I stopped doing game by game descriptions of the Cerezo matches as they were becoming a bit samey. Next year I might give a month by month summary. Anyhow, this season was quite a good one. Compared to last season when Cerezo ended 7th with 50 point, 59 point and 5th was an improvement. They did, however, narrowly miss out on a potential Asian Champions League qualification (although for Kawasaki, the 5th place team, to qualify requires Kashima Antlers to win the cup). They started off rather badly with 3 wins, 2 draws and 5 losses in the first 10 games. After that, however, things picked up. A teacher from my old school, who I sometimes see at the games, thought that they could push on for the title but that was a bit unrealistic. Eventually formed dipped off a bit towards the end of the season with a return to some of the frustrating performances from the first ten matches. I think a key part of the improvement was the inclusion of Bruno Mendes in the first team. He’s a Brazilian player on loan. Once he appeared on the team sheet things improved as he added a significant enough attacking threat. Towards the end of the season he didn’t appear. I can only guess that he was injured as he wasn’t even on the bench. This is the final league table.

1Yokohama F´ŻąMarinos34224868383070
3Kashima Antlers34189754302463
4Kawasaki Frontale341612657342360
5Cerezo Osaka341851139251459
6Sanfrecce Hiroshima341510945291655
7Gamba Osaka341211115448647
8Vissel Kobe34145156159247
9Oita Trinita341211113535047
10Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo34137145449546
11Vegalta Sendai34125173845-741
12Shimizu S-Pulse34116174569-2439
13Nagoya Grampus34910154550-537
14Urawa Reds34910153450-1637
15Sagan Tosu34106183253-2136
16Shonan Bellmare34106184063-2336
17Matsumoto Yamaga F.C.34613152140-1931
18Jubilo Iwata3487192951-2231

Yokohama won the league. FC Tokyo had led earlier on but were eventually overtaken. Last year’s winners were Kawasaki. They only finished in 5th place this year. Of note is the mid-table finish of Kobe. They had spent heavily on aging European players: Iniesta, Villa and Podolski. None of them really hit top form and the team were flirting with the relegation places mid season. It just goes to show that spending lots of money on foreign talent doesn’t always work. Matsumoto and Iwate were both automatically relegated. Matsumoto were a newly promoted side (so no surprises there) and Iwate had only survived a relegation playoff the season before. Shonan will play the wonderfully named Tokushima Vortis in the relegation playoff this weekend.

Game of the season was the opening game when the superstars of Kobe came to Osaka in the season opener. I went to this game with teachers from my old school and we all had lots of fun as Cerezo stole the game 1-0.

Player of the Season was Yoichiro Kakitani. An attacking midfielder with lots of nice flicks and so on. He played particularly well when Bruno Mendes was on the pitch.

Song of the season would be the Cerezo fans version of Movemental.

Strange sight of the season: Oktoberfest in, erm… May.

I’m already looking forward to next year. However, if Cerezo are going to avoid going backwards they will need some better striking options given that I’d assume Mendes will be heading back to Brazil.