The following conversation took place in the deepest, darkest recesses on my mind on Sunday afternoon around 5.10pm as Daejeon went 2-0 up on Suwon FC.
Negative Joe: What the f**k have I gotten myself into? This is a complete and utter waste of time. This mob don’t give a s**t, why should I?
Positive Joe: Ah come on now, they’re doing their best. They’re not trying to lose deliberately.
NJ: Well, all logic would suggest you’re right but what I’m seeing with my own eyes suggests otherwise. They certainly don’t seem to be trying to win because that would involve passing the ball forward, probably even at pace.
PJ: I’ll admit it hasn’t been great but look at the facts. Leijer, Kim Yong-beom, Bruno and Kim Dong-chan are all out injured, Jo Yoo-min is suspended and Baek Seong-dong is just coming back from injury. Give the team and the manager a break.
NJ: Give them a break? This team was supposedly primed for a promotion charge. Even allowing for injuries and suspensions they haven’t put in a single cohesive performance all season. The manager has changed team and formation week after week. There’s been no chance for players to get used to a system or forge partnerships.
PJ: Here we go; foreign fan gets into the K League and wants to dump the manager at the first sign of trouble.
NJ: Don’t put words in my mouth. However, now that you come to mention it, why not? Perhaps accepting mediocrity is part of the problem. No doubt the majority of fans will applaud this lot off the ground after another poor home loss.
PJ: Aye because they are real SUPPORTERS!! The clue is in the name!!
NJ: All well and good and fair play to those that travel all over the country but I could argue that they’re just perpetuating the cycle. Accept mediocrity and you’ll be dished up more of it.
PJ: FFS Negative Joe, get a grip. You’re watching K league 2, it’s not the EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A or even the SPFL. What were you expecting?
NJ: At the very least I was expecting a manager who would have a definite idea of the formation and game style he wanted to play and could motivate the players to go out and play with passion and tempo. The players look like they don’t know what to do. They’ve scored 4 league goals in 8 and a half games and our close season signing who was supposed to bring the creativity, Alex, is sitting on the bench.
PJ: I’m sure the board did their due diligence before appointing Kim Dae-eui. He had a pretty good playing career and did well coaching the Bluewings U18s. Teething problems coupled with the aforementioned injuries have to be taken into account.
NJ: So we just let things continue like this for the season? Just look for excuses and write it off?
PJ: What do you mean write the season off? We’re a quarter of the way through the season and if there’s no comeback today we’ll be 10 behind Seongnam in first and about 5 off a playoff place. There’s still plenty of time left.
NJ: So how much time will be enough? This whole “let’s not upset each other” attitude is holding Korean football back. A bit of hard leadership on and off the park will get players working harder and get fans more involved. The lack of tempo would put you to sleep.
PJ: So, you want to take it back to the dark ages of screaming at and kicking each other while running around like headless chickens? You’re a dinosaur Joe.
NJ: Maybe, but I’d be an entertained dinosaur. You’re an ostrich with your head in the sand.
PJ: Look Matheus is through on the keeper. He must score………
NJ&PJ: Ah, for f**k’s sake!!!! Let’s do ANOTHER beer run!!
As you can tell, following the K League, and in particular Suwon FC, has left me conflicted. Of their nine league games, I’ve been to six, watched two on Naver TV and completely missed the home loss to Bucheon due to a colleague’s wedding. The anticipation and buzz of going to matches has been excellent but unfortunately the buzz often wears off quickly after kick off.
Perhaps I have to reassess the kind of fan I am but having said that, I really don’t think the team losing bothers me but the performances have. As a Celtic fan, I’ve been used to success in recent years but I need to emphasize that following Celtic in my teenage years was a harrowing experience when success was almost non-existent and the club was within minutes of going to the wall. As a Richmond fan in the AFL I’ve had years of tuning into matches not expecting to win and as such some of their hard fought wins gave me more joy than many Celtic victories.
Following Suwon is definitely different from following my other clubs. A big thing I do miss is the camaraderie with other fans (even if it is only on social media). Talking about the game, assessing performances, trying to find answers are enjoyable parts of being a fan. The ability to celebrate and debate together is a huge part of why I enjoy sports. As you can see, I’ll even debate it with myself if necessary.
Now, I never expected Suwon to win every match and play champagne football every week but in all honesty, it has been a brutal start to the season. The team seems to lack vision and leadership and play a terrible brand of football. Often it’s slow passing at the back ultimately ending with a long ball up to Matheus to flick on to no-one. There are some players playing regularly just now that, on current form, are among the worst players I’ve ever seen at any level. I can’t believe they’re as bad as they’re playing so it must be due to the (lack of?) instruction and confidence from above.
I’m in it for the long run and so I can only hope that Positive Joe is right that time and a healthy squad will see an upturn in fortunes but I’m definitely finding it hard to shake off Negative Joe’s ideas.
Anyway, it’s off to Tancheon on Sunday to try and avenge the 4-1 home loss to Seongnam. It’s hard to imagine both The Kilt (@kleague_kilt) and myself being happy come 4pm on Sunday. If I was a betting man, I know who my money would be on to be the happier of us.