Archive for January 2015

Kanamori stays and thinking about formations (4231)   2 comments

As I have mentioned earlier, any players still not announced whether they are staying or going, or returning back from their loan are going to be staying at Avispa (or staying at Kobe in the case of Ishizu, I was surprised to see that some people were still wondering if he was coming back to Avispa).

With this is mind Kanamori, Lee Kwang Seon, Park Gun and Takumi Abe all had it confirmed that they would be at Avispa next season.

There is the chance that we might bring in a player more if someone gets close to the end of the off-season with no club, and we still only have 2 foreigners (Seon and Park) so may se a Brazilian turn up, but basically I think that our squad is close to being full.

With that in mind I think we can start to think about what the team will look like on the first game of the season, but before that…

Takashi Kanamori : Owes his career thus far to having a manager in Pusnik who threw him into the team at 18 years old and allowed him to have no fear and just do what came naturally to him. He took that chance with both hands and quickly became a player which the team needed because of his energetic running and ability to make things happen.
Unfortunately last season he slipped a little bit because of an affliction which seems to affect Japanese players a lot, he seemed to believe the hype and the banners calling him ‘Prince’ and stopped doing what had got him there in the first place.
He can still make it, but he needs to realise that the things which make him a good player is the running and energy, and that if he starts to think he is ‘above’ that then he isn’t really much better than half a dozen other young players in J2.
Things won’ always go smoothly for him, inconsistency is a key feature of young players, but the one thing which he can control is always making sure he tries his best and doesn’t stop running.

Park Gun : I think this season could be a tough one for him. Looking at the players recruited so far he is now quite a long way down the pecking order as a centre-back, especially if we play with 4 at the back.
Where he does fit into the squad is that we still don’t have a player who can play as a defensive midfielder and shield the back 4. His best game last season was early on against Kyoto at home when he was played in midfield, and to get games this season I think he needs to look at that as his main position and offer the manager something different to what he already has.
In this position his passing and running with the ball is actually quite good, but he needs to improve his dynamism and make sure he is in the right place at the right time. Watch Nemanja Matic and aim for a heat map which looks the same as his.

Formation choices 4231 narrow

The management team can now start to think about what the team will look like for the first game.
I suspect that we might see a back 4 as this is what Ihara has played in as a defender himself, and towards the end of last season it is what we looked better with . The problem being that there are now several central defenders in the squad who are going to be putting a lot of pressure onto being in the team.
There is also a goal-keeper who is fairly hopeless at crosses and will want to have bodie in the middle to offer him more protection for when he flaps at crosses, or parries shots back onto the penalty spot.

Personally I would insist on a back 4 as the main starting formation and play it narrow with the full-backs being asked to provide width and crosses into the box. We now have a target striker who should be able to hold the ball up, so can benefit from attacking midfielders cutting in and supporting behind him.

It also provides a fairly easy strategy. With so many new players we need to have a strategy which at the start at least is quite easy to work within, even if other teams can see through it fairly easily there needs to be a starting point to try and be difficult to beat and build upon in the first few weeks of the season.




Kamekawa………..Hamada………Kwang Seon……..Hokuto (c)


Subs: Nakamura, Mitsunaga, Tsutsumi, Park, Suzuki, Mishima, Sakai

The obvious decisions would be dropping Tsutsumi to the bench; I think the guy needs a kick up the backside and this might be what he needs. I think Hamada will be one of the better players this season.
Suzuki Jun is on the bench. Nothing he has done in the last 3 seasons suggests he should be in the team ahead of Nakahara (or Park).

Left-back is a problem, as is striker where we still only really have Nakahara. I’d like to see a big 21 year old Brazilian come in (not Ramazzotti).

Nobody (including himself) really knows where Jogo should play, but he has scored goals ghosting in from the right, but doesn’t like it when he is called a right-back. The irony being that he would end up playing in exactly the same position which he did last season (and scored goals from) then complained about, but would be happier because the commentators think that he is in a different position because that’s what it says on the graphic on TV.

There is a very basic tactic with this formation: aim balls at Nakahara’s head.
If this is done from wide positions on the break by either a winger or full-back then fire them fast into the box and hope he can head on target, if this is done when the opposition are sitting back then he should try to sheild the ball or head down for one of the 3 players behind him to run onto and into the box.

If teams sit really deep then Sueyoshi should be trying to get at least 1 shot from range in on goal each game. Suzuki Jun can also do this, but it seems Nakahara can’t.

