Welcome, we’re finally here, as you may have guessed, I haven’t been playing this save super quickly, and I generally like to be some way into the second season before releasing an update, but we are officially there. So, we’ll hop right in and see how things have been going in Japan.
We covered out Tactic in the last post, explaining what Sushitaka is, and how we will be implementing it through the save, but we’ll take a look here at the players who will be starting the season for us.
As we commence the new season, the team appears to be well-balanced. Our standout players, Ko, Matsuzaki, Taniguchi, and Ito, will play a crucial role in our attacking play. These four positions are integral to the fluidity of our tactic and the opportunities it generates. One of the initial observations that I made about the starting line-up is the age of the players. Thankfully, our key players are in their prime and have several good seasons left in them. However, the rest of the team is relatively older, which is something that will need to be addressed in the future.
Our team is predicted to fiercely contend against relegation this year. As such, the board views the cup competitions as insignificant. Thus, we will first address these competitions, as there isn’t much to be excited about. However, for each tournament, I will provide a brief background, as I am aware that most may not be familiar with them.
First up, the two primary cup competitions we will participate in this season:
The Levain Cup is a 16-team tournament that begins with 4 groups of 4 teams each. Teams play home and away, with the top two teams in each group advancing to a 2-legged knockout stage. This tournament (at least in the game) is considered the secondary cup competition. In real life, the winners may earn a spot in the AFC Champions League, but I am uncertain if that occurs in this mod. Regardless, it will not be of major concern to us this season.
The Emperor’s Cup is a soccer tournament in Japan open to teams from all levels of the Japanese soccer pyramid. It is one of the oldest soccer tournaments in the world, having been first played in 1921. The tournament is held annually, typically starting in late August and concluding in late December. This is an FA Cup-style tournament, featuring knockout football throughout. In real life, the winners gain an AFC Champions League spot, but I am uncertain if this happens in the game. t would be an exciting outcome if it is in the game though.
As expected, nothing to really write home about with these competitions, as our squad grows and the talent improves, we will look to take them more seriously, especially if I find out the winners get the CL spots.
Now, there is also a third cup competitions, which is a little different to the rest, The J-Elite League, this is a cup competition which is geared primarily towards the younger generations, there is a rule that states clubs can only name 10 players over the age of 21 in this tournament. Now throughout the year, and at the club in general, id there is something we miss the most, its young players, so we did see a rotation of second-string players, and first team players play in this tournament, so unsurprisingly we didn’t do too bad in this…
Now we move onto the serious business, life in the J.League, where relegation was expected, but never accepted…
Not bad, not great start to the season, if you’d have told me 11 points form our first couple of months in a season where relegation was our expectation, I would have taken it, keep that form up and we’re likely to stay in the league, frustrating lack of chances created lead to us making a little tweak up from and swapping from the F9 to a CF-S…
With the kind of season, we were predicted, this was a really big month, coming up against some big teams too, we really got ourselves on a role, Ito getting on the scoresheet, and our Portuguese maestro Guedes proving an invaluable sub. Boy did that tactical tweak prove to be a good thing, we’re now looking a bit more lethal on the attack, let the good times roll.
Well, this is absolutely not how this season is meant to be going, the new boys in the division keep pulling off shock result, after shock result, at this point we would have to monumentally fuck things up to get relegated, so we can really just go into the rest of the season to have some fun, and see where this wild ride takes us.
It’s the hope that kills you, our form in the final two months has cost us the title in our first season back in the top league, we go into the final game of the season, two points behind the league leaders, who actually lose their final game, and we can do nothing but draw ours, I don’t think I have ever been as deflated for an end to the year as I was for this one. I am absolutely unsure with this DB is this means we will make the AFC CL for the following August, if we have to play in the playoff, or if we miss out entirely. To top things off, we have a string of Homegrown talent who want to leave the club, next season will very much see a changing of the guard in some regards, we have bolstered the team through the year, and we’ll take a look at the league table and who we brought in next.
Most of these signings are players brought in due to other leaving, or for us to be able to rotate a little better, outside of our front four, our back up options in those key positions were poor. Pedro Ken, and Okubo were brought in towards the beginning of the season to offer competition for places. Towards the end of the year, in August, we have a clear idea at how many players are going to leave the club, so we need back up at left back, seeing Choi Do-Yun and Takuya Ogiwara come in for the new season. Kato, Saito, Kawamoto, and Gabriel are all wingers/Strikers… So, you can imagine I wasn’t best pleased with the backup options, plus we were going to be losing one of our key players. I hope to balance signings a lot better in future years as the squad begins to stabilise.
I need to finish this piece on a positive note, so we’ll talk about one of our aims for the season, which was to play a more possession based style of football, this is one of the things that I think really helped us overperform this season, but still has room for improvement, the tactic, aside one small change, stayed the same, I feel the CF-S offers some of the same qualities at the F9, but also tried to get forward a bit more after helping in the build-up.
Shimada was not one of the people we highlighted at the start of the year as a key player, but my god has this man made me fall in love with him, playing in our DM role, he breaks up oppositions attacks, is always a constant option to recycle possession, and his performances have shown him to be one of the best players, not only at the club, but in the league as a whole, his average rating being higher than any other player in the league
We will be looking at tactical tweaks next season, after reading Cleons brilliant piece on possession football, I’ll be looking to bring some of the into this team next season, and this is the main reason for a slightly rushed update here, I am already part of the was through writing more about our possession revolution and should hope to give you more on this soon.
Thanks for reading