Posts Tagged ‘ラファエル

12
Oct
11

Omiya, Oh My

Just one home win in the league all season has left Omiya in the relegation scrap as per-usual. Very few of their players have shone this season but the majority of the blame lies with their coach…

Back in February I was asked to provide this magazine with my predictions for the 2011 J.League season. We are not quite at the end of the campaign but I decided to revisit them recently and although some are still possible (Avispa, Ventforet, Montedio to get relegated; Grampus to win the league) others were not so successful.

The most glaring mistake was my tip for top-scorer (Antlers’ Carlao (19 goals) – oops), but I was also misguided in my suggestion that Omiya Ardija would be the dark horse.

In the six seasons since Ardija joined J1 they have always ended up in the bottom half, only once finishing more than six points above the relegation zone.

They looked to have settled last year though, and having kept hold of Rafael and also made some smart signings in Kim Young-gwon, Kota Ueda and Keigo Higashi it seemed as if they were in a position to start pushing on and establishing themselves as a steady top-flight team.

And, in a way, they have.

Their victory over Kashiwa Reysol in Round 27 meant they had the joint second-best away record in the division, taking 22 points from their games on the road and losing just four times.

Things have not gone quite so well at home, however. In fact, they have the worst record of any club in front of their own fans, winning just once at NACK5 in the league all season.

This discrepancy was pointed out to striker Rafael after his brace had secured their latest away victory in Kashiwa, and he was at a loss to account for the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the side.

“It’s difficult to explain,” the Brazilian said. “I think a lot of teams play better away this season. We play to win away and at home but we have been playing badly at home, I don’t know why.”

I have my theory, and it rests with the coach Jun Suzuki.

While not as depressing a tactician as Toshiya Miura, Suzuki is far from ambitious and seemingly sends his team out not with the aim of winning games, but of not losing them.

This is a fairly standard tactic used by many coaches for away games, when the onus is usually on the home side to attack and go for the win. As players grow tired and the pressure mounts there is always the opportunity to capitalise on a mistake or sneak one on the counter-attack – something Omiya have perfected this season.

At home, though, teams usually take control a little more, and are expected to seize the initiative. Unfortunately, instead of trusting in their talented attacking players and throwing a little caution to the wind Omiya adopt the same stance on their own patch as they do on their travels.

Suzuki’s refusal to start Naoki Ishihara sums up this conservative approach, and after Omiya’s maiden home win against Jubilo Iwata he attempted to justify the tactic as follows.

“I want to use him from the start but we have no other supersub. I tried to use [Rodrigo] Pimpao from the second half but he is not that type of player.”

So, essentially, it seems that Ishihara doesn’t start because he’s good, whereas a less adaptable player, Pimpao, gets a starting shirt because he’s a crap sub. Hmmm…

Quite why they can’t all be incorporated into the starting line-up isn’t clear.

Rafael and Ishihara would form a formidable front two, and with Keigo Higashi on the right and one of Pimpao or Lee Chun-soo on the left the side would have more than enough attacking potential to secure the ten or so wins needed to avoid relegation.

As the likes of Reysol, Sanfrecce and Cerezo have demonstrated, such a gung-ho approach does lead to a fair few defeats, but it also enables teams to turn enough draws into victories to keep them well away from the drop-zone.

Indeed, Reysol, who are challenging at the other end of the table, have not drawn at home all season; Omiya have tied seven times.

Something that is always worth bearing in mind is the fact that you get more points by winning one game and losing the next than you do for drawing both.

02
Mar
11

Free Market

More Japanese players are making their way to the European leagues, but their departures often leave their former clubs with a gap in the first team and very little money with which to plug it.

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce said, “I went to the cinema at 4pm to watch ‘The King’s Speech’. When I came out and saw what had happened, I nearly had a stutter too!” AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani, meanwhile, thought it was ‘crazy’, while Arsene Wenger described it as ‘unfair’ (although he tends to think pretty much everything is unfair these days).

Yes, it was of course the ridiculous activity that took place in the final hours of the English January transfer window.

Things had already been progressing in a characteristically brash fashion throughout the month-long window, with Darren Bent moving from Sunderland to Aston Villa for £24 million and Man City exchanging £27 million for Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko. As the clock ticked down these deals began to look fairly modest, though.

First of all, news broke that Chelsea were set to buy Fernando Torres from Liverpool for a staggering £50 million. Before this information could be fully digested it was then announced that Andy Carroll – who had played just 41 Premier League games and scored 11 goals for Newcastle United – would be replacing Torres at Anfield for £35 million.

This made Carroll the eighth most expensive footballer of all time, despite the fact that he has just one full international cap and has only had half a season as a first-team regular in the Premier League.

In total, English clubs spent more between them than the rest of the top European leagues put together (£225 million) – and all this at a time when UEFA is attempting to cut back the gross overspending by European, and in particular English, clubs. Despite their best efforts though, as long as clubs can counter their losses with profits there is no actual limit on how much you are allowed to spend.

With the market not showing any signs of slowing down any time soon then, it would perhaps be wise of the J.League to reconsider the way that it conducts its own transfer activity.

Players here almost always move to a new club without a fee, by virtue of the fact that they are usually only on one-year contracts. This (and the vastly inferior budgets Japanese clubs operate on, of course) does prevent the crazy spending (and levels of debt) that occurs in England, but it also means that clubs very rarely make any kind of profit on players they are producing.

The disparity is most clear when Japanese players transfer from the J.League to a European club and has recently been highlighted by rumours that Manchester United and Atletico Madrid are considering £20 million + offers to sign Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund.

Kagawa moved to the Bundesliga last summer for a nominal fee believed to be about £300,000 – a payment that was seen as a ‘goodwill gesture’ by the German side, with Kagawa having a clause in his Cerezo Osaka contract that stated he could move to Europe for free.

Such exceptions are not uncommon in Japan and while I appreciate the gesture behind them (more Japanese players in Europe equals a stronger Japan national team and greater awareness of the J.League), it is time for a change.

In the past year there has been an explosion in the number of players moving from Japan to Europe, but almost all of the transfers involved no fee. How can J.League clubs continue to develop if no money is coming in to compensate for the departure of their best players? They can carry on nurturing young talent, but if European clubs then pluck them away a year or two down the line as well that is hardly conducive to the long-term growth of the J.League.

FC Tokyo are doing well to hold out for a fee for Yuto Nagatomo, and Omiya Ardija and Gamba Osaka’s shrewdness in tying Rafael and Takashi Usami down to longer-term contracts demonstrates that clubs are aware of the situation. With European sides taking an increased interest in Japan’s talented youngsters though, the practice should become more widespread, and fast.

A good place to start would be in Yokohama, and Marinos could do a lot worse than tie Yuji Ono down to an improved deal as quickly as possible. Seeing an academy graduate progress overseas is undoubtedly fulfilling but, unfortunately, it doesn’t pay too many bills in today’s game.

22
Dec
10

The Back Post – Reds hope to close out blue period

When I first visited Japan, Urawa Red Diamonds were one of the top teams in the J.League. Things haven’t been so smooth over the past few seasons though, and the side has just implemented it’s latest change of manager.

As Volke Finke makes way for former Reds’ player Željko Petrović, I considered the team’s recent plight and whether or not the Montenegrin will be able to return them to the top of the table for my column in the Daily Yomiuri, which you can read here.




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