October 18, 2016

I needed to find something other than reading to entertain myself here at the military hospital. So I decided, why not give an update on me.
Fall is finally here in Korea. It was here for a while actually; I’m just glad that summer is gone. It was probably the worst summer because of the heat and the work I was forced to perform. I’ve been jokingly describing my past summer ‘ traumatic’ to my acquaintances in Korea. So meeting cool, windy fall after a treacherous summer couldn’t be any better.
It pains me to complain about my knee, but here I go again. I couldn’t keep up with all the daily tasks in the army. After going in and out of various hospitals ever since I enrolled in the army, I was finally put onto hospital bed for some rest. The base gave me one month to sort my situation. Not long for a problem I had for more than two years, but I really needed this break. My knee was just not keeping up. It came to a point where I couldn’t even walk, but liquid forming in my knee made my walking very uncomfortable. It almost felt like I forgot to walk again. It was that awkward with the swelling. My past few months have been frustrating because of this. I thought I would never adjust to the army life as long as my pain was there to hinder me from doing things that all my comrades were doing. I couldn’t understand why I was in the army when I really needed time to sit down on a treatment to follow for my knee to return to ‘normal’. Sad reality is that I can’t control what I want to do here.
For now, I’m trying to stay positive by focusing on what I can control. That’s getting rest and treatments the hospital has for me, stretching and strengthening my legs, and staying calm in His word. Also reading Malcom Gladwell’s books to get my mind off of my knee.
One thing I’m realizing though is that there are guys here who are in similar situations. Guys who are seriously hurt, probably worse than I am, but stuck in the army with their current health. Some are on crutches, having to move around in a wheel chair. Some can’t even rehab properly because the joints stiffened after a long period of isolation. I should be thankful, I thought, for being able to walk and exercise to some extent to prevent from getting worse. Just this past month, I was dejected from what I was going through, but here I am lighting up, thanking God for the small things. Praise God.
What’s ahead still worries me, but I don’t think it’s my job to think about that. It’s tough time for me, but I guess you need these disappointments in your life to spur you on to do greater things later on in life.
!!!
How about that good old rivalry game between Manchester United and Liverpool. It could have been better if United come away with three points, but enjoyed watching Ander Herrera play. My eyes were on him the whole game. He was a beast that night. The game kicked off at 4 am in Korea which meant I couldn’t watch it LIVE. Thanks for not allowing internet during the day, I got to watch the replay at noon with no one knowing the score! I watched the game like it was LIVE.
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When your best players are not your best players

“Korea, only nation in Asia, to become the sixth nation to advance to the World Cup for the 8th consecutive time”

The media is all about this record when no one, but few, dares to know. There’s really nothing valuable about this record when the team’s performance is hardly convincing.

NISI20160814_0012047959_web.jpgMore and more players picked for the national team are not playing for their respective club teams. Being called up for the national team means the squad has to prepare for the game in a short period of time. However when you have players who are short of game experience from lack of regular football, preparation is slowed down. Anyone who’s been a player will know how much not being able to play slows you down not only physically, but also mentally. The sad reality is that it’s also impossible to obtain this physical and mental aspect of the game through just hard training. A player NEEDS to get in the actual game. Coaches, speaking to the media, will confirm they will only pick players who are first-team members of their respective clubs, but they’re still partial to players who play in Europe – even if they’re struggling to break into the first team at their club. It tells you something about Korean football. The national team, for some reason, is forced to rely on these foreign-based players and has a small pool of players to pick from the domestic K-League. There’s a real dearth of quality players from Korean domestic football, which is the result of a poor coaching system and an ineffective league system, leading to less opportunity for all age groups and genders.

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Joo-ho Park struggling at Dortmund

An answer to the question of why a player isn’t getting playing time is rather simple. He’s not good enough. What’s really hard to answer, though, is why Korean players, as a bigger mass, struggle with this issue. Coach Shin Tae Yong, who led the Olympic team to Rio, is very much concerned with this issue. He describes current Korean players as all around too robotic and that they are missing something special in their style of play. Because of this undistinguished style, coaches are rather forced to prefer the veterans. It’s time to correct this stereotyped idea that age is stopping young players from playing. They are only going to get their experience over the veterans when they are set apart from the norm. Marcus Rashford of Manchester United didn’t make his surprise Premier League debut against Arsenal last season because he was young. He was given the chance because he had the abilities which in turn made his potential that much great. That’s the world we live in, asking for striking expertise and competence.