Posted January 12, 2015 by avispafukuoka in Uncategorized

Takayuki Nakahara arrives.   Leave a comment

Each year Avispa usually get one player who is probably a little higher profile than other new recruits, and a lot of the hopes for the season sit with this player. We’ve seen players like Makoto Tanaka, Sho Naruoka, Daisuke Sakata, Masahiro Koga arrive at the club, and it has been the one transfer which stands out from the others (we haven’had one of these ‘flagship’ signings for the last couple of years due to the club having no money, maybe Kanakubo Jun in 2013 had a little bit more expectation that others).

Of these slightly bigger signings Avispa have mostly failed to sign the right players, and of the list which I wrote only Daisuke Sakata could be really be seen as a successful signing.
This year I thought that Hokuto Nakamura was the obvious ‘big’ signing, but yesterday it was announced we had another as Vegalta Sendai’s long time #9 Takayuki Nakahara has signed at the club.

While he appears to be a bit of a non-scoring #9 he has been playing at a moderately successful club for over 10 years, clocking up 199 league appearances and will probably now be in our top wage-earners along with Jogo, Koga, Hokuto and Hirai.
His goal ratio isn’t the best, but if you look at the times when Sendai have been down in J2 he does manage to score about 1 in 6 at this level (compared to 1 in 10 in J1), but I think he hes been brought in to do a lot more than just score goals.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that what I thought we needed to sign (in addition to a decent centre-back; but I’m optimistic about Mizuki Hamada) was a tall powerful centre-forward who is able to score with his head and hold the ball up for others to run onto. It appears that this is exactly the sort of player that Takayuki Nakahara is at 181cm and physically strong, with a strong shot. Apparently he has been compared (quite bizarrely) to 90s Chilean striker Ivan Zamorano. At 47 years old I’d probably still welcome Zamorano to Avispa, so if he can be anything like that sort of player he could do well.

He has a few of his goals on youtube which show that as well as being tall he is able to jump…

But we will still need someone able to get crosses in to him.

He has strength to hold up the ball, and a powerful shot…

And certainly likes to use his head and is willing to try and score…

As bad as the defending and goal-keeping is here, there is plenty more terrible goal-keeping in J2 which can be exploited if players are willing to shoot.

Posted January 10, 2015 by avispafukuoka in Uncategorized

Squad starts to fill.   1 comment

No new players announced, but several high profile players were announced as being Avispa players for the 2015 season.

I wasn’t happy that Sueyoshi came back yesterday to re-create his ‘special’ midfield partnership with Suzuki Jun from 2012. I am no more optimistic about the season having seen who is still going to be at the club again next year.

The biggest news was announced today that…

Hisashi Jogo : will stay at the club for another season.

I know that as a local boy with family who sit in the stands, and a penchant for scoring amazing goals there will be a lot of happy supporters about this news.
I don’t count myself as one of them. Jogo has undoubted talent, but it is totally unfulfilled talent. Before Pusnik started at the club I wrote a post saying one of his biggest challenges would be to try and solve the Jogo puzzle, and to his credit he really tried to do so. He played him in various positions, discovered that potentially he could actually become very useful in these positions if he was open-minded to a new challenge, but also found out that maybe Jogo is a puzzle which doesn’t want to be solved.
I wish that one day Jogo sits back and realises that he had chances to listen and get better, but at 28 I think he is probably very comfortable with the unwarranted adulation he gets (he touched the ball less than 15 times in the last game of the season but still had his name chanted 7 times), and doesn’t feel the need to listen to anyone else and improve his game in any way.
I’d describe him as a complex, unambitious, maverick player in the mould of someone like Matt Le Tissier, but without the talent. If you take the talent out of Matt Le Tissier you aren’t left with very much unfortunately.

The worst news announced today is…

Masahiro Koga : will stay at the club for another year.
This confirms something I wrote a couple of weeks ago after he didn’t retire on the pitch in the final game of the season that he is staying at the club for another year.
This is total insanity.
I don’t believe that anyone at the club would be stupid enough to give him another contract, he stopped being able to run in 2012 and had what appeared to be a heart attack on the pitch in 2013, but what it does mean is that when he came to the club at the start of 2012 someone at the club gave an unfit 33 year old a 4 year contract (at least, I dread to see if he is here next season!)
This is at a club which during that time have been declared bankrupt twice, and based on what his last wage in J1 was must be earning at least 20,000,000 yen a year.
If he starts a single game this year it means we are in serious trouble. I’d much prefer to play Kazuki (even if he is spending most of his days in an office).

