The #KleagueFM17 Challenges: Challenge Champs [June '16]
Despite early doubts being expressed about the wisdom of the E-Land board appointing Steve Waddell to the job he’s proved the naysayers, and himself, wrong by charging to the top of the league in May. He sits proudly on top of the table as we enter June. Can he stay there?
I’m impressed by South Korean football fans ability to lip-read in English as my, shall we say, informal, approach for Milos is the talk of the town on Twitter. They’re already behind the times though as the deal is dead before it gets anywhere. Busan accepted an offer of £20k for him but Milos was happy to see out his contract down south and wasn’t interested in listening to anything we had to say. Take him off the Christmas card list.
We’ve more immediate things to worry about anyway. We’ve still got a handful of games to play before the transfer window re-opens with injuries and suspensions starting to mount up. For the next game it looks like we will have 6 missing – both full-backs have picked up suspensions and we have Glory, Beo-min, Oh-baek and Tarabai on the injured list. It might only be Anyang but this is going to be a tough one with so many out. With another 4 players sitting one yellow away from a one-match lay-off we need to be a bit careful.
In the end Tarabai makes the match with the help of a protective head bandage and Seo Beo-min is fit enough to make the bench. So it’s the same team minus the full-backs and keeper for this one. I must be getting a bit cocky now as none of the opposition line-up worry me in the slightest. Three points fully expected from this one to keep the run going.
We play most of the game parked on the edge of their box and are knocking it around nicely. The opener comes in 15 minutes from Tarabai with a lovely shot from the edge of the box. He bags his second from close range on 35 minutes. Game over. I take Kim Jae-sung off to avoid any silly bookings.
Joo Min-kyu comes off just after half-time but within seconds we’ve conceded from a corner and I regret the decision. Tarabai bags his hat-trick 5 minutes later though and I can breathe easy again. To be honest he could have had five or six today.
Ahn Seong-bin bags the fourth against his old club on 56 minutes. It’s really just a matter of how many we are going to score as Anyang have collapsed at the back. They are no match for us whatsoever.
I don’t want to take Tarabai off since he seems to be having so much fun and he could have bagged another hat-trick with the chances he had in the second half. Five minutes from time the inevitable happens though and he’s taken off injured. He seems to be made of glass unfortunately.
4-1 is how it finishes and Anyang have gotten off lightly. A more clinical team would have bagged double figures but even with a mostly reserve side in the second half we have still totally dominated. Good stuff.
Turns out Tarabai has broken his foot. He’s dispatched off to see a specialist but that’s 4-5 months out and probably the last we will see of him this season. Balls.
That’s definitely a negative, so right now I need two positives. What I don’t need is a moaning midfielder complaining about a lack of game-time. Do I, Kim Jae-yeon? If you aren’t happy you can leave. I’ll put you on the transfer list then. Where’s bloody Kevin?
Next up is Gangwon. That’s all I need. I go down the pub to decide whether Cho Woo-jin gets his chance to lead the line or whether I need to rejig the team to stick Min-kyu up front. If Kim Jae-yeon hadn’t just annoyed me he’d probably be in line to start. Now he’s in line at Starbucks to get the coffees and he can wash my car later. Gwangju have offered £55k for him and I’m happy to get him off the books now. Hopefully that’ll go through and we can use the money to find a goalscorer.
Gangwon are sitting in 10th and on paper this should be a relatively straightforward match. But we’ve been there before. We definitely owe them one after the last meeting. Events seem to be conspiring against me this week so a win would definitely be a bonus.
Other than Glory and Tarabai, I start what I think is my strongest eleven. No messing about here.
Gangwon have some decent players despite their poor form so we need to unsettle them. I tell the lads to target their foreigners for some special treatment and send them out to exact revenge.
The problem in the first half is fairly obvious. We’re getting plenty of the ball but have nobody to finish in the penalty box. Inevitably it’s 0-0 at half-time.
A minute into the second half and we’re behind! Matheus Alves bags the goal and it’s looking worrying for us now. Time for Joomes up front.