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Coach Shin Tae Yong at Rio Olympics

So the root of this problem is planted in Korea’s youth coaching system. How can coaches assist in developing a set of definite qualities into young players? Here, coach Shin stresses the importance of how coaches must learn how to help young players mature and sharpen their innate talents. There’s obviously a ton that goes into youth coaching, but coach Shin says, the primary focus should be on maturing their raw talents. Korean coaches are too focused, or rather, only focused on settling the fundamentals and executing tactics. That’s why Korean coaches prefer the veteran over the rookie. There’s not that much to compare besides the former having more experience. We need to criticize this ‘coach-centered’ coaching. And it just makes coaching that much harder. While perfecting the fundamentals and teaching them how to execute the team’s tactics, coaches are challenged to discover and implement creativeness to players’ natural talents. This is the direction of coaching Korea needs to take, differentiating players with their own unique abilities.

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U-19 coach Ahn Ik-Soo

The U-19 coach, Ahn Ik-Soo, approaches the problem of players in late teens and early twenties not getting regular football at a different perspective. He points to the entire league system. No matter how talented you are at age 19 or 20, it’s true that you are more likely to spend more time watching the game than actually playing. But, let’s go back to Marcus Rashford’s example. Before Rashford broke into the first team, he didn’t just train with the first team. He had plenty of opportunities to keep playing for the reserves in the U-21 league, which we know already, is separate from the Championship, the second division. With this subdivided league system in Europe, young players are able to maintain and raise their real game experience and even work on closing down the gap between the regular starters. That’s exactly what Korean football is missing – a subdivided league system. The league system is shallow and does not account for the young players and even the women’s teams. Many players in early twenties are just entering the professional K-League, playing for their universities, or playing in the lower divisions of K-League. In each respective situation, young players simply don’t play because they are rookies. They don’t have an alternate solution for gaining game experience. Like European football, the KFA must develop better young players by reshaping the leagues under K-League and creating more opportunities for each age group and women’s teams to participate in.

Amazingly enough, the KFA has been working on a lofty goal of expanding Korean football league. The table below shows the current league system:

Division Level
K-League (Classic) Pro
K-League (Challenge) Pro
N-League (National) Semi-Pro
K3-League Amateur

KFA, partnered with Korean Olympic Committee, is mapping out a plan to subdivide the entire league system into seven different leagues.

Division Level
K1-League (Classic) Pro
K2-League (Challenge) Pro
K3-League (Advanced) Semi-Pro
K4-League (Basic) Semi-Pro
K5-League (National Best) Amateur
K6-League (18 District Leagues) Amateur
K7-League (142 Regional Leagues) Amateur

emblem_of_korea_football_association-svgStarting next year, K7-League’s 142 regional leagues consisting of 852 teams will begin their establishment. The government is supporting about $2.6 million, so each league will be allocated with about $18,000 to furnish necessary facilities and organize management for the league opening. Going with the new system, the KFA announced earlier this month that all divisions will now be introduced to the promotion and relegation battle just like the European league system. Now, any team from any league can move up and down in the system. Currently this system is only applied to two pro leagues – Classic and Challenge.

In all respects, this is exciting news to hear. The KFA is surely making a great first step in raising competition and widening the pool of players to pick for the national team by merging all the leagues and implementing the promotion/ relegation battle for both professionals and amateurs. This is also a great way to invite more amateurs to play, especially to those who couldn’t play up to the standard of pro or given up because of conditions of football environment in Korea. They can start enjoying football again and who knows, we might just see a Korean Jamie Vardy some day. It’s an open game to all.

It’s time for all of us to accept the current situation with Korean football and embrace the fact that Korean football has been poor in producing quality players which in return, worsened the competition in the national team. Coach Shin associates this poor line of production players with weak coaching system and asked for a shift from ‘coach-centered’ coaching to ‘player-centered’ coaching. On top of this problem, this overall problem of players lacking regular football is situated far more deeply than just the national team. Coaches of men’s U-23, men’s U-19, National Women’s team, women’s U-20 are all facing dilemmas with players lacking real game experience. The best players of Korea are coming to play for their country, but they are struggling to play regularly for their club teams. There’s more than just substandard coaching, Korea doesn’t acquire a robust environment for both genders of young players to simply play at their level. However, we’ve seen reports made by the KFA that changes ARE happening. Leagues are merging. Even though there’s still long ways to go to provide more opportunities for young players and even the women’s teams, these long-term changes on youth coaching and overall football environment should have gradual effects on Korean football in all levels and one day bring better performance from the national team.

