Goal-keeper might be the one position which people think we are ok with Kamiyama getting the best stats in J2 for the last 2 seasons.
I don’t think it is as simple as that. Kamiyama gets good statistics for making saves because that is what he is good at, but he is weak at crosses, has poor distribution and makes 4-5 horrible blunders every season.
He reminds me a bit of Heurelho Gomez at Tottenham Hotspur. Capable of making incredible saves, and winning matches almost single-handedly, but seen as one of the first players who needed to be replaced when Harry Redknapp came to the club because he needed consistency as his number one priority so the defenders knew what was going to happen behind him.
Kamiyama was dropped to the bench behind Rokutan 3 seasons ago, was seen as something of a joke in J1, and then lost his place to Kawata 2 seasons ago, and Mizutani last year. There is something about him which isn’t trusted by more than 1 manager.
Under Pusnik he has had his longest spell in the first team, and recorded the best form in his career, but was still dropped for Shimizu at the start of the season.
He will be seen as indispensable by many fans, but I’m not so sure.
The other thing which I think needs to be sorted is our 2nd keeper has always been a 1.5 keeper. Competition for places is important, but we don’t really have the cash to have 2 keepers who see themselves as potential first team keepers. Kasagawa must be ready to deputise sometimes now, and as another back-up keeper we should have someone else who is a clear understudy and potentially able to claim the number 1 shirt by the end of the season.
Kamiyama. Has just had his best season at the club, coming off the back of being statistically the best keeper last season too. Has been helped a lot by Pusnik coming to the club and instructing him to release the ball quickly and short rather than kicking long and straight into touch.
My fear is that he is seen as undroppable, when in reality he makes numerous mistakes and has been dropped at times throughout his whole career. He needs to take responsibility for the gaps he still has in his game (commanding his box for crosses), and keep working to improve.
My Opinion – Keep. Fairly straightforward, but I fear that with the publicity his saves have brought this season his agent could hold the club to ransom. He is decent at this level, but not good enough to pay much above average wage for a keeper.
Shimizu. Looked like he was going to really compete for the #1 shirt when he came to the club having previously gained promotion to J1 with Oita, but was quite quickly seen as a clear second choice. His main problem is his size, which could be overcome if he had a great jump or other aspect to his game such as sweeping or organisation, but he doesn’t seem to have either.
If we came on a clear second keeper wage he is a decent squad player, but at his age isn’t going to get any better. Having been first choice at Oita in a promotion season my guess would be that he isn’t on a small wage.
My Opinion – Leave. At his age and skillset I can’t see the justification as someone who is never going to really offer competition for the #1 jersey. He’ll get a job somewhere, but probably needs to be at a J2 club with a little more money. Toyama would have been better off getting him and not Mizutani this season.
Kasagawa. The time has come to make a decision on Kasagawa. I think he is probably good enough to step up as a bench keeper, but he does seem to make quite bad mistakes at times. He will only get rid of these through experience and time to settle his nerves and gain confidence. If the club feel they cannot trust him to be on the bench then it would be better for everyone if he moved on.
My Opinion – Stay. He will not be on a big contract, and hasn’t done so badly when he has played. I’d put him on the bench and bring in a 20-21 year old on loan to offer competition for that spot.
Options to bring in – So who would I like to see at the club?
A European/Brazilian keeper.
I’ve lost a lot of faith at refereeing decisions for foreigners, so much that I think you can’t bring foreigners over for certain roles. A position where I think the referee will be taken out of the equation a little is keeper.
This is in addition to the fact that you could get an Eastern European keeper who would be the best in J2 (possibly the whole league pyramid) with only moderate investment.
The big downside would be communication with the defence, but I don’t see much of that at the moment anyway.
We have an Eastern Europen manager, I think we should be making a lot better use of the contacts he must have in that area of the world.
I have heard that Brazilian goalkeepers are the next big thing, but have little evidence or faith in this.
This player would need to be a clear first choice player and should only be brought in if Kamiyama leaves.
A good University keeper.
I have no idea on University teams, but keeper is a position where notoriously you might have to wait until you are 27 to get your first games. If we offer a spot on the bench, or at least competition for the bench to a bright University prospect then the money we could offer from Shimizu’s contract for their second year deal could make Avispa an attractive proposition for someone who wants to get games.
William Popp / Niall Killoran
A bit of a stab in the dark, and an unknown quantity, but more of an example of the sort of player we should be looking at. Both currently at Tokyo Verdy, a club with good young players, but in a bigger mess than us both financially and on the pitch and who we can probably offer a better deal in terms of basic wage and opportunities on the pitch..
These players have the advantage of a more Western physique (both around 1m90), but can both communicate with players and staff in Japanese (and possibly to the manager in English).
They are both likely to get better with age, and with Popp currently attached to the U-20 team and Killoran a 3rd year pro should have a decent base to work with if they are needed to be called upon quickly.
Avispa can offer them a manager who has shown he is willing to give young players a chance, and Killoran (or possibly just his brother) has already lived in Fukuoka having gone on loan successfully to Kitakyushu 2 years ago in a spell which helped Colin’s career with games.