F.C.Tokyo Season Preview: Can a managerial change inspire the capital club?

F.C.Tokyo Season Preview: Can a managerial change inspire the capital club?

F.C.Tokyo carry the name of the capital and the most populous metropolitan area in the world. The offseason has brought a host of changes, including the arrival of new manager Albert Puig, but will it be enough to inspire a league finish better than last year’s 9th place?

Last season

Aided by a fearsome attack, F.C.Tokyo got off to a quick start last season, losing just one of their first eight matches. Despite high hopes, though, the club would hit a rough patch in the spring and endure some frustrating losses as the campaign developed, including a punishing 8-0 defeat against Yokohama F·Marinos in November.

While F.C.Tokyo would ultimately land just barely in the top half of the table, it was a difficult season that saw manager Kenta Hasegawa depart at season’s end.

Key additions

Tokyo have added reinforcements from front to back.

Keita Yamashita comes over after scoring nine goals for Sagan Tosu in his first top-flight season, Yasuki Kimoto slots into the backline (or defensive midfield) after a strong run with Nagoya Grampus, Henrique Trevisan joins from recently-relegated Oita Trinita to add steel to the backline, and Polish goalkeeper Jakub Słowik is set to star between the sticks.

While not strictly considered an addition, a full season with Yuto Nagatomo should help contribute to defensive stability and a more fluid style under Puig.

Key departures

Defender Tsuyoshi Watanabe and forward Kyosuke Tagawa both departed for Europe, leaving two large holes for Tokyo to fill, but they acted quickly to do that with additions in both positions.

An underrated departure could be Joan Oumari, whose play in the heart of defense was instrumental in some big wins last season, including at Vissel Kobe.

Goal for 2022

The goal for 2022 will be pushing further up the MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE table, closer to where F.C.Tokyo were in 2019 when they finished as runners up.

To do this, they will need to adapt to a new style of play quickly. While the squad still has some major holes to fill, continued consistency from the Brazilian attacking trio of Diego Oliveira, Leandro, and Adaílton will remove a lot of the pressure to find reinforcements and to improve the defense off the bat.

While it may take some time to build league success, F.C.Tokyo have been cup dynamos since 2004, lifting the J.League Cup three times and the Emperor’s Cup once as well. Challenging for silverware outside of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE would be a promising plus to the start of the Puig era in the capital.

What to watch for

Consistency under Puig, on both sides of the park, will be the thing to watch.

Diego Oliveira will be key to this in attack, as he’s been Mr. Reliable ever since signing for the Blue and Red in 2018. In that time he’s averaged better than 12 goals per year for the club while also contributing in the build up and serving as a great leader. He could be poised for an even bigger season, alongside the electrifying Leandro, if Puig's proactive possession puts him in better goalscoring positions.

Chance creation will be a big focus and it will be interesting to see how Puig uses veterans like Yojiro Takahagi and Kensuke Nagai who have in the past been key to the success of the Brazilian attacking cohort. Whether they will have a similar role in this system remains to be seen.

On the other side, F.C.Tokyo have bigger question marks. Captain Masato Morishige is capable of marshaling an impressive backline but will need physical and athletic presences by his side. He should benefit from a shift in playing style that leaves the rearguard less vulnerable to athletic transition, though.

Time will tell if F.C.Tokyo can find some greater consistency under Puig, but that will be the aim.