December 21, 2012
There’s been some wild speculation flying about regarding Park Chu-Young and why he didn’t come back out for for Celta Vigo in the 2nd half against Real Betis last Monday. Could there have been a spat between Park and manager Paco Herrera? Did he refuse to play when he was told of his substitution? Has he suddenly fallen out of favor with the team?
Earlier today, moiceleste.com put to rest any overt notion that Park is on the way out due to insubordination or any catastrophic “Balotelli” type event. [Translated from Gaelic] “He stayed to watch the game, ordered pizza, had dinner with us and then went home with a companion. I can not give any explanation to something that I think has not existed.”
So there you have it, straight from Paco, which may come as a relief to the Tavern readers – as well as Park Chu-Young fantasy football armchair managers who were riding on Park to deliver more goals through the season.
Now is he out of favor with Paco? Let’s go back to the interview: “I have to work with him because he is just the player we want, the scorer we need.” He went on to comment on the substitution, as there was some confusion with his decision to start 3 attacking forwards, with some awkward communication and positioning errors as a result. He went on to comment that Park in particular drifted too far back in the midfield as he wanted Park to play further up on the pitch. As far as I could see, Park was trying to help out defensively, tracking back as he did in the Real Madrid match last week. And while it wasn’t his best outing, it was by far not a catastrophic outing either. There shouldn’t have been anything terribly outstanding that would warrant getting completely out of favor with the boss. Consider Fernando Torres – for all the times he’s been middling as a hyper-inflated priced forward for Chelsea -and the fact that Chelsea continues to give him far far more chances than Park has had for Celta, it’s hard to imagine Herrera would have any particular reason to kick Park to the curb now. Park has scored some crucial goals for Celta – a game winner against Getafe, a vital equalizer against Mallorca, and the first goal that opened things up for the Copa del Rey victory over Almeria -which advanced Celta further and set up their meet with Real Madrid and a historic victory in the making a week ago. Given those goals, even at a sparse 3 goals, Park has already made impact and contributions to Celta.
That’s all we can decipher from Paco clearing the air with local media. The Tavern will be tuning into Celta’s game against Atletico Madrid later today, a tough match and a tense test for this Vigo team. In the United States, BeInSport will air it on delay, starting at 6pm.
UPDATE: to add some clarity (and a little more uncertainty), Paco Herrera did say he expected more from Park. From Santiago Perez’s Rainmaker18.com blog today: “..as a coach I need to do something, because we need him to be what he was supposed to be”. Herrera admitted “I have no explanation why this has not happened yet, I really don’t know. He gets into the right places, he does the movements well, but I don’t know what happens. I am starting to think that we have not got the right passer for his kind of game.” Another article in Atlantico.net indicates that Paco may be looking for a midfield player in the January transfer window. It’s hard to predict how this will all play out -especially since the Tavern’s crystal ball broke.
Some items to note, (we’ll be updating as the day goes on) first South Korea has dropped in the latest FIFA rankings, from 32 down to 35. Japan is at 22nd, while Australia is at 36. Now we at the Tavern don’t want to read too much into the updated FIFA rankings (South Korea beat Zambia last summer 2-0, yet Zambia is somehow ahead of South Korea -ranked at 34). Nevertheless, it does highlight some cause for concern. There is a global consensus that South Korean football is on the decline. Ulsan Hyundai, despite winning the Asian Champions League, had an embarrassing run of it in the FIFA Club World Cup last week. They couldn’t even secure 5th place, losing to Hiroshima 3-1. And talk about highlighting some glaring contrasts between the two countries, while Japanese players are increasingly sending more players to Europe to hone their skills, South Koreans are sending some of their best and brightest football talents to…you guessed it -a relegated 2nd division K-League squad. That would be Ulsan’s Lee Keun-Ho, 2012 Asian Football Player of the year, Asian Champions League Tournament MVP, going to serve his mandatory 2 years conscription into the Army -and playing for the Army/Sangju team. Here’s the rub: the K-League, recalibrating itself as a more dynamic football league, instituted relegation for the first time in it’s history – and the first to go down is the Army/Sangju team. Just in time, for Asia’s best football player to enter it’s ranks. He did express interest in going to Europe, but at age 28, that chance is probably as good as Torres winning the Ballon d’Or.
The draw for the semifinal round of the Capital Cup (formerly the Carling Cup) is over: and it’s Chelsea and Swansea booked for this semifinal dance. Swansea got the toughest opponent possible for the draw as lucky Aston Villa got paired with Bradford City – the 4th tier division team that humiliated Arsenal by beating them on penalties 2 weeks ago. The only consolation for Swansea is that the 2nd leg will be in Wales (Jan 23). 1st leg scheduled Wednesday Jan 9th at Stamford Bridge. In Swansea’s last Cup match, Ki Sung-Yeung entered the game in the 2nd half and helped spark an eventual 1-0 win over Middlesbrough to advance to the semifinals, the farthest the Swans have gone in this tournament.
Transfer talk: Ji Dong-Won has reported been sought after by his old team Chunnam Dragons for £1million. Augsburg is also strongly linked to the Sunderland player. Sunderland is considering all options, and may be loathe to take Chunnam’s price, given that they sold Ji originally for £2.5million. Koo Ja-Cheol has been behind the scenes at Augsburg in advising management to consider the under-utilized 21 year old.
Meanwhile Lee Chung-Yong may be closer to getting a deal by January to transfer to Stoke City. The Bolton player has come back from a long term injury to score 3 goals so far in the Npower Championship season, but Bolton seems to be stuck in gear and hasn’t been able to rise to midtable form. John Duerden tweeted
Korea media claims Stoke City have bid 8 million pounds for Korea international Lee Chung-yong.
— John Duerden (@JohnnyDuerden) December 18, 2012
Seems Mr Duerden has an inside track with football fathers, as he tweeted later
Lee CY’s dad says offers from a few EPL clubs. Problem was Bolton’s price. Now Stoke ready to pay 8m, he’s unsure what will happen.
— John Duerden (@JohnnyDuerden) December 18, 2012
I’m not into quoting Larry the Cable Guy, but if the deal can get Lee out of a team struggling near the bottom of the Npower Championship table and into a 9th place team in the Premiership? (I can’t believe I’m going to go through with this…) Git Er Done!
That’s it, it’s southern grits for me as punishment for saying that.