With promotion secured, season two was all about building blocks. The number one priority was survival, but I went into it believing we could aim slightly higher than that. I felt we could keep ourselves out of that particular conversation, and sit comfortably somewhere in the bottom half of the table. To do that, we needed quality reinforcements in a few areas. In the last post we built a shopping list of our preferred targets, so armed with this I went into pre-season looking to strike some deals.


Léo ArturAM LC, 39(7) apps, 17 goals, 13 assists, 7.25 avg rating.

As mentioned in the previous post, Léo Artur was the man I decided was the best use of my final foreign spot, barring any departures. Without a doubt this turned out to be a great decision, as he was undoubtedly our player of the season. Playing either on the left as an Inside Forward, or as a Shadow Striker in the hole, he was our second highest scorer, our second highest assist maker, and had our highest average rating. All hail Léo Artur!

Héctor QuiñónesD/WB L, 32(2) apps, 0 goals, 9 assists, 6.89 avg rating.

Héctor Quiñónes was brought in to bring extra quality at left-back, particularly going forwards. Him coming in as another foreign player meant the end of Stanley Ohawuchi’s Verdy career, although this was sadly curtailed anyway as a long-term injury caused him to retire. It would be harsh to call Héctor a flop, he offered a good balance and had some excellent games. When he was bad though, he was really bad. That inconsistency is a concern going forward, but all in all it was a decent season, especially considering he was a free transfer.

Ten MiyagiAM LC – 34(13) apps, 9 goals, 14 assists, 7.17 avg rating.

The first player secured from the shopping list, Ten Miyagi was the one I wanted the most. I felt he offered a lot of quality and creativity, and £500k was enough to get my man. He dovetailed perfectly with Léo Artur, swapping roles and setting each other up for goals on multiple occasions. The original plan was to play him as a traditional winger on the left and use him as the main creator in the side, but he also offered a potent goal threat and level of versatility that were nice bonuses.

Koki SugimoriAM L, 7(17) apps, 1 goal, 1 assist, 6.75 avg rating.

Oh Koki. Poor, poor Koki. He struggled to make an immediate impact like Léo and Ten, and then had an unfortunate run of niggly injuries that hampered any momentum. There were tiny flashes of quality, but having spent £275k on him he’ll need to improve next season.

Hiroto YamadaST, 21(25) apps, 18 goals, 4 assists, 7.05 avg rating.

Hiroto Yamada really surprised me. I liked the look of his data, hence my interest in signing him, but even at a cost of £400k he was brought in very much to be the backup to Michel Douglas. He made the most of some early opportunities from the bench and showed himself worthy of starting games, and as the season wore on he slowly established himself as our first choice centre-forward. He also offers flexibility in the way he leads the line, as he’s performed well as an Advanced Forward, a Target Forward and a Deep-Lying Forward throughout the year.

Ryosuke KojimaGK, 31 apps, 44 conceded, 9 clean sheets, 6.85 avg rating.

Ryosuke Kojima is the first player I decided to go for to supplement the squad after bringing in the key targets we identified in the last post. I hadn’t been at all convinced by Matheus and he was allowed to leave on a free, and despite original plans to go into the season with Yuya Nagasawa as our first choice, I felt a search for an upgrade may be useful. £240k was spent to bring Kojima in, and despite picking up a 6 week injury in pre-season he settled quickly to offer a solid season between the sticks. He didn’t have the perfect season, he underperformed in terms of Expected Goals Prevented per 90 (-0.22) but also stepped up with some crucial performances in times of really poor form at the club.

Shuto MinamiDM, 10(30) apps, 5 goals, 3 assists, 7.01 avg rating.

Shuto Minami was a pre-contract deal that was agreed well in advance, and he was primarily brought in to offer depth and crucially a club homegrown player. This meant that he essentially had his own seat on the bench, starting games on occasion but in almost every match day squad. Of course, we also needed him to offer something, and he did, showing a useful ability to crash the box and chip in with some crucial goals.

Takayuki MaeD RC, DM, 7(9) apps, 1 goal, 1 assist, 6.84 avg rating.

Takayuki Mae didn’t quite have the same impact that Minami did. As he isn’t a homegrown player for Verdy, he often missed out on match day squads because of the need to include Minami. Probably a poor signing on my part, as this is something I should have foreseen. He didn’t do anything wrong when he did play, but for a man as versatile as he is to not be able to get game time is a shame.

Naoki OtaniD RC, 10(4) apps, 0 goals, 0 assists, 6.65 avg rating.

Naoki Otani is a flop. Plan and simple. This season’s Stanley. Despite being signed for free, he came in with full intention of him being our first choice right-back for the year. However, he never once had a good game, fell out of the team, and only had fleeting opportunities to try and reclaim his place when injuries hit. Having trust in your players to perform is huge, and sadly I have no faith in Naoki.

Ko MatsubaraD/WB L, 19(7) apps, 2 goals, 2 assists, 6.79 avg rating.

