Goal Drought Must End As Squirrels Stagger Over J1 Finish Line
Omiya Ardija travel to FC Tokyo tomorrow for their last J1 fixture for more than two months, as the top division takes a break for the World Cup – and many Squirrels fans will be thinking that the pause in the schedule cannot come soon enough for their under fire team. A season that began with high hopes and a four-goal beating of JEF United has descended into high farce, with coach Toshiya Miura apparently unable to assist his much-heralded new signings to gel with the existing squad.
Most embarrassing of all has been the recent departure of theoretical star man Saul Martinez, shepherded out of the back door after only two months of confused incompatibility. The likes of Naoya Saeki and most especially Kota Yoshihara must be wondering what they have done, moving to a club in such apparent disarray and scarcely able to get a sniff of first team action despite presumably thinking that they would be shoe-ins. Clearly Daigo Kobayashi is the exception and one can only shudder at the thought of what position the Squirrels would be in now, if it wasn’t for the contribution of the talismanic former Verdy man – surely a Japanese international of the future.
And the performance in midweek against Sanfrecce Hiroshima merely underlined quite how far away Miura is from establishing a successful attacking tactical approach. His charges worked undeniably hard, but huffed and puffed at the massed ranks of the visiting defence and, with Daigo having something of an off-day – a single, blistering early run aside – they never demonstrated the wit, invention or vision to cut open the Hiroshima back line and create anything more than goalmouth scrambles for Gral, Hiroshi Morita and Naoto Sakurai to get their teeth into. Poor pickings indeed for an expensively-assembled team, slipping down the division.
Opponents FC Tokyo, meanwhile, have had something of an inconsistent campaign themselves but nevertheless go into the game against Ardija on the back of two consecutive wins against Nagoya and Kofu – not to mention worrying signs that striker Lucas is hitting a vein of form, having netted four goals in the last five games. Toshiya Miura commented in advance of the kick-off, “My impression is that FC Tokyo haven’t changed that much since last year, but they do seem to be moving to become more of a Brazilian-style side. Also, Lucas is very sharp at present and we’ll need to be on our guard against him.”
Chikara Fujimoto commented, “To be honest I don’t want to talk about the Hiroshima game, but looking back to Urawa we did okay - and that gives grounds for optimism. I think this is the point where we see the team’s true colours; everyone’s getting a little bit jittery and so we as players need to keep our nerve and remain patient. Now we’re in the middle of this busy period of matches, it’s important that we use training of course to get better as players - but also to develop our mental strength. The team needs to improve by communicating amongst ourselves more effectively, involving more players in our attacking moves – especially the wingbacks.
"Looking at FC Tokyo, Lucas is obviously their man in form, but I do see opportunities for us in the game – I think we can get behind their wide defenders and cause problems for them. But we also need to make sure that the supply lines to Lucas are cut off, which means restricting their attacks down the flanks. Every game is important, obviously, but there’s a feeling that really this is more important than most, as it’s the last J1 match before the break and we want to finish on a high note.” With Bare waiting in the wings to spoil the beginning of what remains of the club’s participation in the Nabisco Cup for this year, Fujimoto’s wish takes on all the more significance.
I think Steve`s and the Omiya`s fans comments are about the same as I was thinking.I think Miura is in his head and he doesn`t want to make any mistakes for fear of losing his position.I feel because of his height,he is not like your usual Japanese player,espeically at the defensive midfield position.