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It is sad to say it but my biggest cheer at the game against Fagiano Okayama was the news at half-time that Jumbo had been substituted. As far as I can remember it is the first time that he has been taken off this season, which looking at the way he has played is amazing.

I hope that he was taken off after Shinoda agreed with my assessment of his performance, and will spend the rest week now trying to find an alternative to playing him at the top of the formation.

If Jumbo stays as the main striker then Avispa can forget about promotion.

Shinoda seems keen to play the fashionable 4-2-3-1 formation, which I think is probably a good idea for Avispa as they have players like Genki who suit this formation well, but also needs the single striker to be quite dynamic, able to stretch defences and hold the ball up well for the 3 support attackers to join the play.

When I watch Jumbo he is not filling this role at all. This doesn’t mean I think he is a terrible player (and having seen him on TV I like him as a person), but is perhaps better suited to a team playing a more traditional 4-4-2 where he has an specific second attacker to do his running and be directly playing off him to collect the 2nd ball.

His biggest problem now is a near total lack of movement. Lower level defenders (such as those at Fagiano or Thespa) are happy to play against Okubo because while they will have to play hard to compete and win headers, they know that they are very unlikely to ever get caught out of position.

If you watch other strikers playing this role of single striker (Drogba being the best example), they are always moving between centre-backs to create confusion about who is marking who, or using the channels to try and drag players out of position. Watching Jumbo waiting while Kamiyama holds the ball before kicking it up to him you see a player standing totally still who is relying on the ball landing onto his head, and using his size to win the header.

Even when the ball does come near him his timing is so bad that despite being taller than the defenders around him he rarely wins the header. At times when he does win the header it is usually a random knock-down which playing as a single striker means can be comfortable collected and cleared by opposition defenders. If a long ball is being played up to him in a 4-2-3-1 formation he needs to be backing into the defender and holding the ball up rather than heading it on for a non-existent 2nd striker.

I think that at the moment Shinoda is being held captive by his formation. By playing 4-2-3-1 you “need” to play a strong, target man striker. This is not the case. Manchester United play a single striker in Wayne Rooney who is about the same height as Yutaka, but he is able to do a very good job of it by doing the key thing that Jumbo cannot: Move.

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Posted July 31, 2010 by avispafukuoka in Opinion

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