The most underwhelming news is…

Shoki Hirai : will stay for another year.
This also means that he got a 2 year contract last season because he did absolutely nothing last year after arriving at the club with a big name and history of scoring a hattrick in the ACL.
We needed a striker so badly last season, especially from August onwards when Ishizu and Punosevac had left, Sakata was injured, and Kanamori was away on international duty. The stage was set for Hirai to fill: he did absolutely nothing. I think he scored 1 goal (the 4th in a 4:2 win) despite playing in every game.
I’m sure he thinks a lot of himself because he once played with Yasuhito Endo, and his old team-mates just won J1. He would be better watching tapes from last season and seeing that he still has a lot of work to do.
Similar to Sakai I can’t really see what his skill is. He looks from old clips to be direct and dribble into the box. I didn’t see much of that last season, and he certainly doesn’t have the pace, height or strength to do much other than be a fox-in-the-box.

The most forgettable news is…

Kota Morimura : will stay for another year.
This also means that he got a 2 year contract because he was close to useless last year too.
He always looks like he might have a player inside him trying to get out, but I’m not sure who that player is.
Did OK at Kitakyushu where they play a direct game with the midfielders having little responsibility other than running towards the box and shooting as much as they can. Maybe this is the only way he can play, as soon as you rely on him, or give him an actual job to do he will let you down.
The first thing he should do is leave the chewing gum on the bench when he goes out to play.

Posted January 8, 2015 by avispafukuoka in Uncategorized

Lots of new players (including Sueyoshi back)   3 comments

I got 2 things right in the last week. Firstly that Noriyoshi Sakai would be staying for another year on loan (confirmed yesterday), and secondly that we haven’t seen the last old player return to the club as it was announced that Tetsuya Sueyoshi was coming back to the club after 2 years away with Sagan Tosu.

I was really disappointed that they had brought Suzuki Jun back; I have lost almost all hope for the season with news that Sueyoshi is also going to come back.
We haven’t had a midfield for 5 years, and while Sueyoshi is better than Suzuki Jun, we have now made exactly the same awful midfield which meant we finished 18th in 2012. The biggest problem during 2012 was that Sueyoshi and Suzuki in midfield were the worst midfield in the division, offering absolutely no protection for the defence.
They then left the club, became very unpopular with the supporters, and have now come back. I really don’t understand the thinking behind what has happened at the club in the last 3 months.

Since October we have lost a manager who was very popular with the supporters and brought back 2 players who had previously failed at the club and are very unpopular with the supporters. The scariest part being that maybe the management now think that we are ok for midfield when anyone who has seen Suzuki and Sueyoshi before know that we still have no-one to play in midfield, and now have players the supporters should give no time to.

In addition to Sueyoshi coming back lots of other new players have arrived today.

Tetsuya Sueyoshi : Won Rookie of the Year in his first season at the club and looked like he could become a useful player if he kept working hard.
Unfortunately we only really found out how good Nakamachi was after he left and Sueyoshi was exposed as someone who wasn’t really dynamic enough to cope as part of a midfield 2 (or 2.5).
He left the club to go to Sagan Tosu, something which really should be seen as unforgivable, and then after not even making onto their bench he has come back to Avispa asking for his old job back.
It doesn’t mean he can’t do well. He has excellent technique at times, and has more success with long shots and set pieces than anyone else at the club now Takeda has left. What it does mean is that we have to play a formation which makes space for his weaknesses (not as part of a midfield 2), and have the correct players playing next to him (not Suzuki Jun).
It also needs him to know that he still isn’t very good. Like many, many players in Japanese football he stopped getting any better as soon as he thought he’d done enough to stay as a pro-footballer. Winning Rookie of the Year was the worst thing for him, and he needs to forget what has happened before and work hard to get better.

“I am going to be playing back at Avispa for the first time in 3 seasons. I was able to experience many things as a footballer in the last 2 years. I will try to do my best to take advantage of this experience and contribute to more victories.
I will try my best to aim for promotion, and thank you for your support.”

Also arriving at the club is 19 year old goal-keeper Kousuke Nakamura:

Kousuke Nakamura : Coming on loan from Kashiwa Reysol this is obviously a player that Ihara knows about having previously worked at that club.
Having said that he is only 19 years old, and while Iker Casillas may have been thrown in goal this is Japan and he isn’t going to start ahead of Kamiyama., especailly at only 184cm.
It isn’t good news for me because Kamiyama needs to have competition, and with just Kasagawa and a 19 year old as his competition we don’t really have many options.

“Nice to meet you, I’m Kousuke Nakamura from Kashiwa Reysol. I’ll try my best to help Avispa Fukuoka become a force to challenge for promotion to J1. Thank you.”

