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Saturday, 21 February 2015

2015 J. League. Meh

Barry BARRY WRITES... 

Evening, football fans! It's been a while. There's not been much doing this closed season, so I've enjoyed a well earned respite from what, over Oenoki's inaugural five months, was honestly a bit of a chore. We were not fun to watch, and while putting up with mediocrity is something all football fans have to live with more often than not, it doesn't mean you have to like it.

Well, the wait is nearly over. All those who rallied round our beleaguered manager at the end of the year, applauded him as he stuttered his way through his end of season speech, watched five months of rubbish but were still more than happy to see his reign extended, well they'll finally get to disprove all my misgivings.

I'll be dining on humble pie as Oenoki's machine, well oiled and honed to perfection over the pre-season Kagoshima camp, roars out of the traps in J1 Part One and casts to the shadows the memory of last year's non-existent defence, unimaginative midfield, and two isolated, frustrated strikers. It'll all come right in the year of the sheep/goat.

Of course, I'm talking bollocks. I see no other outcome of persisting with the youth team coach than another long, hard year of bad football. Praying I'm proved wrong of course, but what cause have I got to believe otherwise? Blind faith is about all there is. Pre-season has been poor, and while we've signed two forwards who should perform decently in J1, last year that wasn't where our biggest failings lay.

Jong-a-Pin is still out, it's been six months now, and there's no word on when he'll be back. We retained Jakovic, but our defence has a long way to go tighten up on 2014. Will it? Again, it all comes down to the boss. We saw 60 goals conceded last term, with only Tokushima letting in more. You can't read too much into friendlies, but in the one game against J1 opposition we conceded five. Wonderful.

So there you go. You can read a more in-depth, analytical and devil's advocate-ish preview on the brilliant Japan Footy. It all kicks off in a fortnight, and am I excited? Not. Even. Slightly. Two stages and an end of season championship play off (entry into which I'm still not clear on the criteria) leave me colder than a polar bear's nutsack.

Leagues are meant to measure performance over a season. Usually teams play each other once home, once away, the best performer finishing top. Simple. It's the fairest method. You can argue no league system is perfect, but there's a reason the home/away format is the world's most common. Sacrifice that fairness to chase ratings with a system almost certain to produce a champion not the year's best performer, and what have you got? Something I can't even begin to get emotionally invested in. There's absolutely no value in it for me.

As a result, other things spring above the stadium in the weekend priority list. So, as is my fate as a football nerd, I'll still follow J. League 2015, but no longer going to many games means match reports on here will cease. Maybe once in a while. Big away day adventures, Oenoki's sacking, that kind of thing. Instead, Twitter will be the place to keep abreast of all my whinging and whining.

So, enjoy the new season! I would say may the best team win, but as that's very unlikely in this snazzy new J. League, I'll just say don't drink too much, be good, and most importantly, why the hell am I posting this at 9:30pm on a Saturday night? #footballnerd Damn. See you later, I'm going out.