Nara (Consadole Sapporo) – A fantasy land signing, and one which I mentioned last year as well, but if you took the money which the club are spending on over-the-hill 35 year olds like Makoto Tanaka or Koga and offered it to the best young defender in J2 (after Wataru Endo goes to J1) then we have someone to mount an attack on the play-offs with.
Havenaar (Nagoya Grampus – loan) – I don’t believe you can get a tall foreigner to play as centre-back, all that Lee Kwang Seon has hown this year is that referees are going to blow fouls for being taller than Japanese players. In light of this let’s try to get a guy who can talk to the referees and is 1m98 tall. His older bother came to Avispa on loan and it didn’t seem to do him any harm, let’s go for another.
Ueda (Kashima Antlers – loan) – With a similar sort of idea to Havenaar, this is another tall centre-back who could come and get games. I saw him when the U-23 team played us in August and I think it was him who scored. Won absolutely everything in the air at the back, was houting all game, and had a big jump on him at set-pieces. Would walk straight into out team even though he’s only 20 years old.
Noda (Nagasaki) – A Fukuoka native we were linked with last season he has the sort of crossing ability which we need form our full backs. Maybe hasn’t enjoyed Nagasaki as much as he thought he would after they couldn’t follow up their decent first season with any sort of consistency this year. Full-backs who can cross is so important to our game plan for next season.
Kingsley Udoh (Kano Pillars) / Usman Amodu (Free Agent) – I can’t claim to know anything about these players, or provide any veracity as to whether they would be good for us or not, but include them mainly as examples of what exists beyond the world of signing ex-J1 defenders, Korean University players or Brazilian regional league players.
Japan has seemed to ignore the continent of Africa almost entirely when it comes to football and Avispa could lead the way in starting up scouting of this huge resource. These players have been capped by the national team, but have floated from Atletico Madrid to Lyon, to Olympiakos, Rostock, Uruguay and Colombia by the age of 23.
Does the fact Penarol rejected them mean they couldn’t do a job at Avispa? Possibly, but as a resource we should be thinking that we could look in places where other clubs and agents aren’t.
Avispa Fukuoka 1 : 1 Thespa Kusatsu
Well we didn’t lose, but it didn’t feel much better having taken an 86th minute equaliser from the returning Sakata to snatch what was an undeserved point.
It was a match which did see some changes to the formation and personel, and we did look a bit better for large parts of the game, while still not really managing to get 3 passes together, or any passes into the final third which did anything other than go direct to the keeper/goal kick.
Kanamori looked more up for the game, but was trying to do too much. He had what could and should have been goal of the season after 10 minutes, but after managing to do most of this from the left wing he then passed his shot just to the left of the post rather than into the corner…
Thespa were looking their most threatening from corner kicks; Avispa corner kicks. They broke quickly from times when Avispa were attacking and as with other clubs recently when we don’t have the creativity in midfield or skill in attack to break down deep defences we can get caught with sucker punches.
It still needed some terrible defending as Abe allowed a cross to be put in, Mishima got caught wrong side of the incoming Kobayashi and Kamiyama watched in slow motion as Lee Kwang Seon managed to do this…
The first half ended with Avispa trailing and only 3 shots in the whole half as both teams just passed the ball to the opposition.
Avispa looked better in the second half, but still never really put together any attacking moves which looked like they could test the Thespa defence.
Pusnik threw on more and more attacking players, with Sakata coming back to make a very welcome return. He ended up showing what we have missed in the last 6 weeks by getting the equalising goal. Strikers win matches and with Ishizu gone we gave away our chance of getting to the play-offs, I’ve been missing Punosevac too, against these lower level teams he could have been the difference with his height. Sometimes when going through a bad spell the team just needs to scrape a win from somewhere, having a big guy to aim for isn’t the prettiest thing in the world but it might be exactly what we needed this last month.
People bemoan the loss of Ishizu, Sakata and Kanamori at the end of August, but you could add Punosevac to that in August. You couldn’t take 4 strikers out of any club in the division and expect them to keep results.
Predictably our equaliser came from a corner; where would we be if there hadn’t been our improvement from corners this season.
