In his second exclusive diary for Goal.com, the 33-year-old discusses Vissel's progress in the first half of the campaign as well as the team's evolution under his new coach
By Hideo Hashimoto
Translation by Dan Orlowitz
A lot of time has passed since my first column, so this time I want to talk about Vissel’s season, Akira Nishino, and how the club is changing.
Looking back, we did not get off to a good start. We began with two wins but it did not seem like we played with purpose, and we had trouble responding on the pitch.
I fell into a similar pattern soon after. I did not feel like there was any way to improve my play, and my form dropped. My condition was better when I played fewer minutes, but on the other hand I was not able to contribute as much to games.
|Takuya [Nozawa] also struggled like I did. But he’s great at set plays and became an indispensable part of the lineup"|
I do not think my decreased playing time had anything to do with being a newcomer; I think it had to do with our team’s strategy. Takuya [Nozawa] also struggled like I did. But he is great at set plays and became an indispensable part of the line-up. Even when he made more mistakes than I, he remained in our XI, and through his perseverance he improved his play. Right now it feels like Vissel are becoming his team. And when I think of it that way, I have come to realise that I had problems adapting to our tactics.
Then, my old coach Akira Nishino took over here. During my time at Gamba we played a very different style of football than Vissel had been playing up until now, so I was very interested in how he would improve the team's strength.
I thought that we would adjust quickly, but even practising as we did at Gamba was challenging. In the beginning we could not execute a solid strategy on the pitch, but everyone says Vissel have improved since I joined the team. Even though it was a rough start, I think we will continue to improve.
|"At Vissel, [Nishino is] focusing on defending, and from there we’ll slowly work our ways towards playing a more possession-heavy strategy"|
Nishino also talks to us very differently to how he did at Gamba. He never discussed possession, because that was the foundation of our play and we were good at it. But at Vissel, he is focusing on defending, and from there we will slowly work our ways towards playing a more possession-heavy strategy.
It is the exact opposite of how it was at Gamba, but I do not think it will be hard to adjust. I think because he is putting more emphasis on improving our defending, we will be able to attack with more stability. We have been practising our attacking ideas, combinations, and timing, so I think we will be able to change for the better.
When you are moving up the field, it is okay if your team-mate holds back because they are able to pick up the loose ball. One player can work on stealing the ball while the other presses the attack. If you can cooperate and cover each other, it is easier to defend your position as well as do things like sliding tackles. Your stats may not increase, but your efficiency does. Until now Vissel have not been very effective at that, but if that changes we will look very different.
Vissel used to emphasise individual attacking. If we can win one-on-one we will score goals, but if we do not, it is difficult. But we are changing our style in order to win as a team, and if we can learn how to help each other, then we will improve.
Yet it feels good to attack, and that can weaken your defence. We have to consider how we will prevent that from happening, and if we can do well, we will be able to rise to the next stage.
|"I feel very strongly about getting more appearances and contributing to our results, but I also want us to build a winning streak"
I am looking forward to the second half of the season. I feel very strongly about getting more appearances and contributing to our results, but I also want us to build a winning streak. And if I can get used to how our wingers play I think I will have an easier time.
It is fun to play on a team that are evolving, and it is great to see everyone adapt to a fresh style. Even if I were to participate in the same practices I did at Gamba, doing it with a different set of players makes a world of difference to me. From now on I hope we can demonstrate how we have changed to everyone watching our matches.
Hideo Hashimoto, 33, spent 13 years with J-League veterans Gamba Osaka before transferring to Vissel Kobe in the off-season. A former international with 15 caps for Japan, he decided to call his column "Number 27's Diary" to show younger fans that you don't have to wear a low number to make an impact on the game. Stay tuned every month for more of Mr. Hashimoto's thoughts, exclusively on Goal.com