Watching East Tokyo United fall behind in a match has become par for the course with Giant Killing thus far, and by the end of the last episode we saw them do so yet again, this time being found out from a set piece despite the overall quality of their play improving.
As episode nine begins however we see the final whistle blow, bringing the curtain down on a fifth consecutive defeat - This is the kind of thing which sees a manager being shown the door before he's barely got his foot in it. Indeed, that seems to be the way things are going for Tatsumi, as we see the club's vice chairman's frustrations about the team's results clearly indicated, while things aren't looking much better amongst the fans, who block in ETU's team bus to demand to speak with the manager. In the end it's general manager Goto who diffuses the situation, although not before Tatsumi looks ready to take the fall on behalf of his players - Always the sign of a good boss.
As if the pressure of five consecutive defeats isn't enough, Tsubaki is still holding himself responsible for the team's poor form (selfishly so, as Murakoshi points out), while their next game is against high-flying Nagoya Grand Palace, the current home of the former ETU manager. Such match-ups always have a certain amount of additional needle to them, but with what seems to be a huge gulf in quality between the two sides (and with Nagoya boasting a trio of Brazilians who seem to live in some kind of perpetual Nike advertisement) surely there can only ever be one outcome? At least, you might think that unless you know a bit about football and the surprises that it regularly springs upon us all...
I have to confess that this was never likely to be one of my favourite episodes of Giant Killing solely for the lack of on-pitch action, and particularly in a day in which I had to sit through an abysmal England performance only to see them win thanks to two own goals, the kind of luck ETU would die for no doubt! Still, that said there was still a lot to like about this episode, in particular Tatsumi's willingness to "take one for the team" and his growing belief in his players, and the understanding of Tatsumi's body language shown by the female journalist who is following the team. There are plenty of other interesting little moments sprinkled throughout the instalment, but never mind that... Now I have to wait until next weekend to get to the big name that I'm on the edge of my seat for!