So, I’m back form my summer holiday to the news that Gifu sacked Gyotoku after the horrible 4-1 home defeat against Mito Hollyhock last Sunday.
To be honest, it is much needed. Gifu, despite showing sporadic signs of life, are heading towards relegation and to have done nothing would have been a tacit admission that relegation was inevitable. Gyotoku’s insistence of playing with just one up front and packing the midfield is the major reason he has disposed of. It is clear to most people who watch Gifu regularly that the team functions so much better with two up front and it is no co-incidence that Gifu’s best results have come when there have been a pair of forwards on the pitch.
- v Matsumoto Yamaga – Gifu were 1-0 down when Tatsuya Arai came off the bench to partner Higuchi up front. The result? Two late headers that gave Gifu their first win of the season
- v V-Varen Nagasaki – After a rubbish first half, Kazuki Someya & Hirofumi Moriyasu were pushed forward to support Higuchi. It meant more holes at the back, but a greater attacking threat. The result? Someya’s injury time winner gave Gifu a stunning win.
- v Fagiano Okayama – Gifu went with two new signings, Ilijovski & Yuki Nakamura up front. The two combined for the first goal and Nakamura was instrumental in providing the decoy run for Hiroki Higuchi’s winner.
Of course, Gifu have won when playing the nominal one up, but the win against Vissel was incredibly lucky; the win at Gainare was a wild and wacky game while the Giravanz game (which Gifu won 3-1) was a good performance.
Gyotoku leaves Gifu with an overall record of 13 wins, 20 draws & 38 defeats from league action. Even accounting for the difficult financial circumstances that he operated under for much of his tenure it is not a very pretty record.
Kenju Karashima, the current FC Gifu Second head coach takes over from Gyotoku, starting with tonight’s crucial showdown at Honjo Stadium against Giravanz Kitakyushu. If his record with the Seconds is anything to go by, he prefers to play with two up front in a basic 4-4-2 formation. This season the Seconds boast an even record – they have won five and lost five and are in mid table in the Tokai League.
Karashima takes charge just in time for a pivotal spell of games that could well decide Gifu’s immediate future in J2. In the next five games Gifu play three of their relegation rivals: they face Giravanz Kitakyushu tonight, on Sept. 15th they travel to Thespa Kusatsu Gunma and on Sept. 22nd they welcome Gainare Tottori to Ogaki. In between those games are games at JEF United & home to Tokyo Verdy with both of those clubs looking at the play-of places. It is a hugely difficult schedule, but one which Gifu will somehow have to navigate if they hope be in J2 next season.