Late Roundup: Lee Chung-Yong shines in Crystal Palace opener + Midweek K League fixtures

Drinks on the house: Midweek Wednesday K-League matches and last weekend EPL season starting back up to bring tidings of gladness and joy -and hopefully allow the taste of Korea’s exit from Olympic football to wash away. Late Roundup as the title suggests, and with it a short summary and surprise. Lee Chung-Yong, who as you may recall was involved in an unpleasant translation-situation at season’s end with manager Alan Pardew. His statement to Korean media, which Pardew interpreted as a direct criticism of his managerial ineptitude, led to a player fine. Fast forward to Saturday, Matchday 1 Crystal Palace v West Brom and yours truly, along with virtually everyone else with a bead on Koreans footballers in Europe figured the Blue Dragon would be left on the bench as he had been most of last season. Surprise: Lee Chung-Yong started on opening day and got a chance to show off his ‘tekkers’ to a home crowd at Selhurst Park.  Yours truly, along with other observers such as ESPN‘s Robert Sutherland rated Lee Chung-Yong highly, a bright spot in a central attacking role of an otherwise Pardew-esque Crystal Palace late capitulation to West Brom:

Chung-yong Lee played in a central attacking role and created Crystal Palace’s best chance with a through-ball to Wilfried Zaha that the winger missed. If it can be considered a positive, the game showed just how badly Palace need reinforcements in attack.

 

MF Chung-yong Lee, 8 — This was Lee’s first opportunity to play in a central role, having previously only featured on the wing for the club, and he took it in his stride. Flitting across the midfield, Lee provided options where others weren’t available. He also created the only major opening for Palace in the second half with a deft tackle and pass into the feet of Zaha, who failed to take advantage.

That wasn’t all, he was a persistent nuisance in a advanced pressing role that disrupted West Brom’s midfield, picking their pockets and creating additional chances that the haphazard Crystal Palace forwards eventually whiffed on. Here’s a highlight reel:

Oddly enough, LCY was subbed off for the soon to be Evertonian Yannick Bolasie in the 62nd minute. Pardew was questioned in the post game presser why LCY was taken off – his nonsensical reply was that he just needed to get Bolasie on. So why not someone else who was less productive?  Pure speculation but based on that uncomfortable press conference line of questioning, my guess is that Pardew will be hard pressed not to include LCY in the near future.

Note: as indicated before, LCY is known as right wing – though he has played central mid before. Crystal Palace has more wings then Pardew knows what to do with -finally Pardew has figured out a configuration in which CP can benefit from the Blue Dragon’s services.  Nice outing by Lee, wish he was at a different club however.

Ki Sung-Yeung didn’t appear for Swansea in their 1-0 win away at Burnley, he has recently returned to the club, l believe, after completing summer military duty (he did earn military exemption in 2012 with the Bronze Olympic medal but still has to do some partial time for military readiness purposes).

Son Heung-Min was of course in Rio for the Olympics. Failed bid to earn a medal and military exemption, check. Heartbroken, check. But without a doubt there’s a lot of talent in that young man. Without his crucial goal against Germany, Korea would not have made it out of an incredibly tough group stage. Cross your fingers, hope for a smooth transition back to Tottenham and perhaps one more bid to earn military exemption with the Asian Games in 2018. *Normally every 4 years, it’s been moved up a year due to Indonesian elections, from 2019 to 2018. Stack that deck, let’s hope a new generation unfettered to pursue footballing excellence can happen in 2018.

Bundesliga hasn’t started up yet. Suk Hyun-Jun goes from Porto and moves now on loan to Trabzonspor in Turkey – he arrived this week and the club will have to evaluated if he’s still injured or ready to play. Either way, he’ll need a bit of time to adjust to his new surroundings.

 

One more post Olympic note: I’ve learned of a very possible interesting situation with both Son Heung-Min and Suk Hyun-Jun‘s situation. Now that an Olympic medal/military exemption bid no longer possible with their quarterfinal exit last week, both men now face a very strange situation.

Let’s break this down – and for all Tavern readers – see if I have this down correctly (again this is my brief understanding of the situation. If you have a better grasp of hangukmal, this may need some future revisions).

