Archive for February 2014
Each season I have made a list of targets for the players to aim to achieve for the coming season.
Every player should have several goals for themselves throughout the season, but I’ve tried to think of what I think is the most important, and achievable goal for each player.
If, come the end of the season, they have achieved these goals I think they will probably have had a good season (and if all players have achieved their goal then I think we will have got promotion!).
#1 Ryuichi Kamiyama – He made a lot of improvements last season and just needs to keep on with that development. To say he needs to improve his talking, or come out for crosses, or stop the silly mistakes is too easy.
His long kicking isn’t good, and isn’t a system we really play now, but to help with his distribution I’d like to see him happier with the ball at his feet. He should try to take a touch and ‘be an extra outfield player’ at times, and be one of the first to look to take a touch to switch play across the pitch.
#2 Yuta Mishima – Make the right-back position his own. If at 20 he has 35 starts as right-back this season he could be looking at a ticket to Rio (or should be).
#3 Takumi Abe – Our full-backs must be able to cross; either low to the front or onto Puni’s head at the back post if he is on the pitch. Practice crossing and aim to have 8 assists by the end of the season.
#4 Lee Kwang Seon – All about set pieces. Score over 5, and limit the goals we concede from them to under 5. If we finish the season with a positive goal difference from set pieces it probably means he has had a good season.
#5 Masahiro Koga – Take whatever coaching badges he needs to make the next step in his career and be more useful than as playing staff.
#6 Kota Morimura – Run over 12.5km in each game. I doubt the club has the money to pay for Prozone (or whatever the Japanese equivalent is), but he’ll have an idea of how much it takes and how he should be feeling after 80 minutes. If he keeps running he will get chances to score and help to close the space in the middle of the pitch, and potentially become one of our most important players.
#7 Shoki Hirai – All about the goals. I’ll throw a crazy figure out; get 20 for the season. If he hits a groove I don’t think it’s unrealistic.
#8 Shuto Nakahara – For everything else he offers I’ll make the perhaps odd decision that it is all about goals for him too. He provides our long shooting angle (maybe only him), and if he is putting in at least one long shot a game then it will make defences step up a bit and open up space for others.
Like a catch-wrestler, if the opposition are expecting a double leg takedown they’ll defend well against it. If you start throwing a few punches and kicks then you can get the double.
#9 Bratislax Punosevac – Get a hattrick. For all the 5/6 – 0 wins we have had at times no-one has scored a hattrick since 2007, and only 5 players in the history of the club ever have.
Get a hattrick in the first half of the season and you don’t need to worry about people not passing to you any more, you’ll be a God amongst mortals.
#10 Hisashi Jogo – The time has come. He has done enough to be many neutrals favorite player in J2, and a legend at the stadium. Get serious, demand the ball, and be in the shortlist for J2 Player of the Season.
#11 Daisuke Sakata – Win a free-kick for defenders climbing at least once in each half. He is a bit too honest at times with clear fouls, and then bizarrely gets penalised against more than he gets fouls given to him.
#13 Park Kun – Be suspended before the summer. A strange target, but I want to see him kick people any time the opposition midfield is getting too settled. Do it in the first 10 minutes and you won’t get cautioned 75% of the time. Don’t get silly yellows for pulling shirts, and don’t get sent off.
#14 Takeshi Kanamori – Dribble with the ball into the penalty area at least once every game. Whether you choose to shoot or pass when you get there is another target which might need more experience, but if you are taking the ball over the ‘gain line’ then we will score goals.
#15 Christopher Kinjo – decide which player you want to be. Pick a world-leader in that position and watch games of that player and their movement (with and without the ball) every night. Don’t pick a ridiculous target like Messi, pick someone making the most of their skill-set like Yohan Cabaye.
#16 Daisuke Ishizu – Get 10 assists. You can score, that’s great. If you can score and make goals then you’ll get your move to a top J1 team. This season in J2 is the perfect opportunity to develop it, Watch youtube clips of Bergkamp and Laudrup.
