Archive for December 2013
The squad is now starting to take shape with movement from 3 more players, all of which look like good moves for Avispa in my opinion.
Some people might be surprised to see us let Mizutani go, he is potentially the best goal-keeper in the division and he won us a few points on his own last season with some excellent shot stopping displays before the summer.
I’m surprised that he is leaving because he only had one game back after badly injuring his Achilles, and is at an age where that sort of injury can be a big problem, especially coming as it did in a non-contact situation just running to take a goal-kick.
I would expect that he was one of avispa’s bigger wage earners, maybe behind only Koga and Sakata, and didn’t think another club would take him off up with his injury record.
Having said that if he plays 35 games for Toyama next season then they will have got a very good deal. The danger being he he gets injured after 12 games as he did for us. In our financial situation that is a gamble we can’t afford to take.
It will be very interesting to see how the wages saved on his contract are now spent.
As one keeper looking at the 1st team leaves it opens the door for another to stay as Kamiyama agrees to stay and maintain his position as avispa’s longest serving player.
Everyone knows he has his limitations, these were quite painfully shown when we went to J1, but he does also have lots of positive qualities.
His shot-stopping is generally excellent, and has actually made lots of improvements to his game this season. He has started coming out for crosses more regularly, has physically improved by losing 5-10kg, and with our game now building from the back doesn’t need to kick so often.
He actually got some recognition at the end of the season being the highest rated keeper in J2 (Jogo was the lowest rated!), and played as avispa’s representative in the off season charity game a couple of days ago.
I always expected him to stay, but it is good to get confirmation through, he became an important player for us last season.
He is our most intelligent player and is capable of following a plan and trying to play between lines, and try to conduct play.
He might be the player which the team now gets built around.
Last season he was playing as the deepest midfielder for us, and as I said in a previous post I’d like him to now be pushed into the middle with a dedicated pit-bull behind him.
He plays a Xavi type role for avispa where he tries to keep the ball moving, and can use his quick feet to keep possession well while drawing a player towards him before playing his pass out.
He tackles enthusiastically, but it isn’t his best skill, and I feel that being played box to box he can use good stamina to play where he is needed without always worrying about being the last man back.
This also allows him to run with the ball a little freer, which he did well but rarely last season, and to always be available for a long shot on the edge of the box which he started to do well last season.
At times his shots looked more NASAhara than Nakahara as he sent them into near earth orbit, but they got better and he strikes me as someone who would put the hours into training to practice this more if he knew it was a position he would often be in during a match.
As if by magic after saying I was a little worried by the lack of incoming players yesterday we had 2 arrive today.
I’m a little surprised it’s been announced today, but it shows that despite being a Sunday just before the New Year Holiday there are people working hard to get the club ready and sorted for the start of pre-season training in a week.
Making the short trip south from Giravanz Kitakyushu is Tokyo-born midfielder Kota Morimura. I can’t say I’ve actually noticed him previously, or know much about him, but all signs suggest that it could be a good signing for us.
He is a left-footed midfielder, and having played as #6 and #8 for Kitakyushu in the last couple of seasons is someone brought in to play in the middle. I would hope that before making the signing someone asked Shuto Nakahara about the guy having spent a season alongside him in the Kitakyushu midfield. Before that he had been at Mito Hollyhock on loan from FC Tokyo which means that while he is only 25 has played over 100 games at J2 level.
I think it is a very good improvement on bringing in somebody like Funayama who was older and had higher expectations. Morimura has a pedigree which saw him play for Japan in the U-16 age reange, but has since then seen himself drop from FC Tokyo and should be hungry to fulfil his early promise.
He is a decent height (1.81m), has the ability to score goals (13, including 5 in his first J2 season), and has been described as someone able to pass, dribble and shoot.
‘I am Kota Morimura coming from Giravanz Kitakyushu. I will keep setting myself high goals and work hard in training day by day to get used to the style of the team. I look forward to seeing happiness in the stadium and I thank you for your support.
Lee Kwang Seon
The second player coming in is equally interesting as another player of a good age (24), arriving with J1 experience, and in a position we really need to strengthen.
The most obvious thing about Son coming in is that he is 1.94m tall and will hopefully add a big help to balls in the air coming into the box, and should also give us something extra from corners where we have been quite ineffective since 2010.
He is quite clearly an out and out central defender, and may see himself playing alongside Park Gun in the middle of our defence in an all Korean pairing. If Oh Chan Hyon also plays at right-back we could start looking very Korean at the back, something which can only help with communication between the pair.
I’m also hopeful that being young he is going to be able to learn how Pusnik wants our defence to play, and is going to be quick enough to do it. We need to have one of the central 2 further forward from the other, rather than alongside each other as they may have practiced within other formations, and to have the pace to push out and close the space when we don’t have the ball.
The only slight concern for me is the same as with all the Korean players, they have to go and do their military service at some point. Hopefully we can get at least one good season from him now and then worry about that later if it happens.
