Monthly Archives: December 2007

2007 in Review – The Highs

“It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid. At Christmas time, we live in light and banish shade,” sang 80s heartthrobs Band-Aid when they heard about The MOIST 2007 Season Review Spectacular. Imagine what they’ll come up with when they hear about the MOIST 2008 Season Preview Cavalcade?
But enough of that nonsense, MOIST, I hear you cry. Onto the good stuff.

So, without further ado, apart from this small bit of ado, I give you, in 3 parts for easy reading:

The MOIST 2007 Season Review Spectacular

Yes, despite the overall feeling that lingers with regards to 2007 there were a number of high points. 2007 produced some quality both in terms of players and performances which made the season not a total loss and the bodes well for the future of the club (finger crossed and all that). In no particular order:

8/11, 8-1
Sure, I said they they wouldn’t be in any particular order but was it ever really possible that the highs of 2007 wouldn’t kick-off here? Only the FC strikers were more likely to be asked to kick-off anything 2007 related what with all the practice they had.
After the disappointment/debacle/robbery of the March game the two sides had gone in wildly different directions. That said, just winning a game was to go in a wildly different to direction to FC.
50,000 members of the Seagull Nation packed the Nissan to watch the phoenix well and truly crash back into the flames it had only risen from 6 months earlier.
9 goals and 90 minutes later, Oshima had over a quarter of his tally for the season, the FC fans had been told in no uncertain terms which hole they could shove King Kazu in and the natural order of things had been restored. One in the eye for the FC loving Mayor of Yokohama.

5-0, 6-0, 7-0, 8-0…
It wasn’t just FC that felt the wrath of the Scramble Attack as, in late May, the Marinos had briefly threatened to be good enough to challenger for the title. Over the course of two back-to-back games the players combined to produce more goals than FC scored away all season.
And it wasn’t as if the two games were against bog standard relegation fodder. Ok, so one was. An easy 5-0 home victory against a poor quality Oita side was followed up by a tough away trip to Niigata to face an Albirex side who finished the season in 6th place and had won the two previous seasons meetings at Big Swan 1-0.
Nothing, including most of the first half, suggested a 6 goal demolition but after a couple of poor performances one thumping performance had followed another and hope flourished amongst the Sailor Nation.
Ah, well, better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all.

Brothers in Arms
MOIST have always been one step ahead of the game but the emergence of a certain Mr Yamase as a class act left us ruing our decision to waste the inspired ‘Super – insert family name here – Brothers’ tee on Tetsuya and his clown handed faux brother Tatsuya back in 2006.
But MOIST, you cry, it was obvious Koji was something special when he was at the Reds. Why are you so surprised he came good in his first injury free year since dinosaurs ruled the lands?
Oh, you voices in my head, I’m not, so enough of your lip.
As you probably guessed about half an hour ago I’m talking about the man known around these parts as Mini Me, Yukihiro Yamase.
So, he’s no Koji, yet, but in this his first full season he weighed in with 4 goals and 3 assists in his 23 starts. It is true that over the course of the season he drifted in and out of games and had his fair share of tired performances but should we expect anything else from an overworked novice? He is clearly one for the future and if, in his second season, he is rotated better then he should make improvements and be worth watching.
His big brother has a tough season to follow. His 11 goals made him the top scoring midfielder in Japan and his 2 assists, although I doubt that stat is true, will, hopefully, make him work on his corner technique.
As mentioned earlier, 2007 was his first injury free year since joining the Marinos and his goalscoring exploits and spark in midfield led to a call-up to the national side. A call-up he capped in style with a 25 yard strike against Cameroon.
Time and again he showed exactly what he was capable of but it wasn’t all sweetness and light. The burden in him being the main, and often sole, creative outlet led to him being swarmed with defenders and, as a consequence, the Marinos attack had no bite. Hopefully the addition of another midfielder of Koji’s creative quality will allow the weight to be lifted from his shoulders and let him showcase his fantastic ability week in week out.

The Youth of Today
If you’re only 17 and you’ve only played 85 minutes of J-League football your inclusion in a list of the highs of the season might say a lot about your club’s performance over the year. It might but in this case it doesn’t. MOIST won’t beat around the bush here, we think Kota Mizunuma looks like the real deal.
Already a highly experienced international midfielder with the U17s, his three outings this season have been infused with pace, skill and passion. Sure, every other youngster is the new Maradona and for every Messi there’s just a mess but MOIST hasn’t liked a kid this much since we saw John Barnes, barely squeezed into his 1980s excuse for shorts, samba his way through Vicarage Road and into the Maracana.