#17 Kazuki Yamaguchi – Get more than 14 games in the season. He’ll be needed this season, Koga isn’t going to be able to play and we have just 3 other for the position. Come in, try to relax, and play a safety first game which will build confidence.
#18 Oh Chang Hyun – Get forward again. In your first 2 games you were doing some crazy stuff, try it again and at least have a shot at goal, or get a ball into the box 1 game in 5. If you are caught out of position you have the athleticism to at least potentially get back into position.
#19 Shunsuke Tsutsumi – Stay focused. Your versatility sees you shift around the pitch at times, play intensely enough to be undroppable at centre-back for the season and get 30+ games playing there.
#20 Noriyoshi Sakai – No idea. Haven’t seen any games yet, get fit and in the team I guess. Oh, and get a new tracksuit, that RUN DMC one you were wearing on TV the other night was ridiculous.
#21 Eijiro Takeda – Over 30 games for the season. Left-back has some competition this season, but from what I have seen (especially playing out of position in midfield) you have the energy and skill to be first choice. Get up and down the pitch, play the right crosses at the right time and be an obvious choice for left-back and hopefully a full-time contract at the end of the season.
#22 Masaya Nozacki – If by the end of the season you have started more than 3 games it will mean that when you’ve come on as substitute you’ve done something to catch the eye of the manager.
#23 Keisuke Shimizu – You have to add something to your game. At the moment you aren’t big enough to come for crosses every time, or make a big obstacle for 1-on-1s, you need to add something different. I would say to watch van der Sar videos and be incredibly fast to come off your line and act as a sweeper keeper. You need to do something to make yourself an option.
#24 Yuya Mitsunaga – By the end of the season I hope you’ve had 5-10 substitute appearances, possibly in midfield, and any extra chances you may be called to do in J3 with the U-22 team.
#25 Eita Kasagawa – Another season as 3rd choice? Do whatever it takes in training so that when Kamiyama gets suspended or injured you are the one getting time on the pitch.
#27 Jang Jung Wong – Any of the following; bench press 150kg, run under 11.5 seconds for 100m, run a half-marathon in under 1 hour 15 minutes, score over 13 on the shuttle run.
You need to something to show you are doing everything you can to be given a chance in the team and then take it when you get it.
#28 Taku Ushinohama – Enjoy being the super-sub. Watch the game when your sitting on the ebcnh, listen to the manager, but also look for where the space is yourself. When you get the chances keep running for 25 minutes and finish the season with over 5 goals.
The uniform for the 2014 season was announced a couple of months ago with a throw-back design to one of the earliest designs at the club, but has this week been finalised with Away shirts and full sponsors announced.
It throws up a couple of questions when you look at it and start to think about the season to come.
1)Shirt front sponsor.
Are we really going into the season again with no shirt front sponsor?!
The office staff at the club seemed to have a good start to the post-Otsuka regime by getting a lot of new smaller sponsors for the back and shorts, and moving Nishitetsu onto the training wear but what has gone wrong to not agree a figure with someone for the front of the shirts.
It isn’t quite as bad as when we started J1 with no sponsors at all (apart from Fukuya) but surely they can find a company to agree a deal of some sort, even if it isn’t the top money they might hope for.
There have been rumors of LINE who are coming to Fukuoka, or UNIQLO who originated in nearby Yamaguchi. We are right next to the airport so could make some mock-ups of the pitch and ANA, JAL Star-flyer planes flying in the background.
Even if it was a cheaper deal this year if you could do it on a short term basis which might attract a deal in the future or at least show the wider business community that we have a product which is worth chasing.
2) Stripes on the back.
Something which annoys me is shirts which have stripes, but the stripes stop on the back of the shirt.
Personally I get a number on shirts which I buy, but a lot of fans choose not to. By having this design it means that everyone buying a shirt now has to also buy a number for the shirt. If they don’t they leave a strange empty space on the front and back of their shirt.
Maybe this is good news for the shirt maker who can add the cost of numbers to every shirt they sell. Less good news for someone who just wanted a shirt with no name or numbers.
