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Friday, 14 August 2009

Pixie Half-term Report: Could do better!

When Dragan 'Pixie' Stojkovic took on the manger's job at Nagoya, he said it would take three years to build a team that could challenge for the title. We are half way there now. How is he and the team doing? Read on for the Grampalogue's view.

Overall, we feel he is doing a good job, but needs to learn from experience. This year has been a more difficult test than his debut season as a manger. Last year, almost everything went smoothly, with the team in with a chance of the title right up until the last game. However, this set unrealistic expectations for his second year. The team wasn't really good enough to finish as high as it did, and over achieved somewhat. This year, a mixture of injuries to a shallow squad, and mistakes by our still relatively inexperienced manager have seen the team falter after a good start to the season. The test over the second half will be how well the manger and the team take these lessons to heart.

Although the manager was positive about the start of the season, despite the lack of depth to the squad, he has moved quickly to correct things once that lack of depth was exposed. Davi and Tanaka were good editions, but we started with three less players than last year. Davi also failed to fit in with the team concept and gradually became a bad influence on the team. His jump to richer hunting grounds was a blessing in disguise. The addition of Igor Burzanovic and Alex Santos gives us much more depth and bite in midfield. It also gives us a lot more flexibility since both can play several positions.

The main criticisms have to be over his team selections and substitutions. Stojkovic has proven reluctant to give some of our promising youngsters a chance, even though the team has drifted out contention for the title. Masaya Sato proved he could adapt when thrown into the staring lineup against Urawa, and probably needs to start rather than coming on as a sub. It is difficult for even experienced defenders to adjust to the pace of a game when coming on towards the end, let alone a raw 19-year old. It would also have been nice to see the likes of Shinta Fukushima, who have shown promise when they were used, given more opportunities. If such players are not given a chance, then we are likely to become too dependent on transferred players whose commitment to the club may be questionable.

As for substitutions, this is proving to be Pixie's biggest weakness. He makes the occasional basic error in this department, Last year saw us lose a game late on when Magnum was substituted when we were defending a corner. You do not make substitutions when you are defending a corner unless a player is dying on his feet. The game against Oita saw a similar collapse as both Tamada and Kennedy were subbed, leaving Trinita free to pour players forward against a toothless opponent. I certainly hope Pixie learns from these mistakes and improves both the timing of substitutions and his choice of who to replace in the future.

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