26 March 2007

Mito 1 - 4 Fukuoka

Mito's streak of winless games continues, and unfortunately as now the only division 2 side without a win, the bottom team on the point chart for the season. Of course there are 43 matches left in a 48 match season, but starting out 10 points behind the leading team is very disheartening.

As the last game, Mito played one half very well and one half very poorly. The first half saw Fukuoka go up three points, one of which was from a PK by Fukuoka's striker Alex. Just as with Kusatsu's match, the first point (taken in less than three minutes) disheartened the Mito squad and brought about reckless passing and unneeded aggressiveness which resulted in many penalties. 2007 Japan national under-22 team member Shohei Ogura was sent off after collecting his 2nd yellow card soon into the second half.

But that second half was exciting and showed Mito's promise. Despite being one man short, Mito and Fukuoka played very evenly in the second half, and Mito had a full five chances near the end of the match to take a point but each time the ball sailed just wide or struck the keeper's hand. The growns of excitement mixed with disappointment grew with each incident.

Mito continues its unfortunate run of poor showings in bad weather conditions. The typhoon strength rains not only convinced people to stay home (just a bit over 1,000 attended) but also soured the field conditions. The last match of 2006 (1-5 against Yamagata) and first satellite match of 2007 (1-7 against Yokohama F. Marinos) show, along with yesterday, that Mito MUST work on its play style when on less than a perfect pitch.

8 comments:

Omiya Fan said...

Respect for following quite possibly the smallest professional team in Japan. I can empathise in a way as my team is one of the smallest in J1. Good luck this season, hopefully you won't finish bottom!

Vendo Thefastlane said...

I hope the same for your team, and you remain in J1 in the coming years. It would be great if Mito could play Omiya, since it's REALLY tough hitting away games in Sapporo and Kyushu and I love visiting Saitama city. Saying that, I will still retain that hope for Mito's promotion rather than Omiya's relegation. :)

If nothing else, I take confidence in that Mito usually plays well (both in matches and in the season) in the middle of things. If only the bread of the sandwich wasn't counted, and the amount of meat in the sandwich was more Mega Mac than 80 yen hamburger. :)

Furtho said...

Yep, just echoes of the point made by my good friend Omiya Fan. Very best of luck to you for 2007.

It would be interesting to have some perspective on what you think about the Mito squad this season compared with 2006, and compared with Kusatsu, Tokushima, etc.

Vendo Thefastlane said...

In all honesty I think Mito is still stronger than those teams. I think the ending rank last year is fair representation of this year's quality at the start of the season as well, although I haven't seen enough of Shonan to know if there is improvement there. I was asked on what I thought the end result would be this season and I felt that 8th would be a decent assumption. Building on last year's 10th place finish, the team needs consistency more than more talent, I think. Last year, there were some sizable wins over Sapporo and Verdy, and a tie against Kashiwa. Of course the other teams might have had off days, but those were games where the team played at its best potential. The reason good teams are good is that they can consistently play at their own best... Mito still does not.

It's also why another Anderson-type player wasn't hunted in the off-season and someone like Edhinaldo was brought in. He might not be a striker, but he is a decent utility player in the midfield who also happens to be a decent scorer. If he can find his rhythm, like against Fukuoka in the second half, he can make good things happen. Anderson can turn chances into goals, but if the team isn't making nearly enough chances then it's a pointless effort. The past few games have shown Mito to make unfulfilled chances, which is a big improvement in my book.

Adjusting to this new style, Mito could become a middle-level J2 team by the end of the year, not a power like Verdy, Sapporo, Sendai, or the newly relegated teams, but also not to be considered a pushover by those teams. I see Mito's full potential this year resulting in a season similar to Tosu or Sendai last year, and improving to Yamagata-level stature more permanently. I wouldn't shoot higher than that... If a miracle occurs and Mito enters J1 as it is now, Mito would suffer the worst season in J. League history and immediate relegation would result. A more realistic goal and the result best for the club's future would be 5th or 6th in J2.

The biggest thing holding the team back is money, though. The team is very smart with its resources, and obviously very frugal. Management needs to take some risks and go into a bit of debt to gamble with a few strong prospects. The worst thing that happens is Mito turns into Sapporo a few years back and is in so much debt that NO decent talent can be scouted as losses must be recovered. In the recovery years a lot of embarrassment and last place finishes are certain. Unfortunately that seems possible to happen as soon as this season, anyway. I mean, one of the defense spots is given to someone who could NEVER play a minute on any J. League team, especially Mito which specializes in defensive tactics. He is on the squad because he is bilingual and the team would not have to hire a Portuguese speaking staff member. Mito needs to use more money not only to free up spots but to be able to keep any discovered finds at the end of the season.

Even at 13th place, though, I will keep supporting. I know this city is my home for life and I can support the underdog just as much as a strong team. It'll just make that eventual success taste sweeter. :)

estafadorverdista said...

がんばって水戸ホーリーホックがFC日本東京ヴェルデイ1969は日本のチームですよ。

Regards

Furtho said...

Thanks, Vendo, that's extremely interesting. I shall try to keep a closer eye on Mito during this season. What can you tell us about the Hollyhock fanbase? Obviously the number of supporters is on the small side, but how do the club try to attract new fans? Are the supporters generally young guys, or family groups, or what?

f2ff said...

hi, hope keisuke endo from jef- youth will help mito to build the team strong in the future. thank you for making link to my blog. mito is in long, dark tunnel right now but every efforts people involved make can change the situation i suppose. i didn't have images yokohama FC to get promoted to J1 and maki seiichiro was in pitch of WC germany, but they made those things happen.

Vendo Thefastlane said...

The club typically attracts new fans mostly by offering free admission during games on the GMail model... The base supporters are given thousands of free tickets and hand them out to others, who take some for themselves and then pass out the rest, and so on. These games are sponsored so that the sponsor picks up the cost of each person entering the match. If Mito suddenly has a big jump in attendance, and the opponent has a small fan base or is from a distant location, then it was probably a sponsored match. If the game is exciting and Mito wins, the fan base will usually permanently (yet slightly) increase. Since free seats are sectioned off into an area usually not opened for other matches, there is still incentive to pay for better seats than to watch for free.

The next home game is a free match sponsored by Twin Ring Motegi. Compare that day's attendance with the past two games.

Other than that, volunteers like myself put up posters in supporting shop windows, participate in public service, and hold events to get the word out.

Serious fans tend to be just like the serious fans elsewhere. Casual fans tend to be families and there are a surprising number of elderly fans who hold season tickets and come every game.