It looks like now anyone who deosn’t want numbers should probably get the away shirt.
3)The away shirt.
Did someone forget to tell the shirt designer what the point of an away shirt is?
We now have a white shirt with blue stripes for the home short and a white shirt with one stripe as the away shirt.
There are many clubs in England who will do this on purpose. Manchester United for example will have a red home shirt and a white away shirt. This means that when they play Sunderland or Southampton they need to have a 3rd kit because they can’t wear red or white. Are we going to see a 3rd Avispa shirt coming out soon? I doubt it, we probably don’t sell enough to make 2 shirts that worthwhile really.
What is going to happen next season when we go to play someone like Mito who have been wearing blue and white shirts? If you got a particularly fussy referee (and Japan has plenty) we will be wearing Mito’s away shirt when we play them.
4) A green goal-keepers shirt.
Very nice to see a traditional green goal-keepers shirt. I’d like to have seen it as the home shirt.
I’ve said in a few posts already that I feel the most important position for the team this season is the midfielder who sits furthest back of our middle 3 and protects the defence.
We have goals in the team, not many teams in J2 (and a few in J1) can boast a forward line which has an ex-national team striker (Sakata), players who like to dribble and shoot (Ishizu, Kanamori), a real number 9 (Hirai), a tall target (Punosevac), and a mercurial talisman (Jogo).
Iff you add to that the 4-5 goals which Nakahara and Morimura will get, the 2 substitute goals Ushinohama will get, and the 5 set-piece goals that Lee Kwang Seon will get then we don’t need to worry about scoring enough goals.
What we do need to worry about is not conceding goals (especially early goals) which will allow teams to sit back and defend all match.
Our defence was improved from the 2nd worst in the division in 2012 (only behind Gainare Tottori), with no change in players, just a new manager and more effective formation.
In this formation we usually had Nakahara as the defensive midfielder, and he generally did well, but I think he could be more effective higher up the pitch where his stamina, long shooting, and ability to pick a pass is better suited.
But who then plays the midfield anchor? What do we need from this player?
An area where I think Nakahara is less well suited for the position is his aggression and physique.
I want to see a defensive midfielder going hard into tackles and letting the opposition forwards know that they shouldn’t be spending too long on the ball.
I also want the opposition midfielders to know that if they start trying to give our quick forwards a kick then they are going to get one back twice as hard.
They will pick up yellow cards for doing so, and will get suspended at some point at the season, but Pusnik is never going to argue with a yellow card picked up for giving a key forward a bit of a reminder.
As the season goes on the midfielder will start to learn what he can get away with, and especially that if he does it in the first 3 minutes then he’ll probably get no yellow card.
2) Knowing your job.
The first step to playing as a defensive midfielder is understanding your role and accepting it. You’re there to work hard and to help everyone else, before yourself.
Not many people have performed the role of defensive midfielder better than Patrick Viera (the good one, not the one who played for Yokohama FC last year!). This is what he said on the position when asked how to play.
I think that it is very important to have someone playing the position who really wants to. It is a position which can go un-noticed for a lot of the game; you get few goals, few assists, but to the cultured eye it is the most important player in the match.
The only player I’ve seen so far who really looks like he wants to play the role is Park Gun. He has made a few mistakes, and doesn’t know his positions well enough yet, but with time I think he has the mentality to work hard for the team.
3) The conductor.
The defensive midfielder needs to be an intelligent player.
In defence he needs to see when it is time to drop back, and in attack he needs to know when he is able to step up.
As part of this he should be able to talk, and help those around him to know where they should be, or if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. The defensive midfielder is the heart of the team in this respect.
His role can take the part of a quarter-back by taking the ball from the central defenders and picking out the pass to start the play. A traditional playmaker is more of an 8 or 10, but the play is actually made first by the defensive midfielder picking him out, or more crucially winning the ball back and completing the transition by picking out a more advanced player.
4) The central defender.
