Archive for January 2014
The second half started with a slightly different 4231 formation, and with what on paper looked to be better players on the pitch.
The University team also looked a lot better, but after the disappointment of only drawing in the first half I am sure most of the players wanted to score 3-4 goals and put a clear marker down that they should be in the first team when the match against Kashima comes along.
This was a first chance to see Jogo playing in the middle of the pitch in a position which I think we will be seeing a lot of this season.
It forces him to be involved in more of the play, and be in a position where he should be able to influence the game more rather than waiting for balls to run onto.
I had had a thought in the week that maybe he might be the answer to out midfield anchor problem. There are always 2-3 times in a season when he seems to lose his temper a little and start really going for tackles and chasing every ball. If he could play like that all the time he would be an amazing player in that position, but on the evidence of today’s game he wouldn’t be able to.
He made a couple of runs up towards the box but largely didn’t really look comfortable in the position. If someone isn’t having a great game, the least I would expect is to see some energy to make up for slight mistakes but it seemed like he wanted to play as a forward and wasn’t really prepared to do much else if he wasn’t.
It didn’t help that he was playing in a very lightweight midfield. With Kanamori, Sakata and Ishizu ahead of the central 2 then it really was a midfield 2 with very little help from the forwards tracking back or tucking in.
It appeared that someone had told Ishizu to pass the ball more, but all it meant was he was passing it at times he should have shot. Nobody wants him to pass when through on goal with a shot on his left foot having cut in, they want him to pass when someone else is in a better position.
It reminded me of a conversation I heard with Chris Waddle when he said that Theo Walcott wasn’t ever going to make it as a top winger as he didn’t have the natural instincts about what decisions to make. I’m not sure if Ishizu will ever get them and maybe he just needs to be allowed to run with his head down and shoot every time as he may not have the intelligence as a footballer to do much else. He will always get 10 goals a season, but he wouldn’t make it as a top player.
On the opposite wing Kanamori hadn’t had the same conversation about the beauty of an assist (or at least had forgotten about it) as he seemed determined to do everything on his own in search of a wonder-goal even if Mishima had run the length of the pitch to make the overlap.
The bright point of the match for me was Mitsunaga who was getting forward at every opportunity from left-back and can probably be the only player to be pleased with his performance on the day.
He has a fantastic lightness of foot which seems to allow him to glide over the pitch and cover ground very quickly.
We did manage to hit the bar at one point with a shot from Ishizu from outside the box, but in reality made very little.
Sakata endeavored to get back and link play, but with no-one really helping him out we just left too big a space in the middle of the pitch which allowed the University player Tamura to probably put in the best midfield performance and show why he has been getting chances to train with the squad.
At the back Seon didn’t look as good as he had previously. He certainly shouldn’t be looking to pass the ball anything more than the shortest and easiest possible option. Kazuki alongside him looked like he might have a better pass, and that is really saying something.
At the other end I had predicted from the last game that he would score 10 set pieces this season, but not on the evidence today. Against a very short University team he couldn’t even get his head to the ball despite being 20cm taller than most of the other people on the pitch.
We really need to work on a short corner set piece routine which sees the corner taker working with another player to allow one of them to hit the byline and fire a low cross across the box.
The game fizzled out to a very disappointing 0-0 draw, but not before Ishizu put in a terrible tackle which some referees might have sent him off for. I guess he was frustrated as I’ve not seen him do it before, but this was a knee-high foot against someone who 2 years ago he would have been playing at the same university as.
Avispa Fukuoka 1 – 1 Fukuoka University
The Avispa squad got their second run-out of the pre-season with a match against Fukuoka University. It might seem like a match which they should easily win, but Fukuoka University are actually one of the best University teams in the country and with players who have played and trained with each other for 2-3 years it was always likely to be a game which proved a harder test than the U-18 team from the last game.
Having said that I still expected us to get a fairly easy win if the players gelled and took the game seriously; for whatever reason things didn’t really work out like that and I think the manager and some of the players could be a bit disappointed with how things worked out on the pitch.
Again most of the players got some time on the pitch with only Sakai and Jang having not had any minutes on the pitch so far. Jang was there but trained away from the main squad with Oh and Takeda who didn’t get on the pitch and I assume have some small injury. Sakai wasn’t there at all, and neither was Nozaki.
The first half started with a 4141 formation which I really like the look of:
This formation seems to suit us, and while it might appear somewhat defensive it actually turns into a much more attacking 4123 when we have the ball and makes opportunities.