Man United at the Soldier Field

When will I get a chance to see these clubs play… Next stop is Old Trafford!

A couple thoughts after the PSG vs. United game…

1) Memphis Depay opens up attacking options

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Will he be best behind the striker or down the wing? We don’t know, but this guy was really impressive. Just seeing him vs. PSG, his presence was easily noticeable. He’s strong and exceptionally fast with the ball. An exciting figure to watch this season!

2) Ok… United needs a CB

I previously said in a post that United could trust Jones-Smalling partnership, but it seems like that won’t happen. Blind is technically gifted, but his physicality might lack to play against big teams (especially in the Champions League). Jones has been disappointing with frequent mistakes. The CB partnership needs improvement.

3) Luke Shaw and Darmian are on the road for a great season

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No doubt, they’ll have a great season if they keep upgrading from their current form. Everything was right about Darmian’s defensive qualities.  Both players are threats down the wing and they are about to put their stamps on their respective positions.

4) CM combination a headache

LVG will have a headache, keeping all the CM’s happy. United lost the PSG game because of lack of creativity, not creating enough chances. Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin, and Carrick are great distributors of the game. Hope to see more of Herrera as a play making role.

5) Transfer Issues

It’s ridiculous how United still needs to buy more players after large amount of money spent on new players. Two major concerns rise from the way EPL teams, not just United, spend money.

  • Why is the price tag so inflated?
  • What is WRONG with the scouting system compared to other leagues? There are too many players in England who underperform and don’t meet their price tag and even leave just after a season.

Anyways, this issue will be covered in a different post after more research. Back to the topic! The bottom line for United is that Di Maria case should never happen again. By the end of this transfer market season, we’ll probably see De Gea, Di Maria (left), Rafael (left), Chicharito, Evans, and one of the keepers all leave United.  As LVG would say, “We shall see (who comes and leaves the squad).”

New Manchester United

Since United’s first preseason game is today and there are four new signings, I have some opinions to share on the current squad.

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GK: Must keep David DeGea

As complicated and mysterious the transfer market is, United needs to find a way to keep this man for at least another season. That gives United more time to search for a promising GK for next season. If he decides to leave, Lloris of Tottenham is my first choice.

CB: Does United need another CB?

I’ve supported an English team long enough to appreciate English players in the team. It would be nice to see a Jones – Smalling partnership develop, and they certainly have to raise their bars to be anywhere close to the Vidic – Ferdinand or Terry – Cahill partnership.

RB: Darmian on the right, no doubt. Until he settles in, Valencia will get the best out of that spot.

LB: Best of Blind, Shaw, and Rojo will play in that spot. Shaw is definitely the guy in the long run.

Attacking Options!

Now this one is a headache. It’s difficult to set a balanced midfield and forward combination. After all, LVG was right about United having an unbalanced team. 

Forward:

Rooney is set in stone to start up front. The thing about Rooney is that he drops deep from his center-forward role rather than going in behind. That’s why he had Van Nistelrooy, Berbatov, Tevez, Chicharito, and Van Persie alongside him in his career who can penetrate runs behind the defense. With packed CM’s United have currently, there’s no way LVG will field in Rooney and Chicharito at the same time.

CM: Now, who would have imagined United would be packed with CM’s?

The best MF trio for me is Carrick, Schneiderlin, and Herrera.

Schweinsteiger was bought for a short-term replacement for Carrick. Both over 30, they bring experience and composure to the team. United’s best long-term replacement for Carrick is Daley Blind. Hopefully, he can become a player with qualities of both Carrick and Schweinsteiger.

Wingers:

If Rooney and the MF trio are playing, Young and Depay are my best options because they can help Rooney with running behind the defense. Di Maria, at his best form, can do it, too. But, Di Maria and Mata likes the ball on their feet and love playing centrally where Rooney and MF trio are already occupying. Di Maria and Mata have played best football in the center, but United needs width.

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Can LVG keep the majority of the players happy?

We all know for sure, the old Ferguson way has disappeared and the new LVG way has settled in. United somehow managed to win games last season when the opposition team was the better team. With more depth and quality in the current squad, United should challenge for some trophies this season.