This is where I believe Park or Tsutsumi can really make the position their own. We play a formation and style which asks the full-backs to push on and become supplementary wingers making 2 on 1 opportunities with opposition full-backs.
These over-laps don’t always work, and the defensive midfielder can help in this situation by covering for the full-back.
At times when the full back is ‘out of position’ up field and the ball has been won by the opposition the defensive midfielder can fall back to the defensive line and make a situation with 3 at the back.
By either providing numbers in the middle, or slowing the counter enough to allow the full-back to get back into position it allows both full backs to try and make full use of the pitch by getting forward, safe in the knowledge they have cover should something go wrong.
So who should play there?
We don’t really have a lot of options, and the options we do have don’t really fit all priteria at this time.
If you look at an overseas manager playing a not dis-similar style and formation to ours in Jose Mourinho he immediately knew how important it was to get this man into the club, looked round and couldn’t find it, so made the one big money signing of the last transfer window (Matic – 25m pounds) to bring him to the club.
Unfortunately we don’t have that luxury.
So what options do we have?
Nakahara – Very intelligent, starts the play well; but might be better used further forward and isn’t the most physical.
Park – Plays for the team, can be physically very strong, much better in attack than might be expected.
Tsutsumi – The best physically, able to pass, but I don’t know if he plays the position mentally (and is probably always needed as centre back).
Full highlights of a pre-season match is one of the plus points of having a match against J-League opposition in our stadium.
Worth watching for an entertaining match in which we score 2 good goals against J1 opponents, and have 5 more goals of varying levels of defending and refereeing.
Another game which we lost in the last 10 minutes, but it was against J1 opposition, and with us as the better team for a large part of the game.
Keisuke Shimizu – 5. Weak for the second goal when he seems to be moving towards his next move before even getting the ball, and struggled to get to crosses.
Takumi Abe – 6. Did try to get forward when he could, and had a couple of decent link-ups, but was 50:50 with his crossing.
Yuta Mishima – 7. Starting to get a bit of attitude, and looks like he’ll be one of our most important attcking outlets this season. Kept running all game. Will have learned from being pushed away for the free-kick goal.
Shunsuke Tsutsumi – 7. Needs to start seeing himself as the most important and experienced member of the defence, and with that added responsibility will hopefully get serious like the first half of last season.
Lee Kwang Seon – 6. Battled in the air, and got penalised for one amazing attacking in the first half incorrectly. Would be a 7, but seems to hit a clearance directly up in the air once every 45 minutes.
Park Kun – 7. When he was good we were good. I’m sure defensive midfield is his best role as he can pick a pass forward, is very good when he kicks people, and could dominate in the air. Seemed very tired in the last 10 minutes.
Eijiro Takeda – 7. Surprised me. Got put in midfield which may be an unfamiliar role for him but didn’t look fazed at all. Didn’t stop running and has given the manager a real option for midfield when we need to have running in midfield. Wins the battle for left-back at the moment.
Kota Morimura – 8. Exactly what the team needed, a young guy who kept running and put in a couple of good set pieces. Was tired at the end, but understandably so, he’d run well over 12km. Tired finish to miss what would have been a winning goal, but should keep getting into that position.
Shoki Hirai – 7. Well taken goal, and started to run and link up better. Our formation requires a forward line who can switch roles and he is going to need to play the wings at times.
Hisashi Jogo – 7. Quiet in the first half but kept running in the second half and the ball between centre-back and left-back is going to be good food for him and get us goals late on in games.
Bratislav Punosevac – 8. I still think he will get better, but this was his best performance for us so far. Excellent header going back for the first, perfect nudge header to assist the second, and awake to get the third. If he plays 2-3 games like this he’ll be written on for the first team and the Japanese players will start to use him rather than compete with him.
Ryuichi Kamiyama – 7. One excellent block with his legs to stop a certain goal, and barked out orders to the defence well. Not a lot of chance for either goal. Clear first choice keeper.
Yuya Mitsunaga – 6. Came more and more into the game as the half went on, and was better in attack than in defence. Isn’t ready for the first team yet, and may benefit from a few games on the left wing before being moved back.
