J1 League: Ange Postecoglou effect sweeps Japan as Yokohama F Marinos set to make history
In a league where marquee signings such as Andres Iniesta and David Villa have been the focal point of global interest, focus has shifted to a previously written-off dark horse who is set to make J League history.
Yokohama F Marinos Head Coach Ange Postecoglou is on the verge of achieving his side's first league championship since 2004 and he will do it in front of a sell-home crowd.
Marinos lead 2nd place FC Tokyo by 3 points and 7 plus goal difference as they head into the final match of the 2019 season. Tokyo need to win by 4 clear goals if they are to pip Marinos to the post.
Ticket sales suggest that the fixture will receive the highest attendance to date for a J League match.
Postecoglou, who won the 2015 Asian Cup with Australia, has persisted with his unique high pressure, possession-based style of play that did not mesh so easily in the beginning.
In the early stages of his tenure, his preferred system was not received well by many of the players he inherited when taking charge in January 2018. Seemingly they were not used to such a rapid possession-based style of play that requires quick thinking and off the ball smarts.
His open and risk-averse approach to the game was all too often the cause of cheap goals conceded and, at the conclusion of the 2018 season, Marinos narrowly avoided a relegation play-off by goal difference.
Making full use of the City Group’s scouting network, Ange replaced many of the weak links in the roster he started with in preparation for a much more successful 2019 campaign.
Additions of note include former Botafogo and Palmeiras frontman Erik, prolific goal scorer Marcos Junior and Bahia loanee Edigar Junio who has unfortunately missed the majority of the season through injury.
All three additions have made significant contributions to the team’s achievement and have tallied a staggering 41 goals between them, higher than the total number of goals scored by 8 J1 teams as of this moment.
The development of Japanese attacker Teruhito Nakagawa can also be attributed to the Postecoglou doctrine, as the deadly striker has tallied 15 goals in his best season to date.
The framework is now complete with all parts moving in synchronization. They have stopped the leakage at the back and no longer concede cheap goals as before. For this reason, they are a small step away from securing the title.
The additions made since Ange’s arrival have given Marinos a degree of squad depth that could see them embark on an era of dominance in Japan and across the region from here on.
Ange’s story is one that highlights the critical importance of persisting with an ideology designed for sustained success.