So, as you all know, FC Gifu were beaten 6-2 by bottom club Oita Trinita on Wednesday night – a result that has led to a lot of soul searching by supporters and club officials alike.
I’m not going to write a match report, because quite honestly I wouldn’t know whether to laugh or cry whilst doing it. And I already spoke about it on the J-Talk Podcast.
Instead, I’m going to focus on the future and look at some of the issues affecting the club and the club can move forward.
1. The team
One of the main problems that has come up this year has been the marking (or lack of marking) from set pieces. In fact, four of Oita’s goals on Wednesday came from set-pieces. For a defence that contains a lot of experience, that is a situation that can’t continue.
Also, something that has been clear this year is that Gifu are very susceptible to a quick counter attack. Fagiano Okayama, Zweigen Kanazawa & Tokushima Vortis have all done Gifu on the counter attack. Gifu usually play with two holding midfielders, so they should have some kind of protection from the counter – but that hasn’t been happening this year.
2. The management
Ruy Ramos is passionate – of that there is no doubt. He has brought a lot of attention & sponsorship to the club and without this the club might not even be in the J.League now. But he has to look at the tactics that he is employing at the moment because the 4-2-3-1 formation that Gifu have used so far this year isn’t working. Last year it was easy to play two up front because Nazarit and NMB24 were automatic picks.
This year, Ramos is playing with just one striker, and although Namba has scored 3 goals in 5 games, he really needs more support. Keiji Takachi is another who needs more help in the creative role – many Gifu supporters are hoping to see the emergence of new signings Yuto Ono, Ryutaro Karube and the very young Yudai Ogawa to help lift the burden off of Takachi.
3. The supporters
Firstly, there is nothing wrong with the supporters at FC Gifu. They understand that this team is not really destined for J1 anytime soon, they just want a team that they, and by extension the local area, can be proud of. In the last two weeks, the reception that the supporters have given the team at the end of the game has been very sharp. There were unhappy voices after the Zweigen Kanazawa home defeat, and those voices became very loud after the Oita defeat. After the game in Oita, Ramos went over to the supporters to try and persuade them not to boo, not get overly personal with the criticism.
On Thursday, Ramos met the call leader to sit down and discuss the current situation after training. Ramos again detailed why the “feedback” shouldn’t get too personal and insisted that the players are trying. He said that some players couldn’t sleep at night, and that some of them cried. Ramos said that he feels the pressure and that his family doesn’t want to see vitriol aimed at him.
The call leader asked some good questions to Ramos; Are you committed to the club for the next 2 years? Do you have plans to turn this situation around? Do you understand why the supporters were so angry after the last two games? The call leader did a fine job of vocalizing a lot of the concerns that FC Gifu supporters have right now. Again, it isn’t that us supporters have super high expectations, but the way the team has been performing (4 defeats from the first 5 games) leaves us a little pessimistic.
4. In conclusion
To be honest, I’m not expecting a result against Cerezo Osaka this weekend. I’m going more in hope than expectation. The last time a team from Osaka came to Gifu they went 3-0 up after 10 minutes and went on to score eight goals (FC Gifu 2-8 Gamba Osaka, if you were wondering).
What I want to see, and what most supporters want to see, is a team that is hurting and is determined to make up for last Wednesday night in Oita.
To give Ruy Ramos his due, he didn’t shy away on Wednesday night after the game and he was humble enough/concerned enough to meet face to face with supporters. He hasn’t hidden, but now is a huge test of his management style.
Vamos FC Gifu!!