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Saturday, 19 June 2010

Wheels Wobbling on Pixy & Bosco Bus?

Three years after taking charge at Nagoya, the Serbian duo's lack of tactical nous and coaching experience is beginning to tell. Manager Stojkovic clearly has been able to inspire the team on occasions, and he is the only manager we have ever had who has been able to come away with points, let alone wins, from Kashima Stadium.

However, the simple tactics are not helping the team improve, and saw them crash out of the Nabisco Cup without a single win to their name. They managed three draws and lost to such powerhouses as Kyoto Sanga and Omiya Ardija. Anything less than a top three finish in the league this season is likely to see the pair depart at the end of their contracts. The club is unlikely to shell out another 100 million yen otherwise, unless it is to entice a successful manager like Arsene Wenger back.

A promising start, in which the team challenged for the top spot over the entire first season, has been followed by increasingly erratic and yet predictable displays. The manager and head coach clearly need a tall centre forward as part of their game plan or are completely lost for ideas. Even with the likes of Mu Kanazaki, Alex Santos and Yoshizumi Ogawa in the team, the Serbian duo are unable to come up with an affective alternative when Josh Kennedy is absent.

The failure to develop the youngsters in the squad, or even see an improvement in some of the other players, such as Shohei Abe and Ogawa, suggest that even their coaching skills are not what they should be. (Both players had already broken into the first team before the new regime took over.) Abe is clearly our best choice for the left wing back position, but despite the simple tactic of sending in crosses aimed at Johnsen or Kennedy, the coaching has failed to see any improvement in the accuracy of crosses coming in from Shohei. This is a shame, since he would otherwise be a national team candidate as his speed and covering at the back are certainly good enough to cope with most offenses. Indeed, the one-track tactics seems to be wasting the talent of Kanazaki, who is far more versatile than being a one-trick pony who can whip in accurate crosses into the centre.

It will certainly be interesting to see how things develop over the second half of the season. Can the manager and head coach come up with some new ideas, or will they rely on the same predictable pattern? The simple approach will certainly see the team finish in the top half of the table, but is likely to prove too easy for the top teams to counter, even though our opponents have long since abandoned their claims to be able to counter the arial power of Kennedy. What might make things more interesting, is to see if Stojkovic can team up with another coach. That might see the team improve and mount a serious challenge for the title, but might also see the pixy dust vanish into the air.

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