Out of left field
Hayano couldn’t choose between them and nor can MOIST but, unlike Hayano who, in frequent moments of madness, choose neither of them, we know that in our left backs we have two potential internationals. 2007 saw both players play their first proper full seasons in the first team squad and both, Komiyama who got called up to a national team training camp and Yusuke who has represented the Olympic team, have had solid years.
Komiyama is perhaps the best going forward. He has a great ability to overlap, hit the byline and get in a cross. He’s also not scared to take on his man or cut inside and have a shot at goal.
Yusuke is more defensive minded though, perhaps ironically, is the only one of the two to have scored this year. He is solid at the back, except when being played out of position by the boss, but would do well to work on his attacking game where he looks a little slow springing forward.
2008 should see an interesting contest between these two to claim the left back spot.

Double Dragon
“I watched him and thought: no pace, can’t head it, can’t score, they’ll get rid of him at the end of the season,” said Alan Hansen when asked to comment on Ryuji Kawai. Or was it Ian Rush he was asked to comment on? Yeah, I think it was Ian Rush but, the point is, chances are the Reds were thinking something similar 5 years ago when they released the Goal King. (That’s Kawai, not Rush.)
Despite him popping up to head home in the 2004 Suntory Championship he hadn’t done much to prove them wrong in their assessment. Until, perhaps, this year.
Not only did he have a breakout goal scoring season with 3, his passing measurably improved (most of the time) and he was easily the Marinos’ most consistent performer of the season, taking over the mantle from the departed Dutra.
He didn’t do anything flashy, apart from his record 3 goal haul, but then he isn’t meant to. He just sat in front of the back four, protected them and tidied up. Think Roy Keane but nicer. Or Patrick Vieira but shorter. Or Owen Hargreaves but less Welsh. And less Canadian. But probably more English.

Hot Water
For the last couple of seasons, Shimizu has been nothing more that MOIST’s favourite Thai ladyboy, an excuse to roll our eyes whenever his chant was heard and someone to blame for missing when he was thrown on up front and told to dig us out of a hole.
Certainly there was no reason to believe this would change. When the season started with a distinct lack of the Shimizus and Yoshidas of this world, MOIST, we must admit, were relieved.
Somewhere along the way, though, Shimizu started to win the hearts and minds of MOIST. Playing out on the wing and furnishing not finishing the attack he started to become a very real threat.
Although the stats only show 1 goal and 1 assist (which is nonsense as I watched him provide 2 assists in a game against JEF), Shimizu in his 12 appearances, half of which were as a sub, was a constant threat and games against, in particular, JEF, when he was instrumental in the 2 late goals, Sagawa Kyubin in the Emperor’s Cup, when he changed the game at half-time, and Jubilo, when he scored his sole league goal and famously, and hilariously, said after that he was just happy to be playing have certainly altered MOIST’s perception of him.
He will hopefully figure more in the 2008 campaign, after his strong showing in 2007, and will be useful as both a role model to the likes of Mini Me as well as a highly viable alternative.
For the record, he’s still our favourite Thai ladyboy.

Pride of Kanagawa
In footballing terms Kanagawa was a battleground this season with three teams representing everyone’s favourite prefecture just south of Tokyo.
Since being promoted at the end of 2004, Frontale have twice secured league bragging rights to being the Pride of Kanagawa. Even if the suits at the JFA Comedy Club like to remind us of the FC Tokyo – Frontale “Tama Derby,” there’s no doubt that both sets of fans are desperate to get one over on their local rivals.
Kawasaki, like Omiya, have been something of a bogey team to the Marinos. Before this season it was played 8, won 0, drawn 2, lost 6. The less said about Omiya this season the better but, buoyed by those back to back five and six nils and with a drug addled Kawasaki tired from its ACL exploits, the jinx was finally broken as Oshima and Koji both scored in a convincing 2-1 victory at the Nissan.
It was a case of “as you were” for the away game in August. Oshima and Koji again scoring, before a late Kawasaki goal once again played havoc with the nerves. When the long awaited final whistle sounded it confirmed that bragging rights belonged to the Marinos.
Let’s just not mention the Nabisco Cup.

Away Day Blues
“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh, what fun it is to see the Marinos win away.
Indeed, like MOIST, seeing the Marinos pick up points away from home is fun and easy. Out of the 17 away games you would have only failed to see a result in 4: YFC, Reysol, FC Tokyo and Jubilo, all games lost by a single goal.
The other 13 games saw the Marinos pick up 27 out of the 39 points available. In the process they recorded 7 wins and 6 draws, scoring 27 goals, the 6th best in the league, and conceding only 13, the best away defence in Japan.
Some notable results from those 13 games were creditable draws at Urawa, Kashima and Shimizu and impressive victories at Gamba, Niigata and Kawasaki.
If next season’s away form can be built on so as points are not dropped, as they were this season, against the likes of YFC, Kofu and Omiya then the Marinos can easily leapfrog up the table.