While the formation works there were some problems with the personnel at times in this half.
I think Tsutsumi can do a job at right-back, especially against teams when we have to be stronger defensively, but in this formation it needs the full-backs to get forwards to support the attack and allow the player in front of him (Hirai for the most part in this game) to join the attack. He doesn’t really go forward in this way and while I am sure that Hirai will be one of the highlights of this season he looked a bit isolated at times, and disinterested at others.
He showed in the last match, and in previous seasons, that he knows how to finish; I’m just not so sure how much he can ever really create or link up with others.
It may have worked better with someone else in front of him to hold the ball up and lay balls through for him but Punosevac had another game which frustrated more than impressed. Despite being tall and physically looking like a target man he does seem to prefer to play with the ball at his feet and dink little balls through to others and it just didn’t seem to work out today.
He had one good chance to score as a good cross came through to the near post from the right but he headed the ball past the post from about 2m out.
Chris looked to be getting a little better as a player and made some intelligent runs forward which I’ve never really seen him have the confidence to do before. He looks a lot better when he tries to be dynamic like this, he has the athleticism to do so and should in my opinion be looking to promote himself as a midfielder who covers the pitch as it would appear to be his best attribute.
Abe started at left back and had Taku in front of him in a combination which looked like it could be effective 4-5 times, but then when a positive move looked the easiest thing Abe would cut back inside and try to pick someone out in the middle. I hope he gets into a habit of looking forward first and taking a risk on knocking the ball down the line and continuing on the overlap.
Should he do this then in this formation there is always the midfield anchor there to add some security should possession be lost. I still think this is the most important position for the team this season and again there was a new face there this match. I don’t know who it was but he seemed to be being called Kim.
He showed how important he was to the team by being involved in a lot of the play, but unfortunately he wasn’t really good enough to take a hold of the game in a way which was needed from him. There were so many times when he was needed, and you could see the way the team was set up was perfect, but he wasn’t really able to do what was needed of him and the foundation which the formation was set up on was weakened.
He did have a couple of good moments, and made some decent tackles at times, and invariably we were able to counter quickly and well from these moments but they happened about half as much as they should have.
We did take the lead, and it came from an area where the team has to improve this season, a corner. Tsutsumi scored it by bundling it in at the far post but in reality didn’t mean too much having come from some fairly terrible goal-keeping which it would be unrealistic to expect in J2.
Still at least it looked like we would win the half; until the University equalised with a soft goal.
The manner in which it was scored will have written Pusnik’s post-match analysis for him as it showed many of the issues which needed to be sorted.
The ball was given away by Punosevac weakly high up the pitch as he tried to do some skill/interplay on the edge of the University box. The ball was moved forward quickly where Kim should have been able to deal with it, or at least stop the play with a soft foul in the centre-circle which would be unlikely to be further penalised but the ball made it out to the right wing.
It wasn’t the fastest break in the world and the cross which came in was floated up around the penalty spot.
Understandably Koga is not the fastest player any more, but much like a 45 year old prize-fighter keeping his punch you’d expect him to still know where he should be positioned and be able to head the ball.
In fact a University attacker was totally unmarked, and with the awful Kasagawa caught in the middle of nowhere a header was looped over him and into an unguarded net.
The half finished 1-1 and against what looked like a second string University team I imagine the players weren’t that happy.
The league have announced the first 2 games of the season as we start to get closer to 2014 kicking off.
The j-league generally seem to like giving games which should be popular as the first games and like 2012 we start the season with a local derby against Roasso Kumamoto.
We won that game with a great goal by Sakata on debut and it would be a very good start to do the same again but this time the game is away and we haven’t had a fun time away to Kumamoto recently.
They have signed a lot of new players who will go into their first team, including a couple who I think might do very well, so playing them first game could be a good thing.
The second game is another big one, Kyoto Sanga at home.
Kyoto are one of the biggest clubs in j2 having dropped from j1 recently, but like jef seem to find something to avoid promotion every year.
They have been too good for us every time i’ve seen us play them, although we have always played well in spells.
They have actually lost some good players going into the new season and not replaced them with the same quality.
Their new players might come good, but if we control 60% of the game this time they might not have the experience to weather the storm and come back.
When looking at the squad for this season the biggest difference to me is that we now have competition for all positions on the pitch.
There might not be the established name of a Naruoka Sho or player with obvious standing in one position, but rather lots of players competing with each other to get a game in front of the fans.