We have also tried to fill up some spaces in defence at both centre-back and full-back…

Mizuki Hamada: Probably the most interesting player coming into the squad this year it looks like Hamada may have come to Avispa to play in the first team.
Arriving from Urawa Reds he is 24 years old, 186cm, and has already played 33 games at J1 level including games at Albirex last year so is presumably well known by our new General Manager.
Not being able to get games in the Urawa defence is no shame (they are one of the richest clubs in the league), and is well-rated by Urawa fans who think he is going to a good job for us in J2.
He actually started his football career in America where he played for their U15 team before being signed by Urawa. This gives me more confidence that this will work out as he has experience of a more direct, aggressive game which I still think is the best philosophy for Avispa to follow.

“Nice to meet you, I’m Mizuki Hamada. I want to make a good first impression on the supporters in helping to contribute towards victories and trying my best from the very first day. Let’s fight together towards promotion to J1. Thanks for your support.”

Masashi Kamekawa : Another defender arriving who looks like he will probably go straight into the team at full-back having played about half the games for Shonan over the last 2 seasons. He is listed as being right-footed, which with the arrival of Hokuto too may spell bad news for Mishima, unless he plays on the left (which apparently he has also done previously.
At 176cm he isn’t the smallest full-back in the world, and will hopefully be able to add a little height at the back post for when Kamiyama fails to come for a cross.
He has trained with the U-22 team in J3, but will hopefully be able to play over 30 games at J2 level which will help his footballing education more than another season of doing that.

“I want to try and help contribute towards Avispa being able to aim for promotion to J1. I also want to develop my skills individually with an aim of going to the Olympics so will work hard every day towards this goal. During my 3 years at Shonan I have developed an aggressive running game and want to show these skills I’ve learned from my previous manager.”

Posted January 7, 2015 by avispafukuoka in Uncategorized

Sakai to stay? (and Seon and Takumi?)   Leave a comment

Newspapers in Niigata are saying that Noriyoshi Sakai is going to stay at Avispa for another year on loan after having what (on paper) looks a very successful year last year in Fukuoka.

It hasn’t been officially announced by the club yet, but is a deal which makes sense for everybody involved.

Sakai isn’t going to get close to starting a game for Albirex Niigata, and even when aiming for the bench he has Masashi Suzuki in his way who is a younger, better version of the position he was playing for AVispa last year.

His position is a key point for Sakai. He is listed on Albirex information as being a midfielder, and I believe a left-sided midfielder, while on wikipedia someone seems to think his preferred position is central midfielder. Nothing I have ever seen suggests to me that he could play either of these positions, and if he stays at the club it will be interesting to see where he would play.
Pusnik played him as a combative striker, with balls aimed up to him to try and hold up or run onto. He did better at this role than I think he was expecting, and ended the season with 7 goals, primarily with his head from set pieces.
I think that time will show him that that season under Pusnik was his best season as a pro, and in a fe years back I predict he will look back and see that he had the opportunity and manager to make him a better player.
Unfortunately I think he will try to go back to playing in a more creative midfield role as a preference, where his terrible first touch and very inconsistent passing means he will never succeed (at J2 level let alone for Albirex in J1).

If the reports are true then I hope he comes into pre-season calling himself a combative striker and works in training on his first touch and holding the ball up to lay off for onrushing midfielders.

Having heard nothing about the loan players still at the club, while some have had their futures announced (Takeda gone to try and sit on the bench at Shonan, Nozaki to try and find a new career) in previous years this has meant that loan players have ended up staying for another season. Sometimes this has been as a continued loan (Daiki, Okada), and sometimes this has been as a transfer (Kohira).
For this reason I think the lack of information so far means that Lee Kwang Seon and Takumi Abe are probably both staying at Avispa.

Neither player is wanted by their parent club, and if Avispa were sending them back then I think it would have been announced already.

Lee Kwang Seon is a very good defender for us, at one point last season he was the leading defender in the division for headed clearances, but needs to play within his limitations.
At least once a game last year he blasted clearances about 30m straight up in the air, and should probably think about making things safe, even if it means sacrificing a bit of distance on his clearance.
He is also not a good player with the ball at his feet. What he can do is pass the ball 10-15m and should be practicing doing this to pick out one of the midfielders ahead of him rather than waiting for them to drop back, exchanging passes and blasting the ball into touch.
If one of the central 2/3 drops back to be standing next to him then they are occupying the same area of the pitch and making things too easy for the opposition. Players like Nakahara and Suzuki Jun need to play 15m higher up the pitch and give Lee Kwang Seon an easy option.
He was best known in the division for picking up the most yellow cards (by quite a long way). He shouldn’t worry about this, it will just take things away from his game, and reflects more on the quality of refereeing in this division, not his general play.