The Thin Blue Line
As was mentioned above the Marinos defence was conceded the least goals away from home and this was one of the reasons for an improved league finish over past seasons. At home, the defence was not quite as solid, a point that will be touched on later, slipping to 9th in the standings by conceding 22 goals.
Overall, however, the defence ranked 2nd in the league with only Urawa ahead of them in the stats. With 35 goals conceded the Marinos recorded their best defence record since the won the whole thing in 2004. The previous two seasons had seen us concede 43 and 40 goals, a marked increase from the 30 in 2004 and the 33 in 2003.
The reason for the re-established solidity at the back was a return to form of Yuji, although his form did take a turn for the worst just after the Asian Cup, as well as the improved performances of Kawai, in shielding his back four from danger, and Hayuma, who had a very solid season at right back. The loss of Dutra, to Brazil, and Naoki, to injury, may have been expected to cause problems at the back but the emergence of Yuzo, Komiyama and Yusuke as quality replacements had an impact this season as well as boding well for the future.
And then, of course, there is Nasu. But that’s a whole different topic.

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2007 In Review – The Not So High But Not So Low Either Parts

Do these highs and lows of the season type reports ever have any middle-ground or am I some kind of end of season report revolutionary? Remember, the revolution will not be televised. At least I hope not because I don’t have one at the moment.

Seven Into One Does Go
Joint top Japanese scores in the J-Leagye, top if penalties aren’t counted, yet Oshima doesn’t figure in the highs of the season. Confused? You won’t be. Consider this, if it hadn’t been for a woeful YFC performance that day at the Nissan, Oshi would have just been another Japanese striker in the pack around 10 goals a la J-League Fair Play King Sakata. Now, that isn’t to say that he doesn’t have any skill or potential. His goals against YFC showed his obvious ability with his feet, whilst headers against JEF, Kofu and Kashima, in particular, and a poacher’s goal against Kawasaki showed he has the aerial ability and a striker’s instinct. The problem is simply the consistency, unless Yoshida is on the wing when the problem is generally delivery. Oshima was meant to be the new and improved Kubo; ie a player that didn’t hang around slightly offside and not bother running, a Kubo trademark in 2006. Sadly, though, Oshima has had too many games this season when he hasn’t been able to get into them or make his mark on them and if he is going to lead the line he needs to be able to do that. Of course, it is not all his fault as the midfield has had it’s poor moments and some of the crosses into the box have been, at best, atrocious but what frustrates the most is that Oshima misses far too much and often chances that are far easier compared to some of the goals the has scored. He just doesn’t take enough chances when they come to him and, really, he needs to or we need to find someone else who can.

Iranian Poses Credible Threat
It’s not often George W. Bush gets it right but his assessment of Aria Jasuru Hasegawa was spot on. The tall midfielder only played two games before succumbing to a succession of ankle injuries that kept him out all season and limited his appearances to being a member of Mitsuzawa Embarassed Welcome Committee Inc but, obviously, George had been watching closely. His touch in the build up for Koji’s goal against Kofu on the opening day of the season was masterful considering he was an 18 year old making his first start. His movement and positioning was also of the highest quality and, with a calmer head, he would have had his first goal in his second game, against YFC, and saved us some serious blushes. Sadly, that was the last we got to see of him in action but if, when he returns to full fitness, he can pick up where he left off then he clearly has the potential to make it big.

The Nabisco Cup Runneth Over
One more win and this would have been a high for the season but, unfortunately, a combination of quality opposition (don’t tell them I said that) and par for the course blunders by Hayano meant that a semi-final appearance was as good as it got. Not that it wasn’t a good ride whilst it lasted. Even being thumped 3-0 away at Kashiwa was fun because the results went the right way and we ended up qualifying for the next stage at their expense. Ha! Obviously the highlight of the whole thing was beating FC Tokyo 4-2 away after the had won the first leg 1-0 with a soft, soft goal. Driving rain, Eltinho playing, Marques scoring (the only goal scored by a foreign player all season) and terrific defending all made it a great day out. One better next year, please, boss.

A League of Their Own
7th. Not a great position to finish in but for a period of the season some of us were worried about still being in J1 next season. 2007 was an improvement on 2006 and 2005 both in terms of position and in points gained. The previous two seasons has seen us gain 45 and 41 points, respectively, and finish both campaigns in 9th position. 2007 saw us gain 50 points and finish 7th. An improvement then on the past two seasons and, although we were still 22 points off Kashima, perhaps the club is heading in the right direction. That said, in order to challenge next season we’ll need to win around 7 of the games we lost this season and, though it seems like, and may prove to be, a tall order, there is an obvious place to look to see where this deficiency can be made up.