I believe this can only help the team this year. Last season we started the season with only one recognised right back, Miyamoto. Now I thought he did ok, but to have only one guy going for a position and able to coast a bit in training knowing he’ll get a game is a disaster.
As it happened Pusnik saw the potential in Mishima and the rest is history. With more hungry players at the club, like Mishima last season, I expect Pusnik to polish some more rough diamonds.
Here I will list each position on the pitch and what order i think the players are for each position from what I saw on saturday.
Centre back ( stopper ):
Centre back ( ball player ) :
Midfield ( box to box) :
Midfield ( attacking the box)
Ive not included Sakai having never seen him, but seeing that list I hope he is a really good midfield anchor as that looks the area where we need someone to really claim the position .
The team was changed for the 2nd half but the formation stayed much the same. It started to look a little more like a 4231, but close enough to suggest we’ll be staying set up similarly to last year. We now have numbers at centre back to make 3 at the back possible but things were kept more straightforward for the first run out.
Team for the 2nd half:
Shimizu / Kasagawa
Oh. Seon. Yamaguchi. Abe.
Jogo. Morimura. Mitsunaga.
Park started in what i’m increasingly seeing as our crucial position for this season in front of the back 4 and while he didn’t excel in the role he was the first player of the day who looked like he really wanted to play there. Surprisingly it was the tackling and heading part of his game which looked weak, and his passing from possession which looked better. I hope it is because it was a friendly against kids which took away some of the at times hard tackling we saw last season. I now think with his youth to learn the position and experience at centre back he might be our best option.
Mitsunaga had a run on the left wing rather than full back and looked like someone who had plenty of running and liked to get forward. His pressure created the first goal of the game as he caught a defender in possession and calmly rounded the keeper to score.
Puni was playing like someone who really wants to score but didn’t manage it again. He couldn’t have got much closer hitting a shot against the right post from outside the box. He still strikes me as a player who might not stop scoring once he gets a goal or could do something crazy like get 5 in a game but for now he might be trying a bit too hard at times.
It is good to see him try to help the young players at times, but is something in japan he needs to be careful how he approaches. There was one time in particular in this game when he tried to get a pass from Mitsunaga but was offside the whole time,
At the back Seon looked very good until he threw himself at a ball and hurt his left knee. He is a very big guy and the way he was going for everything I can predict he might be our best player, and possibly top scorer via headers at set pieces, in games which he plays but may also pick up injuries.
Kazuki did quite well alongside him and while i like some of his crazy bursts forward if Park is there to cover he has to avoid trying to pass.
Abe looked a better footballer than Takeda, but less inclined to get forward.
Up front Jogo was playing the match like a full league game and going into tackles like a man who wants the season to start next week.
A player who has gone under the radar a little after arriving early is Morimura. I thought that along with Seon and Hirai he looked the best of the new players and he didn’t stop running trying to chase balls and give options all half. Along with Park in midfield and the new kid Mitsunaga I think he offers Pusnik the biggest opportunity to really make a player, in the way he has coached the best out of Mishima.
He was rewarded for his efforts late on as he knocked home a ball in the box to make it 2-0 for the half.
As first games go it was a good run around, certainly better than losing to a korean university team like last year, with lots of things to now work with in training.
The players had their first pre-season game today as they played the u-18 team at gannosu.
It’s impossible to say much from the first pre-season friendly with a new bunch of players who’ve probably not run around much over christmas, but it was good to get a look at the squad for 2014.
The players had 1 half each for nearly all players, sakata and kanemori weren’t there, and sakai and jang only warmed up. Apart from that it was a mixture of players who will probably play and probably be squad players in each half, but a feature of this season is that there seems to be definite competition for all positions.
The first half team was:
Mishima. Koga. Tsutsmi. Takeda
Nakahara. Tamura. Nozaki
Ushinohama. Hirai. Ishizu.
It started out with university player Tamura playing as the deepest midfielder which allowed Nakahara to get forward more freely and have greater impact around the box. I thought Tamura did ok in the role and especially in using his physique to win balls in the air and tackles, and could help us in what is now our hardest position to fill If he can improve his mobility.
It started looking like the youngsters might lose badly as the ball was passed around outside their box but then they had a quick counter and scored.
This must be a nightmare game for Koga, a bunch of fast 16 and 17 year olds who are going to try and get into a foot race with him with any good tackles he makes being expected. Both he and Tsutsumi looked off the pace as Koga was caught out of position and the striker getting a toe to the ball before Tsutsumi allowing the right wing to score.
