At the start of the season I wrote a series of posts about what I thought were some of the main issues which Pusnik would need to solve coming into Avispa.
With 3/4 of the season now finished I thought I would look back on what I wrote in January and see how he has done.
Pusnik’s Problem #1 – Sho Naruoka (Dec 24 2012)
Problem: I had said that Naruoka Sho was maybe the best player at the club, but needed to have a team built around him or be moved on.
Solution? This problem was very quickly solved, and maybe without much input from Pusnik as Naruoka was allowed to leave to go to Albirex Niigata.
At Niigata he has shown he is capable of playing at J1 standard having started 24 games this season and looked quite good in the games I have seen, scoring 3 goals.
Having said that I still think it was a good decision to let him go as his elaborate, sometimes overly-complex style of play wouldn’t really be what we needed in J2 with Pusnik.
Pusnik 1 : 0 Problems
Problem #2 – Midfield 2 or 3?Dec 27 2012
Problem: Our midfield of Suzuki Jun and Sueyoshi had been terrible in 2012; played off the field it allowed opposition teams to attack our defence freely and never gave us the platform to attack.
I had said I though we needed 3 in midfield to make us competitive.
Pusnik immediately brought in a 433/451 formation with Nakahara sitting as a shield in front of the back 4.
It turned our defence from the 2nd worst in the division (only behind Gainare), to the second best (only behind Okayama) without any players changing.
It also didn’t seem to affect our ability to score goals as we have spent almost the whole season in and around the play-off spots.
It is still a work in progress, but the steps made so far have been huge.
Pusnik 2 : 0 Problems.
Problem 3 – Offensive corners.January 6 2013
Problem: We had had so many corners in 2012 and almost every one was aimed to Koga at the back post with absolutely no threat at goal.
I had said we needed variation with at least a near post corner, and a short corner added to the repertoire.
Solution? Definitely solved.
We have looked so much better from corners this season with numerous goals scored, and scored in different ways.
It must be great for the coach and team to see things they have worked on in training come off in games and we are a genuine threat from corners now.
I would still like to see Park/Tsutsumi/Kazuki etc be more dangerous as our tall players, but the variation has been great.
Pusnik 3 : 0 Problems.
Pusnik’s Problems #4 – A plan B29th January 2013
We hadn’t ever really looked like having a Plan A in 2012, but I wanted us to sort that out, and a Plan B.
I had said the easiest way to do so would be to get a target man striker, and a harder way would be to practice a 3xx formation to try and force midfield.
With a quarter of the season Pusnik has now done both.
We struggled with this for the first half of the season but having moved on Osmar he has brought in a powerful, tall Serbian Punosevac who is capable of jumping, and is going to cause a real handful for this division. He may turn into our Plan A in time, but immediately gives opposition defenders something new to think about.
He has also experimented with a 352 formation, with mixed results. It was partly down to injuries, and didn’t work well against Kobe, but is great that the players are now open to this sort of thing and will help us in the long run.
Pusnik 4 : 0 Problems.
Pusnik’s Problems #5 – The cult of JogoFebruary 6 2013
Problem: Jogo is an amazing player; good enough to grace any team in the J-League on his day with some of the things he can do, but how to play him?
He can drift out of games, he can drop in confidence, but he can also score goals from the halfway line and finish with both feet and his head.
Could Pusnik find a place to make him shine?
Solution? Of all the problems this one was the hardest, and is the one which I am least sure if it has been solved.
Jogo has put in some great performances this season, and shown stamina I didn’t know he had. He has scored goals, and played almost every minute of every game, but he still hasn’t been the absolute diamond which he always promises he might be.
He has been played on the right and done ok. He has played as the central striker and done a good defensive forward’s role (at the expense of a penalty box presence). He has played in a central midfield role, and been pretty good after being forced to be onvolved in the play.
Going forward I’d see him as being a central midfielder, but he needs to ensure he keeps running to close the space in the formation and tactics we are now using.
I’m not sure if the problem is totally solved, but has certainly had the steps towards solving it.
Pusnik 5 : 1 Problems.
Well done Marijan! Don’t worry about promotion, a game in the play-offs might be a nice experience, but let’s get the team rocking and ready for 2014.