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2007 In Review – The Lows

Not exactly the bits that made the season fun but, probably, the bits MOIST could write the most about. We do enjoy a good rant and rave (not the type with whistles, white gloves and Dutch Gabba music, you understand) but in the interest of our sanity we’re going to try and keep the sad parts of the season brief. Hey, less cheering from the back, you buggers.

Home Discomforts
Rumour has it that to challenge for the title we need to turn around 7 losses into 7 wins. One very obvious place to start this would be at home. Our home form in 2007 was nothing short of shocking. In 18 home games we only won 7, the same as we won away, drew 2 and, horrifically, lost 8. 8 home losses! That was the joint 13th worst home amount of home losses and gave us the joint 11th worst home form. A selection of the teams we dropped points to is like a who’s who of relegation fodder and mid-table mediocrity: Kobe, Nagoya, FC Tokyo, Omiya, Hiroshima and Reysol. Now, of course, these last 3 seasons we have been nothing more than mid-table mediocrity personified but the point is we have to be able to beat teams like those 6 at home or else we’re never going to get that fourth star. Right there are 16 points we dropped at home. Those 16 points would have seen us finish in 4th, a point off Gamba, and that vital 4th Champions League spot.

The Lost Art of Man Management or How I Choose My Team
Hayano is a strange man and my grinding wheel took one hell of a battering from my large collection of axes this season. So much so that by the end of the season I had almost grown fond of the big buffoon. Almost. If you’ve been keeping track of MOIST for the course of the season you should know all the major problems we had with Mr Relegation, so we won’t dwell on them for too long here. A brief re-cap then, if you will:
Treatment of Mike and substitutions in general: We’d be losing yet he’d still wait until the 87th minute to give Mike a run-out. The poor lad just didn’t get a chance. It was clear, on a number of occassions when he came on, that he had the ability to change the game by worrying the opposition’s defence but usually it was too little too late. Indeed, this seemed to be the problem with his substitution policy full stop. More than once he wouldn’t use his full quota of subs whether we were winning convincingly or losing and needed to change the game. To MOIST that just seemed stupid.
Random team selections: Nabisco Cup semi-final, 1st leg. Biggest game of the season so why not throw on Inui up front for the first time. Wow, surprised that one didn’t work out. Have two solid left backs and Hayuma who is playing well at right back so why not just shove Nasu in anywhere out of position, sit back, cross your fingers and hope for the best. Wow, surprised that one didn’t work out. Sign Marcus and then start the season with some bizarre 4-3-3 formation and plug away at it despite the fact it clearly isn’t working. Wow, surprised that one didn’t work out.
Blame everyone but yourself for losses: It wasn’t like Inui, Nasu et al didn’t try their best after Hayano had hatched his mad plans and thrown them into battle. Well, unless you listened to Hayano give his post match interview it wasn’t. It was never his fault. The players didn’t understand the system, didn’t do his plan, didn’t blah blah blah blah blah.
Congratulate yourself on someone else’s job well done: Of course, when we did score or when we did win it was a managerial masterstoke of proportions you mortals couldn’t understand.

Foreign Devils
Marcus – What a waste of time, money, effort and fabric to make his XXXXXXL shirt. Why, oh, why did we not let Verdy keep him? Nothing more to say about this waste of space, I hope no-one was foolish enough to go out and buy his shirt.
Eltinho – Could be 23, could be 19. Could be a left-back, could be a centre-midfielder, could be a left-wing. Could be the new Dutra, could be the new Marcus. Played for 45 minutes all season and didn’t do so badly. Scored a few goals in the Satellite League, too. Overall, though, a complete waste of a foreign spot.
Marques – The only foreign goalscorer all season with one lone goal in the Nabisco Cup. Apparently ist is the first time a foreign player has not scored in the league for the Marinos. Impressed on occassion but did nothing more than what Shimizu was capable off and was able to finish as badly as Shimizu, too. Overall, would have been fine as a third foreigner but was a waste as our supposedly best one.
We can only hope that the powers that be decide to bring in some worthwhile foreign talent next year.

And that is that. 2007 in a rather large nutshell. MOIST is going on holiday for a week but tune in around the New Year for our take on the coming and goings of the off-season.

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So This is Christmas…

…and what have you done? Another blog over, and a new one just begun.
And so this is MOIST, I hope you have fun. The home and away games, the league and the cup.

Ahem. Thank you, Mr Lennon for those words. Welcome to the new MOIST blog. Nothing much has changed, we’ll still be posting our usual mix of insults, nonsense and low quality humour but now it is much, much easier for you to leave comments insulting us.

MOIST is looking forward to all your comments and, as you can see on your right, we have a wonderful little poll for to vote in. We’ll update it with a new comedy question every week for your voting pleasure.
Have fun and don’t forget to write.
MOIST
P.S. Coming soon – 2007 Season Review. Be prepared, be very prepared.

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