Friday, March 6, 2009

J2 2009 preview: Tokyo Verdy

Stadium: Ajinomoto Stadium (50,000)
Average attendance 2008: 14,837
Last season's finish: 17th (J1)

2009 season's transfers:
DF Kazuya Iwakura (Transferred from New Wave Kitakyushu)
DF Takuya Wada (Promoted from youth team)
MF Takahiro Kawamura (Transferred from Júbilo Iwata)
MF Genki Nagasato (Transferred from Shonan Bellmare)
MF Kunihiko Takizawa (Transferred from Yokohama FC)
MF Kento Tsurumaki (Returned from Mito HollyHock)
MF Yu Tomidokoro (Promoted from youth team)
FW Leonardo (Returned from Sagan Tosu)

3 DF Shigenori Hagimura (Retired)
4 DF Takumi Wada (End of loan from Shimizu S-Pulse)
5 DF Daisuke Nasu (Transferred to Júbilo Iwata)
10 MF Diego (Transferred to Kyoto Sanga F.C.)
11 MF Harutaka Ono (Released)
18 DF Kojiro Kaimoto (Released)
20 MF Nozomi Hiroyama (Transferred to Thespa Kusatsu)
23 MF Takashi Fukunishi (Retired)
24 MF Tsuyoshi Yoshitake (Released)
28 DF Sho Asuke (Transferred to Kataller Toyama)
29 DF Sho Miyasaka (Released)
32 FW Osama Elsamni (Transferred to FK Teplice)
- DF Yugo Ichiyanagi (Transferred to Vegalta Sendai)
- DF Kenta Togawa (Transferred to Yokohama FC)
- DF Seiji Sonoda (Released)

My view on the transfers:
Verdy has lost 3-4 defenders since last season, with the main departures being Nasu and Wada. Obviously players they would have good use of this season as well, but the biggest loss lies in midfield, where Diego has moved to Kyoto. Also Ono, Hiroyama and Fukunishi are gone, which leaves alot of holes to fill. No defenders have been brought in as replacements, whereas in midfield Kawamura and Leonardo are the biggest signings. Leonardo returns from Sagan where he has spent the last two seasons on loan, while Kawamura comes from Jubilo, where he played 11 matches last season. In one way it's a good thing that they have trimmed the squad, as they've had far too many average players in the team.

Preferrable starting line-up:
4-4-2: Doi - Fukuda, Tomisawa, Tsuchiya, Hattori - Kawano / Shibasaki, Sugiwara, Takizawa, Leonardo - Oguro, Leandro / Hiramoto

My view on the team:
Verdy doesnt look as strong as they did in 2007, much to the case that their two stars up front Diego and Hulk are no longer within the team. It's an aging team, and whether or not they will manage to keep it up for the entire season is doubtful. The defence isn't too bad, but against the more quick-attacking teams they will struggle I think. They lack a leader in midfield as well, but got some promising players at the flanks. Kawano will probably receive more playing-time this year, and Leonardo proved he has what it takes at Sagan as well. Oguro has good opportunity to revive his career this season, as he should be able to score a few goals in J2. Leandro didn't quite got it together last season, but will see some playing time this year, and if he can find back to the form he showed in Brazil earlier Verdy might do well. They also got the aging Hiramoto and Funakoshi to choose from, but neither can be called super-strikers, even at this level.

Player to watch: Hiroki Kawano

Manager: Takuya Takagi
Takagi were promoted from coach to manager ahead of this season, as he took over from Hashiratani. Takagi enjoyed enourmous success with Yokohama FC in 2006, winning promotion with them and breaking several records along the way. That was his first year in charge of a club, but 2007 proved tougher as Yokohama failed to make an impact in J1. Surely a manager with alot of potential, and the capability to do great things with Verdy.

Verdy were once the biggest team in Japan, but after some rough years where they among other things moved away from their current location the fan-base have become smaller every year. Situated in the middle of Tokyo, they haven't really managed to grow a proper fanbase in the local community, as most of the fans in Tokyo cheer for either FC Tokyo or one of the surrounding clubs. Still manages to attract a reasonable crowd at their home-matches though.

Where they will finish:
Verdy will be hoping to bounce straight back into J1 this season, but in my opinion they seem to lack the quality to do so. If key players like Oguro manages to find back to the form they showed earlier they have the potential for a top 3 finish though, but most likely they will have to settle for a finish just below.

4th - 7th

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