Giant Killing 11 – The Following Takes Place Between the 30th and 60th Minutes

We are unlikely to ever see anything like Celtic's Lisbon Lions again

Before the 1967 European Cup final, the two teams provided a complete contrast in styles. Inter relied on the famed catenaccio tactic in relying on low scoring victories. Manager Helenio Herrera also strictly monitored his players, to the point of sending club staff to make sure they were at home on some nights, while also pioneering the practice of sending the squad to training retreats during the week of important matches. This was no exception, and after many years the players were beginning to resent living in fear of failure and having their private lives under constant scrutiny.

Celtic, on the other hand, were an entirely different bunch. With the squad composed entirely of players born within 30 miles of Glasgow, and despite having scored 198 goals in 63 prior matches that season, Celtic were expected to lose. Manager Jock Stein told his players in the team talk to go out and enjoy themselves.

After Inter scored from an early penalty, they found themselves under constant siege. The halftime break brought them little relief as the onslaught continued as eventually equalized and scored the winner 7 minutes from time.

Defiant Brazilian strikers love melon pan as well.

The 11th episode of Giant Killing was interesting for me in a number of ways. First, any predictions I seem to be making about the flow of this match seem to be incorrect, though I still stand by Nagoya having nothing on the wings. Second, the fact that there seem to be three different teams playing this match. Finally, Fuwa’s interpretation of professionalism in a football team is worth looking at, and is mainly the reason for the anecdote above.

Tsubaki actually shows a comedic side after nearly putting through his own net.

Errant Predictions

Last week, I made the following assumptions:

  • Sera would leave injured and force Tatsumi into some tactical adjustments
  • Nagoya were weaker on the wings than they were through the middle as that is where the Brazilian trio plays
  • Fuwa could make some tactical adjustments in at least subbing Itagaki off for another midfielder
  • Tsubaki would start to play more of an attacking role in the match

Based on the events in this episode, numbers 1,3 and 4 were eliminated fairly quickly. Sera was treated and returned to action in his lone striker role. Fuwa made no changes and told Itagaki that he was in the lineup because he thought he could play both sides up front. Tsubaki was having a larger role in the match, only it was charging back and breaking up two chances for Pepe and another from Itagaki.

It is quickly becoming fruitless to even attempt to make predictions in this series, but it’s always fun to try anyway. I will continue in the “Thoughts” section below.

Kuroda reflects on his younger self (right) being obliterated by Domingo

3 Teams, 2 Sides

It became pretty clear during the halftime team talks that there is a giant chasm in the Nagoya dressing room. As far as I can tell, the Brazilian trio, led by Zelberto, realize they are really just playing a game. Carlos and Pepe seem more interested in the experience of being Brazilian footballers in Japan, while Zelberto wonders if it can be fun defending all the time like ETU in this match. All three can appreciate Tsubaki’s determination and bravery, though.

Kuroda’s story of playing Nagoya early in his career says a lot about the rest of Nagoya’s players. After being destroyed by a Colombian striker named Domingo in ETU’s last relegation season, Kuroda was determined never to be beaten by him again. When ETU went back up, Domingo had left Nagoya and Itagaki had taken his place in their lineup. The fact that Kuroda calls Itagaki a pale imitation of Domingo says that Nagoya’s players are content to mimic the expensive foreigners who are brought in without trying to play their own way.

ETU, on the other hand, are playing with a deliberate plan. Knowing that Nagoya rely on space for their attacks, ETU intentionally left one area open, which made it easier to contain the attacks. From the press box, Fujisawa senses a common intent from ETU, even if their attacks seem utterly predictable and errant passes go out to touch.

Yuri continues to expect epic team talks, though the occasion rarely warrants it.