It was good for the game and the adults did go up the other end and score. Mishima looked our best player getting forward from right back and beat a couple of players before crossing to Hirai to finish well.
Hirai didn’t play much last season, and i expect him to get even better, but already he looks like someone who will score a lot of goals with the right service. Maybe not the sort of long range goals Ishizu was scoring last year, but the sort of fox in the box who will score 8 out of 10 chances which come his way.
He doubled his tally for the day by smartly knocking home a good fast cross from Takeda on the other full back position.
With Mishima and Takeda we had two full backs who tried to get forward and will get us goals this year. They may also cost us goals as there were times when they were trying to get forward and balls were too easily intercepted which allowed easy counters with especially Takeda out of position. This situation comes back to the defensive midfielder who has to be able to cover.
Between Hirais 2 goals Nakahara showed the advantage of having him further forward as he broke into the box and calmly passed into the corner of the net.
I was looking around for who I thought could be doing better. Nozaki was having a quiet game, but that could be expected of a young kid at a new club and Ushinohama was showing why he hasn’t had many chances in the last couple of seasons by being fairly ineffective.
I was thinking i’d been wrong to call for him to get more games when he scored a well taken goal. Tamura had gone forward and drilled a ball into the box for taku to slide onto. He is a useful sub to have as he seems to have a knack for making things happen.
As Pusnik gets back to start the pre-season proper the club have also announced the squad numbers for the coming season.
As always it is impossible to ever say too much from the squad numbers (Funayama was #8 last year and hardly a key player at the club, while Koga keeps #5 this year and isn’t likely to figure much in my opinion), but it does allow you to guess at a few things.
#1 – Ryuichi Kamiyama
#2 – Yuta Mishima
#3 – Takumi Abe
#4 – Lee Kwang Seon
#5 – Masahiro Koga
#6 – Kota Morimura
#7 – Shoki Hirai
#8 – Shuto Nakahara
#9 – Bratislav Punosevac
#10 – Hisashi Jogo
#11 – Daisuke Sakata
#12 – Supporter Number
#13 – Park Kun
#14 – Takeshi Kanemori
#15 – Chris Kinjo
#16 – Daisuke Ishizu
#17 – Kazuki Yamaguchi
#18 – Oh Chang Hyon
#19 – Shunsuke Tsutsumi
#20 – Noriyoshi Sakai
#21 – Eijiro Takeda
#22 – Masaya Nozaki
#23 – Keisuke Shimizu
#24 – Yuya Mitsunaga
#25 – Eita Kasagawa
#27 – Jang Jung Won
#28 – Taku Ushinohama
– As exepected Kamiyama retains the #1 shirt and should start the season despite Shimizu coming in on loan.
– Mishima taking #2 hopefully shows that after doing well when asked to do a job at right-back Mishima now thinks that that is where his future may lie.
The role of the full-back is so important in the way which we are set up (and in much of the modern game) but doesn’t seem to be that highly regarded as a position in Japan.
Mishima will hopefully now continue to keep getting forward while getting more experience and becoming one of our most important players for the next 5 years as right-back.
– Takumi Abe gets the #3 shirt ahead of Eijiro Takeda for left-back.
– Koga keeps #5 because of his stature in the team, but is unlikely to start. I expect to see Seon and Tsutsumi start the first game with Tsutsumi and Park keeping their shirts from last year.
– Shoki Hirai has played much of his career as an out and out striker but by taking the #7 here suggests he will start as one of the inside forwards, probably on the right. Means we have Hirai/Kanemori/Jogo/Taku going for right wing positions, Sakata/Ishizu/Sakai? on the left, with all of them able to move inside to support Punosevac.
– Nakahara gets a big shirt in #8. Typically the position he played last year would get #4, but in Japan that seems to be given to defenders. I still hope by taking #8 he moves slightly forward with Park/Tsutsumi/Sakai behind him.
– Ishizu keeps #16. Maybe he likes the shirt, but a bit of a surprise after scoring the goals he did last year. I guess there is no chance of what would be his natural shirt in #11 as Sakata stays.
– Morimura gets #6. In England that would be central defence, but here I think it means he is likely to be playing central midfield. That is still the area of the pitch where there is no obvious player. I think we will be playing any 2 from Nakahara/Jogo/Morimura/Nozaki/Sakai, maybe even Ishizu, with the first 3 names the most likely.