Ko Matsubara marks the start of the signings that were possibly less thought through, more reactive signings than proactive. Arhan left on loan leaving us with just Héctor Quiñónes at left-back. Ko was brought in on a free to offer depth, but is also an immediate upgrade on both Kato and Arhan who we had last season. Very much a backup player, but he never let us down.

Masato SasakiGK, 19 apps, 25 conceded, 5 clean sheets, 6.83 avg rating.

At £575k, I definitely overpaid for Masato Sasaki. With Yuya Nagasawa unhappy at no longer being first choice, he took the opportunity to join Cerezo Osaka for a fee reaching £725k. Sasaki came in to fill the role of backup goalkeeper, although at 22 he was also signed for his high potential. I always intended to make him our cup goalkeeper, but due to injuries he actually got a few games in the league and performed to an acceptable level. I think long term he will go down as the perennial number 2 and not fully reach his potential, which is a shame with the money we spent on him. However, as the amount of games he played proves, we couldn’t have done without him.

Felipe MottaCB, 24 apps, 0 goals, 0 assists, 6.78 avg rating.

I don’t know how I feel about Felipe Motta. He was brought in on trial long before I signed him but I decided against the deal at the time, mainly as I felt Renan Fonseca was a better option as a foreign CB in our squad. However, towards the midpoint of the season Renan was starting to struggle, age seemingly catching up with him, and so I went back to Felipe as his replacement on a free. He started off as first choice alongside Hiroto Taniguchi, but wasn’t playing well and eventually lost his place to Kaito Chida. He’s still young at 21 and has plenty of room to grow, but I’ll expect better next season.

Marc KlokDM, 31(3) apps, 4 goals, 1 assist, 7.06 avg rating.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a bigger bargain that wasn’t a free transfer than Marc Klok. I noted in my recruitment post that he had slipped through the cracks, showing in my scouted players screen but hadn’t made my shortlist. What a mistake that was. Brought in for £10k and as he’s Indonesian he doesn’t take up a foreign spot, he fit seamlessly into our midfield as the deepest player in the pivot. He offers great passing range, tenacity in the tackle and even popped up with a couple of crucial goals. One of my signings of the season.

Taichi FukuiDM, 37(3) apps, 11 goals, 8 assists, 7.11 avg rating.

Taichi Fukui was a player I didn’t plan to sign, but I’m so glad I did. It was made clear to me that Ken Krolicki wanted to leave, and a fee of £650k was too good to refuse for a bit part player I’d signed on a free. Fukui was part of the Shimizu S-Pulse side that dominated J2 last season on loan from Bayern II, and as soon as I found he was available and interested in joining on loan I jumped at the chance. Playing in a Segundo Volante role that probably isn’t the best fit for his game, he performed exceptionally and instantly became a key player.

There are a couple of other players that we signed, young prospects who hopefully will make an impact in the future. My favourite is Iván Acosta, a young Argentine signed on a free who I expect to develop quite nicely.

League Performance

Being a newly promoted side with one of the lowest payroll budgets in the league, expectations weren’t high. The board expectation was to finish in the relegation play-offs, and the season preview had us in 18th, exactly where the board expected us to be. As mentioned above, I have higher expectations, and was hopeful we could avoid the relegation battle altogether. Our early season plans were thrown into chaos, as injuries to all three of our senior goalkeepers meant that youth academy graduate Hayato Miyazaki was thrown in at the deep end, and made 2 mistakes that directly led to goals. Can’t really blame the poor lad to be fair. However, remarkably we still came away with the three points in a thrilling 4-3 win. We actually took 7 points from our first 3 games, and I thought we’d stay up at a canter. Reality came back to bite me though, as this was our next run of form.

People may call me crazy, but I’m a believer in the luck modifier. It happens far too often to be coincidence, and I’ll die on that hill! The reason I’ve outed myself with this viewpoint, is because we suddenly hit back, bagging 10 points in the next 5 games including hugely impressive wins over Yokohama F. Marinos and Nagoya Grampus. We were back to relative comfort, surely?

Of course not. 

By the time we lost to Yokohama FC we were 17th, our lowest position of the season. But then, it clicked. Suddenly we were a team that belonged in J1, unbeaten in 10 games and suddenly 10th in the league, a long way from talk of relegation. From there it was fairly smooth sailing, and a comfortable finish was ours.

To put into context the stark turnaround in our season, our record in the first half of the season had us in 17th. In the second half of the season, we were the 4th best team in the division, only three points behind Shimizu S-Pulse and Kashima Antlers. 

A huge shout-out to Shimizu by the way, who not only destroyed everybody on the way to the J2 title, but then followed it up with an immediate J1 triumph!

Cup Performance

By virtue of our place in J1 and a change to the format, we had a new cup competition to tackle this season – the J.League Cup. Previously only the J1 sides and potentially 1 or 2 J2 sides would take part, but from 2024 all J1, J2 and J3 sides compete.

