Give Us A Home Win, Mr Miura... Please? - Cerezo Preview
Just three days after Omiya Ardija came from behind to claim a tremendous win at the Big Eye against Oita Trinita is the team's final home league match of 2006, when they host Cerezo Osaka at Saitama Stadium. A few short weeks ago, this fixture was potentially a vital one, but the gap between even a Squirrels side in decline and the bottom three has eventually proved too great to make up. From an Orange point of view, therefore, the main significance of the match is to see if Toshiya Miura and his players can deliver to the Omiya faithful what would be a first home win since the end of July.
Cerezo Osaka will nevertheless be looking for the win that will mean that they stay out of the automatic relegation places and are able to participate in a play-off against the third-place side in J2 to confirm their status in the higher division. In seeking to avoid the drop, last year's title challengers are in direct competition with Avispa Fukuoka, a point behind them and away at Nagoya Grampus 8 - but in fact, Cerezo's recent form is respectable enough, with only one defeat at home to Jubilo Iwata in the last eight matches.
That said, the Flaming Pinks do tend to concede more than their fair share of goals, which would suggest that if the Squirrels' stuttering attack is able to make its connections with the creative elements in the midfield, there may be an opportunity for Hiroshi Morita et al to boost the season's meagre Goals For tally. With rumours now beginning to circulate more widely that coach Miura will be on the way out of the Ardija hot seat at the end of the season, as has so often been the case in recent months it is almost the case that Squirrels fans are torn between the straightforward desire to see the team win and play well, while at the same time knowing that a continuation of Miura's tenure as coach is unlikely to bear fruit as far as an overall longer-term improvement in the quality and standing of the team are concerned.