  • Son didn’t go to high school & college -instead seeking football opportunities to train in Europe.  Suk did go to Singal High School in Korea before entering legend as a 19 year old in 2011 by knocking on the doors at Ajax to seek a trial (his remarkable journeyman story still unfolding, on loan now from Porto to Trabzonspor).
  • Both have never played in the K-League.
  • Unless they are allowed to be released by their respective clubs in 2018 to participate in the non-FIFA sanctioned Asian Games AND THEN manage to win Gold in football, they will return to Korea to serve in the military when they are 28 years old. HOWEVER…because they didn’t play at least 1 year in the K-League, they would not be eligible to play for Sangju Sangmu – the army football team – to at least play some competive football, however inelegant. Sangju Sangmu represents a half-assed measure instituted long ago that serves as a sort of stop-gap to prevent top domestic pro footballers serving duty time from getting too rusty.  Add this kicker: while Suk could go straight to the DMZ having gone to high school, since Son didn’t go to high school/college, he wouldn’t be able to serve on the front lines, but instead do his military obligations perhaps as a desk clerk. 
  • For both men, this could most definitely represent an embarrassing situation for Korea as a whole: they would be the first Koreans to be forced to leave (potentially) top European competition in Champions League football and return to Korea serve for 18 months. Remember -by current law -that would be a completely 18 long months away from playing any football – not even for Sangju Sangmu.

Can you imagine if Park Ji-Sung and Lee Young-Pyo weren’t given that special one time exemption in 2002 for their World Cup performance. No Park Ji-Sung at Manchester United winning trophies – no LYP at Spurs (and later BVB) playing against him.  Let’s plug another hypothetical for our J.J. Abrams inspired time machine to examine: Let’s say Hiddink in 2003 decided to bring Park Ji-Sung along to PSV Eindhoven, exemption or no exemption. Time passes and in 2005 Sir Alex Ferguson plucks PJS for his high octane Manchester United squad.  In Park’s 28th year, starting February 2009, Park Ji-Sung – a man without military exemption – would have to leave a dumbfounded Ferguson and leave Manchester United – a side that had just beaten Chelsea to win the Champions League trophy in 2008, a club that won consecutive Premier League titles in ’07 and ’08, a club that was resplendent in it’s history and brand. He would leave and return to Korea to mull over his fate – that’s because his first club was Kyoto Purple Sangna in the J League -no K-League resume (I think) means no Sangju Sangmu  = no competitive football.  The end of Park Ji-Sung’s career.  Let’s depart the time machine of a 2009 that fortunately did not come to pass. We fast forward to an in-form Park Ji-Sung at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where he did his part in breaking down and destroying Greece, including poaching and scoring the opening goal.  All of that came to pass, but you look back at his illustrious career as one of the most decorated and celebrated Asian footballer in history – had he not gotten military exemption….CAN.YOU.IMAGINE?!?

It’s fair to suggest PJS and LYP represented in a supremely positive light the Republic of Korea all over the world as football ambassadors. It’s staggering to think about what could have been and pare that with their place in 21st century Korea and the image as a nation Korea wanted to project.  I’m talking to you, yes you Korea. It’s time to have a frank discussion on the role of football diplomats, whether it’s important enough or not to have Koreans representing at the highest elite levels competitively in football – for Korea – on behalf of all Koreans. More on that for another post.

Well, the Tavern is re opening in just a few short hours as the K League, beleaguered with lack of love and attention, but with a proud history as the best and oldest pro league in Asia will start round 26 with some tasty fixtures. I love Wednesday midweek games as I get to peer in via streamed games early morning with coffee from my vantage point on the US east coast. Do check out the most excellent K-League United for previews on these games. Me? I’m hoping for a Seoul victory – just to see if they can catch up with Jeonbuk.

Times listed are US EST /  add +13 hours and you’ll have Korea evening kickoff times.

Wednesday, August 17

Dragons
6:00 AM

FC Seoul

Suwon FC
6:30 AM

Jeju United

Ulsan
6:30 AM

Sangju Sangmu

Seongnam
6:30 AM

Gwangju

Suwon
6:30 AM

Steelers

Incheon
7:00 AM

Jeonbuk

 

Extra Time: I had a conversation with skimmilk -that’s his handle at BSK forum – you may know him from his fantastic and compact Korean Footballers Abroad blog.  I’ve been trying to convince him to join forces with the Tavern collective of writers and misfits. He was going to contemplate the idea. Well, to help convince him to join forces with us- let him know via his twitter handle or at his blog what a rad idea that would be. If he doesn’t join, well, it’d be like as always. Both K-League United and us at the Tavern will continue to poach (w/ permission) his site for timely preview-schedule listings and succinct roundups. That said, should we be successful in recruiting him, he could be the blog equivalent to ‘the transfer signing of the season.’  Ready, set, go. Dae han min guk ya’ll. See you after the midweek games.
And don’t forget: Asian Champions League Quarterfinals leg 1 next tuesday and wednesday – Jeonbuk and FC Seoul are still in it to win it. 
Tuesday, August 23
Shanghai East Asia
Game 1
7:30 AM

