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.