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Gamba News 10/11/19

A disappointing result for Gamba today in J1, going down 2-1 away to Oita Trinita, while they U23 side drew 3-3 at Iwate Grulla Morioka yesterday. Here’s my take on all the latest Gamba news.

# 1 Top half finish still a realistic prospect
I’m sure all Gamba supporters came away from today’s game with a feeling of what might have been, plenty of opportunities were created but only one taken and ultimately any chance to catch up with and pass Oita and Sapporo has now evaporated. That said, due to poor results for other team’s just behind Gamba, they remain in 9th place on a paltry 38 points. After the international break comes a home double header against Vegalta Sendai (11th, behind Gamba on goal difference, but the owners of the worst away record in the division) and Matsumoto Yamaga (17th, 30 points), two definitely winnable games which could see Gamba onto 44 points, a total unlikely to be overhauled by anyone further down the table regardless of the outcome of the Urawa game in the final day. 9th place (following on from 9th in 2018 and 10th in 2017) isn’t something that would have thrilled your average supporter had you asked them at the start of the season, but it looks like it’s going to be as good as it gets in 2019.

# 2 Away form a handbrake on the team’s progress
I felt strangely confident coming into the Oita game. As I wrote in the match preview, Trinita flew threw the first third of the season and have been in cruise control ever since. They are better away than at home and even after today’s win, they only have 5 victories in their last 19 J1 games. That Gamba were unable to come away with even a point is a testament to the fickleness of their road performances this year. After winning their first 2 games against Shimizu and Kawasaki, the only further away successes have been at struggling Matsumoto and Shonan. We haven’t lost at home in J1 for 7 months, but it that time have been well beaten at Cerezo, Tokyo and Yokohama as well as today’s loss….much improvement in mentality and tactical approach needed, I feel.

#3 How to judge this season….thoughts about next year
In 2017 Gamba defeated Cerezo 3-1 at home on 29 July to go third in the table after 19 matches but then conspired to win only one of their remaining fixtures and ended up 10th. The rot continued in the first half of 2018 and they only climbed out of the relegation zone after round 28 which fell in the middle of a 9 game winning run that ultimately saw a 9th place finish. This year started much like last with 7 defeats in the first 11 games which was been followed by personnel and tactical changes and a lot of average performances and may again result in a top half finish. However, the feel good factor that came with the Miyamoto appointment and the 9 game winning streak is not with me this time and I find myself desperately searching for reasons to be positive for 2020.
Here are some of my ideas for a better year;
* Better co-ordination between the front office and the coaching staff – too many players have been signed this year (and before) who the manager clearly didn’t want / need (Daisuke Takagi, Susaeta, Concha)
*Stick to the areas of recruitment we’re good at, namely; direct from the youth system (Gamba Youth have produced more internationals than any other JLeague club), players from high schools outwith Kansai (Keito Nakamura, Fukuda, Takae), players from university (Takao, Goya, Hiroyuki Abe, Fujiharu), ex-players (Ideguchi and Usami), and if we’re going to sign foreigners, maybe stick to South Koreans, we seem to be good at that.
*If we’re going to sign players from other J1 teams whose experience and age means that they’ll expect to play regularly, please consider if a) they play in a position that needs upgrading and b) they are better than players currently contracted to Gamba…I know this sounds obvious, but look at all transfer windows post 2014 for evidence of signings who don’t fit a, b or both.
*No more “Hail Mary” foreign signings – David Concha may or may not be a good player, no Gamba supporters really know, he was brought in after the season started, when we had no other Spanish speakers in the squad (Ademilson may have helped as I believe Spanish and Portuguese are mutually understandable)….he’s a young kid far away from home, at least give him a good chance of succeeding, ditto Susaeta, brought in with 9 matches left after being out of contract in Spain for a good 3 months, what kind of impact did we expect him to have? (this situation is made worse by the fact that neither player plays in a position that needs upgrading, if we’re going to go Spanish, what are Sergio Ramos or Gerard Pique up to?)
*Finally, please don’t sign any players in the same position as Kurata or Onose unless we either sell them or the new player is world class.

#4 2020 signings update
As I reported last week, it was confirmed that U23 assist king Shuhei Kawasaki would be joining the first team in 2020. He’ll be joined by fellow U23 left-winger / second striker (why did we sign Daisuke Takagi again?) Dai Tsukamoto….both players celebrated the news by scoring in Gamba U23’s 3-3 draw at the weekend, Tsukamoto even helped himself to an assist, setting up Kawasaki’s first half strike.

#5 Congratulations and good luck to those selected for international duty this week
Japan U22 vs Colombia….Kosei Tani
Japan vs Venezuela (Kirin Challenge)….Genta Miura and Yosuke Ideguchi
South Korea vs Lebanon and Brazil….Kim Young-gwon

Also….Gamba Youth and U23 forward Shoji Toyama represented Japan U17 in the World Cup, but unfortunately they were defeated 2-0 by Mexico in the last 16.

And finally….Gamba Youth defeated Avispa Fukuoka 3-1 today to reach the final of the Japanese Youth Cup….well done boys.

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