Archive for December 2014

Tsutsumi and Nakahara   Leave a comment

No big surprise but Tsutsumi and Nakahara have both renewed their contracts for another season.

It suits everyone. Nakahara is a decent youngish midfielder who will continue to get games and get better here. Tsutsumi is an under-achieving central defender who will be given lots of chances to start performing because we don’t have any other options and the fans have seen that he can do it when he is switched on.

Shunsuke Tsutsumi Has all the physical and technical ability to be the best defender in the division, but is unfortunately not very well equipped mentally.
It seems to be an issue of application rather than intelligence, but any time that the club look to him to take the step up for the team he goes missing. In times when we are up against it (like after a red card, or up against a top team) he is able to raise his game and take control, but in other times, when we still need him to perform and improve the performance of those around him then he doesn’t seem able to motivate himself or stay concentrated.
I really hope that he takes this season to become the player he could be, but he will need to have someone playing alongside him in a set defensive pair (or 3) and build communication and resolve.

Shuto Nakahara A bit of a paradox in that he was one of our better players last season, but plays in a position where we really need to get new players.
The problem will then be that I don’t really see where he fits into the team. He isn’t god enough defensively to sit furthest back, he isn’t dynamic enough to go box-to-box, he doesn’t look to pass forward enough to direct the play and his long shooting is appalling.
Of those things I think he could become a much better player if he starts to think that every time he makes a pass he needs to make it forwards. There is no point in him going back to stand next to Tsutsumi to get the ball, just to pass it back to him. It means that he gets good statistics for passing, and pass completion, but it achieves nothing. If he is dropping back to get the ball it needs to be to turn and pass forwards, not simply to hold the ball and pass it again.
He must also work on his shooting. I can’t believe he is actually as bad as he seems in games (genuinely I would do a better job with shots at goal than he does, firing them 25m high and wide) but is probably snatching at shots under pressure and just needs to calm down a bit.

With the players now signed for the season we can start to look at the team a little. I have no idea what formation we are likely to play, but here is how we could look in a fairly straight-forward 433 (I think Ihara will try to stick to what he knows with a flat-back 4, and I don’t believe you can succeed in J2 with 2 in the middle unless you played a very direct game).

………………………xxxxxxxx………………….

Mitsunaga……………………………….Ushinohama

………………………Sakata…………………………..

…………Suzuki……………….Nakahara……………..

Hokuto…….Tsutsumi…..xxxxx……Mishima

……………………Kamiyama…………………………

This team would be ok already in the division, even without the 12 more players who will be announced in the next week.

What it does show is that we really need a high quality central defender and striker.

The formation as I’ve written it places a lot of emphasis on the central striker as all of the attacks will be focused through that 1 player, whether that is crosses from the wings aiming for him or holding the ball up to allow Sakata and the wing players to play off him.
By virtue of that it would need to be someone quite big, and that basically means someone who isn’t Japanese (or Jumbo if we really are obsessed with this route of trying to bring back everyone who has played for the team previously (or Hirayama)).

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Posted December 31, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Uncategorized

Hokuto (Official) and Sakata   Leave a comment

After the disappointment of signing Suzuki Jun earlier there was some good news today as the news which I reported last week became official and Hokuto Nakamura was signed back by the club.

As I said last week I think that this is potentially a really big signing for the club. He will probably become the biggest seller of shirts at the club, and I suspect he might immediately be made Captain too.
This will hopefully have a new leader at the club as the young players don’t just look to follow the failed leadership of Jogo, Koga and Kamiyama who have been the mainstays of a lacklustre period of 3 years when pride in the shirt and professionalism in respect to the manager seemed to slip.
I would hope that if a player comes out and says he should be playing in a different position (like Jogo did after the Oita game), or refuses to acknowledge the manager (like Kanamori did during the Yamaga game), or says that the manager is doing nothing in training (like Suzuki Jun did last time he was here) that someone like Hokuto could tell them to ‘be quiet’ in no uncertain terms.

I would really like him to be able to play in a midfield role, sitting back and protecting the defence. It is an area where he can have a bigger impact on the game, and is the position we have needed someone for 5 years.
We already know that Suzuki Jun cannot play this role, and having Hokuto play here each week would also mean that Suzuki Jun is probably on the bench which is another good thing.