“I’m Lee Kwang Seon and have decided to come from Vissel Kobe for next season. I’ll try to do my best for Avispa Fukuoka. Thank you very much.”
It does now mean that we have bodies in central defence and that might allow Tsutsumi to move to full-back or into a midfield anchor role.
Possible formation – (players already signed)
With 10 players now announced we can now nearly get a full team out!
From tomorrow Japan enters a bit of a holiday mode. Many clubs and companies are going to be closed for business and Avispa don’t even have enough players confirmed for next season to get 11 players on the pitch.
I expect most of the players who are not yet released from the club to stay at the club, but as last season showed that group of players isn’t going to be good enough to get the club where they want to go. In fact the group who remain plus the 8 we have released weren’t good enough for where we needed to go, with only a youth player brought in.
By the time the holiday period is over we will have about a week before pre-season training starts, and it is looking more and more like we might be picking over the players who no-one else wanted to sign, or couldn’t find anywhere else to go.
Potentially that could be a good thing as clubs use their budgets too early and there are players left over who need to find a club, but conversely it could mean that the most in-demand players are already taken and we are left with sub-standard options.
From the list of rumors I had read from last month Koji Noda had this week gone to V-Varen Nagasaki, and Mikami has gone to Kataller Toyama. Another name which was coming up often was Aoki who has returned to Thespa Kusatsu.
It is well documented that we don’t have a huge amount of cash lying around, but surely we should be able to compete for contracts with these clubs.
I expect things to get moving now the new President has been announced, there are a few new rumours going around, but at the moment the confirmed 2014 squad is looking a little thin:
Confirmed 2014 Squad.
Eita Kasagawa – 3rd choice goal-keeper.
Yuya Mitsunaga – 18 year old fullback from youth squad.
Oh Chan Hyon – Back-up right back.
Shunsuke Tsutsumi – Potentially best defender in J2, but can switch off.
Yuta Mishima – Right-back / Right midfield. 2nd year as professional.
Taku Ushinohama – Impact substitute.
Takeshi Kanamori – 2nd year pro attacker.
Daisuke Sakata – Focal point for attack, star striker.
To put our lack of signings into some perspective it may be worth looking at what other clubs in J2 have been up to.
Montedio Yamagata: 8 players in, 5 players out (+3)
Fagiano Okayama: 9 players in, 6 players out (+3)
Tokyo Verdy: 7 players in, 5 players out (+2)
Consadole Sapporo: 7 players in, 5 players out (+2)
Matsumoto Yamaga: 7 players in, 6 players out (+1)
Kataller Toyama: 7 players in, 7 players out (+0)
Mito Hollyhock: 5 players in, 5 players out (+0)
Shonan Bellmare: 10 players in, 10 players out (+0)
V-Varen Nagasaki: 3 players in, 4 players out (-1)
Yokohama FC: 4 players in, 5 players out (-1)
Kyoto Sanga: 4 players in, 5 players out (-1)
Thespa Kusatsu: 6 players in, 7 players out (-1)
Roasso Kumamoto: 7 players in, 9 players out (-2)
Jubilo Iwata: 6 players in, 9 players out (-3)
Giravanz Kitakyushu: 2 players in, 5 players out (-3)
JEF United: 4 players in, 8 players out (-4)
Ehime FC: 7 players in, 11 players out (-4)
Avispa Fukuoka: 1 player in, 8 players out (-7)
Oita Trinita: 8 players out (-8)
Tochigi SC: 3 players in, 11 players out (-8)
FC Gifu: 15 players out (-15)!
Of the players left in the Avispa squad from last year there are only 3 who I think have any chance to go to another club in J1 or J2 if they don’t re-sign to Avispa; Ishizu, Kanakubo and Tsutsumi. Everybody else will need to drop to J3, or a club near the bottom of J2 if they want to stay as professional footballers.
Of those 3 Kanakubo isn’t even our player, Ishizu should stay unless his agent gives him crazy ideas after scoring a few goals, but Tsutsumi was a player I could see a few lower level J1 clubs thinking about giving a chance.
That has changed today as Tsutsumi has signed for another year. He has had a mixed time at Avispa. After his first year I don’t think many people would have cared if he stayed or left, but I always thought he had all the attributes needed to be one of the best defenders in the division.
This season he was given a bit more responsibility in the squad, and for the first half of the season was our best player. He wasn’t just our best player, he was our best centre-back, best right-back, and after a really good finish to get his first league goal looked like he could be our best striker too.
Things went off the boil a little bit as we had our poor run of games and he lost some of his focus, but when put back into a partnership with Park in the last 5 games of the season looked like he could be getting back towards his best and ready to build for 2014.
Oh Chan Hyon
If Tsutsumi had a bit of an up and down time for the last 2 years at Avispa, Oh Chan Hyon has had an even more shaky time.
He got his debut early in 2012 and immediately started doing the most crazy pieces of skill to beat players as he pushed on in attack, and looked like if he could calm down a bit in defence he could be a very exciting player.