Park continued his decent work at the near post with a Zlatan-esque back-heel volley across goal where Sakata managed to get the smallest of touches on the ball with an overhead kick to score with 4 minutes to play.
It was a little like this (but about 4cm out from the goal-line)…
The best thing about this match was that it was just so bad. I have seen some comments on places like 2ch where people are wondering who to blame for this run of form.
When you have players passing straight to the opposition, or back-heeling own-goals and passing free-kicks straight for throw-ins then you know it is down to the players.
No formation, No tactics, No level of support from the fans, No sponsors, and no wages can work for anything if you have players who when the referee blows his whistle to start a match on Sunday start making pub league level mistakes like these players did today.
Avispa have their second home game in 2 weeks, in a match which should have been a celebration of a run of games which made us a hot favorite for a play-off spot.
Home games against Mito, Verdy, Sanuki and Gunma should be looked at as an almost guaranteed 12 points. In fact we have lost all 3 of the last home games to record zero points so far.
To put some perspective onto that if we have won those 3 games against clubs in the bottom 5 of the division we would now be in 5th place in the table with 56 points.
It is so frustrating, not in that it has happened this year, but that it has happened every season going back to 2010 for 4 different managers. The team gave up in the relegation season from J1 for Shinoda and Asano, they basically stopped playing entirely for Maeda in July, and now in 2 seasons for Pusnik the club have announced financial problems (and then this year let our biggest goal threat go out on loan) and seemed to forget how to pass the ball from September onwards.
Young players will have this happen, in addition to bursts of form and sporadic lethargy they don’t have the psyche to take on and lift a changing room. What has been totally absent has been any sort of heart from the experienced pros at the club.
In a month when books by Roy Keane have come out commenting on how the dressing room needs to be run (and a similar narrative from Kevin Pietersen’s cricket autobiography) we have a set of players in Kamiyama, Jogo, Koga, and Kazuki who seem to be 7 year olds trapped in adult bodies when it comes to taking responsibility.
A large part of this is probably down to the structure at the club which has allowed the players to take charge and make previous managers like Maeda and Asano untenable. The club needs to take a hard line with the players now and let them know that the responsibility come 1pm on a Sunday when the whistle blows is with them.
The fans also have a large part to play in this. Should the players come out with another heartless, sleep-walk of a performance like the last 3 games they should be booed off the pitch.
So what would I do to reverse this problem?
I’d play a team which has 1 eye on next season, and 1 eye on picking players who are going to go out and fight.
They might lose the game, but at the least the fans could say they gave an honest performance and were at least doing their best.
It is a surprise lineup with some big changes.
On paper it looks 4141, but in reality when we have the ball the full-backs can push on and Park can stay to revert back to the 3 at the back we have played for most of this season.
If we are totally dominating it could even look like a 2 at the back. Under huge pressure (from Gunma!) it could turn to 5xx.
Tsutsumi is out of the team. He can offer a lot to the team (or any team in J2) but can also be a problem. He needs to get his head back to where it was when Pusnik first came to the club and gave him more responsibility. He was a joke for Maeda when he switched off, and he is turning into a joke again now. One of the players who really needs to learn not to simply look to others to blame.
Kazuki is very limited, but has never let the club down for heart; and this season has done well on the pitch whenever given a chance. Koga should be out of the club.
Ushinohama plays. Another limited player, but again one who can be relied upon to turn up when he is on the pitch. Alternatives are Hirai who has done almost nothing to justify the hype when he came to the club, and Sakai who has the first touch of a baby elephant.
Mitsunaga will make mistakes, but has to be given experience and could be the one positive to take from the season.
Morimura and Sakai can’t play again until they stop chewing gum on the pitch.
The most important thing for the players to think is that it isn’t all doom and gloom. We should be in the play-offs, something no-one expected at the start of the season.
Their form has been awful, but if they win every game between now and the end of the season they will get 6th spot.
Goal-keeper might be the one position which people think we are ok with Kamiyama getting the best stats in J2 for the last 2 seasons.
