The #KLeagueFM17 Challenges: Citizens Unite! [Sept '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, August '16
Four games lie ahead of me as the split looms. I currently sit in eighth position, three points adrift of Jeonbuk who are sixth. Fortunately, they are my next opponents so a win would go some way towards me crowbarring myself back into top half contention. However, we have not won in five games and Jeonbuk have not conceded in a considerably long period.@Matt_Binns have you considered a midnight run? I'm already toying with the idea.— Stephen Waddell (@the48clubkorea) January 12, 2017
I have been afforded some time though, which leads me once more to the tactics board for a tinker. I decide to neuter my full backs somewhat, setting their focus to defend and forbidding my players from looking for the overlap on the wings. I also instruct my teams to play even shorter passes with an emphasis on retaining possession.
Our resolve is eventually broken when Kim Bo-kyung scores at the near post from a corner kick. Somewhat typically of our side, the midfielder manages to slot his shot through two defenders and past the keeper at a narrow angle. Our previous efforts though are quickly rewarded when Bae Seung-jin is taken out in the Jeonbuk area and we are rightly awarded a penalty. Having missed his last two spot kicks, Velkoski steps up to take this as I have forgotten to change my kick takers. He runs up, strikes the ball and it's saved, yet again. Five minutes later, Seo Sang-min is allowed to run for what feels like miles unchallenged before striding into the box and and doubling Jeonbuk's lead.
The second half proved uneventful, with Incheon not registering any shots of note. Jeonbuk had two free kicks that went close, but they were mostly subdued. Somehow, Jeju lose their game, and we remain three points off sixth spot with three games to play.
After the break, we continue to pile forward but none of our shots are coming off. Then, in the 72nd minute, we win a penalty. Lee Jae-myeong is off for a second bookable offence and we are also given a man advantage. We might just be able to turn this around However, a thought suddenly dawns on me. Did I tell Velkoski that he is off the top of my penalty takers list? As he picks the ball up and eyes up the spot, I realise I hadn't. Surely he cannot miss a fourth? Thankfully, he does not and we are level. Now with an extra man, I overload the attack, throwing everything I can at Sangju's defence. It amounts to nothing though and we end the game with a draw. It looks as if I will need a miracle now to realise the board's top half objectives.
I once again send my assistant to the press conference whislt I come to terms with this morning's news. Jeju United have shockingly sacked Cho Sung-hwan. What's worse however is that I am now second favourite in the "sack race" with bookies taking bets at odds of 7-2. I need something to save this season, but it's increasingly looking like it will have to be the cup next month.
The game gets off to the worst possible start imaginable. Park Dae-han decides to overlap the winger, despite explicit instructions not to, and leaves left back position unattended to when we lose possession. Bluewings counter quickly and Park tracks back, hacking down Yang Sang-min in the box before he can get his shot away. A penalty, and there has only been 37 seconds of the match played so far! Yang steps up to take it and it is amazingly saved by Lee Tae-hee.
Besides the early scare, we are doing well. We're not creating much by neither are they. Velkoski misses a glorious chance to take the lead when he is played through by Park Jong-jin but the striker is unable to convert a one verse one opportunity. I miss Kevin Oris. As we enter injury time, Park Dae-han decides to once again recklessly challenge within our own area. Suwon have changed their taker this time around and Fraga doesn't miss. We head into the break a goal down despite our strong resilience. Park Dae-han is immediately subbed off.
As we reach the hour mark, it dawns on me that we are going to have to attack as playing on the counter is no longer working. Suwon are just sitting back and waiting for time to be up. I progressively move players into more attacking roles starting with the wingers and eventually replacing the DM with an AM. Nothing comes of it though despite some close opportunities and we finish the game 1-0. There were signs of encouragement there, but Park will not be playing in the semi-final, or possibly ever again, after his atrocious display.
And suffer they do. Park Jong-jin plays the ball from deep and Velkoski outruns the backtracking Seoul defence. He then takes on the goalkeeper and slots it past him giving us the lead. The place is in raptures of disbelief.
Unfortunately, each of these games have become predictable by now and we concede just five minutes later. Yun Ju-tae beats Choi Hyo-jin for pace, driving into the area and squaring the ball for Adriano to tap in easily. We enter half-time level.
I try to stir them up at half time. I recall the losses and humiliation of every single defeat this season, and how these dwindling supporters that are still trying to find value in their ill-thought out purchases that were their 2016 season tickets, deserve a victory today. These fans shall not be mocked by their fiercest rivals. We shall persevere and deliver. We shall not go gentle into this good night! We will rage, rage, rage against the dying of the light! For we are Incheon United!
The official leans his head around the door. Kick off was supposed to be two minutes ago. I quickly tell the lads to get their boots back on and out the tunnel.
Things are looking good. FC Seoul are getting their shots off but they are all from too far out to properly bother us. After about ten minutes into the second half, we force a corner. Kainz takes it, the cross meeting the head of Park Jong-jin who nods it across for Bae Seung-jin to head in at the far post. We have taken the lead again! I'm out of my dugout jumping around in jubilation with my coaching team. Kim Byung-ji has jumped into the crowd, hurting himself on the empty seats he met upon landing. My assistant tells me to focus and for once, he's right. I begin barking orders to concentrate,
FC Seoul are battering us now in search for an equaliser. I take off Velkoski and bring on another defender, operating a 5-1-4-0 formation with the sole focus to contain our opponents. We hold on through the three minutes of injury time and the full time whistle has sounded. We've won a game! And not just any game, the Gyeongin Derby! 7-2 odds on being sacked? If it means days like these then I'll take it!
This article is the ninth 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 sees his high-flying side face a number of problems in June.