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Good-bye Koh Myong-jin: The One Club Man is No More

According to reports, (H/T Korea Football News @KORFootballnews), Koh Myong-jin has joined Qatari football/soccer side Al Rayyan SC for 1.6 million Euros.  He has played for Seoul since 2004 (www.kleague.com), so it is always sad to see someone who has been around for so long go.  However, in my opinion, he has not been great the last couple of years and a change will do him well.

That being said, I would prefer to remember the positives rather than dwell on the negatives.  Looking at Wikipedia and K-League.com, his stats are not that impressive.  His best year, stats wise, was in 2011 when he had seven assists.  However, I feel as though he was a player that, at times, transcended statistics.

Making his break through in 2011, he has been a mainstay in the midfield since then.  I still remember the winning goal he scored against Jeju in the April rain from a Dejan pass.  In 2012, he was part of a juggernaut that destroyed the K-League to win the crown.  In 2013, he helped Seoul reach the AFC Champion's League final against Guangzhou Evergrande.  In both those years, he did not score much, but the goals he did hit were great.  All three were magnificent and came from shots outside the box.

Unfortunately, I do not think he has been the same player since Ha Dae-sung and Dejan left after 2013.  Maybe it was the change in tactics and Choi Yong-soo's decision to become more defensive, but the offense suffered and Seoul's midfield seemed too static.  A player who I would define as a shuttler, that could on occasion make a great pass to pick out a run, did not seem to do enough to help the team get over their offensive woes.

He was great dribbling and going forward, but the midfield was lacking in someone who could link the defense and attack together.  His defensive play and set piece delivery have improved as the years went on, but I still never felt that he was the K-League's Roy Keane or Patrick Vieria, someone who could take a game over and lead the team to victory.  I think this, coupled with Choi's tactics, made it seem as though Koh was not living up to his potential.

This year especially, it feels frustrating to watch Seoul ping the ball around the pitch sideways and backwards, almost always playing it short.  Players never spot the runners.  Often times, they just kick it long in the hopes that something good will happen.  There is no spark nor crackle to their play.

One-touch play was on display last week, but unfortunately it was not Seoul who was doing it.  Instead, they have abandoned the one-touch play that was part of their repertoire and gone for dullness safety.  For this reason alone, I understand why Koh has decided to leave Seoul.

Even though he has not been great this year, Koh has been one of their best players in the past and it is good to have some depth.  The competition for places might help Seoul cure what appears to be, for lack of a better word, the players' complacency.  I have heard a couple of people comment that the players look far too comfortable.

Saturday's game was a great example of how the players seemed to lack any urgency whatsoever and continued to do the same thing over and over- pass sideways for a bit, then cross out of desperation.  Something really needs to change in the set-up immediately- choose some new players, choose form, choose something DIFFERENT.  Right now, I am sure Choi regrets not moving to Nanjing and meeting up with Escudero.

When Yojiro Takahagi was signed, I felt as though this was a statement of intent.  Rather than allowing a good player to leave, they had signed someone new.  However, by letting Koh  move to Al Rayyan, it feels like a step back.  Seoul is now a selling club again.

Then again, the K-League Classic has become a league that sells.  Jong Tae-se moving to Shimizu S-Pulse wasn't surprising, but Edu leaving to join Hebei China Fortune FC certainly was.  You can't blame the players though.  Their wages are being doubled and tripled, so I can see why they would want to move.

However, this is not a good trend for the league, especially long term.  If good players continue to leave, fans might become disgruntled and leave.  Likewise, it will be more difficult to attract new ones.  In turn, this will lead clubs to being unable to pay wages or keep their talent since they aren't making money and the vicious cycle will continue.

For Koh, this is a good move.  Al Rayyan were relegated in 2014, but they are currently tops in the second division.  From 2011 until 2013 they had qualified for the AFC Champion's League.  If it does not work out, then he can always come back to the K-League.  Teams are always open, as Seoul has shown with Cha Du-ri and Park Chu-young, to welcoming back Koreans who have went overseas, especially when they have done well in the K-League or internationally.

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