My only concern is his fitness. He has struggled with injuries his whole career, but at 29 will hopefully still have some energy left in his legs and be able to play over 30 games this season.

His comments on signing…
“After 7 seasons I am back to the club.
I had 5 seasons at FC Tokyo, 1 at Omiya, and always wanted to play in my style; looking back my time at Fukuoka was when I could play at my best. Taking advantge of my experience, I can’t escape this word experience, I want to show that playing in a dynamic style is my main skill.

Having been here before there is some pressure to come back and perform, but I want to play well and help pull the team forward.

Thank you for your support.”

In addition to Hokuto coming back there was also the announcement that Sakata has signed for another season.

During his time here Sakata has probably been my favorite player, both with his play and his attitude on and off the pitch, but I hope that he is able to stay fit for another season.

I think that he probably needs to be used more sparingly this season as he was picking up more and more little niggles during games. When he first came to the club he could only last 65 minutes in a game, then under Pusnik his fitness improved a lot and he was running all game, but time may be starting to catch up with him now.
Generally I think he should probably start games, and if the game is won (or lost) then be brought off quickly for Ushinohama to try to look after his legs.

The key point of any player is to make sure their legs go for a different team and manager than yours. If he is looked after then he can be a key player for another season (possibly 2), but it needs to be a balancing act between games and training now to make sure he is fit and fresh come game time.

Other news saw Futoshi ikeda have his contract renewed (I’m glad about this, we needed some link to the past and he is the coach who has been most pro-active) and Ken Ishikawa has also got a new contract (he is the goalkeeping coach. I don’t know what good he has done, but I guess the statistics which falsely show Kamiyama is the best keeper in the division also brushes off on him).

Posted December 30, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Uncategorized

Suzuki Jun back.   Leave a comment

After the rumoros that one old boy might be coming back as Hokuto Nakamura was linked yesterday, there was news of 2 more old boys who might be coming back.

Generally I don’t mind old players coming back, and think players like Yusuke Tanaka and Genki Nagasato could be really good for us, but the names linked last night were very underwhelming.

Firstly there was a link to our former left-back Alex http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Ant%C3%B4nio_de_Melo_Santos who was good for us as a left winger in 2007 (he scored a barely believable 26 goals!), and has since moved back to left-back. He is a player who would have been great for us 2 years ago when he signed for Tokushima and helped them get promotion, but he will be 32 at the start of the season and isn’t really a very forward-thinking transfer.
As with Hokuto it is another player who will walk in and command a certain amount of respect which is clearly something the club are looking for with some of the players we are being linked with.

Then we were linked with former midfield dunce Suzuki Jun, who after ‘helping us’ to an 18th place finish in his last season here then jumped ship to Tokyo Verdy where he went even better and helped them to finish 20th last year.
I thought it was some sort of joke, probably started by his agent, because in addition to being useless on the pitch he is quite widely hated by the fans after celebrating wildly when Tokyo beat us in 2013 having left the club after our worst ever season.

The joke was on me because by lunch-time today the club had announced that it was official that he was coming back.

I have absolutely no idea what they are thinking. The first player to come into the club from outside is awful, and disliked by the fans.
Nothing will surprise me with this club any more, after being optimistic about maybe getting a midfiield for the first time in 5 years we have signed Suzuki Jun.
If he walks back in and gets the #8 shirt and starts being cheered by the ‘Ultras’it’ll be even harder to take than their adulation of ‘King’ Jogo,

Here is what he had to say for himself when he came back…

“To everyone involved with Avispa Fukuoka, this is Suzuki Jun.
It has been 2 years since I transefrred away from Avispa Fukuoka in 2012. During this time the results have not been what I would have liked but I have experienced and learned a lot of things which has made it an important part of my footballing life.

Thinking of all the people who have supported me during my time as a professional I will try to take advantage of this experience and carry the Avispa emblem with joy and start again from zero at the club.
Thank you for your support.”

Posted December 29, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Uncategorized

Hokuto Nakamura?   5 comments

As Avispa still chase their first new player for 2015 another name is being mentioned as Hokuto Nakamura is being linked with a return to the club.

