Seoul, Su­won hope new coaches bring change

The Korea Times - - SPORTS - john.duer­den@gmail.com

Foot­ball can be a cruel game and July was tough for the two big­gest ri­vals in South Korea: FC Seoul and Su­won Sam­sung Bluew­ings. The month saw the coaches of both teams depart their jobs.

In the mid­dle of the month, Lee Lim-saeng parted com­pany with Su­won and last week Choi Yong­soo called it quits in the cap­i­tal. It was not much of a sur­prise given that Seoul had just lost 5-1 in the FA Cup to Po­hang Steel­ers.

That means there is no chance of sil­ver­ware for Seoul this sea­son. The 2016 cham­pion could not win the cup and given what has been hap­pen­ing in the league, there is no chance of a ti­tle and no chance of even fin­ish­ing in the top three and qual­i­fy­ing for next year’s Asian Cham­pi­ons League.

It has been a dread­ful sea­son for Seoul. Choi led the team to the 2012 ti­tle and the fi­nal of the Cham­pi­ons League the fol­low­ing year. He left in 2016 to coach in China and re­turned in 2018 for a sec­ond spell in charge.

He seemed to still have some of his old magic and took Seoul to third last sea­son — but this year has been de­feat af­ter de­feat. In the first 13 league games of the sea­son, the team lost nine and the loss in the FA Cup was one shock too many.

De­spite the pres­ence of some big names such as Park Chuy­oung, Adri­ano, Os­mar and (now) Ki Sung-yueng, Seoul has strug­gled. De­fen­sively, the team has been all over the place and con­ceded 30 goals in the first 14 games, far more than any other. And when only 12 goals have been scored then it is not dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand why Seoul is just one spot off the bot­tom.

There is some good news. A change of coach of­ten brings an im­me­di­ate, if short-term, im­prove­ment in re­sults and that is what hap­pened on Satur­day. Un­der tem­po­rary boss Kim Ho-young, Seoul picked up a valu­able 2-1 win over Seong­nam.

That didn’t hap­pen for Su­won. The first game fol­low­ing Lee’s de­par­ture ear­lier this month ended in de­feat against the same Seong­nam team.

Su­won had sim­i­lar is­sues to its ri­val. De­fen­sively it has not been as bad as Seoul but the goals have hardly flowed. A lack of cre­ativ­ity and flex­i­bil­ity when go­ing for­ward not only made Su­won games bor­ing to watch but turned the Bluew­ings into an in­ef­fec­tual at­tack­ing unit.

For both teams now, the best they can do is start to think about next sea­son. The ter­ri­ble form of In­cheon United means that rel­e­ga­tion is highly un­likely so both Seoul and Su­won should treat what is go­ing to be a shorter sea­son than usual as a way to get their act to­gether for 2021.

If pos­si­ble, the clubs should con­firm the new coaches as soon as pos­si­ble so they can make the changes they want this sea­son and iron out as many prob­lems as they can ahead of the new sea­son.

The K League needs a strong Seoul and a strong Su­won. Events of July could be a first step to­wards that hap­pen­ing but there is much to fix — and not just the coaches.

Korea Times file

For­mer FC Seoul coach Choi Yong-soo speaks dur­ing press con­fer­ence be­fore the AFC Cham­pi­ons League match against Mel­bourne Vic­tory at the Seoul World Cup Sta­dium, Feb. 17.

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