Yokohama F. Marinos 3-0 S-Pulse
DF Jong a Pin
MF Kawai (28)
Omae on for Ono (HT)
Takagi on for Ishige (60)
Franca on for Takahara (76)
Only three wins off third! Seriously though, where has it all gone wrong? Since our defeat of Sendai back in May, we've only picked up four points in 9 games and have fallen to 13th.
I'll say from the outset that I wasn't able to watch the game yesterday. I was at hanabi (that's fireworks to you and me) and what happens when you get 100000 people together? No reception on my phone, so no chance of even keeping in touch via Twitter of the goings on in Yokohama.
The word from one Marinos fan was that we were unlucky and they were mediocre. I reserve any comment because I simply can't speculate. What I will say is that in this difficult time we need to stick together, be professional and get through it. We didn't get to 2nd in the table by luck, and while we've faltered, we can turn it around.
If I had to pick out the best performers so far this season I'd list, in no special order, Hayashi, Jong-a-Pin, Kawai, Brosque, Lee, Takagi, Muramatsu. What do most of those have in common? They're Ghotbi's boys. The team is being built, and it takes time. It was never going to be a one year job. OK, so Jymmy isn't really working out, but I can guarantee our manager isn't one to hesitate to fix a mistake.
The legacy of Kenta's team still hangs heavy over the current set up. Let's not get nostalgic - Mr. Nice Guy Hasegawa was granted SIX YEARS and we didn't win anything. We threatened to challenge for the league three times before choking on each occasion, and we blew three finals (and three semi-finals). We displayed no lack of talent, but a consistent lack of ability (discipline? professionalism? focus?) to be anything other than nearly men. The reason Kenta announced his resignation with several months of the 2010 season remaining was down to the growing discontent at the same old story unfolding.
That team had to be rebuilt from the ground up, and that was always going to be painful. The recent loaning of Edamura to see out his contract with Cerezo Osaka is a case in point. The affection I witnessed towards him was unlike anything I'm used to as a fan of English football. It was as if a family member had been sent away. He'd been given plenty of pitch time in 2011, but as far as Ghotbi was concerned it wasn't working out. We have a wealth of young talent in midfield and I'd rather see us focussing our future on those.
That our best, hardest working and most professional players are the recent intake speaks volumes. Ota, who was only ever out for number one, was earning a vastly inflated wage, and took off at the first offer of even more. Is Iwashita even half the player he could be? Lack of focus? Certainly lack of discipline at times, and we all pay the price.
The very fine margin of error in the J. League between championship winning teams and also rans is focus and professionalism. If we have players not 100% professional and focussed on their job - which is being top athletes, and working hard to be the very best footballers they can - then we're never going to win anything. Anything. Just like the previous ten years before Ghotbi's revolution began.
If we need to go through some tough times while we build a team made of those kind of players, then so be it. Three years is the minimum it takes for any manager to create a team of his own. We're only 18 months into Ghotbi's reign, and any rash actions would do more harm than good - by a mile. Unity. While we get things back on track.