It would have been a big shock for anything else to have happened but is still some welcome news to see confirmation that Yuta Mishima has signed to stay in 2014.
More than any other player he represents the way that Avispa should now be moving forward. When he signed his professional terms from the U-18 team he was a fairly unheralded player, and I expect few people thought he get anything more than 1-2 substitute appearances during the season; but he finished the season as one of our key players having played 27 times and scored twice.
When first playing he looked very light-weight, but took coaching very well and showed a mental strength to not allow early set-backs faze him.
Shortly after making the step up to the first team he was then asked to play at right-back, and as with the switch to the first team got better and better with each appearance.
When later in the season he got moved further forward he utilised the things which he had learned while playing as right-back to become a better midfielder.
Various teams came to Level-5 Stadium with a game-plan based around trying to exploit the 19 year old, but most ended up changing their plans after 60 minutes when they found he was a much better player than they had realised.
His endeavor was rewarded by a call-up to the Japan U-19 team, and I fully expect him to move into the U-21 team as he continues to get better.
As much as it has been a valuable experience for Mishima it should also be a big experience for the executives at the club.
There is a model for football in Japan which seems to revolve around bringing old players who have played in J1 for 10 years to come and retire at mid-level J2 clubs. These players like Makoto Tanaka, Koga, Shimizu, even those at a slightly lower level like Mizutani, Funayama, Miyamoto, have brought almost nothing to the club; and cost an enormous amount of money.
The model which will work for the future, and especially with our current development oriented manager, is to bring young, hungry players to the club.
The players who have done well in the last season are Mishima, Kanamori, Ishizu, Park. They should look overseas to clubs like Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, where they now have recruitment policies of not bringing players to the club aged over 28, and increasingly usually under 23.
One of the big reasons for this is that the players need to be young enough and hungry enough to be able to adapt and learn the style and tempo of their new club.
Pusnik has brought a new approach to the game at Avispa. Much like Andre Villas-Boas found when arriving at Chelsea (and also to an extent at Tottenham where players were brought in by a Director of football), you can have a method which involves something like a high defensive line and narrowing the game when out of possession but if you have defenders/players who don’t have the pace, or ability to learn something new to do this then you are badly handicapped.
John Terry could be the best defender in the world in a certain situation (needing to head a ball away on the edge of the box), and maybe Koga could be useful in a similar role, but what we need is players brought in who can learn and compete as the manager wants rather than the team needing to adapt to the players brought in.