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The #KleagueFM17 Challenges: Challenge Champs [Pre-season '16 Part Two]

When Steve Waddell is appointed unlikely manager of Seoul E-land his triple goals of winning the ACL, filling the stadium and assembling an unmatched pool of talent for the cheerleading squad seem far-fetched to say the least. A couple of pre-season games against lower league opposition have provided him with a couple of wins but can he keep the momentum going for the rest of pre-season with four tricky ties coming up against Classic sides? 

Catch up on part one here

After 2 games in charge it was time to take stock of where things stood. I’d won both fixtures but performances had been far from ideal. Worse still, three of my starting eleven were already on the treatment table and likely to be out for at least a month.

Decisions also had to be made on a handful of trialists and another Brazilian, in the shape of Ricardo, joined the ranks for a week to be assessed. Wagner Querino had looked lively in the last game but not necessarily enough to win a deal and Son Dae-ho had a bit of a mare, missing a penalty and putting in a fairly mediocre showing. I’ve quite a few central midfielders in the squad anyway so I decide the best course of action is to do nothing for now.

The lineup in the last game suggested that we lack a bit of width so I rack my brains to think of a winger that might be available.  I guess this kind of thing is my responsibility for now since I fired my scout and nobody has applied for the job as yet. As far as I can see there’s only one possible man for the job. 

I check the time difference in Lanarkshire and pick up the phone to Mark McGhee. It’s Faddy time! Since I have a bit of cash available I also stick in a cheeky £50k bid for Choi Jin-ho of Gangwon. What a pairing that would be.

Over the weekend the chairman tells me we’ve sold just over 800 season books and expect another 200 to sell before the start of the season. 1000 season tickets. That’s about 68,000 short of where we need to be. Kevin still hasn’t come through on the whole Sistar cheerleading thing. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen him since I told him to look in to that. His disapperance and the absence of my data analyst means I have to get my own lunch from the 7-11 which I am none too pleased about. I send a cheeky e-mail to the chairman to request he add a data analyst to my staff rota but he insists we were doing fine without one. I consider reminding him we’ve only existed for one season and ‘doing fine’ is all relative but I think better of it on the way back from the convenience store with a banana milk and a box of Pepero. I shouldn’t be working on a Sunday anyway so I grab a taxi and head home to begin preparations for Suwon FC by getting an early night.

The week proper begins with Gangwon chancing their arm and asking for £195,000 for Choi Jin-ho. They’ve got two hopes of that. I fire back a take it or leave it £75k and hover my mouse over the e-mail from Motherwell like a kid waiting for Santa to arrive. They’re willing to do a deal. But they want £40k. It sounds like a bargain to be honest but I learned to haggle in the fakey markets of Shanghai so I never accept the first offer. How about four? We agree on a deal at £18k.

Unfortunately nobody had thought to ask Faddy if he wanted to move to the other side of the world to play in the Korean second-tier. Perhaps unsurprisingly he didn’t. Back to the drawing board.

Elsewhere, Busan have offered a deal to Wagner Querino and the player lets me know of the interest in an attempt to force my hand. I ask about his wages and he suggests he’d be willing to listen to an offer of £2900 a week with bonuses on top. I suggest he gets on the next KTX to Busan. Overweight Brazilian no-hoper that he is. If you see Kevin on your way out tell him I want to talk to him.

Elsewhere, Gangwon seem to be struggling with the meaning of the term non-negotiable and come back asking for more money for Choi. I walk away from the deal, from my desk and from the office. I’ve had enough for today already and head down the pub.

Before I know it, it’s Saturday and the Suwon game is upon us. Had I really spent 3 days in the pub?I’d hoped to be better prepared for this one, to be honest. With both trialists having left the club and Hwang In-beom nursing a bad knee I will have to make at least three changes so I decide to freshen things up entirely with an almost new eleven. The closest I have to wingers are the two Choi’s so I’ll give them a try. Kim Joon-tae gets his first chance to impress in midfield and I change both full-backs for good measure. Ricardo will start from the bench while I make a mental note to give Cho Woo-jin some minutes before I decide whether to move him on. 

The opposition are better than anything we’ve faced so far so I decide to play it slightly cagey and opt for a counter-attacking style with very defensive minded roles for the back four. Suwon opt for an old-fashioned 4-4-2 but they have some decent players in their line-up and look flexible enough to switch to a three up front if they need to. Gavilan and Djite have made the line-up with E-Land old boy Lee Jae-an leading the line. They look as if they have goals in that side so I just hope our defence is up to the task today.  Someone reminds me I’ve forgotten to name a captain for the day so I chuck the armband at Kim Tae-eun since he’s closest to me and appears to be wearing the least make-up. 

Yet again my changes pay off. It’s Kim Joon-tae this time who earns an assist with a lovely reverse pass through to Joo Min-kyu who pounces and lashes a low shot past the keeper. Dae Han Min kyu!

At half-time I decide to bring on Ricardo to give him his shot at glory. I glance around to the bench but he’s nowhere to be seen. Where the hell is he? Has he gone home? Seriously? Overweight Brazilian layabout. Nobody seems sure whether he actually made it onto the teambus so I give Cho Woo-jin the nod instead. He’s got 45 minutes to save his E-Land career.

Disaster strikes. Lee Chang-hun’s shot takes a deflection off Kim Dong-cheol and leaves Lee Sang-ki flat-footed. 1-1. And just 5 minutes left on the clock.

That seems to spark Cho Woo-jin into life and perhaps realising he has only 5 minutes left to keep his job he fires a piledriver into the roof of the net from 25 yards. What a strike!

The lead doesn’t last long though as the impressive Yu Ji-no charges forward from right full-back and fires a cross into the box for Jeong Min-woo to apply the finish. A hectic few minutes ensues but we manage to hold on for a point. We remain unbeaten and the lads were unlucky not to win it having been ahead twice.

Kim Joon-tae picks up the man of the match award giving me something to think about for the next match. Cho Woo-jin’s goal, the mysterious disappearance of my Brazilian trialist and the fact that I can’t seem to sign anyone for toffee, means he earns a reprieve for now.

The bus ride back from Suwon is good time to catch up on some admin. Given my squad-building woes, it’s the wrong time for Anyang to make a cheeky offer for Jeon Min-gwang and my response to them is less than polite. I do have a bundle of CVs to look at for the vacant coach position but most of them look like no-hopers. The standout amongst them is former Pohang assistant manager Kang Chul who has an impressive pedigree in the game both playing and coaching. He’ll hopefully help tighten up the leaky defence.

The candidates for new physio are less impressive. Best of a bad lot seems to be Jeon Myung-ku but given my luck with injuries so far he’ll get plenty of opportunity to learn on the job I suppose. Elsewhere I note that Busan completed the signing of Wagner Querino making him the highest paid overweight Brazilian plumber on the planet.

On Monday morning my relationship with the chairman hits a serious speedbump. He’s not signing off on Kang Chul unless I sack Dan to make space. Not going to happen. This is quite frankly ridiculous and I storm off to his office for a face-to-face. Luckily for him this time he folds quicker than a laundry ajumma working the nightshift and agrees that we need to expand the coaching staff. Kang Chul is in.  The deal for the physio is also approved and that to me seems like a decent day’s work. 

The squad still needs a few tweaks from my point of view though so I resolve to start spending the chairman's money before he changes his mind. I start by taking his credit card for a night out in Itaewon, I can get back to looking for a winger tomorrow.

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