Our problem midfield   1 comment

As far as I am concerned Avispa Fukuoka haven’t had a midfield to talk about since Nakamachi was at the club in 2010. It is no big surprise to me either that in that season when we actually had someone who could star for us in midfield we surprised everyone and won promotion to J1.

Like many 2nd divisions across the world J2 is typically a fairly scrappy battle for possession of the ball in midfield, with mistakes and missed chances seeing the ball getting turned over to the opposition regularly; or more accurately bouncing around in the middle third of the pitch waiting for one team or the other to get hold of it.
Too often in the last 3 seasons we have been second best to those balls, meaning opposition players are getting the chance to run at our defence from half-way, or for our attacks to be easily cleared rather than recycled.

Our midfield immediately after promotion was a 2-man midfield of Suzuki Jun and Sueyoshi (Nakamachi ended up being injured for a lot of the time in J1). These 2 players both wanted someone else to do the running for them, and faced with other teams playing 3 across the middle were usually totally behind the ball and saw us finish 18th in J2.
Then Pusnik came to the club and changed the formation to improve matters, putting 3 in the middle and giving us the chance to start to compete for the ball. Things improved (we finished 14th despite going through a financial meltdown mid-season which coincided with the players giving up for a bit and losing 8 games in a row), but unfortunately the players weren’t good enough to play the role.
Funayama had a good foot but always needed time, Kanakubo thought he was a star and played like he was trying to make a youtube video about himself. Nakahara did well in his first season, but couldn’t do it on his own.

Having seen the midfield on Sunday I can say that after 3 years it is still going to be our biggest problem.
Again Nakahara battled valiantly again but we were basically playing a formation which could be written:

…………..GK………….
MF……DF………DF…….DF
………….MF……………
……FW…………FW……….
FW……….FW………….FW

Against a team in Kumamoto who had been sent out to be aggressive, win every second ball, and generally try to unsettle our players.

Having seen the team on Sunday what I think I can say with close to 100% certainty is that the players who have come in are not players chosen by Pusnik.
The team could be said to be a little unbalanced, but who should have played instead?
The only other options for midfield are Nozaki (a kid who is probably even more lightweight/attacking than those on the pitch), Sakai (who hasn’t had a pre-season and is more of a winger apparently) or Jang (not good enough yet).
One of the reasons I am sure that Pusnik hasn’t brought these players in is that in the game against Kashima he played Takeda in midfield, a player brought to the club as a left-back; he knows the other options we have are not totally suitable. I thought Takeda did ok in that game and is a position he may be playing more having seen the match on Sunday.

What it needs more than any of the above options is for the players who played in the position on Sunday to step up.
Morimura has previously played left-wing where he can put his running in, but doesn’t need to won the space as much. He isn’t going to get into the team on the left-wing ahead of Sakata, Ishizu, Kanamori, Sakai. He needs to work hard, stay aggressive and focus on becoming someone to play in midfield.
Jogo is the puzzle which still hasn’t been solved. He has absolutely everything he could need to be one of the top players in that central position in the division. Pace, Height, a knack for scoring, and at times excellent tackling and aggression, but he must start to be the top player he could be rather than drift out of games.

I still believe that the man to play the anchor role is Park Gun however. I am even more sure of it after reading in the J-League digest that his favorite player in world football is Yaya Toure. If that is the player he most aspires to, then he should be wanting to move further up field and try to be the beast in the middle.
Having seen him play there a couple of times in pre-season I think that the plan is that he will eventually play there this season which will improve the team a lot, very quickly, in my opinion. The problem on Sunday was again with the squad.
I assume that Seon was injured, he didn’t even make the bench. Koga is basically semi-retired, and the only other option is Kazuki who as much as I want to do really well has a habit of making big mistakes.

Personally I’d risk it with Kazuki, I think the need for some bite in midfield is so strong, but failing that would at least bring Takeda back in. We can’t face a team like Kyoto with such big spaces in midfield and just Nakahara working to break up attacks and win the ball back:
I’m not so sure what I’d call this formation, but it’s something not many teams would have much experience of facing!

………………Kamiyama……………
Mishima……Tsutsumi……Kazuki……Takeda
………………Park……………….
……..Nakahara……….Jogo……………
……………..Sakata……………….
……Hirai………………..Ishizu……….

It is a little harsh on Punosevac who did ok on Sunday, but we will have suspension and injuries for him to play as one of the front 3, and he is an excellent man to have on the bench to provide some power with 30 miutes to play.

When we are in possession of the ball it could get it’s width from the full-backs, where we have players in Mishima, Oh, Takeda, Abe, Mitsunaga and start to look like quite a dangerous attacking team something like.

………………Kamiyama……………..
..V…….Tsutsumi…Park…..Kazuki…..V..
Mishima…..Nakahara…..Jogo……..Takeda
…………….Sakata………………
………Hirai………..Ishizu…………

The biggest benefit being that it allows Park to concentrate on one main area of the pitch to govern, and try to build a strong understanding with the centre-backs to make what would hopefully be a solid defensive foundation.

Posted March 5, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Opinion

One response to “Our problem midfield

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  1. Pingback: vs. Giravanz Kitakyushu (report) | Avispa Eigo

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