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2020 Season Review: FC Seoul


From sex dolls in the stands to a relegation scrap on the pitch, it’s fair to say the 2020 season was one to forget for FC Seoul. Simon Farnsworth from @FCSeoul_fans takes a look back at the capital club’s tumultuous season. 

What Went Well

In short, not a lot. Seoul stuttered and spluttered their way to 9th place with positives few and far between. However, dig beneath the surface of this dumpster-fire season, and the emergence of several youngsters (such as Jung Han-min) is cause for optimism. Cho Young-wook, Kim Jin-ya, and Han Chan-hee - more established U23s - also showed flashes of their undoubted potential. 

Other than brief glimpses of future talents, it’s been a bleak season for FC Seoul. Figuring out how to best utilize Seoul’s crop of talented youngsters - alongside the experience of Osmar and Ki Sung-yueng - is surely high on the to-do list of new manager Park Jin-sub. 


What Didn't Go Well

Where to start? Tactics were sleep-inducing and at times absolutely baffling. None of Seoul’s four managers (yes, four) found a way to make the capital club look remotely threatening in the final third. Park Chu-young top-scored with five goals (yes, five). The players - who on paper have the talent to push for an ACL place - looked completely drained of confidence and, in truth, were lucky not to get relegated. 

Recruitment was, on the whole, woeful. Seoul stockpiled centre midfielders while neglecting to reinforce their frontline during the summer transfer window. Re-signing Adriano in February was a huge swing and a miss, and the club reportedly botched an initial attempt to sign Ki Sung-yueng. The former KNT captain eventually signed a three-year deal, and at 31 years old, should play a pivotal role in Seoul’s revival - if he manages to stay fit. 

Then we have the sex dolls fiasco (there’s something I never thought I’d write!). The club was fined 100 million won ($82,000) for placing 30 sex dolls in the stands during their opening game vs Gwangju. Let’s file that under “2020 craziness.”


Young Player of the Year

Cho Young-wook




There’s no doubting Cho Young-wook’s potential. The 21-year-old possesses all the attributes to become a top-class K League winger. He can play on either wing and through the middle and has clearly been earmarked as one for the (near) future by Paulo Bento.

While many expected 2020 to be the season that Cho truly arrived, the flying winger only really showed glimpses of his huge potential. He finished with three goals - including the goal vs Seongnam that secured Seoul’s safety - and one assist. 

Team MVP

Han Seung-gyu 


The on-loan Jeonbuk playmaker became a real fan-favourite. In most games, he was Seoul’s lone creative spark and attacking outlet. “Give the ball to #66 and see what he can do” seemed to be Seoul’s one and only plan. 

If that was a lot of pressure to place on the shoulders of a 24-year-old, it didn’t show. Han rose to the challenge; driving Seoul forward and scoring some stunning goals. The lack of Plan B meant smarter opponents could effectively mark him out of the game, squashing any chance Seoul had of unlocking a side’s backline. 

He netted four goals and provided four assists in all competitions, and Seoul fans are hoping he becomes a permanent addition to the squad. 

Most Disappointing Player

Adriano


Let’s take a second to remember the Adriano of 2016. The Brazilian was unstoppable for Seoul - netting 17 goals in K League 1 and a further 13 in the ACL. The latter remains the joint-most goals scored in a single ACL campaign. 

So, Seoul fans were happy when Adriano put pen to paper on a deal to return to Sangam. But re-signing a player is always risky business: As Dwight Schrute said in The Office: “Nostalgia is truly one of the great human weaknesses. Second only to the neck” - and that was definitely the case here. Adriano tanked, making just seven appearances in K League 1 and failing to register a single goal. 

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Most Important Decision of the Off-Season

Arguably the most important decision has already been made: Hiring a new manager. It may have taken Seoul almost five months to find a permanent replacement for Choi Yong-soo, but there’s optimism that Park Jin-sub is the right man to turn the ship around. 

Park arrives from Gwangju on a three-year deal and inherits a talented squad with an exciting blend of raw youngsters and experienced talents. Injecting some much-needed confidence into the side and getting the feel-good factor back is crucial this off-season. 

Park will also be desperate to bring in some creativity and firepower and shore up the defence. While the squad doesn’t require major chopping and changing, getting the right players through the door has the potential to make or break Seoul’s 2021 campaign.

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