Shuto Nakahara – 7. Composed in bringing the ball out of defence and didn’t look out of place against J1 opposition.
Daisuke Ishizu – 8. I thought he looked better than last season, not because he took a bunch of shots, but because he didn’t. Was much better at choosing the correct option at the correct time. Could have had one goal with a shot across goal, which equally could have popped back out after being saved, and should have had an assist with his excellent header down to Morimura.
Daisuke Sakata – 7. Ran well and is exactly the sort of experienced player for the younger players to look up to. I think he has an issue with balls being played up to him. He gets fouled so much by players climbing over him, but more often than not gets fouls called against him. I’m not sure what the answer is, but unfortunately he might need to go down a little more easily.
Kazuki Yamaguchi – 4. I felt sorry for him. He actually did OK when he first came on, but after making a couple of little mistakes you could see him getting flustered and then had the referee give a very weak decision against him.
Avispa Fukuoka 3 : 4 Kashima Antlers
If this match is looked at primarily as a training match, one in which to learn some more lessons in the build-up to the new season then I think it was quite successful.
If it is viewed as an entertaining game which will hopefully lead to a big home crowd for the first home game of the season then it was a good advert for the club.
If looked at as a game which we should try and get into the routine of winning, and especially of banishing the memories of losing matches in the last 10 minutes and playing against opposition teams and the referee then it was a disaster.
The match started with a few surprises in the line-up as we played a formation which generally looked a bit like 4123, but really was changing between a few variations of 451 depending on where the game was being played.
The biggest surprise was to see left-back Takeda in midfield where he was playing a terrier like role and doing a fairly decent job of it. He didn’t offer much going forward but put in 45 minutes of running to try and put pressure on the opposition midfielders.
Both full-backs were trying to get forward, but this did leave space behind them which Kashima tried to exploit. This is an obvious problem by using full-backs who try to get forward, but by having Park as a supplementary centre back it isn’t a total disaster if a winger does get to an advanced position as we still have 3 in the middle.
Park went through bursts of doing well, and then being a little behind the play but generally I thought that when he was doing well and winning the battle for the middle of the pitch we were playing well as a team.
We took the lead early on from a corner. Morimura swung an outswinging corner from the left and Punosevac managed to connect well with a header going backwards having taken a step to lose his marker. The ball hit the inside of the post and give us our first goal from a set piece in a long time.
Unfortunately Kashima went straight up the other end and scored. They could have scored within 2 minutes as the right winger pulled a cross back onto Davi’s head at the far post but the ball was correctly judged to have crossed the byline.
It didn’t take long after that to actually equalize and it came from a horrible defensive mistake. Seon looks like a good lump of a defender who throws himself at things, but he doesn’t seem to be able to kick the ball. Given a chance to try to do so after 20 minutes he kicked the ball straight up in the air where the Kashima right wing could cross for Davi to hit it first time past Shimizu.
Davi was winning absolutely everything in the air, and giving a very good example of what is needed as a hard running, target man in the J-league. He was gifted the chance to double his score for the day from another cross from the right.
It looked like a fairly straight-forward ball for Shimizu to gather, but rather than go to meet the ball and at least collect a foul if he didn’t get the ball he shied away from it trying to gather at waist height with the ball coming to him. Avispa won’t come across many strikers of Davi’s quality this season, but you certainly can’t give him an invitation like that and he easily powered in front of the small keeper to score.
Avispa didn’t drop their heads and scored a good goal of their own; probably the only good goal of the game, all the others coming from set-pieces or defensive mistakes.
Park lifted a decent weight ball into the box where Punosevac finally connected with a good nudge header seeing the ball drop down to Hirai. Hirai showed what he can do with chances like that by finishing clinically. He might not do much else in the game, but give him chances in the box and there are unlikely to be many more effective in J2 next season.
The final goal for the half gave Avispa the lead at half-time. The forwards were working hard to close space and not allow too much time to build attacks and were rewarded as a loose ball sent Punosevac free on goal to score.