 

Chelsea VS. Manchester United

With all the excitement and huge anticipation for a good game, the turnout was rather little disappointing. Classic Mourinho defense tactics made the game really dull and long.

I chose not to believe LVG when he announced all Carrick, Blind, Jones, and Rojo were out injured.

McNair and Shaw stepped in well and excelled in their roles. I hope and believe they have a big future at United.

To solve Carrick’s problem, Herrera and Rooney moved one floor down in the system. Herrera, skilled and composed with the ball, was to fill in Carrick’s defensive midfield role. Rooney played little deeper and played as an attacking midfielder with Fellaini. With high hopes of scoring against Chelsea like he did with Athletico Madrid, Falcao was given a start for United.

The biggest match up was FELLAINI vs. ZOUMA. Mourinho, being defensive minded, knew he had to sacrifice the attack to first stop Fellaini. Zouma did very well not giving Fellaini his space. Young had a quiet day as well because he couldn’t found the space that Fellaini creates by drawing defenders. As a result, the United attacking patterns we saw against Liverpool and City was not in display.

United kept the ball but struggled to get near Chelsea’s goal. Chelsea defenders staying well-disciplined in their positions and staying compact was very difficult for United to beat.

It was CHELSEA that controlled the game. See my blog post on “Who’s controlling the game?” https://muchisoo.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/whos-controlling-the-game/

High possession against Chelsea is good, but it’s not great if you can’t create any chances. Chelsea was the team that kept discipline and stayed to Mourinho’s tactics. For United, there were positive signs, but they got to be more creative in attack. I really would like to see Di Maria find form and start conducting United in attack.

MANCHESTER IS RED

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Losing four consecutive Derby match to City is heartbreaking to all United fans. But, with City’s struggling form and United’s five impressive consecutive wins in the League, many United fans anticipated a win. It’s simply not acceptable to let City be the first team to get the fifth consecutive win against United.

City started very well this game. Right away, they pushed the ball into United’s territory. With high pressure, they took control. Pellegrini’s tactic was also interesting, putting James Milner man-marking Michael Carrick. This move was problematic first 20 minutes for United. United was unable to keep the ball around and move upward into City’s goal. Unable to pass to Carrick, United looked shaky in both defense and offense.

This all led to long-balls to Fellaini, which turned out very successful. Fellani won the headers and kept United in the City’s territory. Yaya Toure, struggling against Fellaini, forced Kompany to get sucked all the way up to midfield. This kept United ahead in the game. Young started running at Zabaleta. Mata-Herrera-Valencia made things very difficult for Clichy as well.

Putting Nasri for Milner wasn’t very successful for City. Carrick simply got more into the game. United began playing the passing game. City had the idea, but Toure’s inability to stop Fellani was the problem that all started City’s misery. City must find solution for Toure before they find themselves out of top four.

After all, it seems like United found the right system; 4-1-4-1 or 4-3-3. United still needs to find a solution for back four. There are speculations of Matts Hummels and Thiago Silva. One of them will surely strengthen the squad.

The true Unsung Hero

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“만족하는순간멈추게되며, 이제는충분하다고긴장을풀어버리면끝장이다.

Once you think you are satisfied and you stop or once you think you had enough and you lose your intensity, you are DEAD.

훈련이계속되고몸이피곤해지면, ‘하루쯤쉬면안될까’ 라는생각이들곤한다.

Going to training every day makes your body tired, there are many times when you want to rest.

하지만하루를쉬면, 그만큼다음날해야하는훈련량이많아진다.

But, when you rest one day, that rest leaves my gap to other players even larger.

미리준비하지않으면기회는다가오지않는법이다.

If I don’t prepare well beforehand, a CHANCE for me would never come.

그것이내가하루도쉴수없는이유다.

So I can’t rest.

언젠가는그들도한번쯤쉴것이고, 그때내가쉬지않고나아간다면차이는조금이라도줄어들것이다.

When other players rest, I have to narrow my gap to them by training while they are resting.

중요한것은내가쉬지않고뛰고있다는것이지, 그들이내앞에있다는사실이아니다

What’s important is that I’m training every day without a rest, THEY are not ahead of me.”

 

Kyoto Purple Sanga (2000-2002), PSV Eindhoven (2002-2005), Manchester United (2005-2012), QPR (2012), PSV Einhoven (2013-2014) – PARK JI SUNG