Jeonbuk
Wednesday, August 24

FC Seoul
Game 1
6:30 AM
Shandong Luneng
Tuesday, September 13

Jeonbuk
Game 2
6:00 AM
Shanghai East Asia
Wednesday, September 14
Shandong Luneng
Game 2
7:30 AM

FC Seoul
All times are in Eastern Time
About Roy Ghim 381 Articles
The old Tavern Owner

25 Comments

  1. I’m just gonna play devil’s advocate. I’m not a young Korean man, so maybe I don’t get it 100%. But I did live in Korea, and I asked this same question to many young guys. They all hated military service. They don’t want to do it. But they have to do it and they do it. And I honestly felt that the general consensus from young Korean men is this: why would football players get to be the exception? Everyone has to do it. 1) even within the sport, where do you draw the line? Son Heungmin should get exemption? Does Suk? Does every KLeague player who possibly could go to Europe (but most likely won’t)? If Son gets exemption because he’s the “best” and then starts to suck, what about the young KLeague guy who never got the same opportunity that Son did? And more importantly, 2) I get that we love sports, but at the end of the day these guys are entertainers. Koreans who want to be doctors or who have an innovative business idea or who are engineering geniuses have to put their careers on hold to do military service. Football players, in the grand scheme of things, are not as beneficial to society. I know that it sucks for the development of football in Korea… but can’t you say the same for almost everything in Korea because of this law? In my mind, I don’t think these guys should be differentiated from the average joe who has giant potential in their own field. Imagine in the US if NFL players didn’t have to pay taxes, but everyone else did…. no, only the ones who make millions of dollars and are super famous. Not the guys who haven’t made it yet. People would be livid. If you’re gonna do away with military service, it’s gotta be for all young men, not just football players. You gotta be fair to everyone, no? And if that’s the case, it opens up a bunch of new questions about national security if no young man wants to join. I’d love to hear your ideas.

    • As much as I hate to see guys like Son and Suk be required to go to the army and potentially never recover, I agree with Jon on this one. Korean athletes already have the privilege of the opportunity to EARN exemption by winning things for their country. As far as I know, the average Korean Joe who has national pride, works hard and does their job well, and cares for others does NOT even have any type of opportunity to somehow earn exemption (correct me if I’m wrong on this). Yes, Son and Suk are gonna become super rusty if they go to the army, but so are businessmen of Korea that don’t make the news like our soccer players. Even Korean celebrities (kpop stars, tv show stars, etc) don’t have opportunities to skip service. Yes, I think our soccer players/athletes are extraordinary, but if we want to give them exemption easily, it needs to be more fair for the non athletes of Korea.