I don’t think it is as simple as that. Kamiyama gets good statistics for making saves because that is what he is good at, but he is weak at crosses, has poor distribution and makes 4-5 horrible blunders every season.
He reminds me a bit of Heurelho Gomez at Tottenham Hotspur. Capable of making incredible saves, and winning matches almost single-handedly, but seen as one of the first players who needed to be replaced when Harry Redknapp came to the club because he needed consistency as his number one priority so the defenders knew what was going to happen behind him.
Kamiyama was dropped to the bench behind Rokutan 3 seasons ago, was seen as something of a joke in J1, and then lost his place to Kawata 2 seasons ago, and Mizutani last year. There is something about him which isn’t trusted by more than 1 manager.
Under Pusnik he has had his longest spell in the first team, and recorded the best form in his career, but was still dropped for Shimizu at the start of the season.
He will be seen as indispensable by many fans, but I’m not so sure.
The other thing which I think needs to be sorted is our 2nd keeper has always been a 1.5 keeper. Competition for places is important, but we don’t really have the cash to have 2 keepers who see themselves as potential first team keepers. Kasagawa must be ready to deputise sometimes now, and as another back-up keeper we should have someone else who is a clear understudy and potentially able to claim the number 1 shirt by the end of the season.
Kamiyama. Has just had his best season at the club, coming off the back of being statistically the best keeper last season too. Has been helped a lot by Pusnik coming to the club and instructing him to release the ball quickly and short rather than kicking long and straight into touch.
My fear is that he is seen as undroppable, when in reality he makes numerous mistakes and has been dropped at times throughout his whole career. He needs to take responsibility for the gaps he still has in his game (commanding his box for crosses), and keep working to improve.
My Opinion – Keep. Fairly straightforward, but I fear that with the publicity his saves have brought this season his agent could hold the club to ransom. He is decent at this level, but not good enough to pay much above average wage for a keeper.
Shimizu. Looked like he was going to really compete for the #1 shirt when he came to the club having previously gained promotion to J1 with Oita, but was quite quickly seen as a clear second choice. His main problem is his size, which could be overcome if he had a great jump or other aspect to his game such as sweeping or organisation, but he doesn’t seem to have either.
If we came on a clear second keeper wage he is a decent squad player, but at his age isn’t going to get any better. Having been first choice at Oita in a promotion season my guess would be that he isn’t on a small wage.
My Opinion – Leave. At his age and skillset I can’t see the justification as someone who is never going to really offer competition for the #1 jersey. He’ll get a job somewhere, but probably needs to be at a J2 club with a little more money. Toyama would have been better off getting him and not Mizutani this season.
Kasagawa. The time has come to make a decision on Kasagawa. I think he is probably good enough to step up as a bench keeper, but he does seem to make quite bad mistakes at times. He will only get rid of these through experience and time to settle his nerves and gain confidence. If the club feel they cannot trust him to be on the bench then it would be better for everyone if he moved on.
My Opinion – Stay. He will not be on a big contract, and hasn’t done so badly when he has played. I’d put him on the bench and bring in a 20-21 year old on loan to offer competition for that spot.
Options to bring in – So who would I like to see at the club?
A European/Brazilian keeper.
I’ve lost a lot of faith at refereeing decisions for foreigners, so much that I think you can’t bring foreigners over for certain roles. A position where I think the referee will be taken out of the equation a little is keeper.
This is in addition to the fact that you could get an Eastern European keeper who would be the best in J2 (possibly the whole league pyramid) with only moderate investment.
The big downside would be communication with the defence, but I don’t see much of that at the moment anyway.
We have an Eastern Europen manager, I think we should be making a lot better use of the contacts he must have in that area of the world.
I have heard that Brazilian goalkeepers are the next big thing, but have little evidence or faith in this.
This player would need to be a clear first choice player and should only be brought in if Kamiyama leaves.
A good University keeper.
I have no idea on University teams, but keeper is a position where notoriously you might have to wait until you are 27 to get your first games. If we offer a spot on the bench, or at least competition for the bench to a bright University prospect then the money we could offer from Shimizu’s contract for their second year deal could make Avispa an attractive proposition for someone who wants to get games.
