Whether it is for Maeda to try and do, or whoever replaces Maeda, here are 5 ways we can try to save our season and snatch 6th place for a play-off place.
1) Create a midfield
We are being bossed around by teams we should be beating for fun.
I put this down to our formation, and particularly how it leaves just 2 central midfielders who have been over-run in almost all games this season.
I wouldn’t say that 442 is an extinct formation, but it is certainly very hard to play it in the modern game. To make it work now I think you must have a couple of flying wingers, and try to use the wing for most of your attack. While our wingers (Jogo/Naruoka) are very good players, they do not try to beat their full-back and stretch the defence.
This means our defence have very few options when trying to attack, regardless of how patient they are. Our 2 man midfield drop even deeper to try and get the ball which leaves an even bigger space in midfield.
We need to play a more modern formation, and one which helps to bolster our midfield. My choice would be a fluid 433/451 with Naruoka playing centrally, with Sueyoshi coming in for the harder teams.
2) Call time on Yutaka
I have no idea why he was made Captain at the start of the season, but he hasn’t been worth a place in the team for 2 seasons now.
His first touch is poor, he doesn’t have the pace to stretch a team, and has only scored 3 goals in 2 years.
By adding to midfield you need to drop one of the strikers, and in Yutaka we have someone who offers very little to the team. If he was a 22 year old who was going to get better I would give him more chance, but he will be worse next season not better.
3) Practice some new corners
We have had a lot of corners this season and apart from a goal from a cleared corner haven’t scored, or looked like scoring all season.
Of all our (many) corners there hasn’t been a single short corner, or even any variation on a ball aimed at the back post for one of the central defenders to head back across goal.
At the very least we should have 2-3 different short corners. One played very short to change the angle of delivery, one which sees Suzuki Jun give and go before firing a shot in from the edge of the penalty area. Naruoka is always on the edge of the box waiting for the cleared ball, why don’t we have a routine which actually uses him.
Suzuki -> Sakata ->Suzuki -> Naruoka
In our promotion season we tried the ‘Tottenham’ corner at least once a game, with Nakamachi hitting the shot from the near post. That corner has now disappeared.
4) Give youth a chance
Ishizu could not have done more than he has this season. Every time he has come on he has played with energy, heart and seemed like he will do anything to get a win for the fans.
Last season Ushinohama was a revelation, Hatamoto came in and did really well, Yoshihara has been a pro for 3 years now.
If (as is looking likely) we won’t get promotion this season we should at least get some experience for our young players who could be the future for the club. They cannot do any worse than Yutaka, and might do a whole lot better.
The last 25 minutes of the game against Gifu were characterised by shouts you could hear in the stadium, and on the TV broadcast of fans, coaches and even players shouting “Mae” (Forward).
It should not have taken until the last 25 minutes to be thinking of getting the ball forward. We have great attacking talent.
In Kim and Oh we have full-backs who have the confidence and skill to run up and down the wing all match. Use them.
Why are we scared to attack teams like Gifu from the first whistle?
When you get the ball into the penalty area things will happen. Even if we end up losing games and not reaching the play-offs at least the fans will have some fun watching exciting football this season.