    • I’m glad you commented, this is a touchy issue precisely b/c of the issue of equity. If every able bodied Korean male has to serve (and why not eujahs? Another discussion for another day) why do some get special treatment? That’s where the subject of deferment comes into play, provided folks in Korea don’t hyperventilate about having a discussion on solutions to a real existing problem (and I’m not saying you’re doing the hyperventilating -one famous example were the very vocal critics of PCY who went apeshit over his Monaco residency -never mind that it was approved by the govt. yet he still had to kowtow and apologize. BS). Back on deferment, I wrote about that model in IBWM, in which Israel, which arguably has a stricter military conscription law and lengthier service time than Korea, balances perceived Nat’l security needs with a reasonable deferment allowance. The IFA works out certain # of Isrealis deemed ‘exceptional soldiers’ (i.e. Top quality players with potential to make it in top flight football abroad) and that deal is struck annually w/the military. But each of these players still have to serve their entire service time – just that they have benefit of doing it in piecemeal, during summer breaks, etc. Even if they retire say at age 35, they are usually more fit than the average 35 yr old – the US allow some 38 year olds on the front lines for example. They still serve and no one in Israel has any beef with it. Jae has brought this up, if Korea were to consider this, what about other sports? What about badminton? I say, Isreal made a deliberate choice, this model I believe only exists with football. They calculate (correctly I might add) that there’s more soft diplomatic band for buck with the world’s sport of choice. As much as disdain baseball and all its tediousness, it’s popular in Korea and so perhaps if tough decision have to be made in terms of which sports potentially could qualify, perhaps baseball and football make the cut.
      Look, a lot of NFL players are a-holes, I’m not gonna be an apologist for their lot, but there’s a false equivalency being painted here in respects to Korean football athletes. Sure, they should pay their fair share of taxes, etc but at the end of the day, when Korea spent who knows how much to cohost 2002 World Cup AND then bid for other world cups in 2018 and 2022, why even bother if they’re not going to go all out to allow footballers to learn, improve themselves, find their fullest potential, and sacrifice their time and bodies in order to represent Korea on the highest profile stage in the world? why even bother having a Korean football program at all, or else to handicap them in front of the world. We can be cynical toward 21st century athletes, esp when they act like spoiled brats. But the Jesse Owens or Jackie Robinsons or the Cha Bum-Kuns of history are compelling figures – overcoming the odds, overcoming racism, they were vanguards of their race and broke barriers. No, their contribution didn’t invent a cure to a disease, tho we desperately need scientists and inventors. Theirs is a human story that provides a lesson about all of us, their drive to succeed when others put up obstacles. Do we need Korea to do well in a World Cup? No but the world is a better place for having being inspired in 2002 by a nation of survivors who made people believe in the impossible. There’s value in that. I talked to Indian nationals who were so inspired by 2002 Korea. Maybe one day, India too can take it to the Europeans and South Americans. The journey from point A to point B is something that excites me, gets me up in the morning and motivates me to live life to the fullest. Creativity and human development, whether it’s in improving human rights conditions or finding solutions to solving climate change, or inspiring the imagination with music that challenges and spreads ideas/revolutions that topples authoritarian regimes – football is but one aspect to connecting us with each other, finding creative solutions, improving, getting from point a to point b -so that humans can wage World War III on a friendly pitch rather than on a bloody and mutually destructive battlefield.
      there’s truth to be said that sports isn’t everything. Me, if offered a Faustian choice b/w having having a top 10 ranked Korea football team that could win a World Cup and a smooth reunification of Korea, I’d go with the latter, hands down (seriously tho, should a hypothetical smooth reunification & transition actually occur, not only would it be a joyous and history defining moment, Korean football probably would benefit, but as long as I’m dreaming Id like a ferrari to go along with world peace).
      But in the end of this rambling response to your devilish advocacy (which I repeat I’m glad you commented) the situation son and suk are in could present solutions that balances national security needs and still allows our best football ambassadors to continue on a path toward footballing excellence. It doesn’t have to be a mutually exclusive thing. As part of the Korean diaspora, are we willing to raise a ruckus? If people don’t, then ok. If reforms don’t happen, ok. It’s not the end of the world, but we can expect a decline in Korean football power relative to the post 2002 era, esp with how much the rest of Asia is quickly catching up. And it’ll be a damn shame b/c it didnt have to come to this.

      • This is an awesome response Tavern Owner. As a Koren american who loves sports, korean and otherwise, I don’t want athletes to suffer. At the same time, I can’t even begin to count my blessings that I don’t have mandatory military requirements. And you bet your ass that sports and arts inspire me on a daily basis, and I wouldn’t ever want to give that up. They hold a special place in the world, and I hate that Son was motivated in these olympics more by fear than by national pride (Brazil) or by sticking it to the government (Nigeria) or by simple love of the game (probably most of the countries out there!). My comment was more by curiosity. One thing that seems to be so important in Korean culture is equality within the group… so how can a few guys get military exemption and others can’t? but i hear everything you’re saying, and I’m glad we’re having this discussion!

    • Generally, Korean men who don’t actually live in Korea have options to postpone their military duty, often into their 30’s, based on a number of different criteria. But recall what happened when Park Chu Young exercised his option to delay his service due to his foreign residency – blasted in the media and blackballed by the KFA as ‘unpatriotic’, rather than what I would call it, ‘practical.’

      The law is applied unevenly and inconsistently, and can be a helluva nightmare to navigate. I myself have no idea what my status is – the consulate has told me I’m allowed to enter as a tourist with a string of legal clauses attached, a lawyer tells me that what the consulate told me makes no sense. Keep in mind, I’ve never resided in Korea, I was born in another country, but under the law as implemented at the time, I keep dual citizenship and am not allowed to renounce Korean citizenship until after I’ve served in the military. However, I would not be allowed to retain Korean citizenship after I served in the military. Think on that Kafkaesque scenario – I’m required by my citizenship to serve in the army, but I will not be allowed to keep said citizenship, but I also can’t give up that citizenship until after I serve in the army.

