The gap up front in the team line up

Oita fans concerned about the sudden disappearance of their favourite Marinos player.

Oita fans concerned about the sudden disappearance of their favourite Marinos player.

Marquinhos Departure

The sudden departure of Marquinhos at the end of the season is still very much be a mystery. The witty Trinita fans banner, “Eh? Where’s Marqui?” succinctly sums the feeling. Even the players, as noted in Nakamura Shunsuke’s exceptional comments to the press, wants to know, “What the hell happened, such that Marquinhos was allowed to leave before the finalization of Emperors’ Cup?”. Rumours abound that his decision to leave may even have tainted the pre-game preparations for the fateful Niigata match souring the atmosphere in the changing room. In a press story, Bomber reportedly said that Marquinhos had a cold, the reporter speculated whether this cold (kaze) was the ill wind (kaze) that brought Marinos victory run to a sputtering end. Whether the cold was real or imagined is also food for thought.

What’s more interesting is Marquinhos final statement on the club homepage. Saying that he still supports Marinos and asking fans not to boo him when he returns as a member of an opposing team, the statement also gave his exact flight details leading to a posse of loyal Marqui fans to meet him at Narita and say goodbye. His absence at the J-league awards ceremony the day before, where he received a nomination for a place in the best 11 players of the year was also noted and unexplained.

Was it that his recent form, a drought of goals since the summer, lead to his current salary being untenable? Was his agent too clever, or too greedy in getting him a better deal at Kobe leading to an offer he couldn’t refuse? And was his sudden departure no more than the sign of a demoralized player at the end of the season wishing to spend Christmas at home in Brazil with his family?

For such a popular player to go spiralling out of control at the end of the season is a shame and it was visible that at the Oita away game, only one fan could be seen still wearing his shirt. Many fans will be having the dilemma of what shirt to buy next season to replace their Marquinhos shirt but I somehow doubt that they will be picking up shirt for his, as of now, replacement, Fujita.

Fujita

FujitaAt a recent match, I couldn’t ever recall seeing a Fujita shirt until I spotted one at Oita which made me consider what a rare item it is and why.

Fujita seems a likeable chap, with friendly smile. I can imagine him in carpenter’s overalls climbing up the scaffolding on a construction site. A total opposite to the dangerous good looks of Marqui which made him, despite his flaws such a popular character.

So, I was surprised to hear from one fan, “I hate when Fujita comes on, as I know we are going to loose”. Not really Fujita’s fault, but more an indication of the typical strategy, so common in the second half of 2013 that when we were a goal or two down and Marqui had not produced the goods, Fujita was brought on to bolster him at the end of game.

Recently, having only seen Fujita play in these desperate situations, I was surprised when stumbling upon videos of him at JEF where he scored some corking goals. He’s not such a bad player so what has gone wrong for him this season? Part of the blame probably lies in bench fatigue: just not getting enough play time. Also, he may not thrive as a substitute, needing more warm up time on the field to get into his stride. Finally, and more difficult to remedy is that he might not be a good match for Marinos style of chess; retaining possession and slowly pushing the ball up the field.

Watching the YouTube video of all of his goals in 2013 left me with the impression that most of his goals were scored with a parallel run, with the winger passing him a ball in an uncrowded box for him to bang in. He scored some great goals at JEF but it didn’t seem like they were achieved in the context of Marinos-like play.

Out of all the Marinos songs, the one I dislike the most, seems to go:

Fujita if you’re a man, score a goal today.

I wonder if this seems insulting to Japanese ears, but I wouldn’t like it for my song. It sounds more like taunt to me. The Fujita chants were thick and strong at Oita, so the fans at least, given manager Higuchi-San’s penchant for Fujita are willing him on to score and take them to victory in the Emperors cup. It is also noted that he didn’t score at Oita where both goals came in crowded box. In a jostle from a set piece corner and box edge shot through the crowd by Marinos stalwarts Kurihara & Tomizawa – without the assistance of Fujita. Everyone would love to see him thrive, but will he be given a chance?

Hanato

In contrast to Fujita’s, the Hanato chant is a rousing battle song and is a real favorite with fans and you wonder whether this is represents the general preference of the fans for Hanato over Fujita.

Hanoto is not a unknown quantity to Marinos. Having come up through the youth team he should already be well versed in the Marinos way of football and with 39 performances while on loan to Kita-Kyushu has proved himself as a competent player.

Marinos Vs KantogakuinIn the recent practice game with Kantogakuin, he scored a hat-trick after coming on in the second half which didn’t go unnoticed in the press, keen to know who will be the successor to Marquinhos in the upcoming cup and as a permanent replacement next year.

With Shunsuke’s recent comments that Marinos better get a good striker to replace Marquinhos it seems that neither Fujita or Hanato are seen as replacements and that once again big cash will have to be expended to bring someone in. Iwata’s Maeda and Omiya’s Milivoje Novaković have been given formal offers. Time will tell whether the will be seen on the turf at Nissan. Apparently they only needed to chance the date on Maeda’s offer from previous years.

In the final minutes of extra time at Oita, Hanato was brought on and he and Ogura teamed up for some exciting play, hitting the bar in some of the most dangerous play in entire game.

It might be that Marinos are looking for a new more experienced older veteran to join their Ossan Army’s slow advance but the speed of a young player with Hanato Jin’s potential may well be the tonic that Marinos need.

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About stuartcw

Englishman born in Leamington Spa who has lived and worked continuously in Japan since 1988.
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2 Responses to The gap up front in the team line up

  1. Kabigon says:

    A good view on Fujita’s play. Now that Manabu decided to remain in the team, and new FW players, Ito and Yajima, came to the team in addition to Fujita and Hanato, what kind of chemistry of probable players are you positively seeing in the team’s play style whatever it may be?

    • stuartcw says:

      We are all waiting to see what will be the new line up in 2014. My guess is that one of the new players will be up front and Fujita will remain in reserve. There may be a lot of variation in the early part of the season to see how we do.

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