Avispa 0 : 3 Kyoto Sanga
I would have loved to be proven wrong, especially in light of over 13000 fans coming to see the first game of the Ihara regime, but a limp, inadequate performance was actually worse than I was expecting against a decent, but not spectacular Kyoto team.
The line-up had been changed from the FC Tokyo friendly to have a more defensive out-look, but it didn’t improve the fluidity on the pitch.
It looked a better balanced team than the friendly but was still a team in which our midfield 5 included Jogo who was a passenger, Sakai who just can’t play in any midfield role, and Sueyoshi who was worse than I ever remembered him.
Despite having up to 5 in midfield (theoretically) Kyoto were able to find space and switch the play onto the flanks with some ease.
I had mentioned that the game would be decided by our continued lack of midfield, but also by the baffling decision to go back to the zonal marking system for free-kicks and corners which failed so badly 3 years ago.
We should have conceded the first goal of the J2 season after a free-kick from the right was crossed into the box for Oguro to sneak between 2 defenders and head into the far corner, safe in the knowledge that Kamiyama will never come out for a ball. Avispa were saved by the linesman who flagged for off-side, wrongly as the player off-side was Yamaguchi.
The warning wasn’t heeded and just 10 minutes later Sakai gave away another poor foul on the right which was crossed into the box and headed home by Yamaguchi who just timed his run between defenders and could head home thanks to the zonal marking system which after the ball cleared Hamada left space before the next man in the line.
Kyoto were by far the better team, and Avispa made no attacks of note. Sueyoshi was literally walking around for most of the half, and when the ball did get delivered to him he repeatedly fell over looking for fouls which the referee didn’t oblige with.
It wasn’t just his sense of entitlement at not having to run which was appalling, but also his decision making to shoot hopelessly at goal from distance rather than passing to players like Sakata running into space.
When he joined the club he said he knew he would have to start again and prove himself. His performance today did not suggest he is doing that.
Kyoto doubled their lead with an attack down the right which saw a cross come across the box, Kamiyama not make any move to get to it and Sakai get caught on the wrong side of Kyoto’s right-back who was able to meet the ball and shoot back across goal and score inside the far post.
Avispa went to a 343 formation, but didn’t look any better.
Going into the second half Park Gun was sacrificed to bring Ushinohama on. It sayd something about our performance that he was actually our best player today.
No-one can question his heart and attitude, and that was all that today needed; someone who was willing to run and try.
Unfortunately we went 3 behind with a ridiculous goal. Brushing past Ushinohama trying to use his ‘strength’ to brush the left winger off the ball a cross came in with no-one attacking in the box. Again there was no movement from Kamiyama, and inexplicably Sueyoshi headed unchallenged into his own net. I have no idea what he was trying to do, possibly just get his head out of the way, but it summed up his awful performance today.
Kyoto were in total control and should have scored a 4th as a ball was passed around the box until it reached Sasaki who cut inside to take up a central position but then thought about his shot too much and hit the angle of post and bar from the penalty spot.
Ihara threw on Nakahara who I think is our only hope for this season and we finally woke up a bit.
Ushinohama was trying to make things happen down the right and collected a diagonal ball from Sueyoshi (can he do anything else) before cutting inside, and releasing Hirai. Hirai cut the ball back low for Sakata to hit straight at Shimizu in goal (who we hadn’t tested in any way despite having total knowledge of his physical deficiencies). Nakahara got to the ball first to score on debut.
Avispa looked better in the last 10 minutes, but Kyoto had taken their foot off the gas by that point and the game was over.
All this game should have done is make everyone realise that the players have to start taking responsibility for serving up such poor performances.
Jogo, Kamiyama, Sueyoshi, Hirai, Sakai, Tsutsumi; all these players are just not good enough. The fans chant their names as though they are representing the club in any meaningful way, when in fact for the last 4 years they have not been fit to do the job.
The last 2 season in which we were on the edge of the play-offs in August with a group of players worse than what we have now is starting to look like a real achievement by Pusnik, but in each of these seasons the same group of players who have so under-performed today let the club down and are still there now serving up the same rubbish for another season with another new manager.
I wonder what the excuse will be this time?