Managerial Professionalism

From the touchline, Fuwa once again reflects on his time as ETU manager. Nagata had denied him players to sign in the past, probably saying they are too expensive or unlikely to want to play for ETU. He also believes the fact that ETU have no foreign players on their books makes them unprofessional. The Nagoya board give Fuwa the resources he believes he needs to move the club forward, eventually to the top of the league. His halftime team talk was telling the players to make their passes quicker, but otherwise they would be able to make the breakthrough eventually. It is also worth noting that he took no action on Pepe eating during the team talk.

Tatsumi, on the other hand, has an entirely different managerial experience. His time in England, probably managing players who were from the general area and almost certainly no foreign players and with no money to spend, provides him with the man management experience he needs for a team like ETU. A player like Gino is a relative luxury for him. At halftime, Tatsumi tells his players to continue playing in the same fashion. After all, he told them how he wanted them to play before the match started and they’ve done just that.

In the end, we get 2 different perspectives on management. Fuwa’s top-down approach which relies on the full financial support for the manager in signing players to build a contender. Tatsumi’s is more limited to the manager and how to get the best out of the group he has the fortune to deal with. Neither is necessarily wrong, but they are still both manager-centric.

Tsubaki suddenly has full awareness of the pitch, next he will be able to know how the opposing keeper feels about life.

Thoughts: To get the pointless predictions out of the way. I now think Nagoya win this on an own goal or other error by Tsubaki as he begins to crumble under the pressure. Gino will also be presented with a chance to score but will end up missing because of Carlos. Anyway, this was an excellent episode since I can write this many words without actually recapping the thing, and also from a more subjective entertainment point of view.

9 thoughts on “Giant Killing 11 – The Following Takes Place Between the 30th and 60th Minutes”

  1. I think your point about the bread-eating is really good. It seems Fuwa thinks in terms of a big narrative, but he doesn’t pay attention to the details. This applies to the way he handled Itagaki as well; he basically says, “try harder.” Now how useful is that? He doesn’t give him any advice on what to try differently, just points out that Itagaki isn’t performing the way he was supposed to in the big plan.

    In fact, Fuwa isn’t doing so well on the strategic level either, because Tatsumi is knowingly setting up the play for Itagaki. Fuwa should be the one with the vision to see that what they are doing won’t succeed, and a new plan needs to be used. Instead, perhaps out of hubris, perhaps because of the tight score and the feeling that Nagoya is dominating, by being on the attack so much, he refuses to abandon his pet plan.

    1. Fuwa is clearly more of a big picture manager, who develops a squad by replacing members with players he thinks are better rather than making his current players better. Pepe can get away with ignoring him because he is a better player than Itagaki in his eyes.

      1. Haha, Fuwa is from the Isiah Thomas school of team-building, isn’t he? Just get a bunch of all-stars together, and they’ll be a real team!

      2. As soon as Fuwa spends millions trying to sign Tsubaki off ETU to make him their highest paid player, only to then drop him to the reserves when he makes a mistake, then the Isiah comparison might work. Everyone knows there’s a truck party involving the Brazilians and Fuwa though.

  2. Both managers didn’t do much tactically at halftime because their game plans were set before the match started.

    What’s telling is that Fuwa didn’t see how ETU was defending them. To him, it was just another pesky defense that will crumble if his imports start applying themselves further — and maybe if the rest of the club plays along.

    1. I’m beginning to think that Fuwa isn’t very tactically astute to begin with. He sees it as a game where the team with the better players will always win in the end. Zelberto seems the only one able to try to change things up when they attack, while the rest of the team is content to ride on autopilot.

  3. Yeah, there has to be a reason Tatsumi is succeeding with basically the same players Fuwa had with ETU, right? I think he DOES get ETU’s strategy with Itagaki, to an extent (he at least understands enough to have one of his guys distract Kuroda), but he’s not really going far enough with potential counters.

    1. The thing is, at this point, Tatsumi really hasn’t succeeded with the same players. Fuwa could never build a team due to financial considerations, but he probably had them playing horrible football to grind out enough points to avoid the drop. Tatsumi’s trying to play a different style to do what Fuwa thinks money is needed to accomplish.

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