William Popp / Niall Killoran
A bit of a stab in the dark, and an unknown quantity, but more of an example of the sort of player we should be looking at. Both currently at Tokyo Verdy, a club with good young players, but in a bigger mess than us both financially and on the pitch and who we can probably offer a better deal in terms of basic wage and opportunities on the pitch..
These players have the advantage of a more Western physique (both around 1m90), but can both communicate with players and staff in Japanese (and possibly to the manager in English).
They are both likely to get better with age, and with Popp currently attached to the U-20 team and Killoran a 3rd year pro should have a decent base to work with if they are needed to be called upon quickly.
Avispa can offer them a manager who has shown he is willing to give young players a chance, and Killoran (or possibly just his brother) has already lived in Fukuoka having gone on loan successfully to Kitakyushu 2 years ago in a spell which helped Colin’s career with games.
This season is now screwed, we have no chance to getting into the play-offs, the only positive thing we can do is try to think about which players are going to stay next year, and which positions in which formation we are going to use.
This will allow us to have a pre pre-season and go into December (and even November) knowing which positions we need to find new players. It means we can try players in slightly new positions, or new roles and see if they could fulfil that role, and to give experience to youngsters who might prove that they are ready for a season of matches.
I really want Avispa to go through an off-season and not lose half their team to be replaced by players who take 3 months to gel, and usually turn out to be not good enough.
Unfortunately the recent performances of the players suggests that we need to get rid of at least half of them again.
If the current players on loan at the club are good enough to stay, and want to stay then we should be looking at these players first to try and keep some consistency in the squad.
Lee Kwang Seon. Has had a decent season for us, he is one player who still looks like he cares, and has been an important player for us in the middle of defence. Has got some limitations, and can’t be asked to play the ball too much, but if he sticks to a role as stopper he is useful.
Needs to have a ball-player alongside him. His biggest issue is that he gets targeted by referees for being tall and Korean.
He isn’t going to get close to the Kobe team, I would keep him, but only if the player is saying he wants to stay at the club (and isn’t on a big contract, his fees for yellow cards add a % to his wage every week).
My Opinion – Keep, but only if the player shows that he really wants to stay).
Takumi Abe. There have been times when he has looked like a decent mid-top level J2 player, and he will keep finding clubs who will give him a deal, but is another player with no chance of making it at his parent club. Struts around like he is a big time Charlie from FC Tokyo, but will find himself at somewhere like Mito next season. Has got a lot better as the season has gone on, especially in getting forward, but I guess that if you asked him he would say he was already good at the start of the year.
My Opinion – Leave, I think that Mitsunaga should have been in the team since August, and if not Mitsunaga then we have…
Eijiro Takeda. His agent should be banging down the door to get a deal for next season. He came to us as a guy who had been on loan at relegated Gainare the season before. That tells me 2 things, a) The player wants to play, b) Not many clubs were very interested in him. In this off-season he will get a lot more opportunities because he has had his best season, scoring goals and showing his versatility. He could leave and try to take one of those opportunities, but it won’t be at Yokohama F Marinos. As an English speaker, with an English speaking manager, who has got much, much better in his season here he would be crazy to even think about leaving.
As a player for us he is useful through his versatility and set pieces. I think we should be aiming for left-back though.
My Opinion – Keep. On a permanent transfer, it suits everybody. He has a chance to be here for 5 years and be looked at as a vice-captain/captain of the club as an intelligent guy.
Masaya Nozaki. In a season when we have had nobody to play in midfield he hasn’t even made the bench. Only time I saw him was a friendly game against the U-21 team when he was worse than an Avispa U-18 player who replaced him.
My Opinion – New career. If he can’t get into this Avispa midfield, or even make the bench, then this really isn’t going to work out for him.
Noriyoshi Sakai. I have no idea what he was when he came to the club at the start of the season, an attacking midfielder? A winger? Pusnik pushed him forward because we had no-one else there and he was the only player at the club who could jump and head the ball after Punosevac went home. That is the only thing he can do. He doesn’t have great pace, can’t control a ball and isn’t very good at passing. I have no idea how he could play in midfield.
