Avispa’s squad for 2015 has been announced, with the numbers decided and barring any addition from unattached players is unlikely to change until the summer at the earliest.
It is a squad which looks well-equipped in certain areas, and under-staffed in others.
Looking at squad numbers isn’t the most scientific thing to do, but it’s possible to make a few wide sweeping statements.
#1 : Ryuichi Kamiyama, 30 years old.
#23 : Kosuke Nakamura, 19 years old.
#25 : Eita Kasagawa, 24 years old.
I actually think we have a problem at goal-keeper.
People will point to the stats showing that Kamiyama made the most saves per match in J2 for the last season, but I don’t really trust goal-keeping stats. If a keeper flaps at a cross and then has to make a save and a block from the shot which comes from it then statistically that makes him better than a keeper who just catches the ball in the first place.
I’ve been watching Kami yama for a long time now and while he can make good saves, and has at times won us games single-handedly, he has in my opinion cost us more points than he has won us.
It isn’t a very popular opinion, but after being dropped by Shinoda, Asano, Maeda and Pusnik (for Rokutan, Kawata, Mizutani and Shimizu) at times in the last 5 years maybe it is an opinion shared by his managers.
Behind him the cover is very untested.
#3 Takumi Abe, 23 years old (left-back)
#16 Yuta Mishima, 20 years old (right-back)
#18 Masashi Kamekawa, 21 years old (left-back)
#22 Hokuto Nakamura, 29 years old (right-back)
#24 Yuya Mitsunaga, 19 years old (left-back)
This is an area where things could get a little shaky!
The Squad Numbers tell a lie here. #22 is popular at Fukuoka (for reasons I don’t know) and Hokuto will be first choice at right-back and one of our key players. Kamekawa has looked pretty good from what I have seen so far and will start at left-back.
The issue will come when either player gets injured or suspended, and Kamakawa has already been called away to tour Singapore with the National U-22 team.
Personally I would put Mitsunaga straight into the team as back-up for the left, I don’t really have any faith in Abe’s ability to get any better than what is a fairly poor standard right now, mainly due to a lack of application. He has flashes of the player he could be, but seems to only switch it on when it suits him.
Mishima is our back-up at right-back and he didn’t really make the progress his first season deserved last year. I really hope he has been practicing crossing during the days and hitting the protein shakes and free weights at nights for the duration of December and January.
#2 Mizuki Hamada, 24 years old
#4 Lee Kwang Seon, 25 years old
#5 Masahiro Koga, 36 years old
#13 Park Kun, 24 years old
#19 Shunsuke Tsutsumi, 27 years old
#21 Gao Zhunyi, 19 years old
We’ve done well at centre-back during the off-season to keep Kwang Seon and bring in the impressive looking Hamada.
Koga shouldn’t get a game all season, with my choice for central pairing being Kwang Seon and Hamada. This gives us a tall pairing of players who will be tough to beat for any team.
Unfortunately I think politics will ensure that Tsutsumi plays alongside Hamada, with the Korean players having to take their chances from the bench.
There will certainly be chances for them through injury and suspension, and we do have a set of players now who are able to come in and offer cover for this position.
#8 Shuto Nakahara, 24 years old
#15 Toshiya Sueyoshi, 27 years old
#26 Yu Tamura, 22 years old
#33 Jun Suzuki, 25 years old.
Our biggest problem for the last 5 years has been that we have basically had no-one who can play this position since Nakamachi left the club.
You could look at that list and say that we still don’t, but it is at least better than what has been at the club for the last 2-3 seasons when Nakahara was the only player who would naturally play that role.
It still needs a partnership. Nakahara is able to play the simple ball. Sueyoshi showed he can thrive with the right man next to him. Suzuki Jun has a left foot and little else. Tamura is going to be very raw.
At least 2 of them will need to play in J2, with one or more of the forwards given the job of also dropping back to help. I’d go with Nakahara and Sueyoshi, but with his committed performance and comedy facial hair Suzuki Jun may have persuaded me he is worth a start; to give me a laugh if nothing else.
If 2 are left alone in a 442 we are destined for disaster.
#6 Kota Morimura, 26 years old
#7 Takeshi Kanamori, 20 years old
#10 Hisashi Jogo, 28 years old
#11 Daisuke Sakata, 31 years old
#20 Noriyoshi Sakai, 22 years old
#27 Takahiro Kunimoto, 17 years old
#28 Taku Ushinohama, 22 years old
It seems odd to list this as a position, but we have so many of these players ay Avispa who are basically half-way between being midfielders/wingers and strikers.
It is nice in a way that it can lead itself to fluidity, but also quite annoying that they haven’t been able to establish themselves as masters of one trade. Personally I blame Barcelona, and hope that at the end of the season it will all be a bit clearer about where these players should play.
For what it’s worth I think:
Mormura: Can’t be trusted with any responsibility and has to be allowed to play in the 3 of a 4231 where he can try his runs and shots without really damaging the team through failing to do his job.
Kanamori: Is able to play as the tip of a formation, but also drop to make runs from deeper. His inclusion in this category is meant as a compliment rather than a slight.
Jogo: I still maintain that his runs from deep as a right-back (a la Dani Alves) was his most effective, but he clearly wants to just play his career just drifting around the box attempting bicycle kicks.
Sakata: I’d love him to be playing as striker, but his commitment and general slowing with age means that when he plays dropping back to help in midfield he is our most effective squad option for this role. Personally I’d have him as Captain.
Sakai: Should develop his game as a striker, but the matches in Miyazaki have showed he’d prefer to have a career as a failed attacking midfielder.
Kunimoto: No idea.
Ushinohama: Needs to be ready to come off the bench and be a hard-running weapon against tired defenders. To be fair to him this is what he has done in his career so far.
#9 Takayuki Nakahara, 30 years old.
#14 Shoki Hirai, 27 years old.
It looks like we are very short with strikers, in fact the arrival of Nakahara gives us our first true striker at the club since Jumbo left (We had Ramazzotti and Punosevac, but neither really had enough games to establish themselves in Japan).
He is the key player for our whole season. If he clicks and starts to hold the ball up and score then we have a chance of promotion. If it doesn’t work out then we are left to another season of flattering to deceive and the players giving up in August.
Hirai is only listed as a striker because he doesn’t really seem capable of doing much else. If he scores he is useful, if he doesn’t then he doesn’t help in any way.