Emperor’s Cup

Not much to shout about in the Emperor’s Cup really. A run of three routine victories over J2 teams set the tone and allowed us to give a few fringe players some game time, but then a disappointing defeat to Nagoya Grampus in a game we had the better of. We took the lead in extra time but a 117th minute equaliser took us to penalties, where unfortunately Shuto Minami missed the crucial kick to send us crashing out.

J.League Cup

The J.League Cup was a different story, as we exceeded all expectations by reaching the final. It was really a tale of two parts, as the first three rounds were routine 2 leg victories over J3 League sides, giving us great opportunities to rotate – particularly in second legs. 

Things ramped up when we reached the Quarters, but we surprisingly dispatched Kawasaki Frontale with ease, before sneaking past Urawa Red Dragons. 

The final saw us come up against Nagoya Grampus once again, the side that had dumped us out of the Emperor’s Cup. For the neutrals, it must go down as one of the greatest cup finals of all time. For us, it was heartbreak.

To go 3-2 up in the 85th minute and lose in normal time is a real blow. To do it by conceding two penalties is catastrophic. Lessons to be learned from this one, but we can be very proud of our run.

Youth Intake

For the second time in two seasons, we’ve had a very promising youth intake. I’ve been less picky this year signing the majority of the candidates, mainly to flesh out the underperforming reserve and U18 sides. We have three stand out prospects, plus two more ‘top talents’ that I’m optimistic could turn into really good players for us one day.

Akinori Shimizu (CF) has been noted as the pick of the bunch. At 16 years old he is already rated at 2* current ability and has bags of potential. The Mercenary personality concerns me slightly, but for now I’ll focus on the positives. I actually believe that Shogo Higaki (GK) is the best prospect from this intake. At 15 he obviously has a long way to go, but he already has some of the biggest sides in Japan sniffing around him, which can only be a marker of his talent. Between Higaki and Miyazaki from last year’s intake, we could be set for goalkeepers for years to come. We also have Yuki Sekine (RB), who at 15 already has some impressive technical ability in the right places, and looks like he could be capable of performing our Inverted Full-Back role in the future. He also offers some versatility, being able to play at CB and DM too. His physicality needs a lot of work, as to be expected at 15, but I believe he could go a long way.

Behind them, I’m excited by Tomohiro Torii (D RL). My hope is that he could be our Denis Irwin, and he already looks quite well rounded, even at 15. The only obvious weakness in an important attribute is his strength, although again this will grow over the years. Finally we have Hiroyki Nakamura (AM C, AM L, ST) who I see growing into a big, bustling Shadow Striker causing havoc from deeper positions. He’s already 6’1” and has a professional personality. He’s aggressive, has good flair and finishing, and is a good team player. There’s a lot to like.

The ‘Danny Birchall’ List

As mentioned in the Season One Summary, The Danny Birchall list is dedicated to one of my favourite ever newgens, who played far and away beyond his capabilities. Each season of this save, I will pick out one or two players and at the end of the save I will go back with a numerical skin and assess how well they performed compared to their attributes, and whether I’d have allowed them to have the same role if I could see exactly how good they were. 

This season, I’m going with my two favourite signings from a very busy transfer window.

Léo ArturAM LC, 39(7) apps, 17 goals, 13 assists, 7.25 avg rating.

Despite not using the data led approach to assess the signing of Léo Artur, there’s no doubt that the scouts did a fantastic job and Léo has been a huge success. I’m intrigued to see whether I’d have still considered him good enough to bring in as a key foreign signing if I could see his attributes in full, or whether I’d have missed out on a star.

Ten MiyagiAM LC – 34(13) apps, 9 goals, 14 assists, 7.17 avg rating.

This one was actually a toss-up, considering his form in the second half of the season Hiroto Yamada could easily have made the list too. I went with Ten though as at times throughout the season he was absolutely unplayable and carried the side. Considering I signed him based on a recruitment process that I’m still new to, I’d like to see whether the data has helped me to unearth a gem, or whether I’d have been keen to pick him up anyway.

All in all, a very successful season, and we’re set up to kick on and try to become a force in this division. The key focus of season three will be training, so expect to see a post on this soon. Until next time…


  • adam_otbfm

    Adam, known in the Football Manager (FM) realm as @adam_otbfm, is a fervent gamer and content creator. With a penchant for football simulations, Adam delves into the intricacies of FM, sharing his findings on his blog "On the Break." His creative ventures include replicating football legends like Kaka in the virtual pitch, showcasing a blend of nostalgia and modern gameplay. Adam's musings extend to social platforms like Twitter, where he actively engages with the FM community, sharing his gaming journey with @SJK_Seinajoki. His insightful content and avid participation enrich the FM community, making him a valued member in this virtual football world.

2 thoughts on “Tokyo Verdy – Season Two Summary

  1. Another fantastic write up my man.

    Mr Miyagi (you missed a joke or two there, for sure) though, what a season he had!

    1. Thanks Chris!

      Haha although I’ve never used it in a post, I do often mutter Mr Miyagi to myself when he’s tearing defences apart!

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