The #KLeagueFM17 Challenges: Citizens Unite! [July '16]
Citizens Unite! Stand up to the Korean Chaebols by leading a citizen club to title glory.
Previous Instalments: Pre-season '16 [Part 1], Pre-season '16 [Part 2], March '16, April '16, May '16, June '16
There's a knock at the door. It's my 21 year-old data analyst with the coffee I'd requested 35 minutes ago. As he places it down in front of me, I give an inquisitive nodding gesture towards the cup to see if he has added the Irish whiskey one of the scouting team had brought back from duty free during their unfruitful scouting holiday to view the Chinese Super League. He nods back enthusiastically with too much innocence in his eyes. I can see he has not understood my request. I suppose I have to get back to work sometime. I message Kim Byung-ji to hold off on my hair styling appointment at 10 and tell him to go and see what the goalkeepers are up to. I instead decide to begin sifting through the morning emails. Oh how I wish it was those halcyon days of May again.
The transfer window opens tomorrow and I am left with a conundrum. How can I bring in a stellar defender with next to no money? My assistant unhelpfully pipes up with the comment that I should not have sold Jonjic, once again serving up a prime example that his advice is partially the reason why I am in this mess. I call my scouting team and tell them to see who they can find while I switch my focus to our upcoming game against Sangju Sangmu.
The second half remains goalless, but mostly because I remove key players to rest them for our crucial quarter final match. We still have plenty of chances though and once the match is over, the statistics speak for themselves; 27 shots to their 3. It's a bit early to call, but we are looking good once more.
Even though I believe our performance has been admirable, my assistant says I should berate the players for their efforts. I overrule him and tell them how unlucky they have all been. They respond to my caring nature well with a Kim Chan-hee equaliser shortly after the restart. A long ball from Kevis Oris, who has somehow wound up quite deep, heads over their back line with Kim beating too defenders for pace, taking two more touches and smashing it past the onrushing keeper. I smugly grin at my assistant. As I do so though, Suwon quickly equalise. I miss the goal, but replays show it was a Fraga tap-in after finding himself unmarked in the box whilst four defenders run to put out the fire that is Yeom Ki-hoon with the ball at his feet. Kim Dae-jung was supposed to stay with Fraga. My petulance of dropping Bae Seung-jin for him has evidently back fired. The game finishes 2-1 even though we continue to play well. Bluewings manager Seo Jung-won even compliments our "excellent" playing style. Perhaps I shouldn't be too disheartened, but I would have preferred the three points. We are still fifth however, but the gap to top three is looking increasingly insurmountable.
Next up is the FA Cup quarter final. Having come to the realisation that Champions League may not be achievable through league qualification, winning the cup may be my easiest way to gate crash the tournament. Having secured a favourable draw against lower tier side Seoul E-Land, as well as the likes of Jeonbuk and FC Seoul having already crashed out, we do have a decent opportunity to go far.
Before I can make an undignified escape to the nearest subway station, we pull a goal back! Song Si-woo creates space on the right flank, crosses to Velkoski who somehow manages to wrangle in between two defenders at the near post to convert. It at least makes me stick around until the interval.
I send the boys out with passionate words of encouragement ringing in their ears, knowing full well that I still harbour crippling doubts about our prospects. It's end to end stuff, with either team looking as if they'll concede next. Then, in the 67th minute, Lee Jin-wook somehow collects the ball within the Seoul E-Land penalty box and manages to deflect it beyond the keeper and equalise. We're level.
The clock ticks on but neither team is able to find what would surely be a winner. We head to extra time and I go on the offensive in a bid to prepare ourselves for penalties. We switch to a 4-4-2 and Kevin Oris is also brought into play. Sure enough, a third goal cannot be found and we head into a penalty shootout. I choose my players in order of penalty taking ability, with the strongest starting. We take the lead after Lee Je-hwan misses E-Land's second penalty and keep our one goal margin. Choi Hyo-jin is tasked with the decisive penalty, but he tamely strikes it and the keeper parries with ease. The first round of sudden death sees both players score. It's time for Bae Seung-jin to step up. The centre back takes a long run up but sends the keeper the wrong way. We have the advantage, and this time we are successful, as Kim Dong-chul's shot is saved by our keeper. We're through to the semi-finals where we will face one of Suwon FC, Daejeon Citizen or Suwon Bluewings. The dream lives on.
It then quickly begins to deteriorate. Osmar decides to collect the ball in central midfield, stride his way through the on rushing players before laying it off to Yun Ju-tae on the edge of the box. The Seoul attacker then turns and sends a powerful drive into the net to give the home side the lead. Two minutes later and Yun has doubled his tally, this time meeting Adriano's wayward glancing header at the far post to tuck home.
A few minutes later and Yun has his hat trick. The ball is headed clear by Lee Jin-wook, but only as far as Osmar who passes through the defence to Yun who scores. Adriano then gorges on a rebound just before the interval to make it four. I don't think the fans will be happy.
I take off the young Kim Dae-jung before his confidence is completely destroyed, as well as Velkoski who is the victim of a tactical change when I revert back to my old ways. A further fifteen minutes later and Kim Chan-hee is on for Lee Jin-wook. It all seems rather uneventful, perhaps as FC Seoul have resorted to sitting back and defending. We do claim a consolation in the form of Oris, who powerfully heads home a Kim Chan-hee cross in the 75th minute, but that's about it. We drop down to 6th. I send my assistant to the press conference whilst I find a dark room to sit in for a while.
The second half starts tentatively, yet it only takes ten minutes for the next goal to roll in. This time, Yang Joon-a and Han Young-min's delicate interplay make my team look foolish to double the Dragons lead. I quickly take off our new DM and replace him with Song Si-woo in AM. Lee Jin-wook is also brought on for Jin Seong-wook which makes a more notable difference. The substitute plays in a cross to Oris who nods one goal back. We throw everything at them for the equaliser but it ends 2-1. Unbelievable. It was only Jeonnam.
I decide to stick to the tactic for a little bit longer before resorting to all out attack. The signal I needed to do so came in the 58th minute however when Goo bon-sang clattered into my player, earning himself a 2nd yellow. With the man advantage, I resort to the "Tiki-Taka" default, bringing on more attacking talents in Park Jong-jin, Kim Chan-hee and Oris, and go for broke to find a winner. We had racked up over 25 shots and 86 minutes before they succumbed. Gwangju defender Jeong Ho-jeong fouled Kim Chan-hee in the box to award us a penalty. Kevin Oris makes no mistake and we end the month with a deserved 2-1 victory.
At the end of July, I still sit 5th in the table with the joint highest number of losses, yet also the 3rd highest number of goals. 3rd is pretty much out of reach but making sure I stay in the top half is now vital if I am to meet the targets set by the board.
This article is the seventh part of the #KLeagueFM17 challenges, a series we are running on our website and encourage others to do so on their's as well. If you enjoy Football Manager and the K-League, then we suggest you should take a look for yourself and see if there is a challenge which you can complete during these matchless winter months. The short online entry form can be found here.
You can also join our Seoul E-Land columnist Steve Waddell in another #KLeagueFM17 adventure as he takes on the challenge that is the K-League Challenge with Seoul E-Land. His latest entry see him finally start competitive football after a lengthy pre-season. You can take a look here.