So, the natural place to start this year’s blog is the news that Rui Ramos, one of the most recognizable faces in Japanese sport, has been appointed manager of FC Gifu.

The 57 year old was previously in charge of the Japanese beach soccer team, having been in charge of Tokyo Verdy before that. Whatever one thinks of his managing credentials, one thing that has become abundantly clear over the last few days & weeks is that the man can attract a crowd. FC Gifu have been constantly in the news this week, with live broadcasts by TV shows of Ramos’ introductory press conference and the club getting publicity it could’ve only dreamed about last year.

Ramos, seemingly supplied with a large amount of cash to build Gifu into a recognizable entity, immediately went out and brought two 2002 world cup members to the club in Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (released by Jubilo Iwata) and Alessandro “Alex” Santos (released by Tochigi SC). These three amigos are now the poster boys for this Gifu side, Kawaguchi has been appointed captain, and as such will be under pressure to bring results soon. It won’t be difficult to improve on last year’s 21st place finish but the board seemingly have their sights set higher. Personally, I’d be happy with anywhere in mid-table and a vaguely entertaining team.