All that gets him is a gashed head and he’s next to come off. Ahn Seong-bin has picked up a hamstring problem as well. What a great week!
With 5 minutes to go Gangwon add a second with another goal from Alves. We finish the game without a single shot on target. It’s going to be a long month until the transfer window opens. I think I will spend it down the pub.
After the match, I offer Gangwon the Kim Jae-yeon money for Matheus Alves – if nothing else at least it will stop him scoring against us. Surprisingly they accept the offer but I’m not confident the deal will complete.
Incheon are sniffing about Kim Jae-sung now. I can hardly blame them but there’s no need to be discussing it in the press. If they want to have him then they can come and make me an offer. Otherwise keep it zipped.
Our next match is against Gyeongnam who have hit a slight run of form since we last played them managing three wins out of six. Annoyingly Yoo Byung-soo is finding the net now and is the league’s top scorer. He’ll have to be watched. I have another couple of bodies on the injured list and a worrying lack of forward options.
The press seem to be trying to stir something up between me and Kim Jong-boo in the media conference. It's probably safe to say that I don’t have anything personal against him given that I had to quickly Google who the hell he is before I answer the question. The Gyeongnam boss, apparently. He looks like a nice enough chap in his picture – I’ll invite him out for a beer after the game.
On Wednesday morning Dan is waiting at the office. This can’t be good. I offer him a beer but he’s already got himself an organic kale, broccoli and turnip smoothie. I offer him a shot of soju in it but he says he’s alright. He’s only got five minutes anyway and just wants to let me know that Choi Tae-uk has apparently been making offers to sign players. Treachery!
I thank Dan and summon Choi in. He gives me the full story and insists that I had told him to do it. I’m pretty sure I would remember telling my assistant to sign a player for me. Worse still his offer failed. Strike three, Choi. You’re fired!
For the game, it’s time to mix things up a bit in attack and Joo is going to get his chance at centre-forward. That means Ahn Tae-hyun comes into the middle. With Seong-bin injured we need to change the widemen around as well. Finally Dong-chul is suspended so Jeon Min-gwang comes in at the back. Not ideal.
The Gyeongnam team consists of 9 diddies plus Christian and Yoo up front. If we can keep those two quiet we should be fine.
19 minutes in the game plan is undone again. Christian blasts home from short range and we’re trailing.
Joo up front isn’t working so I switch him and Seung-woo around to see if that has any effect. It doesn’t. Nothing does. We fall to a second straight defeat. And another game without a goal. Can I play Tarabai with one good foot? He might be better than the other options we have.
The next game is against league leaders Daegu. We frankly have no chance so match preparations are out the window. I’m off down the pub for the rest of the week. Come and get me when Tarabai’s foot isn’t broken.
Down the pub I bump into ex-Busan player Yeo Beom-kyu and he tells me he is looking for a coaching gig. I’m initially sceptical but as the night rolls on he seems to be a good bloke so I have a new assistant. I’m glad I brought my laptop to the bar and can get the paperwork done there and then.
While I’m at it, I hopefully get ahead of any interest in Joo Min-kyu in the window by tying him up to a new deal which gives him a nice meaty payrise. I also promise to strengthen the forward line. I was already working on that anyway.
In the meantime I send an email reminder to Kevin about getting Sistar on-board. He’s been less than responsive to messages recently. If I’d actually been able to find him I’d probably have fired him by now.
At about 2am a South American chap turns up in the bar and introduces himself as ex-Gangwon striker Gil. He’s been without a club for a while now. I offer him a deal on the spot. I should go to the pub more often.
Sadly I have to leave the bar to attend the match. A change of plan seems necessary for this one so Sin Il-soo will come in as anchor man. Lee Seung-woo goes up front, mostly because there’s nowhere else for him to play. At least Daegu are short of a striker as well.
Bloody hell! We’ve scored! Seo Beo-min grabs the opener in 23 minutes after combining well with Seung-woo. Not sure how we’ve pulled that off but let’s just sit on this lead now lads!