Maybe the most important part of the goal for me was that when the goal was scored Davi was sitting on the floor after tangling with Seon at the other end. After picking up a bit of a knock he didn’t really want to play any more and was very quiet for the last 10 minutes having dominated the game up to then.
Avispa, and particularly players like Park in defensive midfield, need to learn that giving opposition players a bit of a kick is sometimes the best way to quieten them down a bit.
Going into the second half we changed 4 players with Sakata, Ishizu, Nakahara and Mitsunaga coming on.
The best chances fell to Avispa with Jogo coming more into the game as balls between the centre-back and left-back allowed him to run onto balls in space, but the finish didn’t quite come. Ishizu had a shot across goal, and a very nice inter-play between Jogo and Ishizu saw the ball headed down for Morimura on the penalty spot but he will be disappointed with his tired finish.
With 10 minutes to go I was thinking that maybe keeping a clean sheet was better for the team than to play out another 2-3 scoreline, especially with our history of throwing away games in the last 10 minutes, but instead we threw the game away in the last 10 minutes.
Some of our players were starting to look a bit tired (the pitch was very heavy) and Mishima gave away a necessary free-kick running back into position after one of our attacks.
Mishima then had something which I hope will be a massive lesson for the team going into the season as he was pushed off the ball before the free-kick, with the set-piece taken quickly while Mishima argued with the referee as the defence watched on.
The referee certainly wasn’t watching the game and shouldn’t have allowed the goal (even if it was a good goal in truth, he has to be watching the game), but he shouldn’t have been given the chance to influence the game in this way. A free kick in this position needs Mishima to stand right on top of the ball to stop it being taken quickly, if he gets pushed hard enough that he starts arguing with the referee then he needs to go down. It is a bit cynical, but the alternative is a quick free-kick and a goal being conceded.
There is the chance he could be booked for stopping a quick free-kick, but it should always be possible to deflect attention away by asking the referee if we are playing to the whistle. A Kashima player was very cute in stopping an Avispa attack earlier in the half by taking a quick throw-in when it was clearly an Avispa throw, thus slowing the counter and allowing his team to get back as his ‘confusion’ was corrected.
Kazuki had come on for Seon by this time and was starting to get flustered after what had initially been an ok start. Unfortunately he was on the end of another dubious refereeing decision as Davi pushed through him towards a ball coming into the box. I’m not totally sure what kazuki was thinking, but he ended up trying to head a ball at about waist height just in front of him and then went down as Davi came through him.
Davi didn7t need a second invitation to go down and the referee fell for the bait giving a penalty to award Kashima the victory when a high scoring draw would have been a much fairer result.
The Avispa team are returning to Fukuoka today after what I hope has been a successful pre-season camp in Miyazaki.
The loss to Honda Lock will be seen as a negative, but I hope the team learned a lot from it, and Pusnik saw which players he can start to push towards being first team regulars.
After that match we had a comfortable win against a Kyushu Universities yeam, and then played J1 power-house Yokohama F Marinos in our final camp game yesterday.
The game was played over 4 ‘halves’ of 45 minutes and would have given the players a bit longer on the pitch than they have had in previous games.
It looks like perormances on the pitch continued to improve as we drew 2 of the halves 0-0, lost one 2-0, and won the other 1-0.
If you wanted to be positive you could say that we drew twice, won once and lost once meaning that we finished equal to Yokohama Marinos (if you wanted to be negative you could say we lost the match 2-1!).
Ishizu showed that he has the ability to score against top defences again as he scored our only goal.
It sets us up very nicely for our first ‘big’ pre-season match as we play Kashima Antlers at Level-5 Stadium on Sunday.
If anyone is thinking of coming to a game this season it is an excellent chance to see the club play against J1 opposition.
Tickets are 3000 yen on the door, and being a pre-season match I expect that it means you can sit in the posh seats which are much more expensive during the season.
I also expect that you would actually be able to see 2 games for the price of one as they play 2 sets of 90 minutes allowing all squad players to get a run out. I have had no confirmation of this, but in previous pre-season matches at Level-5 that is what has happened.