Avispa have to try and get a better option for target-man/#9 in the off-season, but after scoring 7 goals this season he has made a name for himself and would be given chances again next season.
He will not be given those chances at Albirex, Suzuki from the U21 team is already better than him in that position.
My Opinion – Keep. But only if the player and his agent really want to come and it can be made a permanent deal. He will always get 7-10 goals at this level, but never be a star player for anyone.
Atomu Nabeta. He might be an average level J2 forward, and with a pre-season he could get better, but he hasn’t looked like anything at all so far. He isn’t young, he’s never scored a goal, and doesn’t really look like he might. If he was really good in training and very enthusiastic to stay i might risk a low level contract, anything more than about 5.5m yen I wouldn’t even consider it.
My Opinion – Keep. But only is really cheap and seen as a back-up player rather than someone we rely on for goals.
Avispa 1 : 2 Kamatamare Sanuki
Avispa reached a new low for this season as we picked up our 3rd Home defeat in a row. It means we have got nothing from Tokyo Verdy (20th), Mito (16th), and Sanuki (21st). The only points we have got since Ishizu was allowed to leave and Sakata got injured was a freak result against Kitakyushu and a win against bottom team Toyama with a goal in the last 5 minutes.
Had we won these last 3 home games against teams in the bottom 5 places of the division we would be on 56 points, and 5th in the table; an amazing result for this season.
As it is we are stuck in mid-table with no realistic hope of achieving anything this season.
It begs the question of who to blame?
Do we blame the manager? Personally I don’t think so. Pusnik picks the players to go out on the pitch, but just looking at our bench shows that he doesn’t really have any options other than the players who played today. If you took away Kanamori and Mishima who probably still wouldn’t have played a game in their career had they had a Japanese manager then we’d have even fewer options.
Without Pusnik we wouldn’t be playing Sakai as a striker to get 7 goals so far this season. Most importantly we have started to look threatening from set pieces this season, something we haven’t done for 4 seasons before now. This is real work which comes from the training pitches.
Pusnik looks visibly frustrated by what is going on on the pitch, but realistically can only affect things to a small degree when the players step onto the pitch (this is something I’ve heard from several top flight managers, probably most notably Jose Mourinho).
I don’t believe it is correct to point the finger at the manager; and in fact think we’d be somewhere near Tokyo Verdy in the table without Pusnik.
How about the players? Rather than a report of the match this is what I thought of each player today:
Kamiyama : Rated as the best keeper in J2 for 2 seasons. If that really is true then the League has serious problems. Was diving in slow motion today and got caught in no-man’s land by a striker who has faced him in training enough times to know he comes off his line and makes himself big but leaves space behind.
Mishima : Actually had better crossing today, but just couldn’t reach diagonal balls sent his way. Pushed off the ball embarrassingly easy after 75 minutes. Needs to hit the weights if he wants a career in football.
Abe: Awful. He looks like he is relaxed to the stage of barely conscious sometimes. Quite good when you need a calm head to hold the ball in the last 10 minutes, but gave the ball away again and again in the first half, including right on the edge of the box to gift Sanuki their first goal.
Kwang : Looks a bit lost recently. I think he’s been told he really can’t pick up any more bookings, and looks like he’s about to cry at almost every refereeing decision.
Tsutsumi: He likes to pull his shorts up and show how big his quads are, but didn’t win a 50:50 ball all day today. Jumped out of tackles, playing like a man who doesn’t want to get injured before December.
Takeda: Good endeavor, but isn’t the man you need alongside a passer like Nakahara. Should be doing everything he can to stay at Avispa next season because he can never get a game at Yokohama.
Nakahara: The only player I’d want to keep for the team next season, and play him as Captain. Unfortunately his shooting is awful, he tried a chip today which looked like he’d watched De Maria score against Leicester and try it himself when he can’t even get a basic shot on target. He plays a neat passing game, but has to realise that there is no point passing to the people around him, they can’t pass it back.
Jogo: Anonymous. Total passenger in the game and really looked like he just doesn’t care. The supporters deserve more for the idoltry they send his way.