It then seemed he must have upset someone because despite us not having any right-backs for the 2nd half of the season he didn’t even make the bench and was loaned out to Nagasaki at the end of the season.
He was brought back to Avispa in the summer and looked like a different player. He got a chance due to our continued problems at right-back and while he kept the outstanding athletic attributes didn’t seem able to go forward any more.
Fairly solid at the back, while making some silly errors (he seemed to be the only person in Japan who didn’t realise it was a very bad idea to give Matsumoto Yamaga throw-ins near our penalty box) he will be a good squad player for right-back, I just hope we see some more of his crazy attacking at some point.
Arrived out of nowhere in the summer having lived in America and played for the Dusseldorf youth squads he is someone who has a lot of the tools needed to potentially do well.
Physically he looks the part, and while he doesn’t have incredible pace he does get around the pitch and has the height to add something to the game.
Can’t possibly have imagined his debut when he came into a game where we had 9 men on the pitch and Jogo in goal, but after being asked to play in defence he did it and acquitted himself well.
Really needs experience and time on the pitch, as the couple of times he has had games I’ve felt he was snatching at things a little bit and perhaps not showing everything he can do.
I think he is probably best served to aim as a box-to-box midfielder and as an area we are quite thin on he could well get a chance to show what he can do.
Having got another year contract the best thing he could do now is stay out for 20 minutes when training is finished and show the manager that he is ready and hungry for when the chance inevitable comes to pick someone to come into the team.
Avispa today received a big Christmas present as news of the new President of the club was made public.
My understanding is that it still needs to go in front of an EGM in January, but that should just be a formality and we should now start to have the structure in place to start building for next season and beyond.
Who is the new President?
He looks to be exactly what we need in being a real football man, and a Fukuoka boy.
Born in Iizuka he became linked to Sumitomo Metal in the days before the J-League, eventually becoming their coach.
From this he became closely linked with the start of Kashima Antlers at the dawn of the J-League, including during their glory years when Zico was at the club.
Success here led to links with the Japanese Football Association where he has been closely linked to the development of young players.
I don’t want to jump the gun here, but the same as when I was very pleased when we appointed Pusnik I would also say this looks like a very positive appointment.
I don’t feel the club needs or wants a rich sugar-daddy type owner who might bank-roll a few far-fetched schemes, but rather a real football man who understands the game and can see what Pusnik could potentially achieve if given the correct support.
His links to youth development are key for me as this is the main area where I feel Avispa need to move in, and with a CEO who has played the game and stayed involved in the game for nearly 35 years it may be exactly the man to establish a new, modern outlook in Japanese football.
Finally some of the office staff at Avispa seem to have woken up and we look to be heading into the new season with a few uniform sponsors.
Having spent 2 years (including a spell in J1) wondering why we are playing clubs who have 5-6 sponsors on their kit and we don’t even have a shirt front sponsor, it now looks like we’ll have a plethora of disparate sponsors in 2014.
It would be easy to draw the immediate coincidence with Otsuka leaving as club president, and suddenly lots of new sponsors arriving so I won’t mention it.
After firstly getting a Tokyo insurance company to write ‘Broad-minded’ across the shirt shoulders we now have what appears to be a company involved in growing strawberries in Itoshima to sponsor our shorts.
The company behind it seems to be called ‘Emotent’, and if it genuinely is an Itoshima strawberry farming company then I’m going to be trying to buy a lot of shorts and eating a lot of strawberries in the next year.
In addition to Broadminded and Emotent it has also been announced that Hakata fish-egg company Fukuya will continue their sponsorship of the shirt sleeve.
Avispa fans are not going to forget that during the time we had no other sponsors Fukuya maintained their sponsorship, and at our darkest moments last year and needing 50m yen to stay solvent it was Fukuya who continued to try and do promotions to keep money coming into the club.
After Mishima a couple of days earlier the other Rookie from 2013 has completed the formalities of signing for 2014 with Takeshi Kanamori now confirmed.
As with Mishima I’m not surprised he has signed on; he has had a meteoric rise this season having come to the club from high school with few expectations when he signed.
There was considerable surprise when Pusnik threw him into the first team for the first game of the season, but his performances showed that the manager was correct in being confident in him and by the end of the season was one of our key players.
That came at the end of a season where he had also been called up to the Japan U-19 team, and then the Japan U-21 team, and after scoring in consecutive games around September finished the season with 6 goals.
It wasn’t all smooth for him as he was at one point substituted in the first half after making one too many ill advised dribbles in a bad area of the pitch, but rather than sulk about it he has improved his game and come back stronger.
I’m sure that for 2014 he will be setting himself a goal of scoring over 10 goals for the season, but I don7t believe this should be his main target.
We have seen with Ishizu in 2013 that just trying to score goals isn’t always what the team needs.
I hope that he replays the goal in the final game against Fagiano and realises that while his finish was great it was his interplay with Punosevac on the edge of the box which really marked him out as a potentially very good player.