And that is exactly what we do. I park the bus for the rest of the match and we steal it 1-0. What a way to bounce back! We regain our slot at the top of the table as an added bonus. I consider moving my office in to the bar on a permanent basis.
After the match Jo Hyang-ki wants a word about lack of first team football. I tell him that a loan move might benefit everyone and he seems happy enough with that.
On the good news front both Gil and Matheus Alves sign on and suddenly we have striking options. Let’s hope Alves can keep up his good form. If nothing else I should have a couple more guys who want to get one over on those Gangwon buggers.
Sadly they won’t be eligible until after the window opens so we will have to limp on for now. Next up is a struggling Bucheon side that we really need to beat. I decide not to change anything from the Daegu match, mainly as I have no better ideas. Fingers crossed.
Bucheon have Waguininho and Edison Farias up front but even so this one should be straightforward.
As usual reality has other plans. The first half ends 0-0 and shortly into the second half Sin Il-soo sees a second yellow and we are down to ten men. I throw the kitchen sink at Bucheon but if anything we seem more likely to lose the game than win it. In the end a 0-0 draw is all we can manage.
It seems I don’t even have time to fire anyone before the next match comes around which happens to be Daegu again but this time in the FA Cup. Can we steal another win against them? Unlikely to be honest.
Strangely enough though it is déjà vu all over again. Seo Beo-min manages to fire a long-range shot past the Daegu keeper to make it 1-0 and we plan to shut up shop for the rest of the match. This time though we actually manage to get a second thanks to a late penalty which Joo Min-kyu puts away. And then a third! Joo floats in a free-kick and big Carlyle Mitchell nods home to make it 3-0. Daegu manage to grab a consolation goal but we’re home and dry and into the next round! That’s a quarter final away to Busan. Another brown envelope bursting with cash is coming my way as well.
There’s no time to take a breath though. Daejeon are up and we really need to win that. Lee Jae-hun has picked up an injury so Kim Dong-jin comes back into the lineup. Other than that there’ll be no changes.
Maybe there should have been. 7 minutes in we are one behind and looking dreadful. The rest of the half is no better. At half-time I shuffle the pack around losing the sitting midfielder and pushing Joo up front.
It does the job. Just before the hour mark Jae-sung fires a shot into the top postage stamp leaving Lee Beom-soo stranded. 1-1.
Unfortunately we can’t hold on and ten minutes later Daejeon are back in the lead. And that’s how it ends. Seriously, June can do one at this point. Sadly, we still have one more game to play.
Just to put the cherry on top of a hopeless month Kim Jae-sung wanders in after the game and wants a chat. He’s heard Incheon might be interested in him and wants to let me know he wants to go if they make an offer. This is the last thing we need right now and I try to fob him off as there’s been no bid made. I agree to let him go if Incheon come in with a reasonable offer but sadly we aren’t even in the same ballpark of what reasonable means. He storms off in a huff.
I put in place Plan B with immediate effect and try to sign up Lee Woo-hyuk, a young midfielder from Jeonbuk that comes highly recommended. Oddly enough this is the guy Choi tried to sign and got fired for it. I'm nothing if not unpredictable. I don’t want an unhappy club captain hanging around the place so I make a few calls and see if I can drum up a reasonable offer for him.
Unbelievably, we still have one more game to play in this awful month. A trip to Goyang. I consider not bothering and letting the assistant take the game while I drown my sorrows in a local bar but decide to take it on the chin, fully expecting another defeat. At least there won’t be too many people there to see it.
Juggling my strikers who can’t score again it’s time for Ahn Seong-bin to start up front and Seung-woo to drop back to his more effective role behind the striker. Anything we get from this will be a bonus anyway.
It looks as if the game is going to peter out to a 0-0 draw but the normally reliable Glory has a rush of blood to the head and manages to fumble an easy cross into his own net. An o.g. from the keeper is going to lose us this one. That pretty much sums up our June.
Just to top things off, after the game I get a note to remind me that Jae-sung and Min-kyu will be suspended for the next match. Someone hurry up and open the transfer window – if nothing else I can jump out of it.