Posts Tagged ‘デイビッド・ベッカム


Pixy’s players in need of a pick-me-up

Keeping rich and successful players motivated is a challenge that many of the best managers in the world have struggled with. Nagoya Grampus’ Dragan Stojkovic  – frequently linked with the Japanese national team job, and even succeeding Arsene Wenger at Arsenal – will need to earn his stripes this season, with several of his players  seemingly living off past glories…

Last week I wrote about the positive improvement in the mental attitude of Atsuto Uchida over the past12 months.

While Ucchi and several of his Samurai Blue teammates continue to grow overseas though there is something of a problem back home in the J.League

After seven rounds of matches (although they do have one game in hand) Nagoya Grampus – such a force last season and champions by a margin of 10 points – sat level with Ventforet Kofu in the league; already themselves 10 points behind the league-leaders Kashiwa Reysol.

Of course, it is still very early in the season and there is plenty of time for them to pick up and for the early pacesetters to fall away.

However, they have three problems which need to be overcome quickly if they are to replicate their fantastic achievement of 2010.

The first of these problems is not mental it is actual; the number of injuries in the squad.

Pixy insists that the team’s training methods have not changed and so there is, in truth, not so much that can be done to remedy the situation except for making sure that players are not rushed back and that when they are all fit the squad is rotated sensibly and everyone is kept as fresh as possible.

In the meantime the coach has to earn his yen by getting the best out of the players at his disposal.

The second issue – and one which seems to have affected Kashima and Cerezo as well, although interestingly not Gamba – is the ACL and ‘tiredness’.

Now, I’m sorry, I know that travelling can have an affect on physical condition but considering the break that the J.League took and the fact that they have rarely had to play two games a week this season I am not buying this excuse.

Instead of being physically drained I would suggest that some, not all, of the players have mentally convinced themselves that they are tired.

Going into a game in Kofu less than four days after playing in UAE, for instance, sounds tough doesn’t it? And, to an extent it is.

If you keep telling yourself it is then you go into the game with a weight on your shoulders, though. If you put such thoughts out of your mind and concentrate on the game at hand it is unlikely you will struggle so much.

Pixy expressed similar concerns over the psychological approach of his players, dismissing the impact of the continental competition on his side’s defeat to Kofu and challenging his players to rise above such excuses.

“I’m sorry, but this is not an excuse. As a professional you need give your best for 90 minutes. Tired or not tired, hot or not hot. You have to prepare yourself; you are a professional, you have to give your best.”

And ‘giving your best’ brings us onto the final, and most worrying, concern.

Grampus’ success last season was built upon a tremendous togetherness and a work-ethic and defiance that drove them on to become champions.

That grit is lacking this season, and Pixy has hinted at fears that some members of the squad are merely coasting.

“My players, they have to forget everything that happened last year if they want to make a good result this year. They have to forget absolutely everything from last year,” he emphasized. “We are champions, but we are champions of 2010, not 2011.”

“This is a completely different story, a completely different championship, so only if we think like that can we can expect a good result. If we, or some of them, are satisfied with the result from last year then it will be very, very hard.”

One of the best in the world at motivating successful players is Sir Alex Ferguson, about whom David Beckham once said the following. 

“The good thing about [Sir Alex is that] he makes you move on. As soon as you have won a medal he does not stop there, he makes you want more.” 

Ensuring such a response is something that the coach must bring about, then, and if Pixy’s players do not have that drive themselves it is something he must instill in them as quickly as possible.


Home from home

At the start of the month I travelled north to Sapporo. It certainly won’t be the last trip I make to the city…

Within a few hours of arriving in Sapporo I was sat in a jazz and blues bar (“Boogie”) discussing Britpop, football, and the marijuana laws in the UK and Japan. Then the owner turned up, put his band’s CD on, sang enthusiastically along and insisted on buying me some beers. As first impressions go it’s fair to say I was rather taken with the city. 

Of course, I wasn’t just there to sample the evening entertainment though, and my initial motivation for travelling north had been to watch a game at Sapporo Dome – scene of that David Beckham penalty in 2002 and the only Japanese World Cup stadium I hadn’t been to.

I had considered cancelling my trip after Consadole’s match with Verdy was called off because of the earthquake, but eventually decided to make the pilgrimage anyway and am delighted I did.

Arriving at the Dome with a slightly groggy head from the night before, it wasn’t quite as I’d imagined though.

Perhaps it was my hangover, but, as I recalled from the pictures in 2002, the stadium resembled a spaceship set in the middle of the countryside all on its own. Instead, it is actually located in a fairly non-descript urban area and struck me more as a huge blob of melted solder than a UFO.

Spaceship or not, it is still a very impressive sight and I was disappointed I would not be able to see a match there this time around. 

Luckily Consadole were in action over the weekend though, and the next day I headed to Miyanosawa for a friendly between the top team and their Under-18’s. 

Set against a mountainous backdrop that was made all the more impressive by the heavy sheets of snow that were falling, Miyanosawa is the exact opposite of Sapporo Dome and is what I would call a proper football ground. It felt like I was at a non-league game back in England – and I mean that as a compliment.

The club shop, situated in one corner of the ground, is without doubt the quaintest I have ever been in, and the oak-effect and dim lighting made me feel as if I was in an English country pub (sadly there was no ale available though). On the second floor was a similarly-themed football museum, and it was really nice to wander round here and get a feel for the, albeit short, history of the club before the game kicked off.

There was a real community feel to the stadium and I sensed a definite closeness between the players and their fans – and not just because the stands are right next to the pitch.

This impression was enhanced by the fact I had come directly from the Japan game in Osaka – where every appearance and wave of a player was greeted the shrieks of hysterical teenage girls. As Maya Yoshida commented after training the day before that match, the atmosphere at Nagai was more like that at a SMAP concert than a football stadium.

In Sapporo things were far more football-like though, and despite the freezing conditions everybody stuck around after the game – which ended 1-1 – for a series of charity events to raise money for the relief efforts in Tohoku.

The youth team’s Takuma Arano patrolled the car park with a megaphone drumming up custom  for Hironobu Haga and some Consadole old boys who were accepting donations, while the rest of the players patiently signed hundreds of autographs and then took part in a charity auction of various football memorabilia. (Gon’s boots sold for ¥50,000, although he was nearly outdone by those of the next-big-thing Hiroyuki Furuta whose went for ¥40,000).

The feel-good spirit at the club put me in a great mood so I thought I’d spend my last night in Sapporo the same way as I’d spent my first. With a plane to catch the next day I decided to steer clear of “Boogie” though, opting instead for a couple of quiet local brews and some jingisukan. Before I knew it, it was 2am and I was still chatting away to the regulars in “Afro”…

Perhaps it’s a good thing that I couldn’t see a game at Sapporo Dome this time; now I have the perfect excuse to go back…

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June 2023