He’s back. And this time, @AgentOrange2009 isn’t enamoured with plans to contract the Japanese top flight and is sticking up for the little kids in the J.League playground. Strap yourself in….


Let me get this straight……Urawa, Gamba, FC Tokyo, and Sanfrecce put up a collective turd in the ACL. Now, some people think that contracting 4 teams from J1 and adding more teams to J3 is going to be the thing that helps solve the perceived competitive level problem that may or may not be occurring in Japan at the moment.

How does that exactly work?

I kind of get the basic premise, cutting the bottom four (or 2 or 8 or whatever the magic made up number is for perfect competitive balance) will create more balanced competition, which means more competitive games more often.

That could work, in the short term. Maybe.

However, I’m not quite clear how cutting 28 to 56 top level slots from the top of the J League pyramid is going to help develop top level talent. My main question is this: How exactly is pushing relegation danger to 9th or 10th place actually going to make teams be “less conservative”? Seriously, in a league where different isn’t really something that is done, I would argue that contraction will actually cause teams to fall back on ideas that are comfortable.

Does anybody really think that FC Tokyo wouldn’t have hired Jofuku if the league had been at 14 teams? Or that FC Tokyo wouldn’t have brought in the same collection of journeymen and over the hill superstars? How exactly is contraction supposed to make FC Tokyo’s front office less stupid? Or Yokohama’s? Or Nagoya’s? Or many of the other teams that don’t address needs and double down on positions that they have in abundance while failing to address glaring needs?

How does that exactly work?

Personally, I’m not crazy about making the top division exclusive to Kanto, Kansai, and car companies. I like regional teams. I like having a division with Albirex and Vegalta and Fukuoka. I don’t want to see the bar raised on them because Urawa can’t figure out how to win when it counts. Haven’t Albirex and Vegalta given enough to Urawa over the years? They have to give up J1 too because Kashiwagi and Makino didn’t have the balls to step up and take the shots when Urawa could have sealed advancement to the quarterfinals?

Here’s a good compromise, why don’t we just make Albirex give Urawa exclusive rights to the Sakai family DNA pool….it’s a win/win situation.

I’ll admit, the league isn’t perfect right now. Part of that can be explained by the fact that the J-League had doubled from 28 clubs to 56 (if you count the 3 under-23 reserve schemes and whatever the hell Y.S.C.C is supposed to be). There’s more demand for talent right now. Teams just aren’t producing top level talent at a quick enough rate. Putting more pressure on middling teams isn’t going to make them say, “Hey, let’s start our 22 year old midfielder because the 33 year old one we keep trotting out isn’t very good”. They will more likely go with “experience”. Because that’s what they usually do. Central midfielder used to be a position of strength 10 years ago with greats like the Nakamura’s, Endo, Abe, and Ogasawara patrolling the center of the pitch. Fast forward to today and it’s still the Nakamura’s, Endo, Abe, and Ogasawara patrolling the center of the pitch.

It’s even worse at the managerial level where guys either get recycled after failing in various jobs or are “old boys” who know how things work at their respective clubs. Even the foreign imports who come in have been middling at best. I’m not sure how making the margin of error for J1 smaller is going to cause people to think out of the box and get more daring….dying to hear it though.

Let me talk about a team that gets mentioned in Relegationistan a lot, Ventforet Kofu.

Kofu is basically the team everybody mentions when they want to talk about teams being ultra-defensive, non-creative, and uninspiring. They are the quintisential small money regional club that people usually point to when they want to make the point that the J League is in trouble.

I don’t think that’s fair. I think they do the best that they can in circumstances that they are forced into because they have no money and are stuck in avery rural part of Japan. They have the resources to be a 15th place team, and more often than not they surpass that. They make do with a patchwork group of Japanese veterans supplemented by decent foreign signings. Chuka was brought in because of good scouting. Billy Celeski was another decent signing. They do the most they can with the resources they have. Compare them with a big money club like Urawa, who hasn’t scouted and brought in a foreign player of any signifigance since Robson Ponte. Who plucks talent off of mid-table teams and more often than not lets them rot on the bench until they leave for J2 clubs when they hit the wrong side of their prime years.

Is it really a good idea to slam the door on teams in order to Heimlich big clubs who are in a perpetual state of gagging?

I remember reading about this idea in Nikkan Sports in 2010 http://www.nikkansports.com/soccer/news/p-sc-tp0-20100729-659361.html It sounded really dumb back then.

It still sounds dumb.


That distinction goes to Tokyo Sports and their intrepid rumor mongering. They pulled out a stink bomb of a story reporting that because of Mitsubishi’s takeover by Nissan, Urawa was in talks with Omiya to create one Saitama super team that I’m assuming would be financed by NTT, play in Saitama Stadium and still be called the Reds. Hat tip to Tokorozawa Risu for reporting on this  http://tkrs.net/27276. Tochigi Uva, here I come!!!!!!

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