      Add to this a series of complications (among them the Korean consulate insisting that I’m not the person they were looking for, but rather a separate individual who was born on the same day to the same parents with all the same personal information) and after years of dragging on this process, I still don’t really know what the hell my status is.

      I think at this point, if I enter Korea now, I may be arrested as both an illegal immigrant AND a draft dodger.

      • Wow!!! That IS insane! There’s more than one thing to reform apparently. My buddy who emigrated from daegu told me another weird law that needs updating to the 21st century, kids born automatically are listed as 1 years old, then on the new year, they automatically advances a year. It’s (I think) the only country in the world that does this but inconvenient when going to school abroad, etc.

        “I’m not the one you’re looking for,” be handy if you had Jedi mind skills when dealing with the Korean consulate…

        • I wouldn’t call it a law, but indeed Korean age is a bit different. My daughter is a good example. She was born late November, and was ‘1’ Korean age. Then about six weeks later it was the new year (2013) and she became ‘2’ Korean age despite being just 6 weeks old. Now she is 5 y/o Korean age while being 3 y/o international age.

  2. Until Korea rectifies systemic failure in KFA & K-league, this discussion on military conscription is moot imo. Yes, it undermines the careers of Korean football players but the focus is entirely on European based players. Imo, many are building a case to show “favoritism” to those 1 or 2 players (at the same time, perspective changes quickly once they start to perform poorly in Europe). Careers of 1 or 2 players isn’t a detriment to entire team or system.

    Which brings me up to another point – Of all the players w/ military exemption, how many have taken full advantage of the privilege they earned? Handful (less than 10 by my calculation)…

    Another huge issue/topic, which is sort of unspoken/rarely discussed … the cultural difference of Korea (Asia in general) to the West. It’s a topic constantly brought up by foreign managers. From low confidence to absolute demand of obedience to elderly (or w/ power)…. of which, in many ways.. limits or destructs “creativity” & “individuality to be explosive” imo. Of course, there is a counter-argument … it’s better for “teamwork” & “organization”.

    • Is there really a correlation between Asian players’ lack of creativity and Korea/Asia’s demand of obedience to elderly? Aren’t there many European managers that demand absolute obedience too? Pep Guardiola is a manager who is known to be very strict. He requires his players to eat at a certain time and play within his rules. At the same time, Pep allows his players to express their creativity in the final third.

      • It is an issue often raised by foreign managers who manage Asian countries/clubs. Players are great at obeying instructions but it ends there. They don’t question nor tactics are discussed (often because they are afraid .. for various reasons) even if the manager (before the game even starts) is clearly wrong.

        • frankly, if what you say is true, that’s just stereotyping. if that were the case, you wouldn’t have all these cases of korean players that have had run-ins with their managers or korean players with attitude problems, which there are plenty. you wouldn’t have players like ki, who has indeed criticized managers. just because a foreign coach says something doesn’t make it an accurate analysis. i think the more accurate assessment would be that the issue is not korean players, their culture, and their skill development, it’s more the way that those who are in charge of development on a systemic level are in a state of fractiousness, nepotism, and power tripping. that’s a very different analysis than a foreign coach saying, “korean players only obey orders, don’t challenge managers, blah blah blah”. this isn’t even mentioning the power dynamics at play of what would happen if a korean player actually challenged a manager in europe. almost any player might get in the doghouse of a manager for that, but for koreans there’s probably more a concern than a euro player of what would be their career consequences if they do. there aren’t as many quality options. so, if it somehow were the case a korean player doesn’t challenge as much, it would make more sense to attribute it to power dynamics than something inherently korean.

    • Amigo, I agree systemic problems are more at the root of the problems re: k football, but the military draft situation not nec a moot point. If a player stays in Korea, doesn’t venture abroad, there’s still disruption to his career and progress at age 28 -ripped out of his club -and in joining the army team could include a # of less than desirable features including subpar coaching and possible drop to the 2nd division challenge league (which according to pattern has boomeranged between relegation and promotion practically every year).

