Who Will Be Korea’s Next Manager? (Part I, 2018)

Football Soccer - Australia v Japan - World Cup 2018 Qualifier - Docklands stadium - Melbourne, Australia - 11/10/16. Japan's head coach Vahid Halilhodzic gestures during the match REUTERS/David Gray

With the 3-man shortlist reportedly settled on, and Shin Tae-yong reportedly receiving “low marks” from the hiring committee, let’s take a look at a few of the names who could be Korea’s next national team manager.

Series Index (this is a sad series index…)

Who Could Be the Next Manager of the KNT? (2017)

Coaching Candidates? (2013)

This will be a two-part series (if we can beat the release of the shortlist!) for the sake of giving y’all a post. The order in which the candidates are presented in no way reflects my estimated likelihood. It’s actually a product of Random List Generator.

Vahid Halilhodzic:

Profile: Former Japanese national team manager, and before that led Algeria to a brave Round of 16 exit at the 2014 World Cup. Vahid has been in management for nearly three decades, with peaks and valleys like any manager. He won the CAF Champions League in 1997 with Casablanca, promoted Lille in 2000, won the French Cup and was league runner-up with PSG in 2004, won the Croatian league with Zagreb in 2011. However, he flopped in the Ivory Coast and Trabzonspor, and wasn’t far off from getting the sack after less than two years in Algeria after finishing bottom of the group at the 2013 African Cup of Nations. His sacking by the JFA just months from the World Cup was a culmination of tension between the FA and Vahid, due in part to his strict and spiky personality, but also dissatisfaction in the media for what was three years of laborious performances. The break-up was messy: tears, explosive attacks in the media and an impending lawsuit.

Style/Compatibility: Halilhodzic consistently prefers a 4-back defensive line and a physical centre-forward (but not necessarily a target man). He’s remembered best in recent years for what he did at Algeria at the 2014 World Cup. Widely expected to be the whipping boys of the group, Algeria stunned Korea with a 4-2 victory before drawing Russia and bringing eventual World Champions Germany to extra time in the Round of 16. Though the side had a solid defensive framework to rely on, their real weapon lied in direct, physical and fast-paced counter-attacks through Slimani and Feghouli. With Japan, he sought to inject new blood and dropped Kagawa, Okazaki and Honda, but the team’s performances lacked cohesion and were disjointed more times than not.

His compatibility in purely tactical terms with Korea seems… acceptable. The kinds of offensive players Korea has seems to be much more of Vahid’s style than at Japan – he admitted as much after the 4-1 Korean win over Japan at the East Asian Championship. Where difficulties could lie, however, is in his abrasiveness. Are the Korean media and cronies ready for a straight-shooter? Vahid’s notoriously authoritarian and outspoken demeanor has seen him get into trouble on more than one occasion, including an animated half-time argument/brawl with the Zagreb owner which saw him promptly fired. Though he could be “refreshing” in terms of calling out problems publicly when he sees them and taking no bullsh*t from the media, the same reasons that saw him get fired in Japan could very easily reoccur in Korea.

As an aside, this would mean the KFA would have to hire some French-speaking staff for the first time.

Likelihood: The favorite? It’s hard to tell at this point, but many of the fans seem to be on the Vahid train and it even seemed last week that an announcement was due imminently. We know, however, that Vahid has also been in talks with Egypt (though they recently appear to have broken down).

Andres Villas-Boas:

Profile: The youngest manager on this list, it feels like AVB has been around for a long time, and yet he’s just 40 years old. A former understudy of Jose Mourinho, AVB famously led Porto to a treble and undefeated season in his only year in charge of the club. Hailed as the new managerial genius, Chelsea threw dollops of cash at Porto to acquire AVB’s services. When things went downhill at Stamford Bridge in less than a year, Tottenham were quick to snap him up. Neither English stint was particularly successful or illustrious, while his 2-year tenure at Zenit drew sharp criticism from fans for the team’s style of play. He later moved to China for another year at Shanghai SIPG in 2016-17.

Style/Compatibility: There appears to be two faces of AVB: one where he remains faithfully idealistic, implementing a high line and emphasis on pressing, and the other where he becomes harshly pragmatic, playing a cautious and stale defensive approach. Across the board he sticks to 4-2-3-1/4-3-3.

What kind of AVB would turn up to the KNT? The optimist would say that in Asia, he’ll be more idealistic and try to drill pressing cohesion into mobile attackers like Lee Seung-woo, Hwang Hee-chan and Son Heung-min, while in international competition he plays more reserved, counter-attacking football. The pessimist will say that AVB just can’t get it right anymore — he’ll make weird line-up selections, he was just a one-hit wonder at Porto, he’s “corrupted” as a manager and if things go downhill after a year or so he’ll jump ship. There’s a legitimate question to be asked if AVB can really keep a team for longer than a year or two.

Likelihood: Seems to be a viable option. Every report of a three-man shortlist (there have been so many false reports…) seems to have him in the loop. A lot of what his tactical resume is about fits how Kim Pan-gon wants the national team to play.

Carlos Quieroz:

Profile: Anyone who vaguely follows Asian football will know of Quieroz’s exploits at Iran. His 7 years with Team Melli has seen his tactical nous and persistence with an unorganized federation triumph, with two valiant World Cup showings under his belt. I’d argue he has somewhat single-handedly returned Iran to Asian powerhouse status. Formerly Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant manager, and tipped to be his eventual successor at Old Trafford by Ferguson himself, he was also briefly the managers of Portugal and Real Madrid — though neither of those appointments led to much success. Still, Quieroz has a wealth of experience in all sorts of environments and leagues, including on the international level.

