After yesterday writing about the situation with the goal-keepers I’ll today talk about the defence.
I think we need quite serious changes to the personnel in defence. We have conceded fewer goals than last season, but still seem totally unable to hold onto a lead and have 3-4 fairly horrible mistakes a game by individual players.
2 – Kim Min Je. I’m a big fan of the Korean, but he doesn’t seem to fit into the current plans at the club at all.
I always believe that he will get us more goals going forwards than he will cost in defence, but he certainly isn’t the strongest at defensive positioning.
There have been times this season when we have really needed a left-back, but he hasn’t even made the bench. I don’t know if he is injured, or not match fit; plus he has to go back to Korea for military service at some point.
My Opinion – Release. He isn’t going to get the game time he needs at Avispa. I’d suggest to go back and play for an Army team for a year, spend a year practicing crossing, and try to re-invent himself as a winger/wing-back.
4 – Takuya Miyamoto. Another guy who it hasn’t really worked out for in the second half of the season. Started off as our only right-back, and has seen his position taken by an out of position 18 year old and then a Korean who couldn’t get near the bench last season.
My Opinion – Release. For the good of the player as much as anyone. He is definitely good enough for a mid-level J2 club and should be playing every week.
5 – Masahiro Koga. The most important player to try and get off the wage bill. His legs have gone, and he isn’t able to organise the defence as a player of his experience should. We are now playing a system which needs the players to close the space as the forwards press, but he isn’t able to do it. Maybe he would be OK in a very deep defensive line where he just needs to head balls away, but we don’t play like that now.
My Opinion – Retire. He’s had a good career, aim for some coaching badges and a youth team position at some club. Hopefully he only had a 2 year deal, if he has another year it is going to cause a financial headache as he can’t play.
6 – Kazuki Yamaguchi. Very popular player at the club, and appears to genuinely love the club. Isn’t technically good enough for even low J2 level, but always gives 100%.
My Opinion – Keep. We do need some squad players, and if he is cheap then he is someone who will train well and always be ready to come on if needed (but only if cheap).
13 – Park Kun. Still has a lot of work to do, but has shown glimpses of being a decent player. Gets turned way too easily, and has shown none of the set piece prowess which was talked about when he arrived.
My Opinion – Keep. He should still get better, and alongside Tsutsumi has looked our best partnership in the middle.
19 – Shunsuke Tsutsumi. For the first half of the season was among the best defenders in the division, and with the added bonus of being able to play anywhere. Seemed to totally lose it in the 2nd half of the season.
Last season I had said he had the tools to be the best J2 defender, he needs to get back to how he was at the start.
My Opinion – Keep. I think he is better in the middle than at full-back, and needs someone to keep him focused and motivated alongside him.
21 – Hiroyuki Omata. A good player and totally sorts out the left-back spot when fit, but cannot stay fit.
Whatever injury it was that he had at Cerezo before coming it has become a chronic problem and I don’t know if we can afford Omata and someone to play the 25 games a season when he is injured.
My Opinion – Release. Very sad as he is an intelligent, skilled player, but we don’t have the money to have players out injured for 2/3rds of the season.
Tokio Hatamoto. I always think he looks good as a game reading centre-back, but doesn’t seem to be trusted at all. Is probably too nice to be a centre-back and could do with a nasty, experienced centre-back alongside him to show him how to stand on peoples toes.
My Opinion- Keep. I still wouldn’t give up on him. He isn’t going to cost much, and at times last season was our best player. Encourage him to kick people a bit more and sharpen his elbows up.
Oh Chang Hyon Bit of a surprise to see him back from his loan at Nagasaki but when he got a chance he took it. The best natural athlete at the club, he hasn’t shown some of the crazy stuff going forward that he did last season, but is more solid in defence.
My Opinion – Keep. But only if we also have Park, or some other Koreans. I wouldn’t bother with the cost of his salary and of a translator just for him.
What we need.
The players I have listed as keeping are:
This is a pretty weak group of players, but does have ok, cheap, squad players for centre-back.
What we need in this position is an experienced player to do what Koga should have been doing (shout at everyone around him, kick strikers, and calm everyone down in the last 10 minutes), and a really good 21-24 year old who we can see as our long-term solution to the problem.
The experienced player is harder to find, and can easily end up being a waste of money like Makoto Tanaka and Masahiro Koga have both ended up being. I would have liked to see us try and bring Chiyotanda back before he went to Tokushima, or someone like Takahiro Masukawa, but they aren’t going to be cheap and need to be fit enough and motivated enough to act as a ‘coach on the pitch’.
The younger central defender is a bit easier to think of names, but probably much harder to get away from their parent club.
I have no idea how the finances are at Shonan at the moment, but whoever eventually gets Wataru Endo will have an amazing player, but may also be in J1. 2 years earlier Tatsuki Nara was similarly highly rated.
These players might seem like impossible targets, but the reality is they would cost much, much less than Koga and be twice the player at this level.
The bigger issue is at full-back where Oh has done OK, and could be a decent back-up, and Tsutsumi and Mishima can both fill-in, but basically we have no players.
I have no idea where to start with that, but was impressed by one of the young full-backs at Giravanz last season, I’ve no idea what his name is though.
Trying to take Nikki Havenaar on loan might be an interesting deal. Defence will definitely be the hardest position to sort out.