The club are clearly trying to make their first signing to be something which will make an impact with the fans having first been linked with Inamoto, then Pecnik, and now a player who is still a huge favorite with the fans despite having left here over 6 years ago.

He is a combative full-back or wing-back who was very highly rated as a youngster, playing for Japan at representative level, and being highlighted by Ivica Osim as a Japanese youngster who would be able to make it in Europe.
Unfortunately he then had a series of knee injuries which slowed down his progress, but still recovered well enough to get a transfer to FC Tokyo from Avispa and play close to 100 games for them.

He is currently at Omiya Ardija, but it is being rumored that someone at the club wants to try and bring him back.

If he is fit then I think it is a really good signing; really good on a number of different levels.

Obviously the main concern would be on the pitch where he would immediately be our best player, and help with the defensive aspect of our game which needs to have someone who can put a boot in. Personally I’d explore whether he feels he could come here and play in a midfield destroyer role alongside Nakahara.
He has played as a volante early in his career, and as with Takeda last year could be asked to come in and sit in midfield rather than chasing young wingers from J2.

Secondly I think he should immediately be installed as Captain at the club. He is a huge favorite with the fans, will become the biggest seller of shirts, and is a Captain who will try to encourage others rather than sit back silently like Jogo did last year. It also gives Jogo something of a kick up the backside, here is a player who started at a similar time to Jogo, went away and played in J1 and can come back to be a bigger name and better player for the young players around the club to look up to.

I wonder if he could convince his ex-team-mate Hirayama to come with him. That’s the player I really think could score goals in J2 and get us promotion straight up to J1.

Posted December 28, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Uncategorized

First players signed.   2 comments

The lead to Pecnik turned out to be false, or as with Inamoto we may have been gazumped in the deal as JEF United appear to have officially announced that he will be playing for them next season.
I am still quite optimistic that despite missing out on both these players we are at least being linked with midfielders who would probably command ‘Key player’ type wages.

While that deal didn’t come through the first players for next season have been announced:

Ryuichi Kamiyama – It was fairly predictable that he would be staying at the club, he has been ranked as the best goalkeeper in J2 for the last 2 season by J-League Labo so unless he wanted to leave we were always going to offer him a deal, and he has been at the club for longer than anyone else.
I think he is a decent enough J2 keeper, but don’t agree with the hype which seems to suggest he is good. While goal-keeping stats track saves made they don’t tracks blunders, missed crosses or balls parried back into the middle of the box. They don’t track goal-kicks kicked straight into touch. All of these things Kamiyama does at least 2-3 times every game.
I’m clearly not alone in thinking this; in the time I have supported the club he has been dropped for Rokutan (twice), Kawata, Mizutani, and Shimizu. None of those goal-keepers are very good, but at one time or another, by many different managers they have been preferred to Kamiyama.
Personally I hope he is our #2 Goal-keeper this year.

Eita Kasagawa – The only goal-keeper that Kamiyama has never been dropped for is Kasagawa. I think he has little things which make me think he could be ok, but then seems to make even worse mistakes, more often than Kamiyama.
This is his last chance season. If he doesn’t break through this year then he never will.

Taku Ushinohama  – I was a little worried about Ushinohama. With all the hype around Kanamori he turned into a little bit of a forgotten man at times, but never let the team down for heart when he got chances.
It isn’t his fault that he doesn’t have the same impact as Kanamori, but I think he is still a useful player. Seems to have a knack of being in the right place at the right time, and I get the impression he probably does better in a match than he does in training.
Would be good to gain some muscle but after playing a quarter of the games for Pusnik he should now be looking to step up as a regular player from the bench, and play with the energy needed to stay a fan’s favorite when he does get chances.

Yuta Mishima – I’m not really sure what happened to Mishima last season. I was looking to him to step up from his rookie year and become a key player for us, but then he just seemed to stop playing with the same heart.
He isn’t the best player, but he has a good engine and when he is fully committed he can do well at J2 level. If he loses his enthusiasm then he has very little, and his inability to cross is a huge frustration.
I would hope that he has spent every day of the off-season training on his own putting crosses into the box, and chugging whole boxes of protein shake to build up some muscle mass. Unfortunately I think he might be another kid who gets to an average J2 level and thinks he has achieved all he can or needs to.

