Even the best managers sometimes make mistakes with their substitutions. Back in 2005, with Chelsea chasing an unprecedented quadruple, manager Jose Mourinho made such a mistake in an FA Cup game at Newcastle.
Trailing 1-0 at halftime and unhappy at his side’s performance, Mourinho elected to use all three of his substitutions to start the 2nd half. Within 2 minutes of the restart, their fullback Wayne Bridge had to be stretchered off with an injury. With ten men, Chelsea continued to try to find an equalizer, but were further hindered when Damien Duff picked up an injury and had to continue playing. Finally, goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini was sent off late and nine-man Chelsea were eliminated from the cup.
The 24th episode of Giant Killing sees ETU pull one back through Akasaki as the conclusion of last episode’s cliffhanger. As fatigue sets in ETU begin to push forward for an equalizer. The 3 areas of focus for today’s post will be cynicism from fatigue, Dulfer’s managerial style and thinking about this episode itself as part of the series as a whole.
The True Nature of Osaka
As Osaka’s players began to tire, both mentally and physically, it started to reveal some of their true natures. First, Kubota was substituted, and as he thought about how it felt like he was deserting his friends who were still playing. However, the very fact that he is being substituted and his comment about wanting to improve his stamina indicate the mental part of the game isn’t entirely there for him. Sugie has it right when he thinks Kubota will be a frightening player when he is more experienced, which is what he will need to figure out why he ended up exhausted after that experience.
Second, was the case of Hauer and his reaction to nearly scoring his second of the match. After Kuroda bumps into him after the chance was gone, Hauer had clearly had enough. He pushed Kuroda in the chest and was fortunate just to receive a yellow card. It seemed completely out-of-character for him going off of the reaction of his teammates and manager, but clearly no one had ever irritated him so much.
Finally, Hiraga’s commitment to go after every ball he had a chance of getting left him absolutely shattered as Tsubaki ran past him to set up Akasaki’s goal. In the attack that ended the episode, he felt he had no choice but to cynically foul Tsubaki as he readied to shoot. In addition, that it took so long for him to realize that he was being used by Gino to run points to a lack of awareness that a captain really shouldn’t have.
Adding to the fatigue issue was the look at how Dulfer manages his team. As he watched the events unfold, Blanc said that Dulfer was a manager who usually picked the same starting team in each match and made substitutions in the same pattern. This fits in well with his commitment to maintain an attacking philosophy, but at the same time he’s not really managing the match.
Shimura’s shirt adjustment talk with is also an interesting note. He was making a point about how humans evolved because of their adaptability to situations. The simple attack that came because Kubota was on the pitch was an adaptation made on the fly by only a couple of players and nearly resulted in success. On a much larger scale, this time the match itself, Dulfer has the opportunity to substitute Hiraga for a fresher player and regain their foothold in midfield. Ultimately, he chooses not to substitute his captain.
Also, his reactions to certain events seems to indicate that he doesn’t seem to have much of an idea about his players mentality. Dulfer is shocked that his goalkeeper issues horrible commands to his defenders and gets himself caught out of position. Then he is shocked that his star striker would get angry at an opponent. He also does nothing to stop Kubota and Hiraga from running themselves into the ground. What exactly is he doing then?
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
My gut initial reaction to this episode was that apart from the goal before the OP, that there wasn’t much to this episode to separate it from the last one. Natsuki has another crisis of confidence because of Gino to start, Gino then sprays passes all around the park to everyone but Natsuki with occassional “bad” passes, Tatsumi’s tactical ideas about specific players are exposed and the episode ends with ETU in a good position to score.
I’m well aware that beginning with “apart from the goal” is effectively killing my argument in a way, but ETU are still losing. There is still some concern I have that this last arc has been stretched a little too far. The random conversations between players in this arc; the one that led to Osaka’s opener and Shimura’s evolutionary tale to Murakoshi stand out as completely different to the tone of the series. Maybe this would have been better in 24 episodes instead of 26.
Thoughts: Two episodes to go before the season is over. I’m fairly pessimistic about their being a second season of this series at the moment, though. With that in mind, it seems like a good chance to finish some of the subplots. With ETU about to get a free kick in an excellent position, this seems as good a time as ever for Gino to deliver a ball in for Sera to finish. Then, Natsuki is going to have to do something to gain Gino’s trust, so either scoring a goal at the end of a move started by Gino or passing to set up a goal for him. Finally, Tsubaki being the real star of the show will have to score.