Takumi Abe is a different story. I don’t think he is good enough to get into out team, and doesn’t seem to have the attitude or work ethic to help himself get into the team.
He suffers from the same symptom as many Japanese footballers, as soon as they get a pro-contract they think they are the finished article and stop trying as hard as they should.
Potentially he might now have a Captain in someone like Hokuto who will be able to tell him to sort himself out and start following instructions a little better (or sufer the consequences in the changing room and in training), but I think it is probably a bigger symptom in Japanese football rather than something which can be easily sorted out.
What I’d really like to see is Takumi Abe go to play in England and see how long his attitude towards the team lasts there.

Posted January 3, 2015 by avispafukuoka in Uncategorized

Old boys club.   3 comments

So Avispa have signed 2 players who have previously been at the club, and been linked with another (Alex from Tokushima), who else could we bring back if we are looking at players who have been here before and know the club?

Some of these are now way beyond our reach (Daiki, Nakamachi, Havenaar (although he is now a free agent!), Sakai) so I haven’t listed them even though they would obviously be really good back at the club.
I also haven’t listed players who are so bad that it is obvious we wouldn’t want them back (Miyaji, Yoshihara (went to Germany bizarrely), etc)

Yuji Rokutan
: Has what is presumably a decent life and reasonable wage as a back-up keeper for Yokohama Marinos, but maybe he wants to get out on the pitch again. Still only 27 and at one point was ahead of Kamiyama in the goal-keeping pecking order.
Wouldn’t be the definitive answer at goal-keeper, but would offer another option at J2 level.

Kohei Kawata : Would be a really good deal for us (and probably the player too to get game time) but being 2nd or 3rd choice keeper for Gamba is probably a better deal than coming to play for us again.

Kim Min-Je : 
Has just gone back to Korea, and will play alongside Oh Chan Hyeon for this new team in Seoul.

Tatsunori Yamagata : I always thought we got rid of him too soon, but at 31 he probably is too old to keep running up and down the wing like he used to now. His main skill was always his stamina, so if that is starting to go then he doesn’t offer much else.

Alex : Already linked, but I think it would probably be a player best remembered and not come back now. If he had come back when he went to Tokushima 2 years ago he would have been a great player for us, but now (on what would presumably be a big 3 year contract) I’m not sure if it is a good idea.
Would be coming back as a full-back rather than the winger who scored 26 goals for us last time.
Maybe only worth it if we are thinking to get 2-3 more Brazilians and want to have an experienced guy around the club to mentor them.

I really can’t think of very many, and that probably sums up one of our biggest recent problems.
Mitsuru Chiyotanda : Another player who would have been good if we’d got him instead of Koga 3 years ago, but is probably now the wrong side of 34 and we can’t have 2 of those guys in the same squad (having just Koga is bad enough).

Midfield :
Tetsuya Sueyoshi : If Suzuki Jun had a hard job coming back then Sueyoshi coming back from Sagan Tosu is even harder. He is the one player who would have been really helped by the higher level of fitness and dynamism demnded by Pusnik, but he left too soon and sat on the Sagan bench for a year.
Had his best season when he was a Rookie for us, and with the right person alongside him he could have another good year back where it started.

Ryu Okada : It would be a thanks, but no thanks from me. He tried very hard, and had a few good games for us, but doesn’t really have enough skills beyond working hard to pull us towards the play-offs.

Jun Kanakubo : I would take a risk on him. He has the skills it takes to do well in J2, and from that get the game experience to be a better player, but I’m not sure if he has the appetite for it.
Similar to Tsutsumi he might one day wake up and realise the opportunities and chances he has been given, but unless things have changed then he probably prefers doing his hair in the changing room and pretending that he’s Christiano Ronaldo with Ishizu.

Kentaro Shigematsu : Looked to be headed for stardom when he was with us as a teenager in J1, but then injuries set him back and he has now ended up a free agent after playing for Ehime last year.
I’d take him back immediately as a player who might be able to recapture his previous form in an environment which he knows and did well in before. He may not be able to do it (but would be no worse than some of our options from last year), but if he is able to start playing again (he is still only 23) then he could be a star in J2.

Jumbo Okubo : Not many fans wanted him to leave when he did, and most would welcome him back if he returned.
He is much older now, and wouldn’t be able to start games and win us promotion, but as a change of plan on the bench there aren’t many other 1m90 Japanese players.
Would immediately shake up the dressing room which is what a few of our players need.

Atomu Nabeta : He wasn’t very good for us, and has just been released from Shimizu, but with an entire pre-season and potential to get better after he has scored his first league goal then if he was very cheap I’d take him back even though he wasn’t very good.

Posted January 2, 2015 by avispafukuoka in Uncategorized