At different times we have looked in trouble in lots of different areas on the pitch.
Our goal-keeper hasn’t ever been settled, our defence was 2nd worst only behind Gainare last season, and our attack often looks like it depends entirely on moments of individual skill to score rather than ever having a set plan.
But more than any of these it has been in midfield where we have really suffered in my opinion. We had a real star in Nakamachi 4 seasons ago, and he took us to promotion, but since then have struggled to even get a midfield out let alone one which can compete in the competitive depths of J2.
#3 – Ryu Okada Has been on loan from J1 team Jubilo Iwata for 2 seasons now, as part of a career which has seen him play professionally for the J1 club since 2007. He is now 29, not likely to get any better, and I just cannot see how he has managed to stay as a professional footballer for so long.
A large part I guess is that he seems like a very nice guy, and is good at trying to organise players around him, but he is slow, can’t tackle, shoot or pass to any high standard and doesn’t really seem to have a position.
My Opinion – Release. He’s only on loan, let him go back to his parent club. Maybe they will be in J2 and he could try and get a game for them.
#7 – Jun Kanakubo Was talked about as potentially our star player for this season and has at times looked quite good, working hard to hit the box late and be willing to shoot at goal. At other times he has also looked unable to maintain levels of discipline, and especially when needed to track back and help get the ball when we are defending.
Looks like he is having a competition with Ishizu to see who can dribble past the most players in the most pointless area of the pitch at times.
My Opinion – Keep. I can’t see that Omiya would want him back, and if he could be signed on a moderate contract then he can do well at this level. Would probably look a lot better in front of players who could get the ball to him more regularly.
#8 – Yuji Funayama Along with Kanakubo was the big hope for our midfield this season, but hasn’t made the grade at all. Has some good technical attributes and hits a good set-piece, but often needs too much time on the ball. Isn’t dynamic enough to play the system we have in place.
My Opinion – Release. A shame as I like the guy and think he is very close to being a good player, but J2 needs players to reliably put in 12km and make 70% of their passes and while he can sometimes do difficult things well he can’t always do the simple things.
#14 – Masakazu Kihara One thing a club on the edge of bankruptcy can’t afford is a guy who isn’t fit enough to play a game all season.
My Opinion – Release. Never really used the pace that everyone said he had, and certainly doesn’t use it on the physio bench. Someone somewhere will have the money to give him a chance, and they might get a good player.
#17 – Chris Kinjo Got thrown into the team and tried his best without ever looking spectacular. Is exactly the sort of young, enthusiastic kid we need and might get better given a few more chances.
My Opinion – Keep. Showed his versatility by being willing to play a few positions, and as someone who won’t cost much money and has the added benefit of speaking English I’d say he should stay for another year.
#20 – Shuto Nakahara The surprise of the season for me. He didn’t look ready when I saw him in pre-season, but has played as many games as anyone and been one of the most important players to the team. Plays in what is possibly the most important position for our current system as the shield in front of the back 4 who also works between lines in attack to pull an opposition midfielder forward and pick the pass behind.
Has got better and better as the season has gone on, and is the one player who is intelligent enough to look like he can be given instructions and follow them.
My Opinion – Keep. He will get better and better as he gets more game time in this role, and if we can get better players in front of him he should have more opportunity to make successful passes.
#26 – Yuta Mishima The blue-print for the future of the club. Came through the youth team fairly unheralded and may have been expected to make 2-3 substitute appearances over the next 3 seasons.
In fact got starts early on in the season and then showed willingness to also play at right-back. Has added so much to his game in his debut season and should be on the short-list for J2 rookie of the year.
Tougher than he looks, and getting more and more confident every month.
My Opinion – Keep. Use this guy as the role-model for every young player currently at the club, or who may be tempted to come and join the youthful revolution at the club.
#27 – Jang Jung Wong Not seen him in a real game, but Pusnik has shown he is brave enough to use the young players and hasn’t given this guy a chance. I’d totally trust his judgement on the matter.
My Opinion – Release. If after a year where we have sometimes really needed a central midfielder he hasn’t got on the pitch then I don’t things are going to work out for him.
#28 – Taku Ushinohama Has had his role as poster boy for the club taken somewhat by Mishima and Kanamori but still gets game time and shows he has enough in him to be able to compete at this level. Works hard and seems to make things happen when he gets into ta game.
My Opinion – Keep. On a cheap contract ad as a young player who is liked around the club and does well when he gets on the pitch.
What the squad would look like…
The players I have said to keep are all very young, and would all be on cheap contracts which aren’t going to harm the club too much.
The only exception to this is Kanakubo who I think may have enough going forward to be given another chance but still leaves a huge gap in the team right in the middle of the pitch.
We have young wingers, and forwards who could play a trequartista role if need be, but no-one who gets the ball in the middle of the pitch and holds possession.
We need to find a couple of 25-28 year old players who have a bit of bite about them and are going to provide a good solid base for the young energetic players to play around. These players need to be able to kick the opposition up in the air when need be, and act as an enforcer type role for when players heads look like they may be dropping a little or switching off.
I have no idea where you find that player in Japan.