Ryo Miyaichi's injury problems were, on the face of it, the main reason he didn't cut it at Arsenal. Put simply, he just wasn't fit often enough to be considered for selection. As I explained in JSoccer Magazine, Ryo's slightly bow-legged stance often leads to injuries in a player's career: Robin van Persie is testament to that.
However, added to that is the tough tackling in the English game married to the frenetic pace. It's been mentioned to me by an ex-pro that nowadays players don't get a breather between collisions. It's just non-stop.
Although Ryo hasn't gone public on his reasons why it didn't work out at Arsenal, Ogimi of Japan's Women's World Cup team has publicly cited her view as to why Germany is a better place to play football. The former Chelsea star told JSoccer Magazine that it was indeed the tough tackling that made her leave the English game. And there I was thinking it was the puke-inducing supermarket dishes that masquerade as sushi in this country and the faux-Japanese cuisine of Wagamama and their ilk!
We can only guess that something similar began Arsenal's Japanese exodus with Ryo, Ohno and Kinga all leaving the club. In Ryo's case, I can't forget when he was almost kicked up in the air while on loan at Bolton. He'd had the temerity to score the opener at Millwall, so the hosts weren't going to put up with that. I think the offending player got booked for the challenge, but the general lack of protection provided by English referees will inevitably force the delicate but skilful types to ply their trades elsewhere.
The same lack of protection is found in other English speaking countries, judging by last night's Women's World Cup semi-final refereed by officials from New Zealand. While England were the dominant team against Japan and were unlucky not to go through, some of their tackling and negative tactics pushed the boundaries of acceptability. Quite how England earned a penalty when the player who was 'fouled' was not touched at all is beyond me. It was clearly a dive. Sadly, the BBC studio guests, which included Trevor Sinclair and Gunner girl Rachel Yankee, did not agree. One of the replays clearly showed it was a dive, but the studio and commentator Jonathan Pearce refused to recognise the facts. Perhaps there is mileage in being biased, but I expect more from the BBC, considering we have no choice but to pay the licence fee.
Having said all that, hats off to Sampson's England for getting this far in the competition and outplaying the World Cup holders. England had certainly done their homework on the opposition, pressing them and winning the ball deep in Japanese territory. In fact, England can consider themselves incredibly unlucky given they hit the bar three times and only one of those strikes ricocheted in; unfortunately it was the own goal that cost the country a first World Cup final since 1966.
Sent from my iPhone