If today's game against Mito was intended to be some sort of statement it came across loud and clear. Today, Tokyo Verdy 1969 hit the lowest point for a once proud franchise. THE TEAM HAS SPOKEN.....they don't want Rui as manager. Coming in, Mito Hollyhock had scored 3 goals in 11 contests. 2 of their starting defenders have been declared out for up to 6 months.
Everything was set up for this to be a glorious return to form for Verdy, a weakened opponent, a new lineup with a credentialed back line, a return to the National where they put up 5 goals on a now rejuvenated Thespa Kusatsu. It should have been easy.
9 minutes in, it looked like Mito was gonna give the game to Verdy when Mito keeper Koji Homma deflected the ball into his own net from a Hiramoto kick nowhere close to going in. It was all downhill from there. The trio of MF Hiromasa Kanazawa, FW Kohei Nishino, and FW Yuya Iwadate combined to cut through a feeble Verdy defense and control play in the middle. Iwadate was especially effective in making former National Team player Toshihiro Hattori look old and feeble with his constant motor and hustle.
The team lost their composure early and late, started to panic after the first goal and finally quit after the second. Late in the game a sequence ensued where Hattori made an ill-advised play in the box to give up a penalty shot, Hiramoto made a rough tackle to get his second yellow and Tsuchiya picked up a yellow arguing the play.
It seemed like the Verdy staff expected it to happen because at halftime, extra security guards moved into position in front of the supporters section. 15 minutes to the close extra security moved in around the pitch. Finally after 90 minutes of the most gutless, brainless, and tactless performances in Verdy history, the whistle was blown and the players headed over to the supporters.........who booed and heckled the team on a worthless performance. A few angry supporters threw beverages and other things down on the humiliated squad, who bowed in a symbol of shame.
For his part, Ramos sat slumped on his bench with his legs crossed, sensing the end of a disappointing career as the head of the team he made famous. He walked past the throngs of media hungry for a comment on his future as manager, left the press conference in the hands of the Verdy brass and possibly for the first time in his life didn't speak. He didn't need to.....the message was loud and clear.......it's over.
In all honesty, I kind of liked the lineup he fielded when I first saw it. I might have tweaked it a bit but I thought they would do a much better job then they did. The side featuring Hattori and Togawa was putrid today. Actually nobody showed up for Verdy. It was the first time the team functioned as a unit.........everybody worked together to thouroughly embarass themselves, their coach, their fans, and Verdy. And Mito for their part played like a hungry, scrappy group of players who would bite, scratch, and claw their way to victory. They were a joy to watch......11 guys playing loose and balls out to get a victory, enjoying every moment.
At the end of the game, I (and Furtho from the G!G!O!A! site ) got a chance to meet Vendo from the Mito blog. The guy was happier than any person I have ever seen before, and justifiably so. The Mito fans were wearing team shirts from different squads for some odd reason. They were all overjoyed at the performance and amazing result on the field.
The Verdy supporters were very quiet when I passed them, like someone had died. The hopes of a preseason filled with acquisitions equal to none and the promise of top division football lay crushed on the historic National Stadium ground. After a mere 12 games, the season has spun out of control.
This is what the view is like from the bottom of the barrel.