With Kuroda choosing not to take part in Tatsumi’s soccer tennis tournaments and walking out during practice, he doesn’t even dress for the preliminary game against Shimizu Impulse. Of course, I had faith in Sugie being the voice of reason to bring Kuroda around eventually, since he was wise enough to go to Dori for some veteran advice. I did get a good laugh out of how Kuroda didn’t understand what Dori was getting at about how their development as defenders seemed to come to a standstill though. At the same time, I like how Kuroda is simple-minded and doesn’t think too much (or at all) in a lot of situations, as players who play with heart first and foremost is something every team can benefit from. Given how poorly the past few games have gone for ETU, there are times where heart alone won’t win you games, so it was good to see Sugie point out how they had a tendency to stay back in their own defensive zone ever since the fluky goal by Javelin Iwata.
As Tatsumi explained this time to his coaching staff, the soccer tennis tournaments were his way of getting the players accustomed to switching over to a new focus and not be discouraged by what just happened. I originally suspected that it was partially to let them get their competitive spirit back, which it more or less was but only in terms of the end goal. In practical terms, the exercise itself served to correct problems within the team itself, namely how several players get too down on themselves after screwing up and can’t answer back with a momentum shift in their favor. In sports, it’s undeniable how much momentum can turn the tides, but it has to start with the players first and their own belief that they can still win. Players like Dori already has that mindset being the veteran player that he is, but as the team’s goalkeeper he needs his defensive line and forwards to press on in the face of a goal.
It may have cost them yet another game with the second string Kobayashi and Kamei replacing Kuroda and Sugie, but at least it served as a good wake up call to the latter two on how they need to help Dori out. Watching him save the penalty kick was pretty clutch as those two’s reactions from the crowd showed, so it’s a shame it was spoiled by a goal from the rebound chance that resulted. In any case, the team’s down another goal in their current game against FC Sapporo after a set corner kick play, but with a fired up Kuroda and Sugie in this game with a positive attitude following some unexpected indirect advice they got at a ramen shop, I have faith that ETU will be able to turn this game around. Tatsumi has given them a bit of recognition after putting their resolve to the test by letting them sit out last game, which seems to pit more pressure on Tsubaki’s role in all of this.
Following a misplay by Tsubaki after receiving Gino’s pass, I was pretty surprised to hear that Tatsumi wasn’t expecting much from him to begin with. It almost sounded like he’s given up on his development, but I don’t think that’s quite the case given how misleading all his statements are. Instead, it looks like Tatsumi feels like he’s already given Tsubaki all the words of encouragement he needed once already and it’s now up to him to find his game on the field. Judging by the preview, the follow-up to this game will be an interesting one as ETU has a match with the Nagoya Gran Palace next, whom their former coach Fuwa is now in charge of. It’s the match up of the older failure of a coach versus the new unorthodox Tatsumi! He looks fired up about it, so I am too.
* Crunchyroll is nearly two months late to the party, but they secured rights to simulcast GIANT KILLING starting today. They’re currently working on subbing the backlog of episodes 2-7.