      But to the point of how many of those w/ exemption have taken advantage and gone abroad, even with the desire to go abroad it’s difficult to be noticed by clubs in the west. Some w/ exemption arent what certain clubs abroad are looking for ( ask the wookie). I don’t think it’s too far fetched in thinking clubs are not exactly enamored of transferring Koreans b/c of language barrier, cultural differences etc. And for the vast pool of Korean footballers who do have military duty looming over them, they aren’t as market appealing vs a Japanese player who, 1. dont have baggage of military obligations and 2. may have logged more pro 1st team minutes during crucial developmental 16-18 age range than the average equivalent young Korean player – very much at the heart of your point about structural problems in k football.

      Most def, it’s not discussed much but cultural differences b/w east and west makes transitions very difficult. I think Kimbo may have had a chance to succeed in Cardiff save for the language and cultural barrier that made behind the scenes team chemistry building and on pitch communication much harder. But it’s not monolithic, Ki had a leg up b/c of his time spent in Australia growing up. His understanding of English must factor into his relative success and staying power in Swansea (who knows, by next week there’ll b a shock announcement of Ki’s transfer to LFC).

      To your point of the age hierarchy as an impediment to creative development, I can totally see that and hope that’s something that Korea can as a whole be better at recognizing and changing that paradigm. Korea has to do a better job of crafting creative football artists, who can dazzle and innovate and find on pitch solutions to problems. We can copy certain European models (Hiddink has left his mark on k football), but Korea can only get so far by imitation. To get that quantum leap forward, Korea has to find and cultivate the Johann Cryuffs of a new generation. A fascinating future cast : can Korea create its own unique and effective style of footballing that it can call it’s own?

      • Yes, imo.. military draft situation is moot until systemic problems in KFA/K-league is resolved. Military draft isn’t the issue nor preventing players of moving abroad (mainly to top leagues in Europe). If the player is good enough, he will be purchased by European clubs. If the player has the will & desire, they can be like Suk HJ or Park JH.

        Statistically, Korea has more players with military exemption compared to the past. Of the players who earned military exemption (or were exempt due to injury), exactly 3 moved to Europe… Kim JS, Yun SY (currently without a club) & Hong JH (returned recently to Asia). The rest from 2012 Olympic squad or 2015 Asian games? They are either in J-league, China or Middle-East.

        Btw, I agree.. military conscription is something that requires attention & needs to be sorted out. However, as stated by Jon above… that solution must be for all, not just for football players. Korea take Olympics seriously & male Olympians face similar issue. Baseball players? Unlike football players, at least to my knowledge… they don’t have military clubs to join for 2 yrs.

        edit – btw, one can argue & this is worthy of general football discussion but.. the peak yrs for football players has changed. it is much sooner… perhaps 26-29.. compared to 28-31 or whatever in the past with players exposed to 1st team football much earlier than before.

    • Thanks for the kind words about the blog. and yeah, LCY looking lively in the West Brom match – but that also points out the perception (accurate as far as i’m concerned) that Pardew completely underutilized LCY last season. The quality he had was there to help with the 2nd half of the season -but saw CP slide out of the top 10 after xmas. Alan Pardew – “manager extraordinaire.”

  3. I am surprised that korean supporter still thinks heung min son is talented , he is two footed
    and pacy but that’s it …. he is slow with the ball , poor first touch and ball control , poor decision making , Selfish ,poor passing and like Hary kane vs Iceland taking all the corner kicks and free kicks when his free kicks sucks and corner kicks were even worse …Still greedy to steal free kicks from kwon chang hoon.. If korea played hwang hee chan at LW , Hyun J S at striker and Son heung min on bench against Honduras then I am sure that korea would have thrashed them ….
    Heung min son welcome back to bundesLiga .

    • Being two footed and pacey is still a lot for Korean standards. And although at times Son can be terribly out of form, we saw what he’s capable of with consistent starting minutes at Leverkusen. He’s a streaky player but in the Korean scheme of things, has more upside than downside.

      Truthfully, I think in this Olympics team, he incarnated that streaky reputation of his. Dynamite against Germany, a defensive leader against Mexico but then poor against Honduras, not finishing and getting in the way. All tournament long his passing was suspect as well, though I suspect that’s more of a squad integration issue..

      Hwang HC at winger is interesting. He certainly seems to have a skill set well suited for that role. I think he would be just as adept as the mobile false 9 as he would the winger. He’s so good at the former that it would be hard to write that off and stick only to the latter. If the kid can start finishing and sort his club situation out well, he’s got massive potential and ceiling.

    • Now, let’s not get too carried away. Heung Min Son is not as pacey and quick as he was two years ago however, he is not terrible. I still think he is a very talented player that may be overworked or out of form or combination of both. May be Poch at Tottenham can help him.

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