Another positive Squirrels article from The Japan Times' Jeremy Walker, this time expressing admiration for coach Toshiya Miura's achievements in guiding the club to safety against the odds in their first J1 season [the piece was written before Wednesday's match against Gamba Osaka]...
"When the J. League awards are handed out next month, it's unlikely Toshiya Miura will figure among them. But the youthful Omiya Ardija manager - 42, going on 30 - deserves special recognition this season for his outstanding work with Saitama prefecture's second club. Promoted from J2 last season, Ardija looked a good bet to go straight back down. A small fan base, in the mighty shadow of Urawa Reds, and with home games played at three different stadiums, the Squirrels have been up against it from the first whistle of the season in March.
"But, with three games to go and 37 points in the bag, they are virtually safe in 14th place. Omiya's 1-0 victory at Kobe on Sunday not only condemned bottom club Vissel to life in J2 next season, it also moved Ardija 11 points clear of 17th-place Tokyo Verdy 1969. This means Miura's men cannot finish in the bottom two and be relegated automatically. Their only danger now is to finish 16th, and face a two-leg playoff against J2's third-place team, but they have a six-point cushion over Kashiwa Reysol with only nine more points available.
"[If] Omiya pull clear of the drop zone this week, it would mark a major achievement for Miura, who could easily be mistaken for a ballboy when he's wearing his tracksuit, or a fresh-faced salaryman straight out of university when he prefers the suit."