Competition: J.League - Division 1
Date: Saturday, 20th March 2010 (14:00 kick off)
Venue: Nissan Stadium
YAMASE 12', 40'
DF SONODA (replaced by IGAWA 88')
MF INAMOTO (replaced by KUSUKAMI 80')
FW KUROTSU (replaced by NOBORIZATO 72')
FW CHONG (yellow card 73')
FW RENATINHO (yellow card 43')
After last week's narrow win in Nagoya, coach Takahata proclaimed that Frontale's 2010 title challenge will depend on their away results. So the embarrassment of a 4-0 drubbing at local rivals Yokohama F Marinos may just be enough to persuade him that attack is not always the best form of defence.
The most troublng aspect of Saturday's defeat (besides the scoreline...and the lack of efforts on goal) was the coach's refusal to respond to what was clearly a tactical mismatch in the middle of the park.
Perhaps the need to claw back a three-goal deficit persuaded him to keep his under-supplied, three-pronged frontline intact at half time. However, the fact that Inamoto, Taniguchi and Tasaka were being so completely outnumbered and outrun in midfield would surely have sparked a reaction from most other coaches.
Admittedly, on another day, Yokohama's midfield dominance might not have left their opponents with such a second-half mountain to climb. Shunsuke Nakamura's long-range, 8th-minute strike was certainly well hit, but spent a long time travelling towards the top corner. A keeper of Eiji's quality should really have done better.
And, while I may be clutching at straws to suggest that Koji Yamase was offside for his first of the afternoon, his second was undeniably set up via the hand of Shingo Hyodo.
Even when the Marinos chalked up their fourth after 60 minutes - a majestic leap from centre-back Yuzo Kurihara to convert Nakamura's deep corner-kick delivery - it took a further 12 minutes for Takahata to make a change. Does this suggest a lack of tactical awareness? Or is it a lack of faith in his supporting cast?
In truth, I very much doubt it's the former. And it would be a real shame if it was the latter, as both Noborizato and Kusukami showed, during their brief cameos, that they can certainly challenge the likes of Kurotsu and Tasaka for places in the starting eleven.
To put things into perspective, I'd say this was a blip rather than the beginning of the end (I actually thought Frontale were outplayed more in last year's version of this fixture, even though the result then was only 2-1).
But I do have a feeling this kind of result is the price Frontale fans will have to pay at times with Takahata back in charge. Let's just hope it remains the exception rather than the rule.