It was only a matter of time before ETU started losing some games, but I wasn’t expecting them to go on a string of losses. With a 4-0 loss to Javelin Iwata, a 2-0 loss to Sun Arrow Hiroshima, and a 2-1 loss to Shimizu Impulse, the only redeeming aspect is that ETU didn’t go scoreless all three games. Tensions flare up within the team as a result and I’m not too surprised that Kuroda ends up being at the center of it. What was interesting though is how Murakoshi remained detached during the team’s unrest, which I perceived as his new-found patience in Tatsumi since being reinstated as team captain. It was definitely a huge change from the Murakoshi we saw earlier on, as he even supported Tatsumi’s strange decision to have a “tennis soccer” tournament during practice.
Regardless, I don’t think Murakoshi or anyone else was expecting the results of that tournament to be used to determine the starters for their next game, so it’s reassuring to know that veteran players like goalkeeper Midorikawa Hiroshi, a.k.a. Dori (Shinshuu Fuji), recognize that there’s a purpose behind Tatsumi’s unorthodox methods. At first, I thought the soccer tennis tournament was intended to improve fundamental skills in addition to teamwork between players of the same position, but I clearly wasn’t giving Tatsumi enough credit in his ability to see what the bigger problem is. In other words, that ETU is over thinking their play and has forgotten how to enjoy the game.
Much like Murakoshi rediscovered against Tokyo Victory, it’s that earnest desire to win — and not simply avoid losing — that will likely elevate the team’s ability to win. That’s what I believe Tatsumi’s trying to address with these exercises anyway, which a lot of players clearly aren’t buying into just yet. Given the recent losing streak, I can’t really blame them either since it’s extremely difficult to figure out what Tatsumi’s thinking. The same goes for general manager Gotou, who was completely misled by Tatsumi’s question on how many games he can afford to lose in a row before he gets dismissed as the team’s coach. From Gotou’s perspective, it sounded like Tatsumi had no intention of winning, but I took it as his way of wanting to know how many games he can sacrifice in order to make the players realize exactly what they’re missing to win.
For now, it’ll be interesting to see how many games Tatsumi really can afford to lose before the supporters and freelance writer Fujisawa Katsura demand his dismissal. In Katsura’s case, I got a good laugh out of how Tatsumi responded to her question with one asking if she’s mad they didn’t win, but it’s no laughing matter when Kuroda’s threatened to change clubs and seems to have taken Sugie Yuusaku (Kirii Daisuke) with him. ETU was undoubtedly bound for some team adversity, so it’ll be interesting to see how they pull through this first one.