Beyond getting the chance to see almost all of the Avispa squad and learn a little about the players at the club you get the chance to see what the players at a top club in Japan are like with Kashima coming to visit.
They have lost their crown jewel this winter as Yuya Osako has left for Germany, but they still have some interesting players like the histrionic Davi, ex-NT players Ogasawara, Koji Nakata and Motoyama.
There has actually been a little snow in Fukuoka this week so you may get the chance to see a repeat of this piece of excellence from Koji Nakata.
To get to the stadium take the airport line to the airport. There is a shuttle bus at exit 4 of the subway station which goes to the stadium, or it is a 10 minute walk.
If you want to walk, turn left out of exit 4 and walk along the main road next to the airport runway. After about 8 minutes you will get to a 7-11. Turn left here and walk up the hill for 3 minutes to get to the stadium.
After having a lot of training sessions to try and build fitness and try to bring the new players into the squad we played our first games of the week against Honda Lock and a Kyushu Universities team.
Honda Lock play in the JFL which used to be considered the 3rd level of Japanese football, but since the introduction of J3 is now probably generally thought to be the 4th level.
I say generally because there i the fairly odd situation of company teams in Japan which 25 years ago were the strongest in the country, but were not allowed to enter the J-League when it started. Some of these company teams turned into J-League teams without the company name in their title (but often kept the company behind them unofficially; ie Toyota became Nagoya Grampus, Mazda became Sanfrecce).
Some company teams kept going and have left teams like Honda Lock which are probably more than good enough to compete in J3, but choose not to do so.
They certainly aren’t at J2 level and are a club which Avispa should be looking to score 3-4 goals past and practice a few new set plays and work on their transitions from defence to attack.
It didn’t really work out like that as we lost the game 1-0.
As with most pre-season friendlies there were two different teams for each half:
1st half team:
The most interesting name being Sakimura who came in for some experience after scoring against us in the U-18 game, and with big expectations having played for the National team at youth level.
Morimura came off after 39 minutes.
2nd half team:
The 4141 formation which I prefer, with Park trying to fill the problem position of defensive midfield.
Jang came off after 28′ for a youth team player.
Nobody should be happy with the result. Losing 1-0 to a JFL team is not a good sign for the coming season.
Having said that I am a firm believer that a bad pre-season can sometimes lead to a good season.
After seeing a lot of things which aren’t working, and the players seeing that they need to do a lot more work to achieve their goals for the season then it can be a good ‘kick up the backside’ for the players to keep working right up to the season start.
If we had won all our games 7-0 (or 14-0 as Oita did against Fukuoka University) then would the players be working as hard to get better?
A large part of that depends on the players however. If they have faith in the direction of the team, and are embarrassed enough to be unable to beat University and JFL teams to work harder then it can be good. If they start looking for other people to blame and give up then it could be a disaster.
The second game was against a University team, again with different players playing for each 45 minutes.
The teams had a much more youthful look, and there were some names missing from the game against Honda Lock. I don’t know if people picked up injuries, or if Pusnik decided he needed to leave some players out and try other options.
Team for the first half:
This looks like a strong team for me, with a lot of goals.
The back line was kept the same and suggests players are trying to learn a position and their team-mates.
There was a better result than the previous game as we won the half 1-0 thanks to a goal from Ishizu.
Team for the second half:
We scored a couple more goals as Ushinohama scored one from the penalty spot, and then doubled his personal tally for the day with a second from open play.
While I don’t think that winning is the most important thing in pre-season it is certainly a habit, and I hope the players now get it into their heads to try and do more of it.
If you start to forget what it is like to lose a game then it will hopefully make them mentally stronger to fight until the final whistle and stop the injury time goals which we conceded so many of last season.
Yokohama F marinos are up next and if we can put in a good performance and sneak a win the it really puts us in the right direction and sets up what will hopefully be an encouraging friendly back at Level-5 stadium against Kashima in March.