The #KLeagueFM17 Challenges: Citizens Unite! [Aug '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, July '16
Fourteen more games left in this season plus whatever happens in the cup. It's certainly felt longer than I initially anticipated. At times our football has been splendid to watch, only failing to score on one occasion all season, yet there has also been a huge dollop of woefulness. There's nine more matches before the league splits, meaning I will have to face almost every side in the division once more. Seeing as I've twice hit significant slumps after Pohang (our next opponent), this will probably be yet another barren month to quickly gloss over.
We have been afforded quite a bit of time until our next match though so, instead of resting the team, I opt to set their focus to defensive positioning and increase their workload significantly. I want to be well prepared for our trip to The Steelyard.
It also gives me some time to play with the 4-1-2-1-2 (or 4-4-2 Diamond) formation that has been looking good yet failing to get over the line with the three points. I decide to alter the team instructions to focus their attacks centrally and wait for a countering opportunity. I also make it quite narrow so it can serve as a starker contrast to my standard fluid attack-focused strategy.
Pohang are looking good for the first three minutes, with the deadlock breaking shortly after. It's us though that have made the breakthrough. Kim tae-su passes from deep, Song Si-woo knocks it on with a single touch and Velkoski beats the keeper in a one on one to take the lead. Pohang aren't happy about this, and an experienced full back like Cho Byunk-kuk should know this, yet instead he holds onto the ball for too long before being dispossessed by Park Sun-yong who crosses in to an unmarker Lazar to score. I make a quick tactical switch into a wider formation in a bid to exploit their left. It reaps dividends immediately as Park Jong-jin forces a corner which he procedes to take. Ahn meets the ball at the near post, flicking it on to the Bae Seung-jin at the far post to hammer home. We lead 2-1 at half time.
All we have to do is not get complacent. We are playing well and, so far, it looks as if I know what I am doing. Two minutes later and Pohang have scored. Yang Dong-hyun has found the back of the net after no one picked up Lazar, who strolled casually into our box and squared the ball for the striker. It wasn't a simple tap in though, Lee Tae-hee initially made a very good save but he had no chance of getting back up to stop the rebound. I make subs but it doesn't make a difference. If anything, it gets worse when Lazar hits the post shortly after. I quickly shut up shop and drag everyone back. We hold on and claim our first draw since April. I'm annoyed to have lost a lead, but when outclassed to the extent we were in the second half, I will take it gladly.
We head out a team renewed. Bae Seung-jin brings the scores level in just over a minute with an almost identical goal to that which he scored at Pohang. Eight minutes later we have a penalty. Velkoski steps up, shoots and the keeper saves. It's not dead yet though and Lee Jin-wook rushes in to smash home the rebound, but the keeper somehow gets his finger tips to it and pushes it out. I can only applaud at what I have just witnessed. We attack and attack, but somewhere around the 75th minute mark we find ourselves being overrun and I am not quite sure why. I wait five more minutes and then decide to cut my losses and defend until the whistle. It's a 2-2 draw again, but I feel as if we should have won that if it were not for the defence.
Two winnable games. Two draws at two apiece. I can only view them as four points lost and, with us just about clinging on to the top half, I know they will be costly. I can just feel it. Next up is Ulsan, a team that we have also failed to defeat this season. High-flying in the top 3, Ulsan boast an 80% pass success rate, the best in the league. I decide to go narrow once more and press the hell out of them in a bid to break up their play.
We start well, as in neither side is particularly dominating proceedings. Ulsan striker Mendy pulls up after 12 minutes and has to be taken off, a definite positive for us. Perhaps buoyed by our good fortune we actually start creating chances for ourselves. Unfortunately, the biggest chance we make is into our own net. Ahn attempts to clear the ball, despite nobody pressuring him, kicks it against Bae and it rebounds past the keeper and in. 1-0 to the visitors. I don't change my formation though as what I see is taking hold. My patience is rewarded just before half time when Jin Seong-wook gets onto the end of a perfectly weighted pass by Velkoski, stroking the ball past the keeper and into the back of the net with ease. We head in at the break with the thought that today might just be the moment it all turns around.
What a stupid fool I must've looked fifteen minutes ago. It's just past the hour mark and Ulsan have decided to score not once, but twice. Kim Tae-hwan and Han Sang-woon doing the damage. We do pull one back in the 83rd minute, Park Jong-jin running late into the box from a corner and hitting a ferocious shot beyond the keeper but we fail to find an equaliser. We lose 3-2 and I feel it is not going to get any better.
Maybe something did get through though. It takes five minutes to find our feet, but when Kim Chan-hee dribbles into the box, he sensibly squares it to the unmarked Song Si-woo to tap in. Five minutes later and we've forced a penalty from them. Krste Velkoski, seeking redemption after his miss at Suwon, steps up and squanders a glorious chance to equalise. I take him off for Song Je-heon, a player my predecessor purchased before I left and one I forgot I had. I didn't even realise I was giving him his debut if I am being completely honest. We throw everything at them and eventually, after 75 minutes on the clock Bae Seung-jin heads home to bring the scores to two a piece. I am not done there though and continue urging them forward. It amounts to nothing though as the full-time whistle is blown. I reluctantly commend them on a strong second half performance. Maybe I inspired them with my half-time team talk, or perhaps they took pity on me when I started inconsolably weeping part way through it, but we snatched a point here when the scoreline could have been far more embarrassing.
This article is the eighth 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.