Sakai: Another player who should be begging to stay next season. I don’t know what his normal position is. He can’t control a ball, can’t pass, and can’t shoot. What he has been able to do is head the ball at corners and get his name known. A strnage name to mention but I think he should be watching tapes of a player like Paul Dickov, a small ‘target man’ striker who just upset defenders and played as a pressing striker.
Kanamori: Spoilt child. Not sure if he thinks he is a finished player but he did almost nothing today against a fairly awful Sanuki team. He should remember why he is anywhere right now. He used to run like a maniac, throw himself into tackles, and do whatever his manager told him to. The petulance he showed when coming off the pitch today was pathetic. He couldn’t get into an U-21 team which lost to Syria. Don’t believe the hype.
Hirai: Has come down from J1 and thought he would score goals, useless.
Nabeta: Is this who we brought to try to replace Ishizu? I’ve not seen him look like scoring yet, or even do anything at all of interest.
Morimura: Chews gum, runs around and falls over. Wants 10 seconds on the ball every time he gets the ball. Plays like someone has been given the controller of a computer game and keeps mixing up the pass, shoot and cross buttons.
So do I blame the players? Yes.
But more than that I blame the structure at the club which has allowed us to enter the 3rd season in a row with no players who can play in midfield.
The structure who bought a 36 year old central defender to the club who cannot run, jump, or organise the team.
The structure which allowed the biggest goal threat leave on loan to go and sit on the bench at Kobe when if we had scored a goal in the 1st half and beaten Verdy, Mito and Sanuki we would be in 5th place in the table right now.
JEF United 3 : 0 Avispa Fukuoka
Before this match started you could say that somehow it still looked like AVispa had a chance of reaching the play-offs. After losing home matches to Mito and Tokyo Verdy I’m not sure how that was the case, but only 4 points behind 6th (we’d have been 2 points clear of the pack had we won our 2 home games against bottom half opposition in September) and with Kyoto having lost earlier in the day we still had a very real chance.
That chance has now gone after a defeat to a JEF team also chasing a play-off place, who now look like the most likely to displace one of the teams in the top 6 (Montedio also lost today).
Our play-off place wasn’t lost today, in fact the team didn’t play too badly for large parts of the game, and in the 1st half in particular looked like they had a chance to sneak an away victory which would have put us in 7th.
Kanamori returned to the team, and was the pick of our attackers as he tried to dribble through defenders, but we still looked to be missing a cutting edge in attack.
Sakai has scored goals this season, and if he is willing to play on a sensible contract I think it suits everyone for him to stay at Avispa next season, but his first touch, link-up play and decision making still really needs improving. I can’t see any position for him on the pitch but striker, but it still doesn’t seem quite right.
The time has now come to start thinking about which players should be kept at the club next season, not just for Sakai, and as has been the case for large parts of this season Nakahara was the pick of our midfield. He plays like a Spanish midfielder, which needs to be appreciated for his ball retention more than his dynamism, but also requires players alongside him.
Jogo was playing in the middle for this game, and remains a puzzle without an established answer as he failed to make enough of an impact for a player we look to as one of our most experienced (and I assume, better paid) players.
Takeda has been another stand out player this season, but his game does rely a lot on tenacity and after picking up a booking towards the end of the first half he had to stand off a little more going into the second.
JEF were squandering good chances throughout with some wayward shooting, particularly from one time wonderkid Morimoto who reallly seems to have failed to live up to expectations. He did show what he was capable of to take the lead as he took a touch to cut inside Park Gun in the box and shoot inside the post with his second touch.
Avispa lost it a little bit as they saw their season evaporate and had conceded a second within 2 minutes as a ball was played over the top to a player in space on the left side of the box. JEF’s #7 was celebrating before the attacker had even taken a shot and sure enough he finished well to seal the victory.
Avispa were finished for 2014. I can’t even remember the 3rd goal, I was half asleep thinking about which player I’d like most to turn up at the club in December, a commanding centre-back, a dynamic midfielder or a target man striker who can jump.
I couldn’t decide in the end, we need all three.