THE GOAL-LESS GENERATION
The Alternative View returns! Did you miss me? Even if the answer is yes, I’m sure you didn’t miss me as badly as Suwon FC missed the target at home to Gwangju last Saturday, or this whole season to be honest. 8 (EIGHT) goals in 13 (YES, THIRTEEN) league matches tells you where the main problems lie. I’ve looked hard but can see no mention of Ronny Rosenthal or Peter van Vossen (see the links below) among the Suwon FC striking coaches. In truth, Baek Seong-dong’s diabolical penalty in the season opener at home to Seoul E-Land was an indicator as to what was to come regarding the finishing at the club. Without looking at statistics, just going on my reaction to being at matches; the most concerning thing is how little we trouble the opposition goalkeeper. It’s not just that we don’t score; we rarely seem to hit the target.
In those 13 games, a huge number of players have been used but only 5 have managed to score for Suwon. Matheus and Alex both have two goals, Kim Dong-chan, Park Se-jin, Bae Ji-hoon and Seongnam defender, Yeon Jae-woon, have one goal each. With 2 more games against Seongnam this season, there’s a good chance Yeon will finish the season as Suwon’s top goalscorer.
Of course, I jest about that (I hope), but you have to find the humour among such dismal statistics. Having played 13 of 36 league games, Suwon are on course to score around 23 league goals this season. So off to the internet I went to see if there had been teams with worst goalscoring records in the past.
The K-League has undergone a lot of restructuring in the past decade so getting comparable information isn’t easy but the following records stood out. An honourable mention goes to Gwangju Sangmu who managed just 14 goals in 26 matches in 2007 and 17 in 28 in 2010. A special mention goes to Sangju (Sangju Sangmu Pheonix at the time). In 2012 they are credited with 29 goals in 44 games but that’s misleading as they actually withdrew from the 16 team league after 30 rounds. However the worst ratio award goes to Gangwon who managed just 14 goals in 30 K-League Classic games in 2011. That was even worse than Goyang Zaicro’s 21 goals in 40 matches in the 2016 Challenge.
The EPL was the next port of call and Derby County hold the record for fewest goals in a season (38 games) with a woeful 20 goals in a season that saw 1 win, 8 draws and 29 losses and a goal difference of -69.
The “consistently shy in front of goal” award goes to Sunderland who scored 29 in 2001-02 (when they actually avoided relegation with 40 points), 21 in 2002-03 and 26 in 2005-06. In recent memory Burnley, Norwich, Middlesboro and Birmingham have all finished a season with 28 goals. A special mention goes to Manchester City. Pre-oil money, they managed to finish 14th in 2006-07 despite scoring only 29 goals in their 38 games. How times have changed!!
However, these gun-shy EPL chancers were off the chain compared to some of their continental counterparts.
Back in 1965-66, Bundesliga team SC Tasmania 1900 Berlin managed a miserly 15 goals in 34 league matches. They also conceded 108 on route to 2 wins, 4 draws and 28 defeats. Needless to say they were relegated. Interestingly with an eye on the K-League, SC Tasmania also hold the record for the lowest ever Bundesliga attendance. Just 827 watched their home match with Borussia Monchengladbach in January 1966. For perspective, it’s alleged that 81,500 and 70,000 watched their first two games that season!!!! SC Tasmania soldiered on until 1973 when they were dissolved.
In season 1999-2000, Zirka Kirovohrad played in Ukraine’s top flight, the Vyshcha Liha, and scored a paltry 16 goals on their way to a 0 win, 9 draw, 21 loss season. Relegation followed.
However, they were outdone by Cukaricki while in the Serbian SuperLiga in 2010-11. The not so plucky Serbs managed just 10 goals in their 30 matches as they recorded a 0 win, 5 draw, 25 loss season.
Bulgaria takes the biscuit though. In 1996-97, Rakovski Ruse managed to score 8 goals while conceding 110 on their way to a 0 win, 1 draw, 29 loss season. However, fellow Bulgarian side, Chernomorets Burgas Sofia demanded Rakovski “hold my beer” in season 2006-07. They also managed just 8 goals in 30 matches, also drawing 1 and losing 29. However they managed to concede even more (127). And, determined to take the title of “Bulgaria’s shittiest team”, they managed to finish the season with -2 points after being deducted 3 points for failing to register enough youth players (Seoul Martyrs anyone?). Hat tip to Chernomorets Burgas Sofia, please!!
However, it was time to find some positives for us suffering Suwon FC fans. In 1993-94 AC Milan won Serie A even though they scored only 36 goals in their 34 league matches. That was despite having players such as Van Basten, Papin, Laudrup, Boban and Donadoni among their ranks. However with Panucci, Baresi, Costacurta and Maldini at the back, Fabio Capello’s charges only conceded 15 goals along the way. In fairness, they did pump Barcelona 4-0 in the European Cup (ask your parents, kids!) Final that season too.
AIK of Stockholm upstaged Milan though in 1998 when they won the Allsvenskan title despite scoring just 25 goals (while conceding 15) in their 26 matches. They only won 11 of their 26 matches, drawing 13 and losing 2. Every other team in the 14 team league actually scored more goals than the champions!!!
However the team that brings most hope to Suwon FC fans is Aduana Stars FC of the Ghana Premier League who won the 2009-10 title with the following record: Played 30, Won 15, Drew 8, Lost 7, Scored 19, Conceded 10, Points 53, Goal Difference +9 See, goals are overrated.
(some information sourced from The Guardian here)
So there is hope for Suwon FC. A ton of goals aren’t required for success. Suwon did have chances to equalize against Gwangju last week with Alex (twice) and Matheus passing up very respectable ones late on. This Saturday we “entertain” Asan. Kim Dong-chan got some game time in the loss to Gwangju and while he looked a bit chunky to me (I know, I’ve got a cheek!) he at least made runs that you’d expect from a striker. With improved match fitness and (previously unseen) decent service, he can hopefully start to convert the chances the team get round to making and give us fans something to celebrate.
I fear however that we could be compromised at the other end. In the past three games, Kim Dae-eui has gone with a back 3 of Adrian Leijer, Cho Yoo-min and Ma Sang-hoon. The three got a clean sheet against Ansan, suffered from a wicked deflection in Busan and did well enough in the 1-0 loss to Gwangju. However the continuity will be ripped apart as Ma is off to Sangju to complete his military service and Cho is away with the U23 national team. Change is necessary and how this team will respond to that is anyone’s guess.
After the Asan match, Suwon travels to Bucheon then entertain Anyang before the break. It’s a tough ask on current form but a minimum of 6 points is essential to maintain any chance of making the playoffs. That of course would require scoring goals. If the goals aren’t forthcoming and the points slip away, it may be time to start barracking for the other, much more embarrassing, story.