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Which Choi would you choose?




Which Choi would you choose?

When I typed "Choi Soo Yong" into the Google search engine, images for both the singer and the coach popped up.  If many Seoul fans were asked this question after the Suwon game (or even right now), I believe they would have chosen the picture on the left.  Really, could you blame them?  That game was the embodiment of all that has been wrong with FC Seoul since the departures of Dejan, Adi, and Ha Dae Sung.  No attack until they were down.  No connection between the midfield and attack, defense and midfield, or even all three.  Each section seemed to play on its own.  There were some good moments, but most were overshadowed by the negative. 

I have heard complaints from FC Seoul fans about Choi Yong Soo’s tactics, or lack thereof in the past.  Often times, I agree with these complaints.  Why doesn’t Seoul attack earlier in the game rather than when they are losing or in the final ten minutes?  Why can’t Seoul be more proactive rather than reactive?  Why does Choi persist with certain players and not use others?  What are his tactics?  What the hell is he doing? 

I still remember the first game from 2014.  It was against Jeonnam at home and they lost 1-0.  It was not the loss that I found galling but the manner in which they lost.  Neither team attacked, but I understand why Jeonnam chose not to.  Their game plan is predicated on playing on the counter.  Also, most teams in the past came to Seoul and set out in a similar fashion. 

However, Seoul chose not to attack either.  I remember this game vividly.  I will always remember this game vividly.  On my death bed, I will piss and moan about this game and the shit show that I had to endure.  I disapprove of booing players, especially if they are YOUR team’s players.  In this instance, it might have been justified to boo Choi. 

Both teams plodded with the ball in the middle of the field.  It resembled the trench warfare from World War I.  Neither team gained any territorial advantage and was quite content to hover close to the center line. 

Choi chose to play with a back five AND a defensive midfielder.  Kang Seung Jo, newly signed from Gyeongnam, stuck closely to the back three and never moved more than 5 yards away from them.  It was as though he was afraid that he would be whipped with a switch by Choi if he went further than 5 yards from the center backs..  There was no movement, no attack, nothing going forward.  Eventually, Osmar tripped a Jeonnam player in the box and Lee Hyun Seung dispatched it into the net.  It is the worse game I have ever seen in person.  Sure, Seoul lost 5-1 against Suwon, but at least they did create some chances. 

Anyways, that was a long and meandering anecdote, but I told it to try and show Choi’s lack of adventure and why fans might be ready for a change.  I have attached two links here about football managment.  I think they are both interesting.  The first one is sort of a love letter about Arsene Wenger. 


This one is about Jose Mourinho.  He is a man I loathe and to see Chelsea or him win anything pains me greatly, but he does get results as evidenced by the fact that he will win the league this year. What I find interesting from this article is a synthesis of Mourinho’s ethos in seven points.  They are as follows:

1. The game is won by the team who commit fewer errors.

2. Football favours whoever provokes more errors in the opposition.

3. Away from home, instead of trying to be superior to the opposition, it’s better to encourage their mistakes.

4. Whoever has the ball is more likely to make a mistake.

5. Whoever renounces possession reduces the possibility of making a mistake.

6. Whoever has the ball has fear.

7. Whoever does not have it is thereby stronger. 


I feel as though all of these principles were utilized in the Jeonnam home game in 2014, particularly numbers two and three.  I feel as though these are often in play for Choi until Seoul is losing or in the final ten minutes when they decide that it is possible to win the game.  His sides play it slow and safe and nothing really comes about. 

It is often said, people want to watch attacking, progressive football that is on display in most European leagues rather than the staid, reactive fare that seems to be part and parcel of the K League recently.  One such man who could bring attacking, progressive football to FC Seoul is Jurgen Klopp.  He recently announced his resignation from Dortmund at the end of this season.  

Speculation has it that he will probably coach Man City, but let’s pretend that if Seoul was to make a strong sales pitch for the position, Klopp might consider taking the position as FC Seoul coach.  There are lots of great things about living in Korea such as the cuisine, the communal dining culture, marts in the summer, and the fact that Seoul has the world’s best public transit system.  Maybe he wants to backpack through Southeast Asia at the end of the season and the best time to do it is in late December. 

So, let’s imagine that Seoul is able to secure the services of Klopp and dispense with Choi Yong Soo.  Would it make a difference?  In my opinion, it would not really.  Unless Seoul players have the fitness to run his gegenpressing, and it highly doubtful they do, it is hard to imagine Klopp being successful with this current squad of players.  That being said, what other coaches could be successful with this squad of players? 

It is easy to bash the manager, as I have done for the last 5000 words, but the players have to execute.  Being a manager is a thankless, albeit richly compensated, task.  No one ever gives credit to the manager when things go well, but the manager is the first to blame should things go awry. 

In the future, I am going to try to compare this current squad (2015) to Seoul’s, and once again in my opinion the league’s, last great side, the 2013 side that finished fourth, qualified for the AFC, and made it to the championship only to lose on aggregate (What the hell is that about?  Why couldn’t they play extra time?  Did Guangzhou really earn their status as AFC champions?) 

The reason I say that they are the last great side in the K-league is because of their AFC run and the quality of their league games that year.  Not every game was great, but many stood out nonetheless and even though they did not win anything that year, I still appreciate the effort that squad put forth and the entertainment they provided.  I think by doing this comparison, it will highlight the deficiencies in this current squad and why Choi Yong Soo probably cannot do any better than he currently is at this moment. 


Hopefully though, Seoul will begin to play better and score goals, which will make writing that unnecessary.  

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