Robert Verbeek's Omiya Ardija team slumped to its third successive J1 defeat on Saturday, a respectable first-half display followed by a disastrous second period which saw Oita Trinita race into a three-goal lead, before Kota Yoshihara netted a consolation - the first time in 2007 that the Squirrels have managed to get themselves on the scoresheet. And after 270 minutes of football, it is rapidly becoming obvious why Verbeek's team is going to struggle this season: on the evidence of what has been served up so far, Omiya cannot defend, create or score and as such the club are likely to spend this year in serious trouble.
Surprisingly, coach Verbeek kept the same side that proved so ineffectual against FC Tokyo and even dropped Alison from the bench, preferring instead to offer a substitute's spot to Hiroshi Morita. Ardija were almost a match for the hosts in the first half and Enilton should have scored after being put clean through. He didn't, hitting his shot weakly against the legs of the onrushing Shusaku Nishikawa.
Squirrels Man of the Match Kota Yoshihara
The fish-out-of-water Brazilian was subbed just after the interval and by that time the Squirrels were 1-0 down, after Trinita skipper Takashi Miki rifled in from a corner - a task made all the more straightforward by Ardija's defenders just watching him shoot. But things soon got worse and Oita scored twice more in a five-minute spell midway through the half.
Keeper Hiroki Aratani should have stopped the first, but was beaten at his near post by a Shota Matsuhashi shot that clipped both posts on the way in. Star forward Daiki Takamatsu then completed the rout in the 69th minute, poking home past Aratani after being put through again. In the only good news of the day, Kota Yoshihara grabbed a consolation for Ardija, nodding home a good goal from a left-wing cross in the 76th minute. By then it was much too late, although Chikara Fujimoto had hit the post shortly beforehand - but no-one was on hand to net the rebound.
The bad news, however, was far more plentiful. Central defender Leandro was stretchered off in the first half, having suffered what looked like a serious injury. Elsewhere, the defence was palpably terrible, with Yosuke Kataoka being caught out of position time and time again. The midfield, too, was non-existent - including a Daigo Kobayashi who has been very disappointing so far this season.
But even worse than that is the fact that, up front, Verbeek's class of 2007 makes Toshiya Miura's teams look positively threatening. Speedy Martinez mk 2, aka Enilton, already appears a lost cause - shattered confidence, temperamental and very poor in front of goal. It's looking like a tough year ahead for the beleaguered Squirrels fans.