This week the boys focus on the East Asian Cup and the upcoming ‘winner takes all’ Haniljeon match between Korea and Japan as the old foes do battle once again, this time the EAFF trophy the spoils of war.Continue reading “Episode 142 – Damp Squib Man”
As integral a part of football as the matchday program and pie used to be in the good old days the transfer windows of the modern game has become almost it’s own separate entity with websites and pretty much full TV channels dedicated to it. It’s the time of year that the smaller clubs hate and the bigger clubs feel compelled to flex their muscles in order to keep their status among the elite. While they might lack a close-to-exploding Jim White the Korean transfer windows of late have thrown up their fair share of activity both in and out. Last season we had Adriano’s move to FC Seoul which almost certainly kept them from losing out on the ACL this year, Lee Keun Ho returned to bolster Jeonbuk’s push for the title and we also bid tearful farewells to Chong Tae Se and Edu as they both swapped hero status in Korea for lower league teams in Japan and China. The movement of players has become so much easier and more frequent since the days when we at 48 Shades Tower were being lifted over the turnstiles for free and pretty much gone are the days of ‘one-club’ players. I’m fairly sure this was not quite what Jean-Marc Bosman had in mind the day he threw his dummies out the pram.
During the last few weeks/months a lot of the focus has been on the Chinese Super League as they have scoured Europe for players that for the most part were surplus to requirements but still command a hefty price-tag. Even in Korea at the beginning of the transfer window all the noise coming from Jeonbuk involved names such as Torres and Van Perise, unsurprisingly these were just rumours and the Mad Green Boys won’t have to think of a song with RVP in the lyrics any time soon. There has been quite a bit of movement though in the top league with Jeonbuk being especially busy in their recruitment drive as they have snapped up pretty much the top talent from the league. They have added podcast favourite Kim Shin Wook aka ‘The Wookie’ from Ulsan, Ko Mu Yeol from Pohang, Lee Jong Ho from Jeonnam and brought in Erik Paartalu from Melbourne City to name but a few. In their recent ACL opening match something like 5 players made their debut over the course of the ninety minutes and one can only imagine if they gel quickly they could quite well run away with the title again. As mentioned yesterday Suwon FC have also been busy and seem to be releasing photos of new signings on a daily basis. Other clubs such as Seongnam and Seoul have also been busy with the former also hoping to double-up as extras in the new Dad’s Army movie such is the average age of their new additions. In all really only Pohang and Suwon Bluewings have been underwhelmingly quiet and given that they have the ACL to add to their domestic adventures this is pretty surprising.
All in all it’s been a pretty busy transfer window and with a couple of weeks still left in which to register foreign players or free transfers there could still be a few more orchestrated ‘fighting’ photos doing the rounds on social media.
Much like a TV drama needs it’s heroes and villains so to does the world of football, from Maradonna to John Terry to Thierry Henry to David Beckham each league needs those players that fans can either dream to be or wish to maim. The K-League is of course no different and has seen it’s fair share of ‘comic book characters’ down through the years. This winter we saw the departure of several players who could definitely unite or split a crowd on any given Saturday/Sunday. But by far the four main characters that we at 48 Shades will miss gracing the green fields of the K-league are FC Seoul’s Cha Duri, Suwon Buewing’s Jung Sung Ryong, Jeju United’s Yoon Bitgaram and Seongnam FC’s Park Joon Hyuk. I can almost hear the cries of “why Park?” but when a player starts a season as the hero of last season’s FA Cup final victory only to go on to look like he’d never seen a football and then end the season as a rock in goals to then fail a test to join the Police football team and have to quit football to carry out regular military service then you begin to see the reasoning behind his inclusion.
Cha and Jung will definitely be missed in this year’s Classic, Cha for his passion and work-rate and Jung for his ability to go from the sublime to the sub-standard within the space of one half. The news that Suwon Bluewing’s ‘number 1’ would no longer be manning the goals at The Big Bird was met with a heavy heart at 48 Shades HQ as we could no longer use the catchphrase “He’s ‘Junged’ it hasn’t he?” to refer to a goalkeeping mishap, although with national team coach Uli Stielike’s penchant for choosing players that don’t play in Korea maybe we will still get to see the great man in the flesh again. Cha Duri will of course be a huge loss but not it would seem to all of those of the Suhoshin as it’s fair to say he wasn’t always their favourite son, actually judging by some of the ‘constructive feedback’ thrown at him last year I’m not sure he was even their favourite right-back.
Yoon Bitgaram on the other hand will actually be missed for footballing reasons… well almost. A pretty poor season at Seongnam had earned him the rather creative moniker of “Yoon Shit-garam”, this was followed by a move to Jeju which I wouldn’t say was celebrated by the Seongnam faithful but they weren’t exactly trudging around the streets of Yatap wailing and contemplating the meaning of life. It was to be in the orange of Jeju though that he would develop into quite the midfield general so much so that he would have been in most people’s ‘team of 2015’. A move to China beckoned and he along with Pohang’s Kim Seung Dae prompted what most feared would be an exodus to China of K-League talent as they secured moves to Yanbian FC. Luckily for the K-League China turned it’s eyes towards plundering over-priced ‘bench-warmers’ from Europe and the floodgates were promptly shut.
So much like The Walking Dead survived Shane’s untimely demise I’m sure the K-League will survive the departure of these four. After all we still have The Wookie to frustrate us, Adriano to break our hearts in the last minute, Yeom Ki Hun to whip in a free-kick and Hwang Uijo to score his sixth chance of the match. All is not lost just yet.