Yuya Mitsunaga – Now this is the player I want to see in 2015. People talk about Kanamori, I think Mitsunaga has the potential to be even better.
The way he covers the ground reminds me of Gareth Bale, almost floating across the pitch when he runs, and he has the skill and intelligence which means he is probably already the best crosser of the ball at the club.
I have only seen short cameos by him, and training games, but this kid is the one to watch in my opinion.
Unfortunately we have just lost our manager who was brave enough to play young players. With Ihara a new manager himself I don’t think he will be brave enough to play younger players, or to drop those with more experience.

Posted December 27, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Uncategorized

Shirt front sponsor.   1 comment

Things seem to be happening at Avispa after our new shareholders have arrived.

It looks like some of the office staff at the club have finally been able to sell the idea of the club to some local businesses, and managed to get a shirt front sponsor from “Fukuoka Jisho Ltd”.

This name won’t mean anything to anyone who lives outside of Fukuoka, and on it’s own probably doesn’t mean very much to most people who do live here, but is actually quite a big player in the commercial real-estate world within Fukuoka City.

Inside Fukuoka City there are a few large shopping complexes and this company owns 2 of the most famous; Canal City (a fairly high-end shopping mall along the river in Tenjin) and Marinoa City (an outlet type shopping mall near the harbour).
It also has interests in Konoha Mall, Riverside in Kitakyushu, and the Grand Hyatt hotel.
All of these are fairly high profile businesses in the city, and I would guess the only way to get this sort of business is to sell a club which will be pushing for promotion to J1 this year, rather than struggling mid-table with a low budget.

The contract with this company is for 3 years, and I would guess that they will expect us to be pushing for the play-offs and promotion in that time.

Posted December 27, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Uncategorized

Kazuki Retires.   Leave a comment

I’m not really sure what is going on at the club at the moment.

Yesterday I was surprised to see that they are being linked with players from Europe before getting any players announced for next season; today I am shocked to see that they are ripping the heart of the club out by releasing the 1 player at the club who ever seems to care about results on the pitch or genuinely have any attachment to the fans and club.

I have quite regularly commented on the technical deficiencies of Kazuki’s game, but he has never let the club down any time he has been asked to play, and only on a couple of occasions has made bad mistakes on the pitch which has cost us games (last season against JEF being the easiest to remember).
In terms of being useful as a player he has certainly been more use than Koga over the last 3 seasons, and in terms of what he does for the club off the pitch he is the best player at the club.

After seeing the local-born coaches leave, and now Kazuki being released it makes me think that maybe they are planning big changes for this season, and might be (hopefully) be thinking that this is also the season to cut ties with Jogo, Koga and Kamiyama and start totally fresh in the changing room with a totally new set of players.
In my opinion that isn’t a bad idea; but if they are letting Kazuki go know and keeping Jogo, Koga and Kamiyama (the players who have been on the pitch for the last 3 seasons when we have stopped playing in September) then I really don’t understand the thinking behind it.

I fully expect Kazuki to be back at the club soon. Probably not as a player (unless we have some huge defensive crisis mid-season), but as someone who works hard and gets along well with people there are few better players I can think of to run one of the younger youth teams. (Edit: I have now found that he is actually staying as a ‘businessman’ at the club).

After being released by the club he has decided to retire aged just 27, and should show to a few people how much being at this club meant to him.

His statement on leaving shows that he really was a club-man (if anyone needed any more convincing after seeing him as the only player walking round the pitch with his Avispa shirt on at the end-of-season game).

“I’ve decided to retire this season. Thank-you for the last 6 years.
Thank-you to everyone, the directors, coaches, supporters, sincerely to the players, and my family and everyone else around me.

It was decided that from next season I will be a non-playing employee of Avispa.
I had an offer to go to another club, but I was born and raised in Fukuoka and want to stay in this city which I love.
I was raised by Avispa, and cheered by the fans, so in spite of my poor ability I always tried to give back. 

Thank-you always, Kazuki Yamaguchi.”

I know this won’t have all been done today, but what a Christmas present for a club-man with a 2 month old baby! At least he still has a job at the club, and I expect it will be in some sort of community/ambassadorial role.

All the best Kazuki, you’ll be remembered a long time by the fans of the club.

Posted December 25, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Uncategorized