Style/Compatibility: Quieroz is famous for being ultra-defensive in his tactical approach. In some ways, he complemented SAF perfectly, providing a defensive structure and advice for Ferguson’s more aggressive instincts and impulses. His meticulousness and emphasis on organization have seen his hard-working Iranian sides push Argentina and Portugal to their limits at both the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.

When you strictly look at Korea’s defensive woes and how to fix them, Carlos Quieroz is an appealing solution. Given his track record, it’s actually hard to see how he would not be able to patch Korea’s backline. However, this comes at a sacrifice. Quieroz’s tactics worked at Iran because Iran (no disrespect) don’t have very many exciting attacking players. In the 2018 World Cup side, it was all about Alireza Jahanbahksh and Sardar Azmoun, and nothing else. Korea has more talent going forwards, which could create a similar situation to what arose in his 2010 World Cup with Portugal – just 1 goal conceded in 4 games, but none scored (outside of the 7-0 anomaly win over North Korea) even with a prodigic Ronaldo.

Likelihood: Quieroz has already said that he’s staying with Iran until the Asian Cup, and under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have bothered with this profile. However, Korean media is floating his name more and more recently, without an angry KFA Twitter denial in sight. There clearly have at least been negotiations, but with keeping Shin short-term and hiring Quieroz in January no longer an option, I’d rank this as unlikely for the time being.

In the next post: Cesar Prandelli, Antonio Conte, Claudio Ranieri… and Jurgen Klinsmann (nooooo~~~).

About Tim Lee 321 Articles
The maple syrup guzzling kimchijjigae craving Korean-Canadian, eh?


  1. Hey, Tim. Thanks for this. Not sure who I’d want personally. What’s your preference and the preference of tavern writers?

    Point of clarification. Isn’t Asian competition still international competition? And isn’t every competition that the national team takes part in pretty much an international competition?

    • Tbh… I think Vahid might bust, I wasn’t convinced by his Japanese team and he seems a bit too cavalier, AVB just wants a career refresh and I doubt he’d be in it for the long-term, while Quieroz is a great tactician but it won’t be entertaining football by any stretch of the imagination.

      Of these three my slight favorite is Vahid but… I wish Senol Gunes was on the list. That’s all…

      and ye my bad will correct

      • Oy. I’m inclined to agree with you. None really excited me from this list. Although, do you think it’s at all possible that Queiroz would be able to incorporate a little more offensive tactics considering Korea’s talent weighing in that direction?

  2. Why the hell would Queiroz want to coach Korea? He seemed to be pissed in a very public way about the team and Coach Choi back in 2013, on Korean soil. Iranians kinda hate Korea, and he is loved by Iran sort of like Hiddink in Korea. I would be VERY surprised if he coached Korea after being worshiped in Iran. Imagine Hiddink going to Japan to coach in 2003.. how would that fly? He’d be better off retiring and having a permanent amazing vacation/retirement spot in Iran.

    • That doesn’t make much sense. These guys care more about the job and money. The animosity was particular to Choi, so to make it Like he wouldn’t coach SK is silly. I’m not sure if I’d want Queiroz, though, if he has very little thoughts for the offensive side and it’s development. However, the appeal is obvious. What he can do with Iran’s defense id’s something SK fans obviously would be envious of. But it’s not really a positive if our best players (who are offensive) are sacrificed.

      • It wasn’t just Choi. Korean fans threw water bottles at the Iranian players in that same game. AND I remember when Korea played in Iran in this most recent WC qualification cycle, Koo said something to the media that pissed a lot of Iranian fans off. He got booed when he took the pitch. Iranians will not cheer for Korea, and if Quieroz goes to Korea it would be a slap in the face to the fanbase that worships him.
        I may not be as knowledgeable as I want to be, but I cannot think of a single international coach that has left a country where they had a lot of success and love from fans to go coach one of their rivals. That’s all I’m saying. If you can name one then I’ll say it’s at least possible. But I would be absolutely shocked if Coach Quieroz is the next KNT coach.

        • I wouldn’t say its likely, but your second reply is a little clearer than your original. That said, the antipathy definitely centered around Choi, even if it bled outwards. I don’t think Queiroz or any coach cares about whether they leave their adoring fans. By that logic Hiddink would have never left. Nor would a coach care about a player that might not like him when the coach has selection powers. Coaches don’t make decisions based on whether the next team is a rival of the current team or not, and it would be silly for them to make decisions in that way. I can guarantee you that if Queiroz doesn’t want to coach the KNT men, then it has everything to do with not liking the KFA or the circumstances or family issues or the money, rather than Iranian fans, SK fans, or Choi. At best, previous incidents simply leave a bad taste that might make it harder to want to go to.

          • “I don’t think Queiroz or any coach cares about whether they leave their adoring fans. By that logic Hiddink would have never left.”
            Obviously Hiddink left adoring fans, and that alone is fine. Nobody expects a coach to stay for life. Just like Quieroz may leave- that’s not the problem. The questions is what if Hiddink had left to go coach for Japan. Can you picture that happening? It would have tarnished his image in Korea. I know the hatred Iranians feel toward the KNT is not the same as Koreans against Japan, but it’s close enough that Quieroz probably would rather avoid it.

            I’ll side with you for a moment and say that this alone may not persuade Quieroz one way or another. But combine it with the current cirumstances surrounding the team and KFA problems, and I would be absolutely shocked if Quieroz moved to Korea.

  3. I would be shocked, too. I can see the appeal, though. Someone who can organize the defense, is familiar with Asia,,and hope he has more offensive ideas in mind with more talented offensive players at ones disposal. But yea, I’d be shocked. But to answer your question regarding Hiddink, I don’t think he would have had trouble going to Japan at all if it was a gig he found appealing. Hiddink would have still been revered regardless.

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