Avispa had a great start to the season gaining 12 points from the first bunch of fixtures before having a bad day at the office to lose 5-2 to Nagasaki in Level-5 stadium.
This game was something of a freak result against a good Nagasaki team playing with confidence and having everything they try come off. These results happen in football sometimes and in reality it didn’t cost us anything more than losing 1-0 to a deflected shot in the last minute; we still picked up 0 points from the game.
The facing Kamatamare Sanuki, the bottom club in the division, we had a chance to go 3rd in the table if we won (having already faced Jubilo and Kyoto in games this season).
We should have been 2/3-0 up in the first half and be heading to Gunma full of confidence being level with 3rd in J2, a position well above expectations for the season.
Instead the players totally stopped running, I have no idea why but hopefully someone at the club has an explanation for what happened at half-time and can correct it for this week, and we conceded a late equaliser.
That late equaliser means we are now in 10th place, 2 points outside the playoffs (having already played the teams in 2nd, 3rd, 7th and 8th in our 8 games this season) and with a chance of being 3rd if we win the game.
Most people would say this is hugely positive for a club who finished 18th 2 seasons ago, nearly went into bankruptcy last season and started the season hoping to sneak into a play-offs spot.
Instead there seems to be a bit of a wave of negativity around the club at the moment.
I know the 1st half performance against Nagasaki was terrible, and the 2nd half against Sanuki was anaemic, but step away from that 90 minutes and look at the results so far and few could say it has been a bad start to the season.
Everyone could also say ‘What if’s; What if we beat Roasso? What if we didn’t concede against Sanuki?; What if we’d got a goal against Ehime?; but that isn’t how football works.
What the team needs now going into Golden Week with 3 games in a week is to have the confidence of looking at the league table and seeing that they have picked up enough points to be well placed in the table.
The fans need to support what is going on on the pitch and try to help the players stay confident on the pitch.
The manager needs to see that his players have achieved good results, and put us in a good place in the table and barring a couple of poor performances haven’t become bad players and just need to have a boost in confidence to go out and play like they have against some of the top teams in the division.
The players need confidence above and beyond anything else after the last couple of performances. self-doubt can be a big facet of Japanese football; the egos and arrogance of players in the Premiership are a long jump from the average Japanese footballer, but even those players are starting to use Sports Psychologists to get them into the right frame of mind for games.
The players need a little confidence boost going into the game, and I’d do this by finding out exactly where they want to play, and for the most part try to play those players in that position. It will mean that some players can’t play because of competition for places, but that’s something the players just need to deal with and maybe the next week will change their mind about where they want to play.
Having done this I would put Sakata, Jogo, Nakahara, Tsutsumi and Lee exactly where they want to play, and fill the other positions with players who want to be there and feel that it is their best position.
By doing this I’d hope to have players going onto the pitch confident that they know what they are going to do, and without any nagging self-doubts or excuses for not playing well.
SHould this happen then I think the team would end up looking like this:
A couple of points on that:
– Kamiyama returns in goal. He makes blunders, but he can also win games.
– Takeda has to play midfield. I don’t think this is the position he would choose, but is intelligent enough to deal with the change, and we don’t have anyone apart from Nakahara who would choose to play there (apart from Jang or Chris, 1 of which I would put on the bench).
– Hirai is on the bench. He hasn’t done enough to get ahead of Sakata.
– Kanamori is injured.
Thespa Kusatsu 0 – 3 Avispa Fukuoka
More out of hope than expectation, we haven’t had a high win in a very long time, but if we can forget the first half at Nagasaki and the 2nd half at Sanuki the team can achieve 3-0 and 3rd place in the table with few problems.
The issues now are mental, and the players need a bit of an arm around the shoulder (I would probably say that 99% of Japanese players are in this mould rather than someone wanting a Fabio Capello type beasting).